2019 Nissan Maxima vs. 2019 Audi A3 Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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 A3 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 A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

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 A3 Sedan 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 A3 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 A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The Maxima Platinum has standard NissanConnect, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Maxima and the A3 Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front-wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, 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 Audi A3 Sedan:

 

Maxima

A3 Sedan

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

106

217

Neck Injury Risk

38%

45%

Neck Stress

328 lbs.

427 lbs.

Neck Compression

20 lbs.

143 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

67/94 lbs.

461/426 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 Audi A3 Sedan:

 

Maxima

A3 Sedan

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.9 inches

1.1 inches

Abdominal Force

188 G’s

219 G’s

Hip Force

286 lbs.

308 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

591 lbs.

777 lbs.

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

Warranty

Nissan’s powertrain warranty covers the Maxima 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Audi covers the A3 Sedan. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the A3 Sedan ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are almost 4 times as many Nissan dealers as there are Audi dealers, which makes it much 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 29 points higher than the A3 Sedan.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Maxima first among large cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The A3 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 Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 20 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

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 Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 8 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 13th.

Engine

The Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 116 more horsepower (300 vs. 184) and 40 lbs.-ft. more torque (261 vs. 221) than the A3 Sedan 40 TSFI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 72 more horsepower (300 vs. 228) and 3 lbs.-ft. more torque (261 vs. 258) than the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

The Maxima has 4.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Sedan 40 TSFI’s standard fuel tank (18 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Maxima has 3.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Sedan 45 TFSI Quattro’s standard fuel tank (18 vs. 14.5 gallons).

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 A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Maxima’s brake rotors are larger than those on the A3 Sedan:

 

Maxima

A3 Sedan

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

12.13 inches

10.7 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 A3 Sedan are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Maxima has larger tires than the A3 Sedan (245/45R18 vs. 225/45R17). The Maxima’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the A3 Sedan (245/45R18 vs. 235/35R19).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Maxima has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the A3 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 A3 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 A3 Sedan, it requires you to depend on a temporary spare, which limits mileage and speed before replacement.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Maxima’s wheelbase is 5.5 inches longer than on the A3 Sedan (109.3 inches vs. 103.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Maxima is 1.2 inches wider in the front and 2.3 inches wider in the rear than on the A3 Sedan.

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 A3 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 A3 Sedan is rated a Subcompact.

The Maxima has 12.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the A3 Sedan (98.5 vs. 86).

The Maxima has 2.9 inches more front headroom, 3.8 inches more front legroom, 1.9 inches more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear headroom and 2.7 inches more rear shoulder room than the A3 Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

The Maxima has a much larger trunk than the A3 Sedan (14.3 vs. 12.3 cubic feet).

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the Maxima offers cargo security. The A3 Sedan’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

Ergonomics

The Maxima has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

When two different drivers share the Maxima (except S/SV/SL), the optional memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Maxima Platinum’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

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 A3 Sedan does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The Intelligent Key standard on the Maxima allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Audi A3 Sedan’s available Audi Advanced Key doesn’t unlock the trunk.

A power rear sunshade is standard in the Maxima Platinum to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

When the Maxima with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The A3 Sedan’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Both the Maxima and the A3 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 A3 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 A3 Sedan doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the Maxima SL/SR/Platinum’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

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 A3 Sedan is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Maxima is less expensive to operate than the A3 Sedan because it costs $549 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Maxima than the A3 Sedan, including $144 less for a water pump, $18 less for front brake pads, $154 less for a starter, $234 less for front struts and $152 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Nissan Maxima and the Audi A3 Sedan, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Nissan Maxima outsold the Audi A3/S3 by over two to one during the 2018 model year.

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

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