Since 1995, the Toyota Avalon has served as Toyota’s flagship sedan. The Nissan Maxima dates as far back as 1982 when it was known as the Datsun Maxima.
For the 2020 model year, the Maxima features some updates, including a standard safety suite; the 2020 Toyota Avalon features a sporty new TRD trim level.
Both vehicles come with a reputation of reliability and a 3.5-liter V6 engine, but the similarities stop there. In this head to head, we will explore the important topics of safety, performance, and interior.
Published Date: 12/20/2019
Whether driving across town or taking a road trip, safety is essential. Toyota Safety Sense® P (TSS-P) comes standard on the 2020 Toyota Avalon.
TSS-P includes: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).
Maxima’s safety system was updated for 2020, but still misses out on Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist. Also, the 2020 Avalon comes with 10 airbags. For its part, the 2020 Maxima comes with 8 airbags. Both vehicles come standard with driver and front passenger knee airbags.
If you are looking to save money at the pump, the Avalon has slightly better EPA-estimated MPG ratings than Maxima.
With an EPA-estimated 22/32/26 MPG (city/hwy/comb), the Avalon XLE has higher fuel economy ratings than the Maxima which has an EPA-estimated 20/30/24 MPG.
Avalon also offers a Hybrid option, which is not available on Maxima. Avalon's fuel economy advantage is even more pronounced with the Avalon Hybrid XLE. It has an EPA-estimated 43/44/44 MPG. Also, new for 2020, Avalon features a TRD trim that offers great handling, thrilling performance, and bold styling.
Looking for legroom to stretch and cargo space for your necessities? Avalon features more rear legroom at 40.3-inches vs. Maxima’s 34.2-inches. Avalon also outdoes Maxima in terms of cargo capacity: Avalon features 16.9 cu.ft. whereas Maxima has only 14.3 cu.ft.
Avalon has 4 standard USB ports, while Maxima SV only has 1 standard USB port and one USB-C port. Plus, when equipped with the available JBL® Audio Upgrade (MSRP $1,720), the Avalon XLE's 14-speaker system exceeds Maxima SV's 8 speakers. For its part, Maxima comes standard with Android Auto™ compatibility which is not a supported feature by Avalon.
Avalon XLE has an available power tilt/slide moonroof (Moonroof Package, MSRP $1,000); Maxima's only moonroof option – a dual-panel panoramic – is available on the SR and Platinum grades only.
For a more stylish interior option, consider the TRD trim. It has black floor mats with red "AVALON TRD" logo and red outline, genuine aluminum interior trim with red stitched accents, and black leather shift knob with red stitching and debossed TRD logo.
When comparing the 2020 Toyota Avalon to the 2020 Nissan Maxima, the Avalon comes out ahead in many key features. Avalon comes standard with the TSS-P suite of active safety systems, offers greater EPA-estimated fuel economy, and many more interior comforts and conveniences when compared to Maxima.
While the base grade Maxima S starts at a slightly lower MSRP of $34,250 vs. Avalon XLE’s MSRP of $35,875, the safety and extra features on the Avalon offer a much higher value. Every 2020 Avalon comes standard with ToyotaCare No Cost Maintenance Plan (2-year/25,000-mile) and Roadside Assistance (2-year/unlimited-mileage). Also, the Avalon offers a hybrid option while the Maxima does not.
The dramatic body lines and clever LED lighting systems of the Avalon express its enthusiasm for performance and are sure to stand out from the crowd. With these advantages, it is clear who our head to head winner is: the 2020 Avalon.