Nissan Maxima Vs. Nissan Altima

By Justin Cupler | November 19th, 2018

Nissan has two incredible sports sedans in the 2018 Maxima and the all-new 2019 Nissan Altima. On paper, these sedans look similar, but a deep dive exposes their key differences. Here’s what our Bradenton, Florida Nissan shoppers need to look for to know which is the better for them.

Exterior

Though the 2019 Nissan Altima sits well below the Maxima in Nissan’s lineup, they are almost identical in size. The Altima is 192.9 inches long, 72.9 inches wide, and 56.8 to 57.4 inches tall. The 2018 Nissan Maxima is 0.1 inches shorter in length, 0.3 inches wider, and 0.3 to 0.9 inches shorter in height. The biggest difference between these two midsize Nissan sedans is wheelbase length as the Altima’s 111.2-inch platform is 1.9 inches longer than the Maxima’s.

Despite being close in size, styling is a different game. The 2019 Altima and 2018 Maxima are both sporty looking for their class, but the Maxima’s look is more dramatic than the Altima’s. The Maxima boasts more swoops than the Altima, giving it a more premium look as you approach it. The Altima, on the other hand has a flatter hood that appears longer than the Maxima’s, and its trunk is equally smooth relative to the Maxima’s. The final difference is the Altima’s V-Motion grille is larger and sits lower on the front end, enhancing its sporty looks.

Advantage: 2019 Nissan Altima

  • Sporty, youthful looks
  • Latest in Nissan design

Advantage: 2018 Nissan Maxima

  • Swoopy appearance caters to extroverts
  • Wide platform can help in the corners
  • Looks more expensive than its badge implies

Interior

Inside, the 2019 Nissan Altima and the 2018 Nissan Maxima share a lot in terms of design. They both feature flat-bottom steering wheels, roomy consoles, and upscale trimming, but there are some small differences, especially on the dashboard. The Altima’s dash has a flatter top and its infotainment screen floats on the dash instead of being in the center stack like in the Maxima. Finally, the Altima’s steering wheel has thinner posts and a circular center section, which translate to a sportier look.

Like the exterior, the Altima and Maxima are similarly sized on the inside. Up front, the 2019 Nissan Altima has 39.2 inches of headroom, 43.8 inches of legroom, and 58.2 inches of shoulder room. The 2018 Maxima beats the Altima in headroom by 0.2 inches and legroom by 1.2 inches, but it is 1.5-inches tighter on shoulder room.

In the rear seats, the 2019 Altima checks in with 36.9 inches of headroom, 35.2 inches of legroom, and 57.1 inches of shoulder room. The Maxima’s rear seat is smaller in every dimension: 0.2 inches in headroom, 1 inch in legroom, and 1.4 inches in shoulder room.

In the midsize sedan segment, trunk space is a huge deal, and the Altima is superior as its 15.4-cubic-foot trunk bests the Maxima by 1.1 cubes.

Advantage: 2019 Nissan Altima

  • Roomier rear seat for a growing family
  • Big advantage in trunk space
  • Sleeker, sportier interior

Advantage:2018 Nissan Maxima

  • Roomier front seats
  • Tons of shapes and angles to appreciate

Performance

Under the hood, these sedans put a lot of distance between each other as the Altima has two flavors of four-cylinder engines while the Maxima goes the six-pot route.

The 2019 Nissan Altima comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 188 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Buyers looking for a bit more pep will appreciate the optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that churns out 248 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Both engines pair to a continuously variable transmission that ships power to the front wheels as standard. Buyers can also add all-wheel drive to the 2.5-liter powertrain.

While there are no independent tests on the 2019 Altima with the 2.5-liter engine, the 2018 model hit 60 mph in eight seconds. Since the 2.0-liter engine is all-new for 2019, there are no acceleration tests yet, but we should have details soon.

The 2018 Nissan Maxima takes a more old-school route to power delivery with a standard 3.5-liter V-6 that cranks out 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque. Like the Altima, it uses a CVT to ship this power to the front wheels, but it lacks the optional all-wheel drive. This big V-6 engine launches the Maxima to 60 mph in just 5.9 seconds.

