Anyone who's driven the new Maxima and hasn't lit up the front tires at least once is in danger of missing the point. Neither fish, nor fowl, nor full-size sedan, the 2016 Nissan Maxima straddles a very interesting, important line. Aimed directly at this Long-Term Update's bullseye is the 4-door Maxima's ability to play comfortably in the near-luxury sedan field, as well as its ability to coolly attack raveled-up roads like a sports sedan.

And out come the wolves.

The centerpiece of driving a Nissan Maxima is wringing out its 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine -- the storied, award-winning Nissan VQ engine. The combination of the engine's rapid-onset delivery of strong power and its ability to work so well with the Maxima's Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), give the sedan legit road authority whether you're trying to enter highway traffic from a too-short onramp or frisk it quickly around another traveler who suddenly decided it was make-a-phone-call time.

Another driver's enhancement in our long-term Nissan Maxima Platinum, but standard on every Maxima, is Nissan's Drive Mode Selector. This 2-button setup on the center console gives you the binary choice between "Normal" and "Sport" mode. Normal is the default, but when the mood hits, engaging Sport mode sharpens throttle response and steering feel, and remaps the CVT's "shift" points.

On the stopping side of the 2016 Maxima's balance sheet, our long-termer's brakes do the best job of all at balancing the sporty/luxury sedan's need for quick stops and for easy stops. There's not much pedal travel at all before the car's responsive brakes go to work with admirable efficiency. At the same time, the new Maxima's vented disc brakes are a cinch to modulate, letting you bring the sedan to a smooth stop that your passengers won't even notice.

And out comes the elegance.

Built as much for driving comfort as for cornering, the new Maxima is fully capable of both. The interior is not a church quiet, but it is by no means a chaotic environment, and two civil folks could easily engage in a conversation in the snugly bolstered front seats. The rear-seat occupants, if they are not too long-of-leg or tall-of-torso will be able to comfortably join in that conversation. Brilliantly, the Maxima's ride-comfort factor is excellent, but Nissan danced the handling right up to the exact point where one more unit of tension in the suspension would start to feel stiff.

Ever since the Nissan Altima took over ownership of Nissan's midsize sedan market, the Maxima has been looking for a home. The very fact that it does so many things so well, that it's so easy to drive, makes us think that it deserves that home, in a garage, somewhere nice.

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


Long-Term Update: Powertrain

Long-Term Update: Comfort

Long-Term Update: Technology

More 2016 Nissan Maxima...

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