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I was looking through a Nissan dealership lot last Sunday checking out their Altimas and Maximas. I confirmed my thoughts that I did not like the Nissan interior, nor its standard front grill. So I can cross those cars off my list (not that they were really on the list). Then I began to think that maybe the Malibu should be compared to the Maxima instead of the Altima.

In looking at a loaded Maxima (optioned similar to a LTZ Malibu), the price is in the range of $33K, compared to an LTZ at $28K. So what do you get for the extra $5K? The performance specs seem very similar (although I'm not sure about 0-60 mph times):

Base Number of Cylinders: 6 Base Engine Size: 3.5 liters
Base Engine Type: V6 Horsepower: 255 hp
Max Horsepower: 6000 rpm Torque: 252 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 4400 rpm Maximum Towing Capacity: 1000 lbs.
Drive Type: FWD Turning Circle: 40 ft.

The fuel specs are almost identical:

Fuel Tank Capacity: 20 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway)
Automatic: : 19 mpg / 25 mpg
Range in Miles: (City/Highway)
Automatic: 380 mi. / 500 mi.

The Maxima is about 1 inch wider, 1 inch taller and 3 inches longer, while wheelbase is about 1 inch shorter:

Length: 194.4 in. Width: 71.7 in.
Height: 58.3 in. Wheel Base: 111.2 in.
Curb Weight: 3579 lbs. Gross Weight: 4590 lbs.

And the critics pan the Maxima's CVT transmission, saying it drives like it is linked to rubber bands.
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