2019 Lexus ES Series vs. 2019 Nissan Maxima

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the ES Series and the Maxima have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, 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 and around view monitors.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the ES Series its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 36 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Maxima is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2019.

Warranty

The ES Series 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.

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

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are better in initial quality than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 1 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 10th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 34 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 10th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Nissan is ranked 14th.

Engine

The ES 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 2 more horsepower (302 vs. 300) and 6 lbs.-ft. more torque (267 vs. 261) than the Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the ES Series gets better fuel mileage than the Maxima:

 

 

 

MPG

ES Series

 

 

300h 2.5 4 cyl. Hybrid

43 city/45 hwy

 

 

350 3.5 DOHC V6

22 city/33 hwy

 

 

F Sport 350 3.5 DOHC V6

22 city/31 hwy

Maxima

 

 

3.5 DOHC V6

20 city/30 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the ES Series Hybrid’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 ES Series Hybrid’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 Lexus ES Series uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Maxima requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Brakes and Stopping

The ES Series stops shorter than the Maxima:

 

ES Series

Maxima

 

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

139 feet

141 feet

Consumer Reports

Suspension and Handling

The ES Series 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 ES Series’ wheelbase is 3.7 inches longer than on the Maxima (113 inches vs. 109.3 inches).

Chassis

The design of the Lexus ES Series amounts to more than styling. The ES Series offers aerodynamic coefficients of drag from .26 to .29 Cd (depending on bodystyle and options). 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 ES Series get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The ES Series has .8 inches more front hip room, 1.1 inches more rear headroom, 5 inches more rear legroom and .8 inches more rear hip room than the Maxima.

Cargo Capacity

The ES Series has a much larger trunk than the Maxima (16.7 vs. 14.3 cubic feet).

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just kicking your foot under the back bumper can open the ES Series’ available trunk, leaving your hands completely free. The Maxima doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

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

Ergonomics

The ES Series’ 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 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The ES Series’ headlights were rated “Good” to “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Maxima’s headlights are rated “Acceptable” to “Poor.”

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the ES Series 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 ES Series’ 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.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Lexus ES Series and the Nissan Maxima, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Lexus ES Series outsold the Nissan Maxima by 15% during 2018.

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

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