First Drive: 2016 Nissan Maxima

I’ve been waiting for this one for a while. Several decades ago the Nissan Maxima was one of the few sedans you would think of apart from the German cars when someone mentioned they really wanted a sport sedan. Fortunately for other car brands that has changed in the years since, but for Nissan it puts more pressure to get the new Maxima right in today’s more competitive environment.

The most recent generation Maximas weren’t bad but there wasn’t much that made the vehicles stand out. With the all-new 2016 Maxima we now have the eighth generation and Nissan appears to have another winner on its hands.


It all starts with the exterior design, which you can see from the photos is impressive from all angles. I was curious as to what Nissan would do with the front grille of the Maxima after seeing the more cautious designs for the front of the Altima and the Sentra. Instead we see a more distinctive, unique and ambitious “V-Motion” front grille that’s similar to what we saw with the Rogue. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but as our day went on it started to grow on me. It works with the rest of the vehicle which is beautifully designed and it fits the more aggressive image of the Maxima.

The design was inspired by fighter jets and the Maxima team visited the Blue Angels at the beginning of the process. With a lower profile and wide stance, the new Maxima has a sculpted look giving it an aerodynamic profile with a floating roof appearance that we first saw in the Murano. The boomerang-style headlights add the final touch to a distinctive design that’s worthy of Nissan’s “4-Door Sports Car.”

5 2016 Nissan Maxima


Nissan made significant improvement’s to Maxima’s interior and driver “cockpit.” I drove the SR model featuring leather, quilted seats with contrast stitching. Nissan is aiming for a bespoke interior that rivals the luxury brands and you certainly get that with the SR and Platinum models. I’ve always been a fan of Nissan’s zero gravity seats and that comfort is available here in the Maxima as well along with a new three-layer foam design for a softer feel. Other notable features include the sporty flat bottom D-shaped steering wheel and a center stack angled seven degrees toward the driver.

Standard features include NissanConnectSM with navigation, an 8.0-inch touch-screen display, Remote Engine Start, and RearView Monitor. Also available are an around view monitor and a driver alert system that detects driver drowsiness, along with predictive forward collision warning, intelligent cruise control, forward emergency braking, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot warning.


The new Maxima sports a completely revised 300-horsepower 3.5-liter VQ-series V6 engine and new performance-oriented Xtronic transmission. Torque is rated at 261 lb-ft. Nissan has made significant advances with its CVT technology and adaptive shift control so the feel of the Maxima lives up to expectations for a sport sedan as you accelerate in both normal mode and sport mode. I was impressed that the Maxima performed well in normal mode and then of course enjoyed sport mode even more. Sport mode increases engine throttle response and changes the Xtronic transmission programming changes for more aggressive shifting under braking and gear holding. Also, the steering weight increases and the Active Sound Enhancement system provides for more engine sound in the cabin. The new Maxima is also lighter and offers greatly increased torsional rigidity resulting in better performance. I drove the vehicle on some great roads outside of Nashville and enjoyed it thoroughly.


The 2016 Maxima is available in five models including the S, SV, SL, SR and Platinum. All equipment is grade standard and no options are offered, making it much easier to pick one that fits your tastes. If you’re looking for a sport sedan or even a luxury sedan, we strongly recommend giving the new Maxima a test drive.