2019 Volkswagen Passat vs. 2019 Nissan Maxima

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Passat has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Maxima doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Both the Passat and the Maxima 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems and rear parking sensors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Volkswagen Passat is safer than the Nissan Maxima:

Passat

Maxima

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Leg Forces (l/r)

86/37 lbs.

840/589 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 and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Volkswagen Passat is safer than the Nissan Maxima:

Passat

Maxima

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

119

295

Chest Movement

.9 inches

.9 inches

Abdominal Force

136 G’s

188 G’s

Hip Force

247 lbs.

286 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

280

391

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Max Damage Depth

15 inches

16 inches

Spine Acceleration

44 G’s

53 G’s

Hip Force

671 lbs.

997 lbs.

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

Warranty

The Passat comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The Maxima’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 3 years and 36,000 miles sooner.

The Passat’s corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the Maxima’s (10 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

The Volkswagen Passat’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the Maxima’s engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 6 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 15th.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Passat gets better fuel mileage than the Maxima (25 city/36 hwy vs. 20 city/30 hwy).

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Volkswagen Passat uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Maxima requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Brakes and Stopping

The Passat stops shorter than the Maxima:

Passat

Maxima

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

125 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

140 feet

141 feet

Consumer Reports

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Passat’s wheelbase is 1.1 inches longer than on the Maxima (110.4 inches vs. 109.3 inches).

The Passat SE R-Line handles at .83 G’s, while the Maxima Platinum pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Passat’s turning circle is 1.7 feet tighter than the Maxima’s (36.4 feet vs. 38.1 feet).

Chassis

The Volkswagen Passat may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 250 to 400 pounds less than the Nissan Maxima.

The design of the Volkswagen Passat amounts to more than styling. The Passat has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .29 Cd. That is lower than the Maxima (.29 to .3) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Passat get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The Passat has 3.8 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Maxima (102.3 vs. 98.5).

The Passat has .2 inches more front shoulder room, 1.1 inches more rear headroom, 4.9 inches more rear legroom and 1.3 inches more rear shoulder room than the Maxima.

Cargo Capacity

The Passat has a much larger trunk than the Maxima (15.9 vs. 14.3 cubic feet).

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just kicking your foot under the back bumper can open the Passat SE R-Line’s trunk, leaving your hands completely free. The Maxima doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

The Passat has a 1000 lbs. towing capacity. The Maxima has no towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The Passat has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Maxima doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the Passat and the Maxima have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Passat is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Maxima prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Passat’s front and rear power windows all 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 Maxima’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Passat R-Line/SE/SEL to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Maxima doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Passat (except S/R-Line/GT) offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Maxima doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Passat SEL Premium’s Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Maxima doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Passat is less expensive to operate than the Maxima because typical repairs cost much less on the Passat than the Maxima, including $2 less for front brake pads, $161 less for fuel injection and $240 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Volkswagen Passat and the Nissan Maxima, based on reliability, safety and performance.

Motor Trend selected the Passat as their 2012 Car of the Year. The Maxima has never been chosen.

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

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