For a midsize sedan with a big V-6 heart, the 2018 Nissan Maxima’s fuel economy is OK at 21 mpg city, 30 highway, and 25 combined. Buyers looking for better fuel economy will find their match in the 2019 Altima. The 2.5-liter-equipped Altima with front-wheel drive gets up to 28 mpg city, 39 highway, and 32 combined. Adding all-wheel drive to the mix brings these numbers down to 26 mpg city, 36 highway, and 30 combined. The peppy 2.0-liter engine isn’t a slouch in the fuel-economy department either at 25 mpg city, 34 highway, and 29 combined.

Advantage: 2019 Nissan Altima

  • Big fuel economy advantage
  • Torque-heavy turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Optional all-wheel drive

Advantage: 2018 Nissan Maxima

  • Quick sprint to 60 mph
  • Big V-6 power

Pricing and Features

The 2019 Nissan Altima has a slew of trim available: S, SR, SR VC-Turbo, SV, SL, Platinum, Platinum VC-Turbo, and Edition One VC-Turbo. Base prices kick off at $23,750 and rise to $35,750.

The 2018 Nissan Maxima also has a long list of trim levels — S, SV, SL, SR, SR Midnight Edition, and Platinum — and starting prices range from $33,420 to $41,090.

2019 Nissan Altima Key Features and Pricing by Trim

S: $23,750

  • 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
  • Xtronic continuously variable transmission
  • 16-inch steel wheels with hub caps
  • Easy Fill Tire Alert
  • Halogen headlights
  • Automatic on/off headlights
  • Active grille shutters
  • Fabric seating
  • Eight-way power driver’s seat
  • Six-speaker AM/FM audio system with HD Radio and MP3 function
  • 8-inch touchscreen
  • SiriusXM
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Two front USB ports
  • Two rear USB ports
  • 7-inch Advanced Driver Assist display
  • Hands-free text messaging
  • Bluetooth connectivity with streaming audio
  • Siri Eyes Free/Google Assistant
  • Three-spoke urethane steering wheel
  • Power windows with auto up/down w/auto reverse
  • Steering-wheel-mounted controls
  • Rearview camera
  • Remote ignition
  • Automatic emergency braking

SR: $25,100

  • All S features, plus
  • Shift paddles
  • 19-inch machined aluminum-alloy wheels with painted inserts
  • Sport-tuned suspension
  • LED headlights
  • Daytime running lights
  • Rear spoiler
  • Exhaust finisher
  • Dark chrome grille
  • Unique rear diffuser color
  • Black-painted mirror caps
  • Body-color door handles
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Sport seats
  • Unique sport interior, including carbon grain door trim
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Blind-spot warning

SR VC-Turbo: $29,150

  • 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine

SV: $27,930

  • All S features, plus
  • 17-inch machined aluminum-alloy wheels with painted inserts
  • LED fog lights
  • LED headlights
  • LED turn signals on side mirrors
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Daytime running lights
  • Heated mirrors
  • Exhaust finisher
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Woven-fabric seats
  • Heated front seats
  • Power window with auto up/down w/auto reverse – front passenger side
  • HomeLink Universal Transceiver
  • Dual-Zone Automatic Temperature Control
  • Remote engine starter with Intelligent Climate Control
  • ProPILOT Assist
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Single panel moonroof
  • Rear heating/cooling vents
  • Power lumbar front seats
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Blind-spot warning
  • Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Rear automatic braking

SL: $29,840

  • All SV features, plus
  • Leather seating
  • Four-way power passenger seat
  • Nine-speaker Bose premium audio system
  • NissanConnect with Navigation
  • Traffic sign recognition

Platinum: $31,780

  • All SL features, plus
  • 19-inch machined aluminum-alloy wheels with painted inserts
  • Two-position driver’s seat memory
  • 360-degree camera
  • Interior ambient lighting

Platinum VC-Turbo: $34,780

  • All Platinum features, plus
  • 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine

