Nissan’s longest running model name is its flagship Maxima sedan. The 2016 Nissan Maxima is fully redesigned with a fresh look, an upgraded interior and a more potent powertrain. The new Maxima seeks to breathe fresh life into an eroding segment.
Ever since Nissan made the transition from Datsun in the early 1980s, the Nissan Maxima has served as the brand’s flagship sedan. The all-new 2016 Nissan Maxima presents a bold exterior along with a refined interior and a more robust powertrain to show for it.
The 2016 Nissan Maxima comes in lower, longer and wider than the 2014 edition. No 2015 model year sedan was built. The Maxima resides on the same platform as the midsize Nissan Altima and has a 109.3-inch wheelbase. The Maxima is marginally longer on the outside, but has a slightly smaller cabin and trunk than the Altima.
The sedan’s striking front fascia is marked by an oversized grille offset by rakish headlamps and wing-like daytime running lights. Deeply notched grooves house the fog lamps.
The Maxima’s profile sweeps from the front to the back with a floating roof design evident at the rear pillars. Distinctive character lines grace the side view, flowing gracefully upward to the raised rear deck. Diamond-cut finished aluminum alloy wheels put the exclamation mark on this premium motorcar. At the rear, wraparound winged taillights, chrome accents and dual chrome exhaust finishers are found.
Nissan outdid itself with the Maxima’s interior. Clearly, it is the best interior ever applied to a Nissan model this side of the GT-R. All driver controls are strategically placed and easy to reach. A flat-bottomed steering wheel underscores the ‘four door sports car’ persona the Maxima has long represented.
Inspiration for the cockpit came from the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and it doesn’t take much of an imagination to see that.
Genuine stitching on the instrument panel, across the console and on the doors advance the Maxima’s premium design, which is amplified by the available premium leather seating surfaces, Alcantara inserts and ambient lighting.
The driver’s seat is comfortable and provides the desired seat extender. Both front seats are inspired by NASA’s zero gravity architecture and designed to minimize pressure on the back, pelvis and torso. The instrument panel features a pair of tachometer and speedometer analog displays located on each side of a digital driver’s information center.
Just below the vents at the top of the center stack is an eight-inch color display or command center for Nissan’s telematics system. Knobs and switches surround the screen to control audio and climate functions. The ignition switch, transmission shifter and drive mode selector line the left side of the center console. On the right is a covered storage compartment and two cup holders. The center arm rest doubles as a deep storage compartment. Auxiliary input, USB connection ports and a 12-volt outlet are also present.
The rear seat is a 60/40 split-folding design. It offers excellent room for two and good room for three. The rear headroom is sufficient for most adults. Folding down the rear center arm rest reveals two cup holders and a storage slot for a smartphone. All four doors also provide in-door storage, including drink holders.
Nissan offers one powertrain combination for the 2016 Maxima. All models are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that’s paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The updated engine now makes an even 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque.
The naturally aspirated Maxima engine is wholly sufficient for this model, delivering excellent off the mark acceleration while distributing steady amounts of power as it works its way up to highway speed. The CVT is refined, although the pulling feeling common to such transmissions is present.
A Maxima first is the inclusion of a two-mode drive selector that offers Normal and Sport settings. Switch to Sport and the engine throttle increases, the transmission program changes and the active sound management system transfers heightened exhaust system melodies to the cabin.
A stiffer body, a refined suspension system and power-assisted steering unite to supply superior handling in the Maxima. Even with 300 horsepower sent to the front wheels, this sedan serves up very little torque steer under aggressive driving. The sedan maintains its composure as it hurries down the straightaway and handles cornering deftly, especially in Sport mode. Although an all-wheel drive option would be ideal, this sedan does a respectable job of maintaining its poise through acceleration, turning and braking.
The 2016 Nissan Maxima is EPA-rated at 22/30 mpg city/highway.
All 2016 Maximas come equipped with NissanConnect, a telematics system that includes navigation. The scheme features an 8-inch color display located near the top of the center stack.
NissanConnect comes with a trial SiriusXM satellite radio subscription with Travel Link. Google online search, iHeartRadio, Pandora and Facebook are among the smartphone apps that can be integrated into the system. The system operates by touch screen, switches or voice command. The navigation system successfully provided accurate and clear directions when called on.
Testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not yet been conducted for the 2016 Maxima as of publication. Similar testing conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is also pending.
Nissan offers a variety of safety features for the 2016 Maxima, with some aids reserved for upper trim level models only. A standard driver attention alert system is activated when the sedan’s sensors detect that the driver may be tired and in need of a break. The system provides both visual and audible warnings to remind drivers to pull off the road.
In addition to the standard air bag suite, the Maxima offers adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, emergency braking, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot warning. Platinum editions also come with a 360-degree all-around view monitor with moving object detection. The system senses possible obstructions, warns the driver and displays a schematic on the color display.
Nissan prices the 2016 Maxima from $32,410 with midlevel trims retailing from around $35,000. Its top-of-the-line Platinum edition is priced from $39,860. Add in available accessories and factor options such as rocker panel moldings, a rear spoiler and an interior lighting package, and a fully optioned model comes in around $42,000.
Nissan Maxima pricing starts higher than the Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300, Chevrolet Impala and Ford Taurus. It matches well with the Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Azera, including each model’s top-end edition.
Nissan delivers a flagship sedan with a premium edge and a competitive price point. For shoppers wanting more value, the similarly sized Nissan Altima may be sufficient, especially with its standard four-cylinder engine. The latest Maxima incorporates premium features common to Nissan’s Infiniti brand. Cross shop the Infiniti Q50 if you prefer rear-wheel drive.