This week, we’re driving the all-new eighth-generation 2016 Nissan Maxima, featuring a fresh aerodynamic stance, improved interior and attractive entry price. For a model that is as close as you can get to its luxury/performance sibling Infiniti, the new Maxima will be a hit at area dealerships and re-assume its reign as flagship of the Nissan brand of automobiles.
Built in Smyrna, Tenn., by American-based craftsmen, Maxima was not available in 2015 as engineers prepared for this all-new model. The wait was worth it, as the new Maxima rides on a 2.2-inch longer wheelbase, weighs about 85 lbs. less, sits near 1.4 inches lower and comes standard with a 300-horsepower V6 engine developing 261 lb. ft. of torque. The more powerful and revamped V6 connects to a front-drive CVT Xtronic automatic transmission, which is also all-new.
The new CVT deserves extra note, as Maxima now features dynamic step shifting, wider gear ratios for better fuel mileage and an adaptive shift controller. The result is better shift points and 22 cit and 30 mph highway, which are excellent numbers for a 300-horse vehicle that can accelerate to 60-MPH in near six seconds flat.
Making the test drive all the better was our Maxima arriving with the “SR” designation, meaning an enhanced sporty handling package and 19-inch all-season tires on diamond cut machined alloy wheels. Although $5,000 more than the entry “S” model (SR base is $37,670), if you can afford this move up the ladder it is highly recommended if you’re a true driving enthusiast. The SR features special sport-tuned suspension additions with Yamaha Performance dampers and a strut/shock setup with a rear monotube design. The reinforced chassis comes with stiffer springs and a larger front stabilizer bar resulting in outstanding handling. If you don’t like a firmer ride, (I do) you may want to pass on the SR.
Additionally, a “Drive Mode” selector offers both “Normal” and “Sport” modes, the latter which sharpens throttle response, betters steering feel and raises transmission shift points for more aggressive acceleration. The system even adjusts Maxima's standard 11-speaker Bose Stereo system with Active Sound Enhancement (ASE,) to permeate the cabin with a throatier engine note.
The end result is a new Maxima that will raise “sports car awareness” in consumers who demand a mid to larger size four door sedan…without breaking the bank. Notable is that each and every Maxima, from entry S to SV, SL, SR and ultimate Platinum, features identical drivetrain mechanicals and road worthiness. Some are either a little sportier, others more luxurious.
Inside, the SR features a cocoon of safety, opulence and sporty features. Already a much better looking Maxima than ever from the outside, Nissan designers hit a home-run with the SR model’s two tone interior. You’ll enjoy the Premium Ascot Leather-appointed seats with Alcantara inserts that are usually reserved for the best in world class vehicles. There’s more than enough rear headroom, but legroom will be a bit tight for larger adults. Add standard fare like panoramic sunroof, aluminum sport pedals, paddle shifters, heated leather wrapped steering wheel, climate controlled front seats, eight inch color display, Nissan Connect with navigation and you’re riding in true luxury and comfort. Your dealer will explain the many more standard features when you visit.
Being that the SR model comes just about fully loaded, only one option appeared on the price sticker, a non-exciting floor and trunk mat kit for $255. Other than that, from every standard safety feature to things like rear view monitor with cross traffic, blind spot monitors, adaptive cruise and forward emergency braking, there’s little left to the imagination when it comes to top tier automobile safety.
Still, it’s the 2016 Maxima complete, sit in your driveway package that scores major kudos. Never one to take a back seat to novel design, Nissan may have hit the jackpot with this new model as it’s a great looker with an interior that does justice twice over. It really is a new car that has to be driven if you are a consumer shopping this mid to larger size car market.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 109.3 inches, 3,564 lb. curb weight, 14.3 cu. ft. of cargo space and an 18 gallon fuel tank.
In summary, Nissan makes note in its marketing material that the four-door sports car is back with its new Maxima SR as it challenges every conventional notion of what a sedan is.
After a week of driving enjoyment, I have to agree.
2016 Nissan Maxima SR
Entry Price: $32,410
Price as tested: $38,750
Likes: New design, fuel mileage, finally establishes “big difference” to Altima.
Dislikes: Trunk cargo room adequate at best, rear seat legroom, not much else.