2020 Acura TLX vs. 2019 Nissan Maxima

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The TLX V6’s optional pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Maxima doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The TLX offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Maxima doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Both the TLX and the Maxima have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver 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, available blind spot warning systems, around view monitors 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 Acura TLX is safer than the Nissan Maxima:

TLX

Maxima

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

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 Acura TLX is safer than the Nissan Maxima:

TLX

Maxima

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

187

295

Chest Movement

.8 inches

.9 inches

Abdominal Force

179 G’s

188 G’s

Hip Force

276 lbs.

286 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

229

391

Spine Acceleration

57 G’s

57 G’s

Hip Force

483 lbs.

591 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Max Damage Depth

14 inches

16 inches

HIC

249

300

Spine Acceleration

36 G’s

53 G’s

Hip Force

678 lbs.

997 lbs.

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

Warranty

The TLX comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Maxima’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Acura’s powertrain warranty covers the TLX 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Nissan covers the Maxima. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Maxima ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Reliability

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Acura vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Acura 1 place higher in reliability than Nissan.

Engine

The TLX’s optional 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 6 lbs.-ft. more torque (267 vs. 261) than the Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the Acura TLX V6 is faster than the Nissan Maxima:

TLX

Maxima

Zero to 60 MPH

5.8 sec

5.9 sec

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

14.4 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the TLX FWD V6 gets better fuel mileage than the Maxima (20 city/31 hwy vs. 20 city/30 hwy).

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the TLX V6’s fuel efficiency. The Maxima doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the TLX SH-AWD’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Maxima doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Acura TLX uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The Maxima requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The TLX has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Maxima doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

The TLX stops shorter than the Maxima:

TLX

Maxima

60 to 0 MPH

122 feet

125 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

The TLX handles at .84 G’s, while the Maxima Platinum pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Passenger Space

The TLX has 1.1 inches more front hip room, .8 inches more front shoulder room, .3 inches more rear legroom and 1.4 inches more rear hip room than the Maxima.

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the TLX easier. The TLX’s trunk lift-over height is 27.5 inches, while the Maxima’s liftover is 28.8 inches.

Servicing Ease

The TLX 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.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Acura service is better than Nissan. J.D. Power ranks Acura 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 34% lower rating, Nissan is ranked 17th.

Ergonomics

The TLX’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.

The TLX’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Nissan only offers heated mirrors on the Maxima SV/SL/SR/Platinum.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the TLX owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the TLX will cost $1180 to $5310 less than the Maxima over a five-year period.

The TLX will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the TLX will retain 48.4% to 50.83% of its original price after five years, while the Maxima only retains 36.9% to 38.7%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the TLX is less expensive to operate than the Maxima because typical repairs cost much less on the TLX than the Maxima, including $102 less for a water pump, $22 less for front brake pads and $476 less for a timing belt/chain.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Acura TLX will be $5688 to $8635 less than for the Nissan Maxima.

Recommendations

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Acura TLX, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels. The Nissan Maxima isn't recommended.

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

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