Despite being Nissan's flagship sedan, over the past few years, the Maxima hasn't spent much time in the spotlight. Nissan's push for growth has put more emphasis on mainstream models like the Pathfinder, Altima, and Rogue. But there's an all-new Maxima headed to Canadian showrooms and Nissan wants you to take notice.
The new Maxima is a real head-turner, with styling that's bolder than anything else in the full-size segment. Its aggressive snout, with heavy chrome and LED accents, wouldn't look out of place on the GT-R, yet it's balanced by flowing fenders, and a neat take on the pinched rear window line first seen on the Murano crossover. Standard 18-inch wheels fill the flared fenders and give the car a sporting stance.
It might surprise you to learn that the Maxima is bigger than the car it replaces. It's longer and lower, but is more or less identical to the outgoing car in terms of width and wheelbase length. It's also lighter, thanks to greater use of high-strength steel. Nissan claims that these improvements have helped to make its structure stiffer than a Porsche Cayman.
Nissan could also very well claim more standard power than a base Porsche Cayman, thanks to its redesigned 3.5-litre V6 engine. While it may not have direct injection or turbos, it makes 300 horsepower and 261 lb-ft of torque. As with the last two generations of Maxima, this one features a CVT. Those hoping for a four-door Z car, turn away now: the Maxima continues to be front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive isn't on the options list. That said, it's not all bad news: fuel economy is better than expected. City economy is rated at 10.9, which dips to 7.8 on the highway.
The Maxima range is split into models with standard suspension tune (S, SV, SL, Platinum) and sport-tuned (SR). SRs get firmer springs and dampers, paddles for manual shifting, 19-inch wheels and tires, beefier anti-roll bars, and something called Integrated Dynamic-control Module which uses the brakes to provide a level ride over bumpy roads. All cars get Nissan’s Drive Mode Select system which when active increases steering weight and throttle sharpness for a sportier feel.
The most impressive part of the Maxima, however, is its interior. Inspired by a fighter jet’s cockpit, the instrument cluster and centre stack are heavily canted towards the driver to put controls at hand. All cars feature an 8.0-inch centre display and get navigation as standard equipment. Premium finishes and materials like perforated Alcantara and quilted leather help the Maxima feel more luxurious than some Infinitis. All cars receive standard leather-upholstered buckets with so-called "zero-gravity" memory foam seats.
Base SV trim excluded, Maximas come equipped with a lot of active safety equipment. Blind-spot monitoring, radar cruise control, forward collision warning with emergency autonomous braking, and rear cross-traffic alert are standard on the SL and SR trim grades. The range-topping Platinum adds a 360-degree parking camera with Moving Object Detection, which can pick up on, well, moving objects, ensuring the safety of those inside and outside the car.
The 2016 Nissan Maxima is available in four trim levels. The base SV starts at $35,900, with the sporty SR selling for $41,400. The top of the range luxury Platinum trim retails for $43,300.