By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 8.0
The 2017 Maxima is Nissan's flagship sedan, just one year into an all-new generation that brought drastically different styling inside and out. Nissan calls the Maxima a "4-Door Sports Car," but we think of it as an even more interesting proposition. Yes, with its standard 300-horsepower V6 and taut chassis, the Maxima is quick and nimble. But its long list of standard features and premium amenities makes this Nissan feel more like an upscale vehicle. As a whole, the 2017 Nissan Maxima boasts enjoyable road manners, head-turning looks and high value. But it's conflicted in interior space, with less rear-seat legroom than the Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Avalon and its own sibling the Nissan Altima. Its front-drive layout, meanwhile, won't appeal to sports-sedan purists.
If you want a larger, well-equipped sedan with style and power to spare, the Nissan Maxima is a standout. With a starting price just over $33,000, this sporty Nissan brings as much value as it does individualism.
If you're looking for a family sedan or something with good space for rear-seat passengers, opt for a Chevy Impala, Toyota Avalon or Kia Cadenza. They may not be as exciting visually or drive-wise, but they are better suited for shuttling more adults over longer distances.
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Still fresh off an all-new model that arrived last year, the 2017 Maxima is further improved with the addition of Apple CarPlay integration as standard. Also new are two accessory packages -- Medallion and Dynamic.
... 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 (CVT), which does a great job due in no small part to its "D-Step" shift logic that 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 CVT, further simulating a more traditional automatic. The Maxima does a commendable job quelling torque steer on all but the most vigorous takeoffs. This Nissan's suspension is comfortably firm, and combined with the accurate-but-numb steering, the Maxima is enjoyable in brisk driving. On the highway, the smooth ride and quiet interior make it feel like a premium car.
PREDICTIVE FORWARD-COLLISION WARNING (PFCW)
Forward-collision warning systems that alert drivers about stopped or slowed vehicles are becoming commonplace. The Nissan Maxima sports sedan's Predictive Forward Collision Warning goes one better by monitoring two cars ahead. Nissan says this lets its PFCW react earlier to an emergency.
The Maxima Platinum model includes NissanConnect Services, Nissan's telematics services. Its wide range of functions goes beyond the standard NissanConnect features to include automatic collision notification, remote starting via smartphone and a stolen-vehicle locator. New this year, the system is enhanced with Apple CarPlay, a welcome addition for those with iPhones.
Despite its flagship status, the 5-passenger Nissan Maxima is actually a little smaller inside than the Nissan Altima sedan, which is slightly shorter. However, the Altima can't compare to the Maxima's upscale atmosphere. The diamond pattern 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 8-inch 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 the Maxima sedan. Nissan's 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 Maxima's 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 2017 Maximas 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, two USB ports and Apple CarPlay integration for 2017. 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 standard on all models. Safety equipment includes six airbags, plus stability and traction control.
Nissan adds features through the 2017 Maxima's four higher trim levels instead of options packages. With its leather upholstery, heated front seats and heated outside mirrors with LED turn signals, and front and rear parking sensors, even a Maxima SV is a highly recommendable vehicle. 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/tires, while the luxury-like Platinum also gets moving-object detection, a driver-attention alert system and surround-view camera.
There's only one engine choice available for the Nissan Maxima, but it's a good one: a 300-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 connected to an Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). It manages decent fuel economy, all while delivering smooth and quiet power to the front wheels. CVTs have come a long way, and Nissan's D-Step shift logic mimics the operation of a traditional automatic by letting the revs rise and fall when at full throttle. A Sport mode livens feel by adjusting throttle response, steering effort and transmission tuning. Given its 300 horsepower, we're impressed that the Maxima doesn't suffer from undue torque steer, a peculiar side-to-side wiggle felt in the steering wheel that's common in powerful front-wheel-drive cars. Note that premium unleaded is recommended for the Maxima.
300 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
261 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30 mpg
The 2017 Nissan Maxima sedan has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $33,395 for a base S model. If you want leather seating and a more supportive driver's seat, spend the roughly $2,000 more for a Maxima SV. The rest of the lineup climbs into the high $30,000s, and the top-line Maxima Platinum starts over $40,000. At these prices the Maxima starts higher than a Chevrolet Impala and Acura TLX, but the Nissan boasts more standard grunt. It nearly mimics the starting prices of the Toyota Avalon, Kia Cadenza and Hyundai Azera, which also offer a V6 as standard. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their Maxima. The Nissan Maxima's resale value is expected to fare pretty well, in line with that of the Avalon and above that of the Impala, Cadenza and Azera.