By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 8.1
Nissan may still call the 2016 Nissan Maxima a "4-Door Sports Car," as evidenced by the "4DSC" cleverly hidden on the headlights and taillights, but the reality is that this all-new Maxima straddles the line between a comfortable entry-level luxury car and a fun-to-drive sports sedan. Coming standard with navigation and a host of other upscale features, the new Nissan Maxima makes an interesting case for itself. Those looking at the larger Toyota Avalon and Chevrolet Impala may find the Maxima's features and smaller size appealing. Similarly, those looking for a luxury-sports sedan, but who maybe don't want to spend luxury-brand prices, may find just what they're looking for. What they'll find is a comfortable, luxurious, quick, uniquely styled, and overall enjoyable premium sedan.
If you think more money should buy a bigger car, then the new Maxima isn't the sedan for you. Additionally, while we think the new styling looks sharp out on the road, it's undeniably polarizing. Finally, those looking for a hard-edged driving experience might find the Maxima a little soft.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2016 Nissan Maxima is all-new this year. As Nissan's flagship sedan, it offers a lot of premium features even in base models, and such advanced options as predictive forward-collision mitigation, which "looks" two cars ahead for signs of impending trouble.
Even though Nissan bills the new Maxima as a "4-Door Sports Car," this is no budget-conscious BMW M3. Instead, it's a sporty entry-level luxury sedan, and a...
... pretty good one at that. The 3.5-liter V6 engine puts all of its 300 horsepower to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission. While CVTs aren't everyone's cup of tea, Nissan does a great job due in no small part to its "D-Step" shift logic, which simulates gear changes. The sportiest Nissan Maxima SR takes it a step further, using paddle shifters on the steering wheel to select different fixed settings in the continuously variable automatic transmission, further simulating a more traditional automatic. The suspension felt comfortably firm, and combined with the accurate-but-numb steering, the Maxima was enjoyable in brisk driving around Nashville. On the highway, the smooth ride and quiet interior are pure luxury sedan.
PREDICTIVE FORWARD-COLLISION WARNING
Forward-collision warning systems that alert drivers of stopped or slowed vehicles are becoming commonplace. The new Nissan Maxima sports sedan's new Predictive FCW monitors two cars ahead, instead of what's immediately in front of the Maxima. Nissan says this lets its PCFW react earlier to an emergency.
The new Maxima Platinum model includes NissanConnect Services, Nissan's telematics services. Powered by SiriusXM, its wide range of functions includes automatic collision notification, remote starting via smartphone and a stolen-vehicle locator. Also included are "snooping" functions, such as curfew, "digital fence" and speed alerts for nervous parents.
Despite its flagship status, the new Nissan Maxima is actually a little smaller inside than the mainstream Nissan Altima sedan. However, the Altima can't compare to the new Maxima's luxury. The diamond-pattern theme on the accent trim extends to the seats and door panels on upper-level models. The stitched and soft-touch dash and doors impart a premium feel, as does the new infotainment system with its console-mounted multifunction knob. The driver and front passenger easily get comfortable thanks to power seats and tilt-telescope steering, but the rear seat's lack of head and legroom may leave tall passengers complaining.
Nissan has packed a lot of styling onto its new Maxima sedan. Nissan's new V-Motion grille treatment dominates the front end, and like it or not, you sure know what's coming your way. Similarly, there's a lot of styling on the sides. The roof, for example, appears to float over the rest of the body thanks to some clever paintwork. The sides are sculpted with intersecting character lines, and even the rear of the car, normally a weak point in styling, gets highlighted with sculpted taillights, twin chrome exhausts and a chrome lip over the license plate.
All new Maxima sedans are the same under the hood, sporting a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 300 horsepower and a CVT automatic transmission. Also standard are LED headlight and taillight accents. Even base-model Maxima S sedans come with NissanConnect, an 8-inch touch-screen navigation and infotainment system with voice command, Google search, Bluetooth and two USB ports. Also standard are an 8-way-power driver's seat, cruise control, push-button ignition and keyless entry, and a rearview camera. The color 7-inch information screen between the main gauges is also standard on all models. Standard safety equipment includes six airbags, plus stability and traction control.
Nissan adds features through trim levels instead of options packages. The step-up Maxima SV gets leather upholstery, an upgraded driver's seat, heated outside mirrors with LED turn signals, and front and rear parking sensors. Maxima SL and Platinum models get a dual-panel panoramic moonroof, upgraded audio systems, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, forward emergency braking, and the predictive forward-collision warning. The sporty SR loses the panoramic roof, but gains bigger wheels and tires and adds Alcantara to the seats and steering wheel. The luxed-out Platinum also gets moving-object detection, a driver-attention alert system and All Around View.
The only engine available for the new Nissan Maxima is a 300-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). It manages decent fuel-economy numbers, all while delivering smooth and quiet power to the front wheels. CVTs have come a long way from the droning, weird-sounding days of yore, and Nissan's D-Step shift logic takes it a step further, mimicking the operation of a traditional automatic by letting the revs rise and fall when at full throttle. We were particularly impressed that the new Maxima doesn't suffer from torque steer, a peculiar side-to-side wiggle felt in the steering wheel that's common in powerful front-wheel-drive cars.
300 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
261 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/30 mpg
The nicely equipped 2016 Nissan Maxima S starts reasonably enough with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $33,200, including the $825 destination fee. If you want the leather-upholstered SV you'll pay a bit more than $35,000. However, we suggest starting with the SL, thanks to its advanced safety technology and its still-reasonable $37,600 price tag. The sporty SR runs about $1,000 more, and the loaded Maxima Platinum will set you back about $40,500. Considering what you get for the money, including technology not available in some competitors, the Maxima shapes up to be a good value against cars like the Toyota Avalon, Chevrolet Impala and even the luxury-minded Acura TLX. To see what others in your area paid, take a look at KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price. It's too early to say how this new Maxima sedan will fare in resale, but previous Maximas have only been so-so at best.