2019 Audi A5 Sportback vs. 2018 Nissan Maxima

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi A5 Sportback have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Nissan Maxima doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The A5 Sportback’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Maxima doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The A5 Sportback has standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Maxima doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The A5 Sportback has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Maxima doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The A5 Sportback Prestige’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The Maxima doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

Both the A5 Sportback and the Maxima have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Audi A5 Sportback is safer than the Nissan Maxima:

 

A5 Sportback

Maxima

 

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

25%

29%

Neck Compression

47 lbs.

52 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

324/341 lbs.

840/589 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Audi A5 Sportback is safer than the Nissan Maxima:

 

A5 Sportback

Maxima

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

172

295

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

277

391

Spine Acceleration

56 G’s

57 G’s

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

16 inches

Spine Acceleration

47 G’s

53 G’s

Hip Force

666 lbs.

997 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

The A5 Sportback comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Maxima’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The A5 Sportback’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Maxima’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

The Audi A5 Sportback’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the Maxima’s engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 7 places higher in reliability than Nissan.

Engine

The A5 Sportback’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 12 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 261) than the Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the Audi A5 Sportback is faster than the Nissan Maxima:

 

A5

Maxima

Zero to 60 MPH

5.1 sec

5.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

13.5 sec

14.1 sec

Quarter Mile

13.7 sec

14.4 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the A5 Sportback gets better fuel mileage than the Maxima (23 city/34 hwy vs. 20 city/30 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the A5 Sportback’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Maxima doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the A5 Sportback’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Maxima doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Audi A5 Sportback uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The Maxima requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Audi A5 Sportback higher (5 out of 10) than the Nissan Maxima (3). This means the A5 Sportback produces up to 16.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Maxima every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The A5 Sportback’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Maxima doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the A5 Sportback’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Maxima:

 

A5

Maxima

Front Rotors

13.3 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

12.13 inches

The A5 Sportback stops shorter than the Maxima:

 

A5

Maxima

 

70 to 0 MPH

159 feet

168 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A5 Sportback’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Maxima (255/35R19 vs. 245/45R18).

The A5 Sportback’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Maxima’s standard 45 series tires. The A5 Sportback’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Maxima 3.5 SR’s 40 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The A5 Sportback offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Maxima’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the A5 Sportback’s wheelbase is 1.9 inches longer than on the Maxima (111.2 inches vs. 109.3 inches).

The A5 Sportback’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (54.8% to 45.2%) than the Maxima’s (60.8% to 39.2%). This gives the A5 Sportback more stable handling and braking.

The A5 Sportback Prestige handles at .94 G’s, while the Maxima 3.5 SR pulls only .87 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The A5 Sportback is 6.5 inches shorter than the Maxima, making the A5 Sportback easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the Audi A5 Sportback amounts to more than styling. The A5 Sportback has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .29 Cd. That is lower than the Maxima (.29 to .3) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the A5 Sportback get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The A5 Sportback has .3 inches more rear headroom and .9 inches more rear legroom than the Maxima.

Cargo Capacity

The A5 Sportback has a much larger trunk than the Maxima (21.8 vs. 14.3 cubic feet).

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the A5 Sportback has a standard power liftgate, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or optionally by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The Maxima doesn’t offer a power trunk.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the A5 Sportback is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Maxima. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Nissan. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 47% lower rating, Nissan is ranked 20th.

Ergonomics

The A5 Sportback Prestige has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Maxima doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the A5 Sportback and the Maxima have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the A5 Sportback is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Maxima prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The A5 Sportback’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Maxima’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

The A5 Sportback’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Maxima’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the A5 Sportback to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Maxima doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the A5 Sportback Prestige detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Maxima doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The A5 Sportback’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Nissan only offers heated mirrors on the Maxima SV/SL/SR/Platinum.

The A5 Sportback has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats are only available on the Maxima SV/SL/SR/Platinum. The A5 Sportback Premium Plus/Prestige also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Maxima.

The A5 Sportback Prestige’s Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Maxima doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The Audi A5 comes in coupe, convertible and four door hatchback bodystyles; the Nissan Maxima isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the A5 Sportback owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the A5 Sportback will cost $475 less than the Maxima over a five-year period.

The A5 Sportback will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the A5 Sportback will retain 44.13% to 47.54% of its original price after five years, while the Maxima only retains 36.9% to 38.7%.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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