Edition One VC-Turbo: $35,750

  • All Platinum VC-Turbo features, plus
  • 19-inch unique Edition One aluminum-alloy
  • Rear decklid spoiler
  • External ground lighting
  • Interior accent lighting

2018 Nissan Maxima Key Features and Pricing by Trim

S: $33,420

  • 3.5-liter V-6 engine
  • CVT
  • 18-inch aluminum-alloy with painted inserts
  • Halogen projector headlights
  • Tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Eight-speaker AM/FM audio system with six-disc CD changer
  • MP3 capability
  • HD Radio
  • SiriusXM
  • Bluetooth connectivity with streaming audio
  • NissanConnect with Navigation
  • Apple CarPlay and Android auto
  • 8-inch color display
  • Eight-way power driver’s seat
  • Four-way power passenger seat
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seat
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • “Razor Steel” faceted interior finishers
  • Leather-wrapped shift knob
  • Cruise control
  • Power windows with one-touch up/down front windows
  • Power door locks
  • Nissan Intelligent Key w/ push-button ignition
  • Keyless entry
  • 7.0-inch Advanced Drive Assist Display
  • Rearview camera
  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking

SV: $35,420

  • All S features, plus
  • Mirror-mounted LED turn signals
  • Heated outside mirrors
  • Heated front seats
  • Two-way power driver’s seat lumbar
  • Front and rear parking sensors

SL: $37,870

  • All SV features, plus
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Dual-panel panoramic
  • 11-speaker Bose Premium Audio system w/ Center Point Surround Stage
  • Two rear USB charging ports
  • LED ambient lighting
  • Active noise cancellation
  • Blind-spot warning
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Adaptive cruise control

SR: $38,680

  • All SL features, plus
  • 19-inch machine-finished aluminum-alloy wheels
  • Sport-tuned suspension
  • LED projector headlights
  • Integrated Dynamics control
  • Intelligent Ride Control
  • Intelligent Trace Control
  • Intelligent Engine Brake
  • Dual-pane panoramic moonroof
  • Alcantara steering wheel insert
  • Paddle shifters
  • Heated and cooled front seats
  • “Liquid Chrome” interior finishers
  • Aluminum sport pedals
  • Premium Ascot Leather-appointed seats with diamond-quilted Alcantara inserts
  • Premium Ascot Leather-wrapped steering wheel with Alcantara insert

SR Midnight Edition: $39,845

  • All SR features, plus
  • Midnight Edition black 19-inch wheels
  • Black exterior accents
  • Black sports mirrors
  • Black Midnight Edition badging
  • Black spoiler

Platinum: $41,090

  • All SL features, plus
  • NissanConnect Services with Navigation
  • Premium Ascot Leather-appointed seats
  • 360-degree camera
  • Heated and cooled front seats
  • Power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel
  • LED projector headlights
  • Mirror memory and reverse tilt down
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Heated and cooled front seats
  • Two-position driver-seat memory
  • Six-way power passenger seat
  • “Mahogany” wood-tone interior finishers
  • Power rear window sunshade
  • Intelligent Driver Alertness

Who Should Buy the 2019 Nissan Altima?

While the 2019 Nissan Altima lacks the top-end power of the Maxima, its four-cylinder engines deliver superior fuel economy. Opting for the turbocharged four-pot delivers a healthy balance between the V-6 power of the Maxima and the fuel-efficient 2.5-liter base Altima engine.

Who Should Buy the 2018 Nissan Maxima?

Looking for a raw sports sedan with upscale looks at a price that won’t kill your budget? The 2018 Nissan Maxima is the perfect option for you.

Not sure which of these sporty sedans is right for you? Come down to our new-car dealership serving the Bradenton, Florida area for a test drive. Regardless of the model you choose, you will enjoy your daily commute to St. Petersburg or Sarasota in the 2019 Altima or 2018 Maxima. If you can’t make it to the Nissan of Bradenton showroom, you can check out our online inventory to see if we have a model in stock that suits your needs.