There are five recognized subspecies (Paynter 1970, Clements et al. 2009):
Saltator maximus maximus: Occurs from eastern Colombia to east to Venezuela and the Guianas, and south to eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, and southern Brazil (Paynter 1970).
Saltator maximus iungens: Occurs in eastern Panama, and northwestern Colombia east to the lower Cauca valley (Paynter 1970). "Differs from other Panamá races by having black on undersurface limited to sides of throat" (Wetmore et al. 1984).
Saltator maximus magniodes: Occurs from southern Mexico south to northwestern Panama. subspecies inhabits Southern Mexico, Chiapas and Quintana Roo, to northwestern Panama (Paynter 1970). "Differs from intermedius mainly by dark gray of undersurface; from iungens by greater extent of black on side of throat and across breast" (Wetmore et al. 1984).
Saltator maximus intermedius: Occurs from southwestern Costa Rica east to central Panama (Paynter 1970). "Differs from magnoides by having undersurface tinged with pale buff; from iungens by greater amount of black in breast band" (Wetmore et al. 1984).
Saltator maximus gigantoides: Occurs on the Caribbean slope of Mexico, from central Veracruz south to northern Oaxaca and Tabasco (Paynter 1970). "Pileum grayish, usually washed with black anteriorly; buff throatpatch more restricted; black jugular band wider" (Peters 1929).