2019 Nissan Maxima vs. 2019 Chevrolet Impala

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 Impala 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 Impala 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 Impala 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 Impala only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or 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 Impala doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Maxima and the Impala 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, 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 Chevrolet Impala:

 

Maxima

Impala

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

106

229

Neck Compression

20 lbs.

30 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

67/94 lbs.

270/69 lbs.

 

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

103

412

Neck Injury Risk

29%

36.3%

Neck Stress

114 lbs.

132 lbs.

Neck Compression

52 lbs.

97 lbs.

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

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Nissan Maxima is safer than the Impala:

 

Maxima

Impala

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Restraints

ACCEPTABLE

ACCEPTABLE

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

1 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

15 cm

17 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

0%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Tibia index R/L

.51/.43

.68/.32

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 Chevrolet Impala:

 

Maxima

Impala

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Movement

.9 inches

1.3 inches

Hip Force

286 lbs.

332 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

591 lbs.

855 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 Impala was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2018.

Warranty

The Maxima’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Impala’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

Reliability

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

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Nissan 9 places higher in reliability than Chevrolet.

Engine

The Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 103 more horsepower (300 vs. 197) and 70 lbs.-ft. more torque (261 vs. 191) than the Impala’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Nissan Maxima is faster than the Chevrolet Impala:

 

Maxima

Impala 4 cyl.

Impala V6

Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

8.7 sec

6 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.1 sec

24.5 sec

15.5 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6 sec

9 sec

6.2 sec

Quarter Mile

14.4 sec

16.8 sec

14.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

101 MPH

85 MPH

97 MPH

Top Speed

135 MPH

132 MPH

149 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Maxima gets better fuel mileage than the Impala V6 (20 city/30 hwy vs. 19 city/28 hwy).

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 Impala doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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 Impala are solid, not vented.

The Maxima stops much shorter than the Impala:

 

Maxima

Impala

 

70 to 0 MPH

168 feet

178 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Maxima has larger tires than the Impala (245/45R18 vs. 235/50R18).

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 Impala’s standard 50 series tires.

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 Impala 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 Impala, it requires you to depend on a temporary spare, which limits mileage and speed before replacement.

Suspension and Handling

The Maxima SR handles at .87 G’s, while the Impala LT pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Maxima SR executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Impala Premier (26.6 seconds @ .69 average G’s vs. 27.1 seconds @ .68 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Maxima’s turning circle is .7 feet tighter than the Impala’s (38.1 feet vs. 38.8 feet).

Chassis

The Maxima is 8.5 inches shorter than the Impala, making the Maxima easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the Maxima offers cargo security. The Impala’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat 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 Impala does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The Maxima’s front power windows open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Impala’s front passenger window doesn’t close automatically.

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 Impala can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Maxima has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Impala doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

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 Impala’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted. The Maxima Platinum’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield.

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 Impala’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Maxima SR/Platinum detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Impala doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

A power rear sunshade is standard in the Maxima Platinum to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Impala 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 Impala’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Both the Maxima and the Impala 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 Impala.

The Maxima has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Impala LT/Premier.

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 Impala is rated higher at a number “3” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Maxima is less expensive to operate than the Impala because it costs $423 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the Maxima than the Impala, including $83 less for a water pump, $73 less for front brake pads, $18 less for fuel injection and $42 less for a fuel pump.

Recommendations

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 Impala isn’t in the top three.

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

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