There was once a time when the Nissan Maxima ran with the pack. Not just ran, but kept pace; if you were in the market for a reasonably-priced, reliable, large sedan, then the Maxima was likely near the top of your test-drive list alongside the Toyota Avalon, the Impala, and the Taurus. But corporate neglect has taken its toll on the latest generation, as Nissan shifts its focus to higher-volume models. But at the 2015 New York International Auto Show, Nissan made it clear that it’s not planning on leaving the Maxima by the wayside.
After following out of favor for power, space, fuel efficiency, and price, the Maxima is back in a big way. It’s bolder, more spacious, better appoint, and stuffed to the proverbial gills with all sorts of tech and gadgetry. Billed as a “4-door sports car,” Nissan’s hoping that its new Maxima can help revive the large sedan segment in the same fashion that the Ford Fusion helped revitalize the midsize one.
At first glance, it appears the Maxima has a pretty good shot at doing so. It looks remarkably similar to the Sport Sedan concept that Nissan introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It hopes to live up to that claim by sporting a 300 horsepower 3.5 liter V6, emphasized by a new lighter and more rigid chassis. Compared with the previous 3.5 liter V6, the new VQ-Series sports 60% new parts versus the outgoing unit, and Nissan estimates that it’s good for a 15% kick in fuel economy.
This is mated to new performance-oriented Xtronic transmission, which uses a wider ratio range and allows for stronger acceleration from a standing start, Nissan said. It added that an all-new D-Step shifting logic is installed, which provides more “rapid shifts at high throttle openings.” All said and done, Nissan expects the Maxima’s powertrain to yield and EPA-estimated 30 miles per gallon.
The exterior features Nissan’s now-signature V-Motion inspired architecture, and the ‘boomerang’ tail lights around back. It has the sharp, muscular C-pillar that was in a way previewed on the latest Nissan Murano SUV, and curving, taught body lines complement the design throughout.
The inside is as striking as the outside. Nissan took special care to outfit the Maxima with a fit-and-finish that would help justify its $32,410 starting price, and it doesn’t disappoint. The cabin boasts an upscale layout that can be had in five trims, all of which come standard with NissanConnect with navigation, an eight-inch touch-screen display, Remote Engine Start, RearView Monitor, and more, the company says.
The car starts life out in the base S trim, up through the new Platinum trim which comes loaded with near-all of the available accoutrements. New trims for the 2016 model year are SL, SR, and the Platinum, which join the existing S and SV. There’s also a new suite of safety features as well, including Predictive Forward Collision Warning, adaptive cruise control, Forward Emergency Braking, and blind-spot warning with cross-traffic alert.
Toyota has found recent success with its Avalon, after deciding to invest the energy and time into overhauling it. Combined with Nissan’s commitment to the Maxima, it points to good and promising things for the large sedan segment — that despite the past years of sales lethargy and the ensuing reluctance from automakers to pour their hearts into it, the companies are acknowledging that it’s still a pursuit worthy of their time and money.
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