2016 Maxima New Car Test Drive
Nissan has given its premier sedan a striking redesign.
Marketing two similar sedans, one for the mainstream market and the other with near-luxury pretensions, hasn't always been so easy for Nissan. For years, the popular Altima family sedan has been a little too closely related to the more posh Maxima four-door. Just as some potential Maxima customers may have stepped down a notch to the Altima, another group might have turned instead to a lower-end version of the stylish, more prestigious Infiniti, from Nissan's luxury division.
Now, for 2016, Nissan has rethought the Maxima, with dramatic impact. As a result, that premium model slots into a class all its own, rather than sputtering along as a deluxe sibling of the Altima.
Although the former Maxima was rather subdued in appearance, the latest version, benefitting from a geometric design theme, flaunts plenty of flair. To a greater extent than some redesigns, this Maxima resembles the show car that served as its foundation. Among other highlights, the roof has a look similar to that of a floating canopy.
Built on a 109.3-inch wheelbase, the 2016 Maxima is 192.8 inches long and 56.5 inches high. That's 2.2 inches longer than before, and 1.3 inches lower. Dimensions are close to those of the mainstream Altima, on the same wheelbase.
Beneath the hood sits an enhanced 3.5-liter V6, the sole engine choice, now generating 300 horsepower along with 261 pound-feet of torque. All 2016 Maximas have front-wheel drive and use a continuously variable transmission (CVT). All-wheel drive is not available. Neither is a four-cylinder engine, which is offered on the Altima.
In addition to a Sport mode that promises swifter responses, the CVT incorporates a shift logic that grows more aggressive when pushing hard on the gas pedal. Premium-grade gasoline is required.
Five trim levels are offered, including a posh Platinum edition and the sporty-performance SR, with such high-tech features as active trace control to enhance its handling talents.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel economy at 22 mpg city and 30 mpg for highway driving, or 25 mpg combined.
Five trim levels are available for the 2016 Nissan Maxima: S, SV, SL, SR, and Platinum. The Maxima S, with MSRP at $32,410, has navigation, automatic climate control, power front seats, a rearview camera, SiriusXM capability, Bluetooth connectivity, pushbutton start, and remote start.
Maxima SV ($34,390) adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, and front/rear parking sensors. Maxima SL ($36,890) has a panoramic sunroof, 11-speaker Bose audio, forward-collision warning with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors.
Maxima SR, the sporty-performance model, has an MSRP of $37,670 and includes Alcantara seating inserts and aluminum sport pedals. Only the SR gets active trace control that applies braking to each wheel when going through a curve, active engine braking that helps slow the car, and active ride control.
Topping the line is the $39,860 Maxima Platinum, with quilted leather/Alcantara seats (ventilated up front). Only Platinum has NissanConnect subscription-based telematics, with a choice of three tiers of service. (All prices are MSRP and do not include the $825 destination charge. Dealer prices may vary.).