As Nissan’s top-tier luxury sedan, the Maxima carries the brands trademarked “U” shaped grille that blends nicely into a sleekly designed four-door with a flared back end. The styling is aerodynamically fluid and dramatic.
That said and in comparison to earlier models, the 2016 Maxima is 2.2 inches longer and 1.3 inches lower. Its 3.5-liter V6 also gained 10 extra horses while sipping less petrol.
Maxima is offered in S, SV, SL, sporty SR and top-shelf Platinum trim levels. We tested the latter and as such it was loaded with content and the latest in electronic wizardry. Items such as NissanConnect with navigation that features the ability to do Google online searches. Plus, it came with the nifty 360-degree parking camera (birds eye view) with moving object detection that adds tone and visual alerts on the 8-inch LCD when an object, even a small one, moves around the backside of the vehicle. Nissan was the first car maker to have this feature on their higher end vehicles and it should earn a discount from auto insurance carriers. With the Platinum, Nissan also added driver drowsiness and automatic collision notifications plus remote start that is nice to have in winter.
Maxima gets its grunt from a revised 3.5L V6 that produces 300-hp and 261 lb/ft of torque. This power gets routed to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT) for EPA mileage estimates of 22 city, 30-highway mpg. While a sedan of this caliber should typically have a traditional automatic transmission and not a CVT, Nissan added another gear ratio to make it feel like a normal automatic trans. With it, they were able to increase fuel economy.
In independent testing, the sedan did 0-60 in 6.2 seconds, which is about the same for others in this V6 midsize class. Half pedal acceleration from a standing stop produced a push-you-back-in-the-seat sensation, so it was peppy including highway passing situations. But some torque steer is present under hard acceleration. There is, however, no want for power with that many horses under the hood.
Maxima’s interior is luxury car worthy and a flat-bottomed steering wheel adds a touch of sportiness while making ingress easier. There are lots of soft touch surfaces including the sides of the console where some drivers are “leg resters” and appreciate the padded comfort along the side of the leg and knee, especially during long trips.
Nissans’ Zero Gravity front seats are nicely supportive, heated/cooled and comfy with generous under thigh support. The back seats are equally as comfy but despite Nissan’s claim for three passengers back there, the third should only be a child. Leg and headroom in back is ample but the rear doors could open a tad wider for easier ingress/egress.
Trunk space is rated at 14.3 cubic feet and can handle a pair of medium size roll-a-longs. Pull two straps in the trunk and the rear seatbacks fold 60/40 to accommodate two golf bags or another roll-a-long.
Maxima’s handling does posses some sportiness in that sharp turns taken at speed result in good adhesiveness with controlled body lean, a trait not all luxury midsize sedans exhibit. There are two switches on the console for Normal and Sport modes with the latter merely tightening things up a bit for a sportier feeling. Its ride on 18-inch wheels is smooth and quiet. Parking is easy too as the car is relatively nimble for its size.
While price is always a consideration, Maxima is loaded with content including heated steering wheel and a long list of safety features not previously mentioned. In fact, the only extra cost item was $220 for floor and trunk mats. That brought the base price of $39,860 to $40,905 including delivery.
To its credit, Maxima received a full five stars in the government’s crash tests for total frontal-impact safety and five for side impact. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded it its top “Good” rating for moderate and small overlap frontal offset impact tests and another “Good” for side impact, roof strength and seat head restraint tests. The agency also gave it a score of “Superior” for forward collision mitigation, all of which shows the cars solid structural rigidity.
The only way Maxima could be better if it were available with AWD for here in the Snowbelt. But then its price would likely add another $5,000 to the bottom line putting it in an ultra pricey category for its class.