As the 2016 Nissan Maxima is nearing the end of its stint in the Kelley Blue Book long-term fleet, it’s time to assess how the looks of this 4-door sedan has held up over time. The striking visual character that captivated us at its introduction during the 2015 New York Auto Show still remains fresh.

Design is one of the key differentiators for the Maxima in its segment. Even though it’s the flagship sedan in Nissan’s lineup, the Altima’s dimensions put it in a no-man’s land between full and midsize. Not as large as the Chevrolet Impala or Toyota Avalon, it still offers a more upscale appearance and feature set than a Honda Accord or Kia Optima, against which the Japanese automaker pitches its Altima.

As a result, the Maxima’s success depends on offering more than size. In the past, the Maxima was sold as a 4-door sports car with a premium on performance and handling. While the latest generation acquits itself well in this department (thanks largely to the 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 residing underhood), its other reason for being in this current iteration is style. The exterior design does a good job of communicating that the Maxima is special from the aggressive V-Motion chrome grille, through the flowing body contours and the trick floating roof design that features a split C-pillar. In fact, that last styling cue is becoming more popular by the day and is currently found on vehicles ranging from the BMW i3 electric to the Lexus RX crossover SUV.

Athletic and elegant 

The shape of the Nissan Maxima is both athletic and elegant, which gives the car an upscale aura that’s lacking in many other run-of-the-mill sedans. It is contemporary looking, but not in a way in which we will soon tire. Think of it as being an Eames chair of the automotive world, an object that is on the cutting edge of design when introduced and that gracefully will transition into a classic.

The same holds true for the Maxima’s interior. Not as big as other full-size sedans it’s positioned against, the passenger compartment has a more intimate and closely coupled feel without being uncomfortable or cramped. A big part of that is due to the Zero Gravity design of the bucket seats, which reduces fatigue on long stints behind the wheel. The seats themselves are tastefully clad in leather that has a nice upscale diamond pattern to the stitching. And the dash layout and materials again convey the aura of being in a premium vehicle. The only controversy here is the use of a diamond texture on the wood veneers that echoes the diamond pattern in the seats—it’s either cool or over the top depending on your tastes.

Then again, that’s another feature, a bit of eye candy if you will, that makes the Maxima so alluring. It has interesting shapes, a look that attracts attention, which at the end of the day, is something to admire in a class where there are too many cars that simply look alike.

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


Long-Term Update: Powertrain

Long-Term Update: Comfort

Long-Term Update: Technology

Long-Term Update: Drivability

More 2016 Nissan Maxima...

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