Large semi-premium sedans have two purposes:
They attract expense-account customers on rental lots, looking to upgrade from a mid-size…
… And at work, they are a P.C. statement for people who want all the fancy equipment, but not the interoffice sneers brought on by a luxury badge.
That guy at the office driving a Chrysler 300 or a Toyota Avalon probably has a lot more income than you, however you would never envy his car.
And the same goes for the new Nissan Maxima 2016.
It will be fair if we say that even Nissan hasn’t paid much attention to the Maxima recently…
…Once the big kahuna in the Nissan lineup, the Maxima has languished in recent years.
We haven’t tested one since 2008, the last time Nissan overhauled its flagship sedan.
Since that time, Maxima received a midcycle refresh in 2012, and it was so subtle people barely wrote about it.
But after the new Maxima 2016 made a cameo in Nissan’s Super Bowl commercial, we set down our beers and took notice.
1. Every Design Trend, All in One Place
Designed with similar dramatic and sweeping fashion as last year’s Sport Sedan Concept…
the new Nissan Maxima is either banging hot or is bound to age fast.
There is plenty going on, but one thing is sure:
the design chief Shiro Nakamura at least should be toasted for unbuttoning the Maxima’s oxford shirt and exposing raw flesh.
Just like the newest Murano, Maxima’s visual stimulation won’t let up:
Boomerang-style lights, intersecting creases, double U-shaped grilles, swooping chrome, bulges, blacked-out pillars, and quarter-panel flares attack the eyes.
While Nakamura’s team threw every conceivable trend at the new Maxima, it is certainly Nissan and certainly not cobbled from generic European car parts.
Some standout details:
The floating, canopy-style greenhouse with its blacked-out C-pillar is claimed to have been inspired by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.
Also designers tilted the center stack seven degrees toward the driver, the same way they did for the GT-R, and aped Jaguar’s pulsating ignition button.
They even etched 4DSC (“4-Door Sports Car”) into the headlamps and taillamps, echoing the 4DSC window stickers on the circa-1990 Maxima.
2. FWD and CVT – Two Things We Don’t Expect in a Four-Door Sports Car
This is an age when you can have a stick shift in a Buick and Acuras offer all-wheel torque vectoring, and Nissan’s four-door sports car comes with front-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission.
The revised 3.5-liter V-6 delivers 300 horsepower (up 10) and the same 261 lb-ft of torque…
…while the Xtronic CVT gains a wider ratio spread, an rpm-hold function when the car senses hard cornering and more aggressive fake shifts.
Quite tame stuff, even while fuel economy improves, Nissan says, from 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway to 22/30 mpg.
With the Nissan’s Drive Mode Selector you will have the option to make a choice between normal and sport settings for steering effort, transmission tuning, throttle sensitivity, and the piped-in engine noise.
The suspension is damper-struts up front and multilinks at the rear…
…an SR performance trim level stiffens the dampers and the front anti-roll bar.
The available Active Ride Control does not perform any active dampening but instead brakes individual wheels to settle the chassis over bumps and dips.
The new Maxima uses more high-strength steel, which helps in providing 25-percent greater torsional rigidity.
Nissan engineers also were capable of trim up to 82 pounds, despite this eighth-generation Maxima being a bit larger than its predecessor.
The car is 2.2 inches longer (at 192.8 inches) and 1.3 inches lower, while the width (73.2 inches) and 109.3-inch wheelbase are identical to the outgoing car’s.
Head-, shoulder-, and legroom are up by fractions of an inch for front passengers, despite the fact that some measurements shrink a bit for folks in the back.
3. Maximum Gizmos, No Options
When we were driving a 1984 Datsun Maxima we heard a recorded voice chiding us to turn off the lights:
and we pleaded with automakers to “get over their childish fascination with the bells-and-whistles potential of automotive electronics and simply confine themselves to making cars work better”…
…32 years later, the 2016 Nissan Maxima continues to be enamored of tech gizmos.
As an example, swiping left on the eight-inch touch screen while in the navigation menu will make directions suddenly show up on the seven-inch screen in the instrument panel.
The top-level Maxima Platinum also debuts NissanConnect Services, a full suite of telematics that includes remote locking, remote start, crash alerts, location mapping, maintenance reminders, and live concierge servic…
…which all are accessible within the car or through a smartphone app.
Four more Nissan models will see the system this year.
4. The New Nissan Maxima 2016 Price and Complimentary Subscriptions Haven’t Been ‘Officially’ Announced.
Maxima models are now divided into five trim levels in lieu of an options list, all of which will go on sale in June.
The S starts things off at $33,235 – $1120 more than the outgoing model…
…and will come standard with navigation, those dual eight-an- seven-inch touch screens, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, 18-inch wheels, an eight-way power driver’s seat, and a four-way power passenger’s seat.
The price of $35,215 SV will bring leather, heated seats, front and rear parking sensors, power lumbar, and heated side-view mirrors with integrated turn signals.
Driver assist and active safety features including forward-collision alert, auto-braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot detection, and adaptive cruise control appear on SL models ($37,715) and above.
This trim level also comes with a heated steering wheel, an 11-speaker Bose stereo with active noise cancellation, and a dual-panel sunroof.
The $38,495 SR brings diamond-stitched faux-suede trim and semi-aniline leather seats, paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, 19-inch wheels, and LED low-beam headlamps.
Around View 360-degree camera system is reserved for Nissan’s the top-level Platinum…
…strange, since it is available on the lowly Versa.
With the $40,685 Platinum you can also get memory settings for the driver’s seat, a power rear-window shade, a Benz-style driver-drowsiness monitor and rain-sensing wipers.
Nissan filled the new Maxima with toys, but we were expecting a spicier powertrain and chassis to match the wild exterior.
With 300 horsepower going to the front wheels, torque steer is a major concern, and while it is somewhat tolerable on a hot hatch, it’s really not acceptable on an upscale car that will crest $40,000.
Even if the Maxima cannot really trick us that it is a sports car, it will probably trick the neighbors to think that you’re living with modesty having a Nissan sedan when you’re in fact living in high-tech style.