2019 Cadillac CTS vs. 2019 Nissan Maxima

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The CTS’ optional 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.

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Cadillac CTS are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Nissan Maxima has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

Both the CTS and Maxima have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The CTS has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Maxima’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The CTS 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 CTS 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, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, 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, 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 Cadillac CTS is safer than the Nissan Maxima:

 

CTS

Maxima

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

25%

38%

Neck Stress

174 lbs.

328 lbs.

Neck Compression

7 lbs.

20 lbs.

 

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Compression

.4 inches

.7 inches

Neck Compression

26 lbs.

52 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

122/351 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 Cadillac CTS is safer than the Nissan Maxima:

 

CTS

Maxima

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

113

295

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

83

391

Spine Acceleration

49 G’s

57 G’s

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Max Damage Depth

14 inches

16 inches

HIC

297

300

Spine Acceleration

53 G’s

53 G’s

Hip Force

892 lbs.

997 lbs.

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

Warranty

The CTS 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.

Cadillac’s powertrain warranty covers the CTS 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 CTS’ corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Maxima’s (6 vs. 5 years).

Cadillac pays for the first scheduled maintenance on the CTS. Cadillac will pay for an oil change, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Nissan doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Maxima.

Reliability

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

Engine

The CTS’ standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 34 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 261) than the Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6. The CTS’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 35 more horsepower (335 vs. 300) and 24 lbs.-ft. more torque (285 vs. 261) than the Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6. The CTS V-Sport’s standard 3.6 turbo V6 produces 120 more horsepower (420 vs. 300) and 169 lbs.-ft. more torque (430 vs. 261) than the Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the CTS V-Sport is faster than the Nissan Maxima:

 

CTS

Maxima

Zero to 30 MPH

1.6 sec

2.4 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

4.4 sec

6 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

6.9 sec

9.6 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

10.3 sec

14.7 sec

Passing 45 to 65 MPH

2.1 sec

2.7 sec

Quarter Mile

12.8 sec

14.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

111.9 MPH

99.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the CTS (except V-Sport)’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.

The CTS has a gallon more fuel capacity than the Maxima (19 vs. 18 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

The CTS 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.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the CTS V-Sport’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Maxima:

 

CTS V-Sport

Maxima

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

12.4 inches

12.13 inches

The CTS stops much shorter than the Maxima:

 

CTS

Maxima

 

70 to 0 MPH

149 feet

168 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

98 feet

125 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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

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

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the CTS can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Maxima doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The CTS offers an optional 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 CTS’ wheelbase is 5.3 inches longer than on the Maxima (114.6 inches vs. 109.3 inches).

The CTS’ front to rear weight distribution is more even (50.3% to 49.7%) than the Maxima’s (60.7% to 39.3%). This gives the CTS more stable handling and braking.

The CTS V-Sport handles at .96 G’s, while the Maxima Platinum pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The CTS V-Sport executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.5 seconds quicker than the Maxima Platinum (24.5 seconds @ .78 average G’s vs. 27 seconds @ .67 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the CTS V-Sport’s turning circle is 1.4 feet tighter than the Maxima’s (36.7 feet vs. 38.1 feet).

Chassis

The front grille of the CTS (except V-Sport or Driver Assist Package) 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 CTS has 1 inch more front headroom, .7 inches more front legroom, .2 inches more front shoulder room, .8 inches more rear headroom and 1.2 inches more rear legroom than the Maxima.

Towing

The CTS V6 offers up to a 1000 lbs. towing capacity. The Maxima has no towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the CTS 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.

The CTS 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 Cadillac service is better than Nissan. J.D. Power ranks Cadillac third in service department satisfaction. With a 47% lower rating, Nissan is ranked 20th.

Ergonomics

The CTS Premium/V-Sport Premium 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 CTS and the Maxima have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the CTS 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 CTS’ 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.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the CTS offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Maxima doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The CTS’ 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 CTS offers an optional 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 CTS Premium/V-Sport’s 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

The CTS will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the CTS will retain 39.07% to 55.18% of its original price after five years, while the Maxima only retains 36.9% to 38.7%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the CTS is less expensive to operate than the Maxima because typical repairs cost less on the CTS than the Maxima, including $65 less for a starter, $176 less for fuel injection and $142 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

The CTS V-Sport was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 6 of the last 12 years. The Maxima has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

Motor Trend selected the CTS as their 2014 Car of the Year. The Maxima has never been chosen.

The CTS was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2014. The Maxima has never been an “All Star.”

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

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