2015 Hyundai Genesis vs 2016 Nissan Maxima

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Here we have two lovely large, V6-powered sedans that subscribe to two very different philosophies. One is a classy old gent, while the other is the new guy, trying to blaze a new path. Both the 2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 Luxury and the 2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum are very capable, but the two sedans have varying priorities and the one you like better will heavily depend on what you need in a car and what kind of statement you want to make.

Who Has the Better Looks?

The Genesis and the Maxima take two totally different approaches to aesthetics. On one hand, you have the Genesis, a more mature, conservative-looking sedan with a more mature and conservative clientele. And then on the other hand, which the Maxima is very enthusiastically trying to high-five, you have the Nissan, which is dramatic and literally very edgy. There are edges freaking everywhere.

With its prominent, high-end looking front grille and purposeful lines, the Genesis has a much more elegant design, which some would say is boring. I think it’s classy. It looks like something luxurious, which means the design has done its job. It doesn’t shout out its intentions to the world, and I prefer its subdued approach.

But every time I see a Nissan these days, especially the new Murano and the Maxima, my eye twitches a bit. I don’t know where to look. There are just so many distracting lines and bulges that it’s borderline confusing. I like the look of the floating roof from the side profile, and the sedan definitely looks sporty, but I think Nissan could have done a better job at smoothing out the lines. And that hood bulges way too much and the grille has too much chrome to be taken seriously.

But looks are subjective. Here’s what my colleague Sami Haj-Assad, AutoGuide.com‘s feature editor who helped me with this comparison, had to say about the Maxima’s look: “The Maxima is slick and it reminds me of the Mazda6, but bigger and with more attitude. I love the floating roof look, and the eye-liner like look of the head and tail lights. Sexy, though I think the chrome grille is a bit much.”

Who wins this round? My personal pick is the Genesis. I think it will age more gracefully. The Maxima just feels like it’s trying too hard and its design will get old very quickly.

Who Has the Better Interior?

2015 Hyundai Genesis Again, the two different types of customers these two automakers are targeting is very obvious once you step inside.

The Genesis’ interior feels a bit dated. Two people told me the car’s interior had old man vibes, which isn’t helped by the analog clock, tan leather, or plastic surfaces. One of the biggest disappointments with the Genesis is its steering wheel. It feels cheap. As the main point of contact between the driver and the car, the steering wheel should feel more substantial. The Genesis’ steering wheel is skinny, covered in cheap-feeling leather, and a bunch of hard plastic. It feels like it could have come from an Accent.

2016 Nissan MaximaOn the other side of the spectrum, the Maxima’s steering wheel looks beautiful and feels great to hold. It is chunky, thick and has nice grips on it, dimpled leather, lovely stitching, a flat bottom, and lovely two-tone accents. Those two-tone accents carry on throughout the cabin and gives it a very three-dimensional look and feel. There’s a lot of visually interesting and luxurious/sporty looking design in the Maxima’s cabin like the beautiful quilted leather seats and brushed metal/wood trim. The Genesis definitely falls short with a cabin that is totally functional but quite bland.

Click here to compare the two cars side by side

One more sticking point in the Genesis: the HVAC controls are above the audio controls. This is completely wrong because when trying to change the volume, you inadvertently end up changing the fan speed. It should always be the other way around, and the Maxima got this right, so its dashboard layout is more user friendly. The buttons and switch gear in the Maxima also feel more substantial and are nicer to use. The Genesis switchgear feels plasticky and a bit cheap.

2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8-11Both infotainment systems are user friendly and quick to react. It’s easy to input a navigation destination or pair a phone via Bluetooth. Sami says he likes like the design of the Maxima’s system better, but I found both to be pretty slick. The system in the Genesis is operated by a touchscreen, where the Maxima also adds the functionality of a rotary knob into the mix. If you have a touchscreen, the extra rotary knob is kind of redundant, and it takes up extra space on the dash.

2016 Nissan Maxima-24

But the Genesis is more comfortable than the Maxima, as it feels roomier in the front and in the back seats. The Genesis has more headroom and legroom in the back and also has more usable trunk space.

