2019 Nissan Maxima vs. 2018 Cadillac ATS Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Nissan Maxima 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 Cadillac ATS Sedan doesn’t offer height-adjustable front seat belts.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Maxima are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The ATS Sedan doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Maxima has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The ATS Sedan doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Maxima (except S/SV/SL) offers an optional Around View® Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The ATS Sedan only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The Maxima’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The ATS Sedan doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Maxima and the ATS Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems 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 Nissan Maxima is safer than the Cadillac ATS Sedan:

 

Maxima

ATS Sedan

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

106

202

Neck Compression

20 lbs.

26 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

67/94 lbs.

202/615 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, results indicate that the Nissan Maxima is safer than the Cadillac ATS Sedan:

 

Maxima

ATS Sedan

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.9 inches

1.1 inches

Abdominal Force

188 G’s

210 G’s

Hip Force

286 lbs.

325 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

57 G’s

64 G’s

Hip Force

591 lbs.

888 lbs.

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

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Maxima the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The ATS Sedan has not been fully tested, yet.

Warranty

There are over 20 percent more Nissan dealers than there are Cadillac dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Maxima’s warranty.

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Maxima’s reliability 61 points higher than the ATS Sedan.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Maxima first among large cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The ATS Sedan isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Nissan vehicles are better in initial quality than Cadillac vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 5 more problems per 100 vehicles, Cadillac is ranked 12th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Cadillac vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 53 more problems per 100 vehicles, Cadillac is ranked 27th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Cadillac vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Nissan 14 places higher in reliability than Cadillac.

Engine

The Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 28 more horsepower (300 vs. 272) than the ATS Sedan’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Nissan Maxima is faster than the Cadillac ATS Sedan turbo 4 cyl.:

 

Maxima

ATS Sedan

Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

6.2 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.1 sec

16.5 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6 sec

6.9 sec

Quarter Mile

14.4 sec

14.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

101 MPH

95 MPH

Top Speed

135 MPH

133 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

The Maxima has 2 gallons more fuel capacity than the ATS Sedan (18 vs. 16 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

The Maxima has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The ATS Sedan doesn’t offer a CVT.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Maxima has larger tires than the ATS Sedan (245/45R18 vs. 225/45R17). The Maxima’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the ATS Sedan (245/45R18 vs. 225/40R18).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Maxima has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the ATS Sedan.

The Maxima has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The ATS Sedan doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

The Maxima offers an optional full size spare tire so a flat doesn’t interrupt your trip. A full size spare isn’t available on the ATS Sedan, it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Maxima is 2.9 inches wider in the front and 1.5 inches wider in the rear than on the ATS Sedan.

The Maxima SR handles at .87 G’s, while the ATS Sedan pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The Maxima SL/SR/Platinum uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The ATS Sedan doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Maxima a Mid-size car, while the ATS Sedan is rated a Compact.

The Maxima has 7.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the ATS Sedan (98.5 vs. 90.9).

The Maxima has .8 inches more front headroom, 2.5 inches more front legroom, 1.2 inches more front hip room, 1.5 inches more front shoulder room, .7 inches more rear legroom, 1.2 inches more rear hip room and 1.8 inches more rear shoulder room than the ATS Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

The Maxima has a much larger trunk than the ATS Sedan (14.3 vs. 10.4 cubic feet).

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the Maxima offers cargo security. The ATS Sedan’s non-lockable folding seat defeats cargo security.

Ergonomics

The Maxima’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge – which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The ATS Sedan does not have an oil pressure gauge.

If the front windows are left open on the Maxima the driver can close them at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the ATS Sedan can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Maxima’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The ATS Sedan’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 Maxima’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the ATS Sedan’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

A power rear sunshade is standard in the Maxima Platinum to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The ATS Sedan doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

Both the Maxima and the ATS Sedan offer available heated front seats. The Maxima also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the ATS Sedan.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Maxima SR/Platinum keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The ATS Sedan doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Maxima owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Maxima with a number “1” insurance rate while the ATS Sedan is rated higher at a number “8” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Maxima is less expensive to operate than the ATS Sedan because it costs $351 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Maxima than the ATS Sedan, including $314 less for a water pump, $529 less for a muffler, $95 less for front brake pads, $286 less for a starter, $226 less for fuel injection, $116 less for a fuel pump, $107 less for front struts and $160 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Nissan Maxima, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Cadillac ATS Sedan isn't recommended.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Maxima second among large cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The ATS Sedan isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Nissan Maxima outsold the Cadillac ATS by almost four to one during the 2018 model year.

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

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