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2016 Nissan Maxima

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2016 Nissan Maxima - 2 - AOA

Overview (Final Score: A-)
The 2016 Nissan Maxima is all-new for this model year. Nissan took the previous generation Maxima and tossed it in the bin, starting from scratch for an entirely new experience in full-sized sedans. The only holdover from the old Maxima is its tried-and-true V6.

The 2016 Maxima is a showcase of design. Nissan calls it, with a straight face, a sports sedan and anyone who questions that has not likely driven a Maxima. It may not have the power and speed of others with that description, but it definitely has the handling engagement and road appeal required to carry that title.

The Maxima's highlights include a premium exterior look, a very upscale interior experience, and excellent road manners. This is a five-seat sedan offered in five trim levels, nearly all of which offer a lot of value for the dollar.

What We Loved About the 2016 Nissan Maxima

  • Great look that is very standout without being too polarizing.

  • Excellent interior design with quality materials.

  • Strong on-road presence with an engaging drive.

What We Didn't Love About the 2016 Nissan Maxima

  • Interior not as roomy as some rivals.

  • Reliability questions because of its untested newness.

  • Some sacrifices made to sportiness to hold good MPG returns.

2016 Nissan Maxima - 5 - AOA

Exterior View (10/10 relative to market)
In the arena of full-sized sedans, styles run the gamut from ho-hum to "wow." The Maxima definitely fits in the "wow" category. Probably with capital letters. This is one of the best-looking cars in the class. The key to the 2016 Maxima's appeal is its concept car, prototype looks, starting with the floating roof design and the strongly accentuated front end.

Taking cues from the design language of the newly-remodeled Murano crossover that appeared last year, the 2016 Nissan Maxima has a bold, almost busy front fascia and hood. The chromed U-shaped underline and Nissan badge are surrounded by a meshed grille and sharp, aggressive headlamps. The lower scoop is wide, but not dominating and the low-leaning hood sweeps upwards dramatically. Heavy bulges and lines accent the fenders to bring out the sport sedan reference and a raked windscreen finishes the look from head-on.

Along the sides, the rounded hunch of the front fenders is accentuated with multiple sweeps in body lines curving back from the headlamps and hood. Those lines lightly caress the side paneling, leaving the slightly upward moving beltline to carry the theme. At the rear, the pillar is blacked and the greenhouse narrowed to create the floating roof signature over which the fast-dipping, long-lined roof end finishes the coupe-like design. Light haunches and a slightly tapered rear complete the sport sedan accents.

The 2016 Nissan Maxima has an unmistakable look and carries a lot of showroom appeal. Most of these design elements are conducive to a good drive as well, offering good visibility and better than expected interior roominess.

2016 Nissan Maxima - interior 2 - AOA

Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (9/10)
In the redesign of the 2016 Maxima, Nissan also went to great lengths to upgrade the interior's quality as well. Quality materials are found throughout the cabin with emphasis on comfort and well-considered design. The result is a more upscale feeling that makes for a big step forward from the previous generation.

In the front, Nissan's Zero Gravity seating sets the stage for a comfortable experience. These are every bit as good as those found in the Altima and Rogue. Thoughtful touches in the front space include a phone bin with USB ports and a slot for holding even the largest of phones in an upright, yet secure position. Driver's controls are all clear and well laid out.

In the back seat, roominess is not as good as might be expected of a big sedan, but the Maxima is closer in size to the Toyota Avalon than it is the traditionally very large sedans like the Chrysler 300 and Chevrolet Impala. The slightly smaller size means the rear seats have less legroom and shoulder room than those others. Of course, there are advantages to a smaller size, such as superior fuel economy and a sportier driving nature.

Trunk space is likewise a bit smaller than average, coming in at 14.3 cubic feet. It's an accessible and useful trunk, though.

2016 Nissan Maxima - interior 7 - AOA

Technology (9/10)
Technology in the 2016 Maxima centers on the 8-inch touchscreen on the center console. This screen has good definition and clarity with redundant controls to make it simple for users to find their most comfortable use point. A "Display Commander" knob on the center console gives an option, as does the touchscreen itself. Integrated apps powered by the user's smartphone via the Nissan Connect app are also available. This integration is growing as more apps are being added to the suite, though for now they're relatively limited. Setup and use are easy, though, and the learning curve for the Nissan system as a whole is much better than it was in previous generations.

Also standard in the Maxima is a large and informative gauge cluster display that offers a lot of information about the car and systems. Although these are becoming standard in most vehicle classes today, the Nissan system is of higher definition and better quality than many.

