Nissan has long pitched its Maxima sedan as a “4-door sports car” and while our recent experience with a long term Platinum model demonstrated that it has the chops as a refined near-luxury ride, getting into the SR trim circled us back to the car’s reason for being. The 2017 Maxima SR Midnight Edition is a unique combination that offers a sportier suspension setup and more aggressive shift mapping from its CVT along with a bit of attitude from the black finished trim bits that accompany the Midnight option.

Power from a 300 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 is delivered to the front wheels through the Xtronic CVT. In addition to near seamlessly operation, the stepped CVT can be manually shifted using the column mounted paddles. The stiffer suspension gives the car a more athletic feel than the other Maximas in the line and steering has the sort of heft and feedback you’d expect from a European sport sedan. There are two drive modes, Normal and Sport along with an Integrated Dynamics-control Module (IDM) that includes active ride control, active trace control (which uses braking to correct for over or understeer conditions) and active engine brake, which uses the engine to help slow the vehicle. As a result, the Maxima SR feels firmly planted and yet, quick on its feet thanks to the responsiveness of the V6 engine.

Also: See the 12 Kelley Blue Book Best Buys of 2017

The dark side beckons

Nissan isn’t the first or only manufacturer to offer Midnight editions that feature black wheels, rear spoilers and other bits of body cladding. As modest as the $1,195 package is from an exterior visual standpoint, it still adds a sinister edge to the handsome, flowing lines of the Maxima and includes a rear deck spoiler, rear diffuser and 19-inch gloss black alloy wheels. But be forewarned, the black interior on the SR, that features black Ascot leather with diamond-quilted Alcantara inserts, can be quite hot in sunny climates. Fortunately, the front buckets are both heated and cooled.

The Maxima SR comes with a long list of standard features including aluminum sport pedals, LED interior lighting, intelligent cruise control, an 8-inch center touchscreen with Apply CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, rear view camera and active noise cancellation for starters. The base price is $37,820 and with a few extras like the Midnight Package, splat guards, floor mats and $865 destination, the all-in price for the 2017 Maxima SR Midnight Edition is $40,330. That’s a pretty good deal for a flagship that has plenty of sports left in it while not giving up any of the luxury.


 

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