2019 Nissan Maxima vs. 2019 Lexus ES Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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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 ES Series 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 ES Series 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 ES Series doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

To help make backing safer, the Maxima SL/SR/Platinum’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The ES Series doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

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 ES Series doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Maxima and the ES Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, 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 around view monitors.

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 ES Series has not been tested, yet.


There are almost 5 times as many Nissan dealers as there are Lexus dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Maxima’s warranty.


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


As tested in Motor Trend the Nissan Maxima is faster than the ES 300h 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid:



ES Series

Zero to 60 MPH

5.7 sec

7.8 sec

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100.5 MPH

90.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

The Maxima has 4.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the ES Series Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (18 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Maxima has 2.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the ES Series’ standard fuel tank (18 vs. 15.9 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping

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



ES Series

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

12 inches

Rear Rotors

12.13 inches

11.1 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 ES Series are solid, not vented.

The Maxima stops much shorter than the ES Series:



ES Series


60 to 0 MPH

125 feet

140 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Maxima has larger tires than the ES Series (245/45R18 vs. 215/55R17). The Maxima’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the ES Series (245/45R18 vs. 235/45R18).

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 ES Series’ standard 55 series tires.

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

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 ES Series doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Maxima SR handles at .86 G’s, while the ES 300h pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Maxima SR executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.8 seconds quicker than the ES 300h (26.6 seconds @ .69 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .6 average G’s).


The Maxima is 3.1 inches shorter than the ES Series, making the Maxima easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Maxima has 1.9 inches more front headroom, 2.6 inches more front legroom, .8 inches more front shoulder room and 1.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the ES Series.

Cargo Capacity

The Maxima’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The ES Series doesn’t offer folding rear seats.

Servicing Ease

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the Maxima to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes and tire rotation based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Lexus doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the ES Series.


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 ES Series doesn’t offer a remote starting 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 ES Series does not have an oil pressure gauge.

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 ES Series’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Both the Maxima and the ES Series 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 ES Series.


Consumer Reports® recommends both the Nissan Maxima and the Lexus ES Series, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Nissan Maxima outsold the Lexus ES Series by 6% during the 2018 model year.

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

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