2019 Nissan Maxima vs. 2019 Ford Taurus

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 Taurus 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 Taurus doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Maxima has standard Forward Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Taurus offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

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 Taurus doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Nissan Maxima has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Taurus doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

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 Taurus only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the Maxima and the Taurus have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact 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, 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 Ford Taurus:

 

Maxima

Taurus

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

106

182

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 Taurus:

 

Maxima

Taurus

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

4 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

15 cm

20 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

0%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Tibia index R/L

.51/.43

1.19/.41

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 Taurus:

 

Maxima

Taurus

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.9 inches

1.2 inches

Hip Force

286 lbs.

337 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

591 lbs.

910 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 Taurus was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2018.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Maxima first among large cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The Taurus was rated second.

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 12 more horsepower (300 vs. 288) and 7 lbs.-ft. more torque (261 vs. 254) than the Taurus’ standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the Nissan Maxima is faster than the Ford Taurus V6:

 

Maxima

Taurus

Zero to 60 MPH

5.7 sec

6.6 sec

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

15.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100.5 MPH

95 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Maxima gets better fuel mileage than the Taurus FWD with its standard engine (20 city/30 hwy vs. 18 city/26 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 Taurus 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 Taurus are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Maxima has larger tires than the Taurus (245/45R18 vs. 235/60R17).

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 Taurus SE’s standard 60 series tires. The Maxima SR/Platinum’s tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Taurus Limited’s 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 Taurus SE.

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

Suspension and Handling

The Maxima SR handles at .87 G’s, while the Taurus Limited 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 1 seconds quicker than the Taurus SEL (26.6 seconds @ .69 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .64 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Maxima’s turning circle is 1.3 feet tighter than the Taurus SHO’s (38.1 feet vs. 39.4 feet). The Maxima’s turning circle is 1.4 feet tighter than the Taurus’ (38.1 feet vs. 39.5 feet).

Chassis

The Nissan Maxima may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 350 to 650 pounds less than the Ford Taurus.

The Maxima is 10.1 inches shorter than the Taurus, 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 Taurus (.32 to .33) 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 Taurus doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Maxima has .4 inches more front headroom and .8 inches more front legroom than the Taurus.

Cargo Capacity

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the Maxima offers cargo security. The Taurus’ 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 Taurus does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The Maxima’s front power windows open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Taurus’ passenger windows don’t open or 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 Taurus can only close 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 Taurus 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 Taurus’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 Taurus’ headlights are rated “Poor.”

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 Taurus’ mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

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 Taurus SEL/Limited/SHO.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Nissan Maxima offers an available wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Taurus doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Nissan Maxima offers an available wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Taurus doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Maxima is less expensive to operate than the Taurus because it costs $81 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the Maxima than the Taurus, including $161 less for a water pump, $104 less for a muffler and $128 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

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

The Nissan Maxima outsold the Ford Taurus by 37% during the 2018 model year.

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

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