2019 Nissan Maxima vs. 2018 Lexus ES Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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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 ES Series doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Maxima (except S/SV/SL) offers optional Rear Automatic Braking which use rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The ES Series doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

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 ES Series 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 ES Series doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Maxima and the ES Series 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, crash mitigating brakes, 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 Lexus ES Series:



ES Series


5 Stars

4 Stars




5 Stars

5 Stars




Neck Injury Risk



Neck Stress

328 lbs.

388 lbs.

Neck Compression

20 lbs.

45 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

67/94 lbs.

446/567 lbs.




4 Stars

4 Stars




Neck Injury Risk



Neck Stress

114 lbs.

132 lbs.

Neck Compression

52 lbs.

147 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 Lexus ES Series:



ES Series


Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.9 inches

1.3 inches

Abdominal Force

188 G’s

245 G’s

Hip Force

286 lbs.

510 lbs.


Rear Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

591 lbs.

669 lbs.

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


There are almost 5 times as many Nissan dealers as there are Lexus dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Maxima’s warranty.


J.D. Power and Associates rated the Maxima first among large cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The ES Series was rated third in its category.


The Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 100 more horsepower (300 vs. 200) and 62 lbs.-ft. more torque (261 vs. 199) than the ES 300h’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid. The Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 32 more horsepower (300 vs. 268) and 13 lbs.-ft. more torque (261 vs. 248) than the ES 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the Nissan Maxima is faster than the Lexus ES Series:



ES 300h

ES 350

Zero to 60 MPH

5.7 sec

7.6 sec

6 sec

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

15.8 sec

14.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100.5 MPH

90.1 MPH

100.3 MPH

Brakes and Stopping

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



ES Series

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

11.6 inches

Rear Rotors

12.13 inches

11 inches

The Maxima’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the ES Series are solid, not vented.

The Maxima stops much shorter than the ES Series:



ES Series


70 to 0 MPH

168 feet

185 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

132 feet

140 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

141 feet

147 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Maxima has larger tires than the ES Series (245/45R18 vs. 215/55R17). The Maxima’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the ES Series (245/45R18 vs. 225/45R18).

The Maxima’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the ES Series’ standard 55 series tires. The Maxima SR/Platinum’s tires have a lower 40 series profile than the ES Series’ optional 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Maxima has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the ES Series. The Maxima SR/Platinum’s 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels optional on the ES Series.

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 ES Series doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Maxima has vehicle speed-sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The ES Series doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The Maxima SR handles at .87 G’s, while the ES 300h pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Maxima SR executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.9 seconds quicker than the ES 350 (26.6 seconds @ .69 average G’s vs. 28.5 seconds @ .61 average G’s).


To almost totally eliminate engine vibration in the passenger area, the Maxima has an electronically controlled liquid-filled main engine mount. A computer controlled electric current in the liquid changes its viscosity, allowing the mount to dampen the engine completely at all RPMs. The ES Series uses conventional solid rubber engine mounts.

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 ES Series doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Maxima has 1.9 inches more front headroom, 3.1 inches more front legroom and .7 inches more rear shoulder room than the ES Series.

Cargo Capacity

The Maxima’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The ES Series doesn’t offer folding rear seats, only a ski pass-through.


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 ES Series does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The Maxima’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The ES Series’ power mirror controls are on the dash, hidden behind the steering wheel, where they are awkward to manipulate.

Both the Maxima and the ES Series 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 ES Series.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Maxima is less expensive to operate than the ES Series because it costs $18 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Maxima than the ES Series, including $16 less for front brake pads, $129 less for a starter, $10 less for fuel injection, $10 less for a fuel pump, $224 less for front struts, $617 less for a timing belt/chain and $510 less for a power steering pump.


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

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 ES Series isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Nissan Maxima outsold the Lexus ES Series by 6% during the 2018 model year.

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

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