Nissan has been pushing the sporty nature of its 2016 Maxima, and our long-term test car has demonstrated that athletic ability thanks to its well-sorted suspension and powerful 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. And as Nissan's top sedan, it has the sort of luxury touches and finish you'd expect from a premium 4-door. As for comfort, looks can be deceiving.

Stylish, yet tidy package

Against other vehicles in its price and size class, the 2016 Nissan Maxima has a stylish, yet tidy package. It's smaller both outside and inside than rivals like the Toyota Avalon and the Chevrolet Impala, riding on a 109.3-inch wheelbase, which is 1.7 inches and 2.4 inches shorter, respectively than the Toyota and Chevy. Overall length is also 2.5 inches less than the Avalon and 8.5 inches shorter than the Impala.

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This smaller exterior belies an interior that's almost on par with its bigger rivals, offering up 45 inches of front legroom and 38.9 inches of headroom. The Chevy has marginally more, giving the front passengers 45.8 inches of legroom and 39.9 inches of headroom, while the Avalon is actually a bit tighter than the Maxima with just 42.1 inches of legroom and just 0.3 inches more headroom. Of course, the shorter wheelbase on the Maxima results in a tighter rear package than either car, sacrificing as much as 5 inches in rear seat legroom.

More than mere numbers

While measurements are one thing, riding around in the cabin is another. What the Maxima may lack in rear seat legroom it more than makes up in seat comfort and ride. Nissan's unique Zero Gravity front bucket seats feature a three-layer foam design that is soft yet supportive. Side bolsters also have enough meat to them to make it feel like you're sitting in rather than on the seats.  With a long wheelbase relative to its overall length, the ride is compliant without sacrificing the nimbleness from the sport sedan-inspired suspension. The dynamics are such that the Maxima is wonderfully responsive and the powerful V6 and tweaks to the Xtronic continuously variable transmission makes the driving experience seamless.

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With the onset of winter, touches like the heated steering wheel and ventilated/heated seats are welcome features. The steering wheel in particular heats up fast and probably could benefit from a switch that would control the intensity. The seats, on the other hand, use a fan to blow warm or cool air on your backside-the heated portion of the seats doesn't seem to work as well as conventional seat heaters and the fan noise is loud enough to make you wonder if you've left a window or door cracked open. That minor point aside, the NVH is well-controlled, making the 2016 Nissan Maxima not only a car that's fun to drive, but also eminently livable in day-to-day commuting or on a long road trip.

See past reports on our Long-Term 2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum...


Long-Term Update: Powertrain

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