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Maximum Altimatum: 5 Reasons to Go Maxima and 5 More to Choose Altima

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 7/7/2015 Manufacturer, Zach Gale, Robert Guio

Are you looking for a maximized midsize Nissan or an altimate Nissan sedan? The 2016 Nissan Maxima features some of the boldest styling you’ll see in the semi-premium large sedan segment, but certain buyers might be better off with the Altima. Although the 2013-2015 Altima lacks the visual pizzazz of the new 2016 Maxima, the former has quite a few marks in its plus column, too.

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So which is better for you: a new Maxima or a new Altima and extra money left over? With the Altima receiving a major refresh for the 2016 model year, we decided to take a look at what both sedans have to offer. Keep reading for five reasons to go Altima and five more to go Maxima.

Read our 2016 Nissan Maxima First Test review HERE.

Why Go Altima? MSRP

2015 Nissan Altima© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Nissan Altima The most obvious reason to go Altima over Maxima is price, especially if you aren’t interested in the Maxima’s Platinum trim, which pushes just beyond $40,000. When “upscale” to you means a navigation system, HID or LED headlights, and front heated leather seats, the 2015 Altima 3.5 SL has you covered (a four-cylinder Altima is shown here). For just more than $33,000, a 2015 Altima 3.5 SL includes those features plus, of course, a 270-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. The 2016 Maxima does start at about the same price as a loaded Altima V-6, but that base-model Maxima lacks leather seats and the LED headlights; you have to go with the much more expensive SR and Platinum trims to get a Maxima with those. True, the 2015 Altima doesn’t have the full array of active safety tech of the 2016 Maxima’s top three trims, but we’re guessing the Predictive Forward Collision Warning and Forward Emergency Braking systems could appear on a loaded version of the refreshed 2016 Altima.

2015 Nissan Altima© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Nissan Altima

Why Go Altima? 0-60

2015 Nissan Altima© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Nissan Altima The 2016 Maxima has flashier styling, but that doesn’t help the car reach 60 mph quicker than the Altima. Motor Trend has track tested both cars and found that a 2013 Altima 3.5 SL hit 60 in 5.9 seconds, just one-tenth of a second behind a 2016 Maxima. If you were attracted to the Maxima’s 300-hp engine more for straight-line speed than for winding-road driving, the Altima merits another look.

Why Go Altima? Rear-Seat Room

2015 Nissan Altima© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Nissan Altima Midsize sedans with look-at-me styling don’t magically transform into full-size sedans, and that’s the case with the Maxima. The Maxima is decently comfortable front and rear, but even though the Impala might be its biggest sales competitor, that Chevrolet is a full 8.5 inches longer. The Maxima rides on a 109.3-inch wheelbase, like the Altima (pictured), and that less flashy high-volume four-door Altima has slightly more rear-seat legroom, rear-seat headroom, and trunk space. If Maxima’s status as the highest model in the Nissan-sedan line or the tech on higher-trim models weren’t your primary consideration, the Altima might be worth a look.

Why Go Altima? It’s a Sleeper

2015 Nissan Altima© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Nissan Altima The new Maxima comes standard with head-turning style. Even in a dark color, the car attracts attention. The Altima has no such issue. If you’re really planning on using your Nissan sedan’s 270-300 hp in a way that might attract a specific type of unwanted attention, blending in with the sedan that crossed the 300,000-unit sales barrier in 2014 could be the best way to go.

Why Go Altima? Insurance Costs

2015 Nissan Altima© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Nissan Altima Even more than the Altima in 3.5 SL form, the Maxima has been known to have higher than average insurance costs. The Maxima attracts younger buyers in its segment, loosely defined by the Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Avalon, Kia Cadenza, Dodge Charger, and the like. It’s possible that that, along with its sporty credentials, might contribute toward higher insurance costs for the Maxima. Will the 2016 model reverse this trend? It’s too early to tell, but the slightly cheaper insurance costs for the Altima 3.5 SL is something to consider (an Altima 2.5 is pictured).

Before we’ve even seen the revised 2016 model, good reasons remain to stick with a loaded six-cylinder Altima. Still, the 2016 Maxima has plenty going for itself— keep reading for five reasons to go Maxima.

Why Go Maxima? The Sound

2016 Nissan Maxima SR Side Profile© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Nissan Maxima SR Side Profile What’s significant about the Maxima’s version of Nissan’s 3.5-liter V-6 isn’t the extra 30 hp. It’s the sounds it makes in the more expensive sedan. Step on the gas in the Maxima, and you’re rewarded with a strong engine note that’s entertaining in the car’s normal mode and becomes tastefully louder when you hit Sport. How is this possible? Nissan employs its version of a controversial technology offered on some sporty models; its is called Active Sound Enhancement, amplifying some engine sounds in the cabin.

Why Go Maxima? The Screens

2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum Navigation and Nissan’s easy-to-use infotainment system on an 8-inch touchscreen are standard on every 2016 Maxima. The Altima uses a smaller 7-inch touchscreen, and unlike the Maxima, the center stack isn’t canted toward the driver for improved visibility. I’d prefer both screens to be mounted higher in the center stack, but repositioning the screen might remove the infotainment system’s touchscreen appeal. Then there’s Nissan’s great color instrument cluster screen. You’ll find a version of it in both sedans, but the Maxima’s display is 7 inches to the Altima’s still helpful but much smaller 4.

2016 Nissan Maxima© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Nissan Maxima

Why Go Maxima? Interior Quality

2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum Steering Wheel And Center Stack© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum Steering Wheel And Center Stack Even at the 2016 Maxima’s $40,000 top end, interior quality is impressive and price-appropriate, with contrasting stitching and diamond-quilted inserts on some trims and a center armrest that’s one of the most comfortable I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting my elbow on. And those who are familiar with recent Infinitis might recognize the Maxima’s heated/cooled seat dials at the back of the center console.

2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum Seat Stitching© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum Seat Stitching

Why Go Maxima? The Styling

2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum Front Three Quarter© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum Front Three Quarter If you want a bolder car more than you need to slip under the radar, the Maxima is definitely the better Nissan if your budget allows. No matter what happens to the soon-to-be-refreshed Altima for the 2016 model year, it’s not likely to out-style the Maxima, Nissan’s flagship sedan and its longest-running nameplate. Combine the Maxima’s exterior styling with the cool interior details and engine sounds, and you’ve got far more of an emotional appeal than you’ll ever get with an Altima.

Why Go Maxima? Drive Mode Selector

2016 Nissan Maxima SR Interior Detail© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Nissan Maxima SR Interior Detail The 2016 Maxima’s Drive Mode Selector adjusts far more than the transmission’s responsiveness. Steering feel and throttle response are also improved in Sport, which allows the Active Sound Enhancement system to pump up the volume by about 2 decibels. Although I’d still like an Eco mode on the transmission for times when a light touch is needed, such as taking family to dinner, I understand how this might get in the way of marketing a sedan branded with 4DSC labels (Four-Door Sports Car).

What do you think? For those select few who might consider a loaded six-cylinder Altima and a new Maxima, do the latter’s advantages justify its added cost? Tell us what you think below. 2016 Nissan Maxima SR Rear Three Quarter© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Nissan Maxima SR Rear Three Quarter 2015 Nissan Altima© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Nissan Altima

2016 Nissan Maxima And 2015 Nissan Altima© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Nissan Maxima And 2015 Nissan Altima
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