It is rare for a brand to keep two similar sedans in its lineup and Nissan has been doing it for decades with the popular Maxima and Altima. While the Maxima has always been the bigger, more stylish sibling, the Altima has stood in the lineup as the affordable, economical little brother.
But with so many changes to designs and features with both, what’s the difference between the 2020 Nissan Maxima and the 2020 Nissan Altima? Is one a better value than the other?
Pros and cons of the 2020 Nissan Maxima
The 2020 Nissan Maxima comes with some new updates, including an enhanced chassis and suspension, standard Safety Shield 360 on all trims, and more standard features for upper trim levels.
But aside from that, the Maxima is shockingly average. Its updated chassis does little to help its dull handling and mundane ride. Its starting price of more than $34,000 is among the highest in the large car segment, although higher-end Maximas can cost more than $42,000.
And for the price, interior quality is far from impressive and small for its class. In fact, its sibling may offer more space.
Pros and cons of the 2020 Nissan Altima
The 2020 Nissan Altima doesn’t receive any major new changes, but it’s still benefiting from its most recent major design change. According to Nissan, the newest generation Altima is bigger and roomier than before, offering 15.4 cu-ft of trunk space and up to 100.8 cu-ft of passenger space.
The Nissan Maxima only offers 14.3 cu-ft of trunk space and up to 98.5 cu-ft of passenger space. Its interior is not just roomy, but comfortable and smooth to ride in. It is competitive in fuel-efficiency, offering up to 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway in certain trims. The 2020 Nissan Altima’s starting price is affordable and in line with its segment, ranging from around $24,000 to $32,000 on higher trims.
However, the midsize car segment is extremely competitive, and while it may provide a super gentle ride, there are many rivals sportier than the Nissan Altima. Its cabin, while nice, can lack many of the advanced features found in competitors. And while the Altima is the roomiest its ever been, others in the segment are even more spacious.
Is one a better option than the other?
The same U.S. News experts say the 2020 Nissan Maxima is “difficult to recommend,” with its high starting price and comparison against the Altima. The Nissan Altima may be considered the less upscale and more affordable option, but when considering actual value for what you’re paying for, it “may be a more appealing family car.”
Even Consumer Reports ranks the Altima higher than its “more upscale” Maxima sibling. While the 2020 Nissan Altima earns an overall score of 84 (out of 100), the 2020 Nissan Maxima only earns an 80.
In fact, while Consumer Reports experts loved the quickness and power of the Maxima, they called it “a questionable purchase proposition,” that “falls short” and “doesn’t convince on its merits.”
Although the Altima is considered the smaller vehicle and lacks the horsepower provided by the Maxima, it actually has a larger trunk and more space in the rear for passengers. With the Altima’s most recent design changes, it is now only slightly smaller than the Maxima. For sedan shoppers looking for the upscale feel of the Maxima, a high-end Altima will do the trick (at a more budget-friendly price).