2019 Nissan Maxima vs. 2019 Ford Fusion

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 Fusion 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 Fusion 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 Fusion 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 Fusion 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.

Both the Maxima and the Fusion have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, 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 Ford Fusion:

 

Maxima

Fusion

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

106

234

Neck Compression

20 lbs.

26 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

67/94 lbs.

232/354 lbs.

 

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

3 Stars

HIC

103

400

Neck Injury Risk

29%

65%

Neck Stress

114 lbs.

230 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 Ford Fusion:

 

Maxima

Fusion

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.9 inches

.9 inches

Abdominal Force

188 G’s

269 G’s

Hip Force

286 lbs.

338 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

591 lbs.

805 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 Fusion was a “Top Pick” for 2017, but no longer qualifies under the tighter 2018 guidelines.

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 34 points higher than the Fusion.

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

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 Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 19 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Nissan 4 places higher in reliability than Ford.

Engine

The Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 125 more horsepower (300 vs. 175) and 86 lbs.-ft. more torque (261 vs. 175) than the Fusion’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. The Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 119 more horsepower (300 vs. 181) and 76 lbs.-ft. more torque (261 vs. 185) than the Fusion SE/SEL’s standard 1.5 turbo 4 cyl. The Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 60 more horsepower (300 vs. 240) than the Fusion’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Road and Track the Nissan Maxima is faster than the Ford Fusion 4 cyl.:

 

Maxima

Fusion

Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

9.1 sec

Quarter Mile

14.4 sec

17 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100 MPH

84 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

The Maxima has 1.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the Fusion FWD’s standard fuel tank (18 vs. 16.5 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 Fusion doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

Maxima

Fusion

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

11.8 inches

Rear Rotors

12.13 inches

11.9 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 Fusion are solid, not vented.

The Maxima stops much shorter than the Fusion:

 

Maxima

Fusion

 

70 to 0 MPH

168 feet

178 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

141 feet

145 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Maxima has larger tires than the Fusion (245/45R18 vs. 215/60R16). The Maxima’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Fusion (245/45R18 vs. 235/50R17).

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 Fusion S’ standard 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Maxima has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Fusion S.

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 Fusion 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 Fusion, 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 Fusion Sport AWD pulls only .84 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 Fusion SE (26.6 seconds @ .69 average G’s vs. 27.4 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

Passenger Space

The Maxima has .2 inches more front headroom and .7 inches more front legroom than the Fusion.

Cargo Capacity

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

Servicing Ease

The Maxima uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Fusion uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

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 Fusion does not have an oil pressure gauge.

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 Fusion’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 Fusion 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 Fusion’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Both the Maxima and the Fusion 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 Fusion.

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 costs extra on the Fusion.

Both the Maxima and the Fusion offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Maxima has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Fusion doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Maxima is less expensive to operate than the Fusion because typical repairs cost less on the Maxima than the Fusion, including $86 less for front brake pads and $20 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Nissan Maxima, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Ford Fusion 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 Fusion isn’t in the top three in its category.

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

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