Nashville, TN -- Amidst honky-tonks, dive bars, and dance halls, the newly redesigned 2016 Nissan Maxima drove to the beat of its own country-music tune, and I’ve got to say it was a real toe-tapper and definitely put a smile on my face.
Now Nissan’s longest-running nameplate in Canada, the Maxima is now entering its eighth generation. Job 1 appeared in 1981, and the Maxima’s popularity grew from there. A large, luxurious, 4-door sedan, the Maxima isn’t just about comfort and space, it’s also about sporty driving and engineers at the Japanese manufacturer made sure we knew that.
I’m going to start with the small, not-always-noticable details first this time: Nissan has created its own “branding” for the 2016 Nissan Maxima, and it’s “4DSC.” What does it mean? Well, it’s an acronym for 4-Door Sports Car. This is a theme Nissan is trying very hard to maintain across the Maxima lineup. This isn’t just a luxury cruiser this is a high-performance sports sedan. You’ll find Easter egg like additions of said acronym inside and out of the 2016 Nissan Maxima (think Jeep Wrangler with the Jeep drawings hidden in various locations).
While it is an interesting acronym, and I totally agree with them branding the new Maxima as a sporty sedan, it is a bit misleading. As we Canadians are well-versed in the winter months and winter driving, the first thought that comes to mind when 4DSC is spotted is “4-drive… something or other.” And that would be the 2016 Nissan Maxima’s biggest fault, actually.
May as well get the bad out of the way; the 2016 Nissan Maxima’s biggest fault (along with the lack of paddle shifters in the Platinum edition), is its lack of AWD. It’s bewildering to me that even though the platforms and technology exist in Nissan and Infiniti, that they haven’t let it trickle down to Nissan yet, especially when it comes to the Maxima that’s high-end and high-performance enough to warrant it.
After all, one of Nissan’s goals with the 2016 Nissan Maxima is to steal from luxury competitors -- like those in the market for Audi, BMW and Acura, all of who offer AWD models.
But so much more going for it
Despite all that: The 2016 Nissan Maxima is a fantastic car. First of all: LOOK AT IT. This is one hot sedan. Seriously. I fell in love with the new Nissan Murano, and with the same “Energetic Flow” design language, complete with the floating roof in the rear, the Maxima is downright sexy. An aggressive front grille and prominent, visible shoulder lines and flared arches over all four wheels make the Maxima look as if it’s moving even when parked. I adore the new look and give Nissan major props. For a company that’s produced some rather bland vehicles over the years (*cough*Nissan Sentra*cough*), this Maxima is a huge leap in the right direction.
Inside, that modern, forward-thinking design continues in the 2016 Nissan Maxima. Truly, they’ve taken this vehicle to another level and are likely to steal sales from luxury brands on their design and materials alone. Besides offering diamond-stitched leather (also available in Alcantara) seats, my favourite element had to be the two-tone Alcantara perforated leather flat-bottom steering wheel. Comfortable and well designed, this might be the best Nissan/Infiniti steering wheel I’ve experienced to date.
Two screens adorn the 2016 Nissan Maxima, 7” in the gauge cluster and 8” in the centre stack. The onboard nav and entertainment system debuted in the Nissan Murano, and I have to say it is extremely easy to use and features swipe and pinch functionality so you’ll feel right at home using it. Nissan also integrated a service called Nissan Connect that will keep you connected via your smartphone. You can lock/unlock, remote start, honk the horn (to scare curious neighbours and children), as well as an OnStar-type feature that lets you call in for an assisted location.
With an engine that’s 61% new and revised, the 2016 Nissan Maxima pumps out 10 more ponies over the previous generation putting total output to 300 now (and 261 lb-ft of torque). A newly revised Xtronic CVT keeps all that power under control. As much as I abhor CVTs, this one isn’t bad. Pop the 2016 Nissan Maxima into “sport” and it will follow a fake shift pattern, dropping the revs instead of holding them to ear-bleed status. In the lower models, steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters are available, however, in the top-of-the-line Platinum you’ll have to use the shifter if you wanna “shift” your own fake gears.
A note about the “sport” mode; it’s not a drastic change in driving dynamics, but enough that you do feel something is mechanically different after you select it. Steering input is more precise and the throttle is a bit more lively. In all, it’s enough of a change to make you feel like the 2016 Nissan Maxima truly is a 4DSC.
Oh, and super kudos to Nissan engineers for the exhaust note on start-up, the 3.5L V6 sounds positively snarly and sporty when the start/stop button is pressed (more from the outside than in, so I recommend you stand behind and get a friend to start ‘er up so you get the full effect).
Otherwise, the cabin is a rather serene and quiet place to be (thanks in no small part to the newly integrated sound-cancelling double-panned glass up front). And seat comfort is paramount for those long road-trip hauls.
Maxima to the max
I love when car companies stick to their guns and embrace what they are. Nissan understands their customer base well, but they’re also willing to grow ever so slightly (daring design and new sporty characteristics), and that’s why the 2016 Nissan Maxima will do well.
With a price range from the mid $30k mark to $43,300, the Maxima is also perfectly priced as it offers a truly luxurious experience without tipping the $50k base price mark. Watch out, the Maxima is coming for ya.