Review and Photos by Jeff Wilson
If I’m honest, I hate it when he’s right. Autos.ca’s outspoken Aussie editor, Jacob Black denied my request to pit the 2016 Nissan Maxima against one of its obvious Japanese-brand competitors, instead insisting Nissan’s flagship tangle with your grandpa’s Chevy; the fleet darling Impala.
The rear seat in the Impala approaches limo-like proportions…
I scoffed, I protested, I questioned Jacob’s sanity even more than I normally do. He presented a series of numbers on a page making his case, but ultimately, the command had been given and it was to be done.
What I didn’t see coming was that he was actually right and that either of these two cars should rightfully be considered by potential buyers of the other. There are some serious differences between them, but there is enough commonality to warrant a closer look.
Here’s what we found…
My biggest concern in comparing these two sedans stemmed from the belief that they’re built for completely different owners looking for completely different things, defined most obviously by their difference in size. The Impala is a big car – always has been – and indeed it is larger than the Maxima in most respects.
Every exterior dimension except for width, and every interior measurement favours the Chevrolet. The Impala casts a large shadow, but the Maxima’s interior size deficit has more to do with Nissan’s desire to aggressively style the Maxima more so than its overall footprint.
Nowhere is this more apparent than when climbing into the rear seat of the Nissan right after leaving the Chevy’s. The steeply raked roofline cuts into rear headroom enough that even an average-height adult will have his or her hairdo rearranged by the headliner.
Shoulder room and legroom are comfortable in the back of the Maxima, but in the Impala, they’re downright generous. The rear seat in the Impala approaches limo-like proportions with an abundance of passenger space in every direction, including up, despite the panoramic sunroof.
Upfront the Maxima’s dimensions are great enough to accommodate all but the most portly of passengers, though it does feel more intimate than the Impala’s expansive cabin. The Chevy’s seats (heated and cooled) are comfortable and prove to be a decent place to spend time behind the wheel, but Nissan’s Zero Gravity front seats are second-to-none.