The Maxima definitely wins this round, though. Its interior is much more modern and luxurious-feeling.

Compare Specs

2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan
vs
2016 Nissan Maxima
Vehicle 2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan Advantage 2016 Nissan Maxima
Engine 3.8L V6 - 3.5L V6
Horsepower 311 Genesis 300
Torque 293 Genesis 261
Transmission 8 speed - CVT
Fuel Economy 16 MPG City/25 MPG Highway Maxima 22 MPG City/ 30 MPG Highway
Fuel Economy (l/100kms) 14.4 City/9.4 HighwayMaxima 10.9 City/ 7.8 Highway
Starting Price USD $38,950 Maxima $33,235
Starting Price (CAD)$43,000 Maxima $37,735
As Tested Price USD $41,450 Maxima $40,685
As Tested Price (CAD) $49,995 Maxima $45,135

Which is the Better Car for Drivers?

We really couldn’t have picked two more different cars to compare! It seems like these cars do everything differently, and the drive is no exception.

The Genesis (which takes regular gas) is powered by a 3.8L V6 with 311 hp and 293 lb-ft of torque. That robust engine is hooked up to a smooth and quick shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. This setup gives the Genesis a very premium feel, and it behaves much like an executive sedan should: It’s responsive, quick when you need it to be, smooth, comfortable and quiet.

2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8-10

On-road comfort goes to the Genesis. It doesn’t completely mute everything off the road in that numb Lexus way, but is cushy enough to feel leisurely without being super vague,” Sami said. “It’s very well balanced. It’s also extremely quiet.”

The Maxima (which takes premium gas) has a 3.5L V6 with 300 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque. That’s hooked up to a CVT that mimics a regular automatic in sporty driving with pre-defined “shift points.” The CVT is actually pretty good, it’s quieter and more responsive than other CVTs I’ve tested.

2016 Nissan Maxima-9

Nissan likes to call the Maxima a 4 Door Sports Car, which is a huge exaggeration. Sure, with its heavy steering setup and V6, the car has sporty undertones, but it does not feel like a sports car and it’s not as responsive or buttoned-down as the Genesis. Sami and I, however, both preferred the Nissan’s stiffer, sportier steering that had more feedback than the Genesis, which has a lighter steering setup. Both cars feel precise and tight.

ALSO SEE: Should You Buy a Car with a CVT Transmission?

The Genesis comes standard with all-wheel drive, while the Maxima is front-wheel. Naturally, this makes the Genesis feel more planted when driven with purpose, and it feels more confident when pushed hard. Thrown into a corner, the Genesis surprised me by how stable it felt, something that was a bit lacking in the Maxima.2015 Hyundai Genesis vs 2016 Nissan Maxima-10

One of the downsides of a bigger engine and AWD, the Genesis consumed more fuel than the Maxima. We took the two cars on an identical drive loop with some highway and suburban driving, and our as-tested consumption in the Genesis was 20.8 mpg, while in the Maxima, it was 26 mpg.

For its more confident driving dynamics, the Genesis takes this round, but the Maxima is not far behind.

The Value Question

As tested, the Genesis is slightly more expensive than the Maxima, although the Nissan is better equipped at this price point. The huge reason for the price disparity is because the Genesis has all-wheel drive, but the Maxima makes up for it by having more features.

Nissan Maxima reverse cameraOne of the best advantages of the Maxima is the 360-degree camera that gives you a bird’s eye view of what’s happening around the car (pictured to the right). You can turn it on by using a button on the dash and it automatically turns on when you’re reversing the car. The Genesis does have a reverse camera, but the Maxima’s shows way more useful information.

The Genesis can be optioned with a lot of the features the Maxima has, but not at this price point. You’ll have to pony up more cash if you want all the same features like adaptive cruise control and ventilated front seats. Luckily, both have blind spot monitoring, heated steering wheel and heated front seats. One things the Genesis has that the Maxima doesn’t is heated rear seats.

The Maxima does have more value here because it has more features at this price, so it wins the value round.

