2019 Nissan Maxima vs. 2019 Dodge Charger

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 Charger doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

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 Charger 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 Charger doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Maxima and the Charger have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, 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 Dodge Charger:

 

Maxima

Charger

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Compression

20 lbs.

41 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

67/94 lbs.

582/440 lbs.

 

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Compression

.7 inches

.7 inches

Neck Injury Risk

29%

33%

Neck Stress

114 lbs.

155 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 Charger:

 

Maxima

Charger

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Head injury index

168

222

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

9 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

15 cm

28 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

.2/.1 kN

3.7/3 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

1%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Tibia index R/L

.51/.43

1.21/.58

Tibia forces R/L

2.1/.4 kN

3/4.7 kN

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 Dodge Charger:

 

Maxima

Charger

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Movement

.9 inches

1.4 inches

Abdominal Force

188 G’s

212 G’s

Hip Force

286 lbs.

372 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 Charger was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2018.

Warranty

The Maxima’s 5 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Charger runs out after 60,000 miles.

Reliability

For smoother operation, better efficiency and fewer moving parts, the Maxima has an overhead cam design, rather than the old pushrod design of some of the engines in the Charger.

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

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 Dodge vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Dodge is ranked 19th, 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 Dodge vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 33 more problems per 100 vehicles, Dodge is ranked 23rd.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Dodge vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Nissan 7 places higher in reliability than Dodge.

Engine

The Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 8 more horsepower (300 vs. 292) and 1 lbs.-ft. more torque (261 vs. 260) than the Charger’s standard 3.6 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Maxima gets better fuel mileage than the Charger RWD with its standard engine (20 city/30 hwy vs. 19 city/30 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 Charger 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 standard on the Charger SXT are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Maxima has larger tires than the Charger (245/45R18 vs. 215/65R17).

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 Charger SXT’s standard 65 series tires.

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

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 Charger 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 Charger, it requires you to depend on a temporary spare, which has mileage and speed limitations, or roadside assistance and a tow-truck.

Chassis

The Nissan Maxima may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 450 to 700 pounds less than the Dodge Charger.

The Maxima is 5.6 inches shorter than the Charger SXT, making the Maxima easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the Nissan Maxima amounts to more than styling. The Maxima offers aerodynamic coefficients of drag from .29 to .3 Cd (depending on bodystyle and options). That is lower than the Charger (.304 to .335) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Maxima get better fuel mileage.

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 Charger doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Maxima has .8 inches more front headroom, 3.2 inches more front legroom and .1 inches more rear headroom than the Charger.

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Maxima easier. The Maxima’s trunk lift-over height is 28.8 inches, while the Charger’s liftover is 30.1 inches.

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

Ergonomics

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 Charger’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 Charger doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Maxima is less expensive to operate than the Charger because typical repairs cost much less on the Maxima than the Charger, including $424 less for a muffler, $94 less for front brake pads and $129 less for a fuel pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Nissan Maxima and the Dodge Charger, 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 Charger isn’t in the top three.

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

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