Nissan Maxima, Toyota Avalon, Hyundai Genesis, Pontiac G8 V-6 Comparison - Big Six Sedans

August 29, 2008
0808 01 Z+2009 Pontiac G8 2009 Hyundai Genesis+2008 Toyota Avalon 2009 Nissan Maxima
Much has been written about the new Hyundai Genesis and the Pontiac G8, but most reports have concentrated on the eight-cylinder versions. Here we've gathered the sixes, more relevant now than ever, and threw in two competitors that are available exclusively in six-cylinder form, the new Nissan Maxima and the Toyota Avalon. All four are largish cars, priced in the low-$30,000s range (except for the slightly less expensive Pontiac), that promise something more than the typical mid-size sedan.
2009 Nissan Maxima 3.5
0808 20 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+front Three Quarter View
The Maxima is the newest entry, and subjectively at least, the best looking. That's a big turnaround from the outgoing model. But Nissan's "four-door sports car" is a big boast, and the Maxima struggles, and ultimately fails, to live up to it, mostly due to the limitations of its front-wheel-drive layout. Our test car was equipped as aggressively as possible - with the sport suspension and larger, nineteen-inch wheels - but we were left feeling that the car might be better served with a more mellow specification, which would improve ride comfort.
Base Price: $32,650
As tested Price: $35,130
Engine: 3.5-liter 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 290 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 261 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Transmission: CVT Automatic
Drive: Front-wheel
Dimensions (L x W x H): 190.6 x 73.2 x 57.8 in
Legroom (F/R): 43.8/34.6 in
Headroom F/R: 38.5/36.4 in
Cargo capacity: 14.2 cu ft
Curb Weight: 3579 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 19/26 mpg
2009 Hyundai Genesis 3.8
0808 03 Z+2009 Hyundai Genesis 3 8+rear Three Quarter View
The V-8 version of Hyundai's new Genesis impressed us, and now so has the V-6. The interior is particularly well done, and the list of available equipment is long. Despite its rear-wheel drive, however, the Genesis is no sport sedan. Its suspension tuning is too soft for that. The Genesis rides well around town but loses some composure at higher speeds. Still, the Genesis is an impressive, if imperfect, effort.
Base Price: $33,000
As Tested Price: $36,000
Engine: 3.8-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 290 hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 264 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: Rear-wheel
L x W x H: 195.9 x 74.4 x 58.3 in
Legroom F/R: 44.3/38.6 in
Headroom F/R: 38.1/37.7 in
Cargo capacity: 15.9 cu ft
Curb Weight: 3748 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 18/27 mpg
2009 Pontiac G8 V-6
0808 06 Z+2009 Pontiac G8 V 6+front Three Quarter View
Pontiac's G8 stands out as the best sport sedan and the biggest bargain. Much like its eight-cylinder sibling, the base G8's well-balanced, rear-wheel-drive chassis makes the G8 a winner on back roads. We also like the fact that Pontiac has not stripped the exterior of the base car to the point where it looks like, well, a base car. Only the truly sharp-eyed can pick it out from a GT. The starting price of less than $30,000 is also compelling, but the Pontiac does lack many of the high-end options (including a navigation system) that push up the as-tested prices of the other cars here. And the Pontiac's interior, although roomy, is not as well finished as the other three cars.
Base Price: $27,995
As Tested Price: $29,370
Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 256 hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 248 lb-ft @ 2100 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Drive: Rear-wheel
L x W x H: 196.1 x 74.8 x 57.7 in
Legroom F/R: 42.2/39.4 in
Headroom F/R: 38.7/38.0 in
Cargo capacity: 17.5 cu ft
Curb Weight: 3885 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 17/25 mpg
2008 Toyota Avalon XLS
0808 05 Z+2008 Toyota Avalon+front Three Quarter View
Toyota's Avalon wins points for being absolutely true to its mission. There is absolutely nothing here for the driving enthusiast, but your parents will love it. The ride isolation is supreme, the powertrain is smooth, and the interior delivers comfort in spades. Although the Avalon is no Prius, its fuel economy is even pretty good. Overall, it's a car that knows what it wants to do and does it exceedingly well.
Base Price: $32,035
As Tested Price: $35,013
Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 268 hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 248 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: Front-wheel
L x W x H: 197.2 x 72.8 x 58.5 in
Legroom F/R: 41.3/40.9 in
Headroom F/R: 38.9/37.5 in
Cargo capacity: 14.4 cu ft
Curb weight: 3570 lb
EPA rating (city/highway): 19/28 mpg


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2009 Nissan Maxima

S FWD 4-Dr Sedan V6
starting at (MSRP)
3.5L V6
Fuel Economy
19 City 26 Hwy
2009 Nissan Maxima