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?
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.
On 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.
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.
Both 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.
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.
|Vehicle||2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan||Advantage||2016 Nissan Maxima|
|Engine||3.8L V6||-||3.5L V6|
|Fuel Economy||16 MPG City/25 MPG Highway||Maxima||22 MPG City/ 30 MPG Highway|
|Fuel Economy (l/100kms)||14.4 City/9.4 Highway||Maxima||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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
One 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
Both 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.