2019 Nissan Maxima vs. 2019 Subaru Legacy

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 Legacy 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 Legacy only offers a rear monitor.

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 Legacy doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

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

 

Maxima

Legacy

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Compression

20 lbs.

42 lbs.

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

Warranty

There are over 72 percent more Nissan dealers than there are Subaru dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Maxima’s warranty.

Reliability

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

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 Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 30 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 28th, 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 Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 34 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 24th.

Engine

The Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 125 more horsepower (300 vs. 175) and 87 lbs.-ft. more torque (261 vs. 174) than the Legacy 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. The Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 44 more horsepower (300 vs. 256) and 14 lbs.-ft. more torque (261 vs. 247) than the Legacy 3.6R Limited’s standard 3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Nissan Maxima is faster than the Subaru Legacy:

 

Maxima

Legacy 2.5i

Legacy 3.6R Limited

Zero to 60 MPH

5.7 sec

9.2 sec

7 sec

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

17 sec

15.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100.5 MPH

84.9 MPH

96.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Maxima gets better fuel mileage than the Legacy 3.6R Limited 6 cyl. (20 city/30 hwy vs. 20 city/28 hwy).

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

Maxima

Legacy 2.5i

Legacy 3.6R Limited

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

11.6 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

12.13 inches

11.8 inches

11.8 inches

The Maxima stops much shorter than the Legacy:

 

Maxima

Legacy

 

70 to 0 MPH

168 feet

179 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Maxima has larger tires than the Legacy (245/45R18 vs. 225/55R17).

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 Legacy 2.5i/2.5i Premium’s standard 55 series tires. The Maxima SR/Platinum’s tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Legacy Sport/Limited’s 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Maxima has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Legacy 2.5i/2.5i Premium. The Maxima SR/Platinum’s 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Legacy Sport/Limited.

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 Legacy 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 Legacy, 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 Legacy 3.6R Limited pulls only .79 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 Legacy 2.5i Limited (26.6 seconds @ .69 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

Chassis

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 Legacy doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Cargo Capacity

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

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. Subaru doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Legacy.

Ergonomics

The Maxima Platinum’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Legacy doesn’t offer an easy entry 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 Legacy 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 Legacy’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically. The Legacy Premium//Limited’s optional windows’ rear windows don’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 Legacy can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

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 Legacy’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.

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

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Maxima SR/Platinum keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Legacy doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the Maxima SL/SR/Platinum’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Legacy doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

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 Legacy Premium/Sport/Limited.

Both the Maxima and the Legacy 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 Legacy Base 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 Legacy because it costs $360 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the Maxima than the Legacy, including $40 less for a starter and $96 less for front struts.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Nissan Maxima and the Subaru Legacy, 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 Legacy isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Nissan Maxima outsold the Subaru Legacy by 14% during the 2018 model year.

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

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