The Verdict: 2015 Hyundai Genesis vs 2016 Nissan Maxima

2015 Hyundai Genesis vs 2016 Nissan Maxima-8Both sedans have a lot to offer and this competition is close. Both cars have their strengths and weaknesses. The Maxima has the better interior, more style and more features, but the Genesis has a better driving experience, all-wheel-drive and looks more sophisticated.

The Hyundai Genesis was AutoGuide.com‘s Car of the Year for 2015, and even after going up against the totally new Maxima, it still manages to impress us. For the simple fact that it’s a better car for drivers and has a look that will age more gracefully, the Genesis wins this competition, but not by a huge margin.

Discuss this story on our Hyundai Genesis Forum or our Nissan Forum

  • Car-Guys

    It’s a wrong comparison… Genesis to be compared the same RWD cars not Nissan.

  • Isend2C

    It should have been the Azera, not Genesis. The Azera is a direct competitor to the Maxima. It also seemed like the wrong car won – it lagged in everything in the article; but it is my favorite of these.
    Is AWD standard in Canada? Because down here RWD is standard while AWD is another $2k.

  • Tom Bagwell

    I find it difficult, maybe impossible, to warm up to any vehicle that has sporty intentions whilst featuring a CVT.

  • Cody Beisel

    Id still take the Nissan solely off the fact Hyundai lies about their mpg ratings and honestly don’t age very gracefully either. The maxima seems more legit for the money though I’d like to see a 9 speed dual clutch added with a nismo badge and 30 more hp please 🙂

  • Mark G

    I would take the Maxima, I wouldn’t ever consider paying over $25k for a hyundai.

  • Mark G

    they have a sport mode that simulates a traditional transmission

  • bd

    Actually, in tests, the Elantra (which was the most maligned) actually hit the ratings (and even exceeded them) – so as they say, YMMV (what they didn’t do was calculate in enough of a leeway).

    And in that case, you should never buy a BMW and Ford (or a Honda hybrid) b/c they have all had to restate their MPGs on certain models.

  • bd

    AWD is standard in Canada for the Genesis (for both the V6 and V8).

    Better yet, a comparison of the Kia Cadenza with the Maxima (since Kia is supposed to be the “sportier” of the 2 brands).

  • Auto Motive

    You never driven one, don’t know much about the quality and the best warranty in the industry. Knowledge base is one thing but pure ignorance is another. Think before you type not to show us the car guys you have no insight into the other car being tested.

  • Mark Wheeler

    I like the genesis “looks” much better, however I like the bad-boy looks and the MPG’s of the Maxima. I have to go with the Maxima on those two items alone! ( and its great its not a Toyota!!!)

    Why Hyundai can’t get better mileage? People DO care about that fact.

    I bought a 2016 Sonata Hybrid Ultra for the 44 MPG’s !!!! Great car, however mileage is main reason!

  • Cody Beisel

    Yea hyundai took a huge law suite last year because their mileage was way off the mark. I don’t trust their numbers or their reliability. As many poor enthusiasts are learning with the genesis coupes they like to blow the pins out of their bottom ends and hyundai doesn’t want to fix any of them. Bad practice, I feel the Koreans have a long ways to go before catching up the the Japanese manufacturers reliability and quality. I will say they have come a long ways. I remember when I looked at purchasing a veloster turbo in 2012 and the mileage was rated 26/34 now those numbers are 22/31 big difference, glad I went with my honda, have seen amazing mileage numbers and performance. The maxima looks awesome for a big sedan and so does the genesis. I’d still buy the nissan, give hyundai 5 more years, I can see them benchmarking new standards.

  • Rocket

    Apparently Nissan still thinks heavy steering alone qualifies a car as “sporty”. For my money this one isn’t even close … I’ll take the Genesis.

  • Yarbles

    Give me a used G37 over either of these.

  • Car-Guys

    I do not think there is any cars which can be comparable to Genesis. May be some Infinities?

