Altima vs Maxima

November 5, 2015

Many people wonder what the difference between an Altima and a Maxima is. Here I break down the main differences between the two cars.

In the 1990s the Maxima was worlds apart from the Altima in terms of power and styling. There was no disputing which was the better car. The Maxima was hands down Nissan’s four door sports car.

These days the Altima has evened the playing field with more power, better handling and a better design.

Let’s compare three of my favorite generation models:


1999 Maxima vs 1999 Altima

Need I say more? The Maxima blows away the Altima in every category. It looks sportier, has a more powerful engine, and looks better at every angle. The Altima isn’t a bad car it’s just that the Maxima is so much better.

The Maxima came equipped with a 3.0L V6 engine producing 190 HP. Not a lot compared to today’s cars but certainly more powerful than the Altima’s 2.4L 150 HP engine. The V6 engine is about as bullet proof as an engine gets. Getting well over 200K out of these cars is not unheard of.

Where the Maxima looks silky smooth at every angle the Altima is about as Plain Jane as a Toyota Camry. Many will argue that this generation Maxima is the best looking compared to other generations. I tend to agree.

But these cars are starting to age and finding one in mint condition is as easy as finding gold.


2002 Maxima vs 2002 Altima

This was the first time the Altima was available with a 6 cylinder engine. Powered by a 3.5L V6 engine producing 240 HP, the Altima came very close in power to the Maxima’s 3.5L 255 HP engine.

The Altima looks so much better than the previous generation in every aspect. It is roomier and looks much more sportier than its predecessor.

Though the power and performance between the two cars in this generation are very similar, I would opt for the Maxima for its sleeker styling.

If you’re in the market for one of these cars keep in mind the V6 engine is prone to major oil leaks and isn’t as bullet proof as the previous generation.


2007 Maxima vs 2007 Altima

This is the first time in my opinion that the Altima is a better overall car than the Maxima. The design of the Altima simply looks better.

The Altima comes with a 3.5L 270 HP V6 engine compared to the Maxima’s 3.5L V6 255 HP engine. Yes you read that right. The Altima’s engine is actually more powerful than the Maxima. I have no idea what the engineers were thinking at the time.

Performance-wise the Altima is on par with the Maxima. Nissan took care of the torque steer problem that plagued the previous generation’s V6 model.

Though the two cars look somewhat similar the Altima has a smoother more luxurious design to it. I would choose the Altima over the Maxima in this case.

So which is the better car? I would say both cars are strong performers with plenty of power and style and reliability. They certainly give you a lot of bang for your buck especially since these cars are fairly cheap in the used car market.

But if I were to choose one car I would choose a 1999 Maxima Special Edition (especially the white car pictured above). The overall styling, power and performance is something that the other generation models simply cannot match.

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