Test drove the Altima and the Maxima back to back, along with the Acura TL an hour later. I found the Altima looks great with probably a little more interior room, speed and handling were comparable but I was put off the Altima by the acres of hard plastic, even with the leather option on the SE interior just doesn't come close to the Maxima, the leather is nowhere near as good a quality either (the black leather looks and feels like hard vynil, the tan leather is a little better), I guess the extra $3000 I paid gets me better materials, heated steering wheel (quite important during our Alberta winters) and a quieter car. Seemed worth it to me so I got the Maxima. I imagine the first thing to be updated on the Altima will be the interior trim. Idid manage to get a few freebies thrown in on the Maxima, not sure if I would have got those on the Altima with the expected demand. Only thing is, I want the Acura gearbox in my Maxima!
I know you want to know more about the performance & reliability but I just wanted throw my opinion on Maxima vs. Altima