  • Noble

    Toyota Crown Athlete

  • David S. Thornberry

    10 yr warranty

  • Jun Yang

    Nissan makes cars with terrible transmission, anyone who’s owned Maxima in the past will tell you this

  • Mark G

    I own a 2011 Maxima SL, I know of no one that owns a maxima that hates the transmission

  • Mark G

    Your statement is pure ignorance, hyundai has the “best” warranty because of their past quality issues and current quality perception. The most reliable brands on the planet long term ( toyota, honda and nissan) have industry standard warranties. Nissan is a much more reliable and reputable brand. I have driven many current hyundais and kias including the current Genesis sedan and coupe ( the coupe is a generic copy of the Infiniti coupe). the Genesis doesn’t feel as nice or as refined as the Maxima …..hyundai will deeply discount the Genesis because no one will pay that much for one…..The Genesis is a payless shoe with all the features of more expensive shoes

  • Isend2C

    I was just sticking with the brand. My wife has a Cadenza because she refused to go with the Azera, which had all the exact same features for $5k less (although I named our dog Azera 5 years ago).
    They don’t even offer AWD with the V8 here!

  • J.R.

    No surprise. If you are spending that much money why would you not go for the REAL luxury car here….

  • J.R.

    You are the ignorant one here.

  • Richard Gerard

    No way in hell can you compare these 2 cars…Genesis way better ..richer looking than Maxima..also the Genesis is in different price range.

  • Richard Gerard

    I had a G37..Now a 2015 Q40 and a 2015 Genesis..there’s a big difference the Genesis is closer to my son’s 2013 Lexus G350..The Infinitis can not touch the Genesis.

  • Richard Gerard

    Your loss..

  • Richard Gerard

    yeah..A speaker…lmfao

  • Yarbles

    The Genesis is really nice. I test drove a few of them and reminded me of and S class MB… but I picked up a low miles 2012 g37 for 19,700.00 (I never buy new) and am grinning every time I drive it. I would love to have a BMW but just don’t trust German reliability. The g37 is a quiet, very quick, reliable and less expensive 3 series. Congrats on the Genesis.

  • Mark G

    no it actually uses real shift points, not shifting sounds…..

  • chosonnom

    This article’s author must be a fool. First of all the cars are not even in the same class. And so opinionated. And comparing apples to oranges,

    First Genesis is rwd and the Maxima is fwd. And how are you going to compare that?

    Second, the Genesis also has a rotary knob for the screen next to the armrest. And you are comparing the steering to determine the luxury and modern level of the car? LOL.

    Third, I bet the materials in the Genesis are far better than the Maxima, it uses real leather (not faux leather, even the lower level bmw’s use faux leather b/c it is easier to take care of)
    And Genesis uses real wood.

    Fourth, you can’t really compare CVT to a geared transmission. CVT also aren’t too great, they break easy and can’t handle too much power, however you get better gas mileage. Its a trade off. Do a search on how many of those CVT’s break. And Genesis is a bigger heavier car of course you are going to get better gas mileage on the Maxima.

    I don’t see the point of this article even your argument of value, the genesis only has the rear heated seats on the all wheel drive versions, which also brings up the price.

    Also you forgot to mention the Genesis comes w/ HUD. Does Maxima even come w/ that? And you failed to mention the Genesis comes w/ a 9 inch screen vs Maxim’as dinky 7 inch.

    Genesis has a 17 speaker lexicon audio vs the Maximas 11 speaker Bose. How do you compare that in terms of value?

    Last the Genesis can take any type of fuel in terms of octane level 87, 89, 91. Your stuck w/ 91 w/ the Maxima.

  • Chris

    In 2011 there were no SL Maxima’s. The last year for those was 2008. Looks like you may the the SV with premium package if that’s the panoramic roof I see which is the top of the line Maxima.

  • Mark G

    you are correct I meant to type SV

  • Harry_Wild

    In terms of looks(inside and out) – Genesis is hand down the winner! The Maxima looks like an entry level car similar to that of a Malibu!

  • Harry_Wild

    Maybe BMW 5 series and Mercedes E Class would come to mind! It is much better the Cadillac CTS.

  • Harry_Wild

    It is one great car to drive! It so solid and the inside interior is out of the play book of Audi! If it were a German car; it would be price at $70K-$90K!

