2016 Nissan Maxima SR | DRIVEN

Sports car or sport-ish?

Photos: Nissan USA

Words: Evan ‘Evo’ Yates

Exterior: Head-on, the 2016 Nissan Maxima is one of the best looking cars on the market – regardless of price. The front fascia has a healthy dose of chrome while simultaneously featuring a blacked-out center grille which creates a custom, chic appearance. The rest of the exterior styling is certainly bold to the point where you’re either going to love or despise it. I give it the nod as it’s innovative and certainly stands out among the competition – and in the parking lot. From the profile view, Nissan’s designers went crease crazy with interesting, sharp body lines and also a distinct separation between the body and the roof creating a floating effect. Nissan has certainly created one of the most distinctive sedans on the streets.

Interior: The 2016 Maxima’s interior blew me away, mainly because I never imagined a Nissan interior looking and feeling so amazing. Nissan not only outdid themselves but dominated their competition as well as there aren’t many sub-$40k sedans with interiors remotely as cool as the Maxima. The interior was clearly crafted to cater to the driver with the center dash angled towards the person behind the wheel. The overall seating position, height of the center console and outward view of the muscular hood all play a major part in providing the most sporty experience possible in a sedan. The leather-appointed seats feature a high-end diamond-quilted pattern typically reserved for exotic or custom cars. The diamond theme is also highlighted on the brushed aluminum dash pieces and is also a luxury appointment. The front seats are heated and cooled and unlike other companies that add multiple buttons to operate the temperature, each seat’s heating and cooling functions are on one knob; turn it left for cool and right for hot. What a concept!

A/V:  Nissan did a pretty good job with their NissanConnect system featuring a vivid eight-inch touchscreen display. I was a bit disappointed in the back-up camera, however. Having reviewed plenty of Nissans in the past I assumed it would feature Nissan’s gem, the Around View Monitor system and it is absent in the Maxima SR. Also, the camera itself is not exactly HD quality as it lack of resolution gets exposed on the larger screen. The 11-speaker Bose sound system really pumps when you crank the volume up and I especially liked the deep base notes it carried with virtually no distortion.

Performance: If you’ve done any research on the new Maxima, you already know what I’m going to say: The CVT transmission is what makes it impossible for anyone to believe Nissan’s claim of the Maxima being a four door sports car. My Mom’s Rogue has a CVT and although it works just fine, there isn’t a damn thing sporty about it. To be fair, this particular version of the CVT, the Xtronic transmission is supposed to be a bit more responsive and it may be under certain conditions. The fact that Nissan also builds legit sports cars such as the GTR and 370Z, I’ve come to the conclusion that “sports car” may just mean sporty. And realistically, you’re not buying a FWD sedan with the assumption of owning a legit sports car anyway and tearing up your local track on the weekends anyway. The 300-hp V6 under the hood is relatively quick and far from underpowered. Actually, I’m glad it doesn’t have any more horsepower because I had a few minor issues with torque steer when I romped on the throttle so I would be weary of too many more ponies. The SR trim level also featured sport-tuned suspension and the Integrated Dynamics control module featuring the Active Ride Control, Active Trace Control and Active Engine Brake. In addition, the chassis is considerably stiffer than previous models which ultimately aids in aggressive cornering.

Final Verdict: Even though Nissan is pushing their sports car pitch pretty hard, what the 2016 Maxima has evolved into is a fine mix between luxury and sport and that’s perfectly fine. The Maxima is a comfortable, fun and attractive four-door and it almost doesn’t need the hoopla behind it. My advice: buy it for what it is and not for what it’s marketed to be and you’ll be perfectly content with one impressive sedan.

 

Damage: $38,750.00

Power: 300 hp, 261 lb-ft

0-60: 5.9 sec

Gas Cash: 25 MPG combined