Recently, I was given the keys to the all-new 2016 Maxima Platinum model.
This car is very striking. I had seen pictures online, yet was not prepared for just how exciting the new design is in person. Unfortunately photos just cannot do it justice.
Each body panel is curvaceous, sculpted and flowing. The body is wide and sits very low; it looks hunkered down ready to attack some corners.
The new Nissan grille is used to great effect, adding some much needed aggression to the overall presence.
My test car had 18” alloy wheels but 19” are optional and do come standard on the SR model. Incidentally, the SR is sportiest of the models, with paddle shifters, tuned suspension, an integrated dynamic control module and aluminum pedals. Adding to the premium appearance are the LED projector headlights (found on the SR and Platinum models) as well as the standard LED running and rear lighting.
After much time spent admiring the many body lines, I opened the driver’s door and was greeted by a sporty flat bottom steering wheel (which can be heated) and a driver centric dash.
The seats in the Platinum model feature ascot leather with a diamond pattern.
In terms of ambiance, this really punches things up. (Leather is found even in base models – as is heated front seats, heated mirrors and rear view camera.)
The seats are set low and provide extreme levels of comfort even on long drives. Four adults will fit comfortably, but five will be tight, unless the fifth is a contortionist.
The center console is angled toward the driver bringing all the controls within effortless reach.
There are 2 information screens: a 7-inch screen located in the instrument cluster, and an 8-inch touch screen in the center console.
The touch-screen will no doubt impress with its swipe, pinch-to-zoom and slide functions that we are all so accustomed to.
As an example, navigation instructions found on the center screen can be “slid” over to the screen in the gauge cluster, freeing up the center for the front seat passenger to continue playing DJ.
The center console also has a rotary dial in the middle arm rest that enables one to control various entertainment and vehicle functions, without having to lift one’s arm.
Nissan has stayed true to its flagship roots and kept the V6 powertrain we have come to love. This specific version puts out a healthy 300 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque which is more than enough to keep you grinning.
Pushing the start button awakens the 3.5L engine with a low snarl that gives a “not just another sedan” impression.
If my tester had a 6-speed manual I would not have returned it. I would have sent a check and kept the car. However Nissan is in love with the dreaded CVT.
I will say this though, Nissan engineers have put a great amount of time and effort into hiding the CVT tendencies that we all loathe, and they have been mostly successful.
They even reworked the transmissions software, programming it to respond to sensor inputs for throttle position, road grade, and G-load during cornering and braking.
But I am fussy and this CVT still exhibits a tendency, albeit minor, to rubber-band – that is – to maintain a set rpm while the speed increases, effectively neutering that fantastic soundtrack from the engine.
Speaking of engine noise, the Maxima has Active Sound Enhancement which was needed to allow the occupants to hear the engine because of all the sound deadening done to keep outside noise from entering the tranquil cabin.
Aside from the CVT let down, which I admit is mostly personal preference; the Maxima is a sporty drive.
Corners are taken flat with no noticeable roll.
This is due to some stiffening of the structure by generous application of light-weight high strength steel and to the new suspension supplied by ZF-Sachs.
On the highway the ride is composed and comfortable, while enticing you not to let off the throttle before entering the bends.
The thick leather steering wheel delivers a very real sense of how the wheels are connecting to the road. The steering itself is weighty, direct and well-tuned.
Being the flagship, the Maxima grants you access to all of the latest Nissan technology. Systems like navigation, voice recognition and voice-to-text are all standard equipment.
The Platinum model adds driver attention alert, surround view monitor, moving object detection and an active cruise control system that is the best I have ever used.
So is the 2016 Nissan Maxima a sports car? Not in the purest sense, but it is a real sports sedan. So, if you want some excitement, but need 4 doors, you may just want to check this one out, it is by far the most exciting car for the money.
Base MSRP $32,410 US
Platinum MSRP $39,860