  • Kaahk

    Lol, many poor enthusiasts ?? wth you talking about. I owned a 3.8 2010 Genesis coupe till just recently and drove the piss out of it with zero engine issues and the 2 Genesis forums I belonged to I saw nobody talking about engine issues like you mentioned ! The Manual tranny is clunky on that car or was but not the engine and the auto tranny on it was one of the best in the business. You see amazing performance in a Honda ? Honda what ? Anyone looking for performance car isn’t expecting to get “amazing” gas mileage.

  • Kaahk

    The “best” warranty is for marketing and it works. The fact that they can give that out shows confidence in their brand and that they’re not going to go bankrupt having to fix cars.. Seems to be a winning formula for them.

  • jbw9999

    Genesis’s gas mileage sucks.
    I’m not blown away by the Maxima, but it looks better than the Genesis, especially with the big Chrystler looking Genesis grill.

    Hyundai reliability is still not good, regardless of what the fanboys say.

  • Richard Gerard

    Yeah a speaker to simulate…It simulated no matter what they use..

  • Mark G

    incorrect

  • 007

    You are all fucking idiots. The maxima smokes that piece of shit Genesis in every way possible. And obviously this article didn’t compare the SR maxima. To yield the proper results. Go test drive both of these and you will see exactly what I’m talking about!

  • Vincent Ghostine

    This comparison article doesn’t make sense.
    Im 6’1 and 250lbs. I have back chronic pain sustained from hokcey injury and not too long aggravated by a car accident in my RIP 2013 Kia Optima SX.
    I went car shopping with one thing in mind. Quiet, comfort, looks that hold well and AWD.
    I checked out the new Maxima and the only thing that came to my mind when I sat in the car was: “There is no way I can sit in this small ass car and drive over 60k km per year and be comfortable.”

    First, seats were small for me and that center console plastic crap that was bothering me cause my knee would rest on it and I can imagine the frustration of long trips of my knee just hitting that damn thing.
    Second, CVT!!! I cant get sold on that, I dont care who builds it. Not yet anyways.
    Third, premium fuel for a 3.5 engine….rrrrriiiighhhhhtttttt Coming off a Turbo 2.0 engine Optima with regular fuel, I wasnt going to spend the 20-25cents per liter more in Canada.

    Then I visited Hyundai and sat in the genesis sedan luxury package and that was it. I was sold. I was impressed with the cabin, the feel, the space, the comfort, the price, the AWD and basically the cheap cost of maintaining it.
    1. I came off a FWD car with 274hp and I promised myself I wouldnt go back to so much power with FWD.
    2. Seat comfort and back support is what I care about and the Genesis offers that and then some plus thigh support.
    3. For the cost and discount I got on the car, there was no way I was passing up on the great offer. + 0% interest
    4. 3.8 V6 engine that consumes 3l/100km more than the Nissan but makes up for it by using regular grade fuel…WINNER
    5. 8 speed quick shifting transmission and a beautiful roaring engine….WINNER
    6. People telling you what model is this lexus….Ummm hell yeah WINNER.

  • Vincent Ghostine

    You couldnt have said it all any better.

  • Vincent Ghostine

    well I hope none of the maxima owners hate the transmission cause you are stuck with the car at $40k LOL you better learn to like it.

  • Vincent Ghostine

    I hope its based on actually owning a nissan maxima and a hyundai sedan or is this the thinking of the bs you hear from people?

  • Vincent Ghostine

    A – freakin – men

  • Vincent Ghostine

    simulates it the key word to all of this. Its still CVT

  • Vincent Ghostine

    FYI: the HTRAC is RWD 100% of the time until the car system feels the wheels slipping it distributes 50-50 and in snow mode it will go 60-40 front to back. Sports mode will do 20-80 front to back.

  • Mark G

    I doubt you actually drove an Altima because the noise that it makes is the same as a regular transmission shifting, the only reason they say that it’s simulating shifts is because it doesn’t actually have gears. So what the CVT transmission does is it blimps between preset points….. Smh

  • Mark G

    I own a Maxima with an cvt.