Other standards include satellite radio, HD radio, an eight-speaker surround sound system, and two USB ports. Optional equipment includes parking sensors, active noise cancellation, a premium audio system, and adaptive cruise control.

2016 Nissan Maxima - 4 - AOA

Fuel Economy (9/10)
The 2016 Nissan Maxima has excellent fuel economy for the class. The car is rated at 25 mpg combined with 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. These EPA estimates are close to the real world. Our week in the sedan returned a 26 mpg average in a highway-heavy mix of driving.

Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (7/10)
Because the 2016 Nissan Maxima is all-new, we have little to go with for reliability ratings. The car has had one recall due to a fuel system issue, but has otherwise had no recorded issues. The warranty for the Maxima is a standard three year or 36,000 miles with five years or 60,000 miles on the powertrain. Historically, the engine in the Maxima has a solid record for reliable performance, but the transmission and other components in the 2016 model are new unknowns.

2016 Nissan Maxima - 3 - AOA

Safety (10/10)
The 2016 Maxima received the best scores possible on all crash tests conducted. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently announced the Maxima as a Top Safety Pick+ winner, its highest honor. All crash tests for the Maxima resulted in a best-possible "Good" rating and the optional collision mitigation systems earned it the "Plus" suffix.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash testing, the 2016 Maxima also did very well. It earned the highest-possible five stars on all crash tests, receiving an overall 5-Star rating.

Performance (8/10)
The 2016 Maxima is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque. This engine has served the Maxima for years, though it's been upgraded for this new-generation car and offers a bit more horsepower than before. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is the only option mated to the engine and it powers the Maxima in front-wheel drive.

Nissan advertises the Maxima as a "sports sedan" with a lot of emphasis on driveability and performance feel. The Maxima is not a performance car, returning just about 6.5 seconds in a 0-60 sprint. It does, however, have precision steering and a solidly capable feel for the driver and a throaty sound when pressed. This imparts the impression of sportiness and an engaging experience behind the wheel.

On the road, the Maxima is a good drive with a family-ready build. It absorbs bumps and ruts well, with the top-level trim offering even more road-dampening comfort through intelligent chassis control. On the highway, the 2016 Maxima is a powerful goer with plenty of acceleration and road presence to get around obstacles and pass trucks with ease. Around town, the Maxima handles smaller than its size, making parking easy (especially with the optional AroundView camera system).

2016 Nissan Maxima - interior 6 - AOA

Pricing and Value (8/10)
The 2016 Nissan Maxima has a good value proposition for the class, with a starting price around $33,000 and a lot of standard equipment to go with that. With an excellent interior, a premium-quality exterior design, and a very engaging driving experience, most will enjoy the Maxima and find it a good choice.

In fact, it's only one step up from the base level S to the SV to receive leather upholstery, heated seating and mirrors, and parking sensors. At around $34,500, that might be a best-buy in this car's lineup of trims.

Sport enthusiasts and those who want more comfort in around-town driving on rough pavement will like the SR trim level with its Active Ride Control and sporty additions like a tightened chassis and Active Trace Control and engine braking for better cornering. LED headlights and some exterior trim additions make this the most premium-looking version of the Maxima without adding the Platinum level's bling.

2016 Nissan Maxima - 6 - AOA

Total Score and Competitive Comparison (70/80, 87.5%)
The 2016 Nissan Maxima is more upscale than most of its rivals, even at its base level offering. With a lot of accouterments inside and a beautiful exterior, it's a definite standout. Those who need more space inside, though, will want to consider the Detroit options like the commanding Chrysler 300, the upscale Buick LaCrosse, and the well-done Korean option, the Hyundai Genesis. Most will find the Maxima is very competitive, however, and its engaging drive and great look are unmatched.

For efficiency-minded buyers, the Maxima is a good choice without getting into a hybrid premium buy. For that, though, the excellent Toyota Avalon Hybrid offers 40 mpg and is worth consideration.

In all, though, the 2016 Maxima is quite likely the best full-sized sedan package on the road today. Its premium look and very well-done interior are high points and everyone who drives this car will feel enthralled by its engaging presence. Nissan has found the sweet spot with the new Maxima.

Trim Engine Drive Train MSRP
3.5 S 4dr Sedan 6 Cylinder FWD 32510
3.5 SV 4dr Sedan 6 Cylinder FWD 34490
3.5 SL 4dr Sedan 6 Cylinder FWD 36990
3.5 SR 4dr Sedan 6 Cylinder FWD 37770
Platinum 4dr Sedan 6 Cylinder FWD 39960

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