2017 Maxima New Car Test Drive
Nissan Maxima was last redesigned for the 2016 model year, so it carries over unchanged, though the 2017 Maxima comes standard with Apple CarPlay.
Nissan dubbed the Maxima a four-door sports car, but today it's more accurately described as a relatively luxurious, large midsize sedan. Despite its edgier design, highlighted by a sloped, floating-style roofline with blacked-out rear pillars, the Maxima feels most like a near-luxury family cruiser. Not many manufacturers have dared to develop such a polarizing shape, and the end result is quite appealing.
The Maxima shares its platform and powertrain with the midsize Altima, but they stand well apart in styling, as well as purpose. While the Altima is intended to transport the whole family, the Maxima is oriented more around the sophisticated couple.
Beneath the hood is an upgrade of Nissan's familiar 3.5-liter V6, producing 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque and mating with a continuously variable transmission. A less-powerful variant of the V6 is an option for the Altima. Their CVTs are similar, but the Maxima's higher final-drive ratio aims to keep the engine more settled.
Although the 109.3-inch wheelbase is shared, interior space is reduced in the Maxima. Its sloping roofline restricts headroom for a center-rear passenger. Head clearance also is limited by the available panoramic sunroof.
Even base-level Maximas come with an impressive selection of standard features, including an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation capability and a rearview camera. Maximas in sportier SR trim are equipped with a sport-tuned suspension.
A Midnight Edition option for Maxima SR adds a black spoiler and wheels. A similar Medallion Edition includes a special spoiler, illuminated kick plates, and accent lighting. Few factory-installed options are offered.
Nissan's top sedan has earned five-star crash-test scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (Fuel leakage during the initial test had resulted in a recall and stop-sale, but subsequent retesting was incident-free.) The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named Maxima a Top Safety Pick+, rated Good in each test, including the tougher small-overlap crash. Several active safety features are standard on upper models but unavailable for entry trim levels. They include forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control. Platinum models add a drowsy-driver alert, moving-object detection, and surround-view cameras.
The 2017 Nissan Maxima S ($32,560) comes with cloth upholstery, power front seats, Bluetooth audio streaming, two USB ports, 18-inch wheels, and a rearview camera.
Maxima SV ($34,540) adds heated front seats, leather upholstery, and heated outside mirrors. Maxima SL ($37,040) comes with a panoramic sunroof, 11-speaker Bose audio, and LED lighting. A group of active-safety features includes forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control.
Maxima SR ($37,820) features a significantly upgraded suspension for sportier handling. The panoramic sunroof is absent, but LED headlights and 19-inch wheels are standard. Ventilated front seats have Alcantara inserts. Nissan's Dynamics-control module includes Active Trace Control, Ride Control, and Engine Braking.
Maxima Platinum ($39,990) aims at luxury, with plenty of leather and wood trim. Included are a power tilt/telescoping steering column, rain-sensing wipers, Nissan Connect telematics, surround-view cameras, power rear-window sunshade, moving-object detection, and a driver alert system.