Nissan moves the new 2016 Maxima front and center with a bold new design, more power and improved performance — all designed to attract drivers who prefer a sport sedan to a more traditional large car. Since the Maxima first debuted in 1981, 2.9 million have been sold in the U.S., which Nissan dubbed “4-Door Sports Car” in the 1980s. With the 2016 Maxima, Nissan is looking to reclaim that title while continuing to deliver the room and comfort expected from a large sedan.
Concept Design Cues
The bold Maxima design closely follows the Sport Sedan Concept, with the V-Motion grille and strong lines that flow back through the front fenders into the front doors. The steeply sloped windshield and blacked out A-pillars create a wraparound design evoking an airplane cockpit, and the black B- and C-pillars create a floating roof. LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights incorporate distinctive boomerang shapes. Overall the new Maxima is 1.3 inches lower and 2.2 inches longer than the previous model.
The 2016 Maxima is offered in five trim levels: S, SV, SL, SR and Platinum. Each trim features different levels of standard equipment and options are not available. All trims are powered by a revised 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine combined with a new performance-oriented Xtronic continuously-variable transmission. Factory installed accessories include a premium spoiler, sport spoiler (SR only), 19-inch summer tires with full-size alloy spare (SR only), unique 18-inch wheels, illuminated kick plates and splash guards.
Standard equipment for Maxima S includes LED Signature daytime running lights, 18-inch machined-finish aluminum-alloy wheels, an 8-way power driver’s seat, a 4-way power passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, NissanConnect navigation with 8.0-inch display, 7-inch Advanced Drive Assist Display in the instrument cluster, remote engine start with Intelligent Key, dual USB ports, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, SiriusXM Travel Link applications, and Online Search with Google.
Maxima SV and SL
The Maxima SV adds leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats, driver’s seat power lumbar support, driver’s side thigh support, parking sensors and heated outside mirrors with turn signal indicators. Maxima SL equipment includes Dual-Panel Panoramic Moonroof, a Bose audio system with 11 speakers, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Cruise Control, Forward Emergency Braking, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Warning, a heated steering wheel and ambient lighting.
The sport-oriented Maxima SR will be the choice for driving enthusiasts with sport-tuned suspension, an Integrated Dynamics-control Module for electronic chassis management, front chassis performance damper, premium Ascot leather seats with diamond-quilted Alcantara inserts, climate-controlled front seats, Ascot-leather covered steering wheel with a Alcantara insert, paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, Liquid Chrome interior trim, LED low-beam headlights, 19-inch diamond-cut machined aluminum-alloy wheels and 245/40R19 all-season tires developed specifically for Maxima.
The Platinum sits atop the Maxima lineup, with additional luxury features that include premium Ascot leather-trimmed seats with diamond-quilted leather inserts, an Ascot leather-wrapped steering wheel, Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, Dual-Panel Panoramic Moonroof, a power rear-window sunshade, Driver Attention Alert, NissanConnect Services, and mahogany wood-tone interior trim.
Under the Hood
The 2016 Maxima gets its power from a revised version of Nissan’s 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 300 horsepower and 261 lb-ft of torque. The new engine has a 15 percent increase in fuel economy to an EPA estimated 30 mpg highway and 22 mpg city. The new Xtronic CVT features a wider range of ratios for better acceleration and improved economy, and it’s tuned for a more sport-oriented feel. The new Drive Mode Selector offers Normal and Sport modes which adjust throttle response, transmission tuning, steering feel and Active Sound Enhancement for a more aggressive engine sound inside the car in Sport mode.
Chassis and Suspension
Maxima is built on a new platform that utilizes high-strength steel for a 25 percent increase in torsional rigidity and an 82-pound reduction in weight. The front strut and coil spring suspension is mounted to an independent subframe, and at the rear a multilink design includes ZP Sachs monotube dampers usually found in performance applications. The monotube dampers were developed for the SR, but then included for all trim levels. All versions feature 4-wheel discs with ABS, Electronic Brake force Distribution and Brake Assist. Steering is a speed-sensitive hydro-electric system.
Inside, the new Maxima interior focuses on the driver with the center stack angled 7 degrees toward the pilot. Zero Gravity front seats offer both sport bolstering and comfort via a 3-layer foam design. The diamond-quilted design in Alcantara for the SR and Ascot leather for the Platinum add to the sporty but elegant feel, and a beautiful Camel-colored interior is optional. The instrument panel, doors and console incorporate contrast stitching. All trims include NissanConnect with navigation, and the color display responds to swiping and pinch-to-zoom gestures and voice recognition for navigation and audio. The Display Commander in the center console can also be used to control on-screen functions. This unique feature allows drivers to swipe navigation directions from the console to the Advanced Drive-Assist Display in the instrument panel in front of the steering wheel.
On the Road
The new Maxima is a fun driver with plenty of power from the 3.5-liter V6 engine. The sport-tuned Xtronic CVT does a pretty good job of disguising itself as a traditional automatic transmission and at times feels as if it is shifting up through the gears under acceleration or downshifting when slowing. There is a manual shift mode that allows the driver to shift up or down to set ratios, and the changes are very smooth with minimal power interruption. But in Sport mode and under hard acceleration there’s no mistaking the distinctive CVT function of holding a set rpm while vehicle speed continues to increase. It’s an efficient and practical method, but it still seems out of place in a sport sedan, although it’s not going to be as noticeable in most driving conditions. The chassis feels balanced and responsive, the ride is not too harsh, steering is responsive with a nice linear feel, so Maxima is fun to push through any favorite section of winding road. The Zero Gravity seats are very comfortable but also offer good lateral support.
Right for You?
Most buyers will choose Maxima for its size and passenger capacity, but for drivers who enjoy a performance-oriented focus, the Maxima delivers. The exterior styling may be too aggressive for some, but the interior is an excellent balance of sport and luxury, especially the SR and Platinum trims with quilted seats. If you need room but prefer a sporty driving experience, this new Maxima is for you.
Not quite a sports car, the 2016 Nissan Maxima is a great sport sedan.
Bold, sporty new design
Strong 300-horsepower V6
Beautiful driver-focused interior
Design may be too bold for some buyers