In today's automotive market, the Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon compete for much more similar shoppers than in previous decades. The 1990s witnessed ho-hum Avalons that delivered proven Toyota reliability and little else, while the Maxima was one of the only sports sedans built outside of Europe.
In recent years, however, they've grown toward each other. The Avalon got more sporty and the Maxima got more comfortable. But which is the better full-size choice?
What the Toyota Avalon Gets Right
The newest Avalon's most noticeable change is in its sheet metal. The current model has more style than all previous generations combined. Other improvements include a stiffer suspension for a more engaging driving experience and an upscale interior.
The powertrain carries over from last year's model, which isn't a bad thing considering the 3.5-liter V6 provides strong power and good fuel economy. The cabin is roomy, as are all five of the Avalon's passenger seats. The trunk has ample space as well.
What the Nissan Maxima Gets Right
As it has for almost its entire existence, the current Maxima offers modern features and superior driving dynamics. While it easily handles hard turns and winding roads, the Maxima also provide a pleasing ride at highway speeds.
The Maxima's powertrain consists of a 290-horsepower V6 sending power to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). All this combines to produce smooth acceleration and consistent throttle-response. Drivers will appreciate technology features that are easy to use through controls within easy reach.
Is the Avalon as Sporty as the Maxima?
Not quite. The Maxima is still the king of performance in its class, but the Avalon and other sedans are certainly close behind.
Our Verdict: Toyota Avalon
Though the Nissan Maxima may have a better driving experience, the new Toyota Avalon offers more to car-shoppers at a lower price.