2016 Nissan Maxima
by John Davis
Not too many cars are around long enough to reach their 8th generation. But, that’s the case for the all-new 2016 Nissan Maxima. In addition, Nissan claims, although not for the first time, that this redesign also brings back the driving enjoyment of a “Four Door Sports Car”. When Nissan first used that tag line for the Maxima in the early 1990s, it was a boast that most critics felt were justified. But, over the last two decade the Maxima got large and soft, losing its edge as a driver’s family car.
So, when it came time for us to drive the latest car, we approached it with our eyes wide open. Indeed, Maxima is visually one of the most stimulating sedans we’ve come across in years. It’s rakish and radical.
Nissan’s V-motion design theme sets the deep grille, and is echoed along the rest of the car as well. This Maxima adopts the floating roof look of the Murano, with partially blacked C-pillars, and a fast roof that gives the side glass a chopped appearance. Standard, beefy 18 inch wheels further compress the visual height.
Inside the impressively roomy cabin one finds an equally impressive list of standard features including Nissan Connect with touchscreen navigation, remote start, full power seats, and dual-zone climate. Though oddly enough, only a basic backup camera is included. Nissan’s excellent Around View Monitor is an option.
Most of our staff found the Zero Gravity front seats to be very comfy and well bolstered. Rear seaters fare equally well in what is almost a full-size-car amount of room.
Now, any sporty car, regardless of the number of doors, needs invigorating power. Here the new Maxima complies with a familiar 3.5-liter V6. But, with the redesign comes significant updates including GT-R goodies like sodium-filled valves. Horsepower climbs to an even 300. The only downer for us is that the only transmission offered is a CVT. However, improvements here mean that it now has sharper response and is less noisy. Shift paddles are nice and big, and are intelligently mounted on the steering column, not on the wheel.
Our initial drives were also positive. The now lighter Maxima felt quite nimble for a bigger sedan, yet also still super solid. Power delivery was above expectations, even with the CVT still sucking much of the joy out of the experience. New to the Maxima for 2016 are selectable driving modes.
For our exclusive test of the 2016 Nissan Maxima, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3501 that begins airing on September 11, 2015 as we kick off our 35th year on television. For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable network.
So, is the new 2016 Nissan Maxima really worthy of the “Four Door Sports Car” label? Well, you’ll have to consult our full MotorWeek Road Test to find out. But, we can say it is exciting to see inside and out, and with the exception of the CVT, a very able performer for its size. So, it just may turn out that this time Nissan has gotten it right.