2019 Buick LaCrosse vs. 2019 Nissan Maxima

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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

Both the LaCrosse and the Maxima have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, front parking sensors 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 Buick LaCrosse is safer than the Nissan Maxima:

 

LaCrosse

Maxima

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

21.2%

38%

Neck Stress

212 lbs.

328 lbs.

 

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Compression

-.8 inches

.7 inches

Neck Compression

44 lbs.

52 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

346/354 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 Buick LaCrosse is safer than the Nissan Maxima:

 

LaCrosse

Maxima

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

368

391

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Max Damage Depth

15 inches

16 inches

HIC

203

300

Spine Acceleration

30 G’s

53 G’s

Hip Force

653 lbs.

997 lbs.

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

Warranty

The LaCrosse 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.

Buick’s powertrain warranty covers the LaCrosse 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Nissan covers the Maxima. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Maxima ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The LaCrosse’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Maxima’s (6 vs. 5 years).

Buick pays for the first scheduled maintenance on the LaCrosse. Buick will pay for the first oil change, lubrication and any other required maintenance in the first year. Nissan doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Maxima.

There are over 86 percent more Buick dealers than there are Nissan dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the LaCrosse’s warranty.

Reliability

The LaCrosse has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The Maxima doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the car’s engine.

The battery on the LaCrosse is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the LaCrosse’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Maxima’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Buick vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick third in reliability, above the industry average. With 17 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 10th.

Engine

The LaCrosse’s optional 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 10 more horsepower (310 vs. 300) and 7 lbs.-ft. more torque (268 vs. 261) than the Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the LaCrosse with its standard engine FWD gets better fuel mileage than the Maxima (25 city/35 hwy vs. 20 city/30 hwy).

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the LaCrosse V6’s fuel efficiency. The Maxima doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

Regenerative brakes improve the LaCrosse eAssist’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 LaCrosse’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 Buick LaCrosse uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Maxima requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The LaCrosse has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Maxima doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Environmental Friendliness

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

Brakes and Stopping

The LaCrosse stops shorter than the Maxima:

 

LaCrosse

Maxima

 

60 to 0 MPH

123 feet

125 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the LaCrosse Essence/Premium/Avenir offers optional 20-inch wheels. The Maxima’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Suspension and Handling

The LaCrosse 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 LaCrosse’s wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than on the Maxima (114.4 inches vs. 109.3 inches).

The LaCrosse’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (58.6% to 41.4%) than the Maxima’s (60.7% to 39.3%). This gives the LaCrosse more stable handling and braking.

The LaCrosse Premium handles at .84 G’s, while the Maxima Platinum pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Chassis

The front grille of the LaCrosse uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Maxima doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The LaCrosse has 3.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Maxima (102 vs. 98.5).

The LaCrosse has .6 inches more front hip room, 1 inch more front shoulder room, .5 inches more rear headroom, 3.8 inches more rear legroom, 1.6 inches more rear hip room and .9 inches more rear shoulder room than the Maxima.

Cargo Capacity

The LaCrosse has a larger trunk than the Maxima (15 vs. 14.3 cubic feet).

Towing

The LaCrosse has a 1000 lbs. towing capacity. The Maxima has no towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The LaCrosse has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Maxima doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Buick service is better than Nissan. J.D. Power ranks Buick 9th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 26% lower rating, Nissan is ranked 20th.

Ergonomics

The LaCrosse Premium/Avenir 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 LaCrosse and the Maxima have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the LaCrosse 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 LaCrosse’s front and rear power windows all lower with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Maxima’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the LaCrosse Sport Touring/Essence/Premium/Avenir has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Maxima doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The LaCrosse’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 LaCrosse Premium/Avenir has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Maxima doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

The LaCrosse Premium/Avenir’s optional Automatic 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.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the LaCrosse owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the LaCrosse will cost $370 to $4945 less than the Maxima over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the LaCrosse is less expensive to operate than the Maxima because typical repairs cost much less on the LaCrosse than the Maxima, including $593 less for a muffler and $216 less for fuel injection.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Buick LaCrosse will be $3266 to $8278 less than for the Nissan Maxima.

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

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