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2018 Nissan Maxima

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Overview (Final Score: A)

The 2018 Nissan Maxima is unusual in the segment in that it competes on both the standard, workaday level of mid-priced sedans and on the more premium level of upper-crust sedans. The Maxima is also larger than a midsize sedan, but not quite as large as a full-sized offering.

Chief among the Maxima's many strengths are its upscale looks, sporty appeal, and versatility as a sedan. There aren't a lot of changes for the 2018 model year, but Nissan did add a new SR Midnight Edition with blackout styling looks, and the forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking that became standard mid-year in 2017 carries forward as standard for 2018 as well.

The 2018 Maxima is more upscale and sporty than most sedans in its segment. This five-seat, nearly full-sized sedan is sold in five trim levels, from the base S to the top-level Platinum.

What We Love About the 2018 Nissan Maxima:

  • Beautiful exterior at every angle

  • On-road presence is excellent, especially in the sport-tuned model

  • Upscale interior with wonderful design qualities

What We Don't Love About the 2018 Nissan Maxima:

  • Some roominess concerns for larger drivers

  • Engine output can be weak in some situations

  • Can be expensive compared to some rivals


Exterior View (10/10)

The 2018 Nissan Maxima has a flowing, sports sedan appeal that offers a dynamic and unique appeal in the full-sized sedan arena. The Maxima stands out as one of the best-looking options in he full-size sedan arena, even when compared to premium offerings. There is just enough concept car look about the Maxima to make it head-turning without going over the top into the "yerg" category.

The 2018 Maxima shares design elements with its crossover sibling, the Murano. The floating roof design, sport coupe-styled roofline, and premium appeal are in both. The rear pillar blackout to create that "floating roof" is narrow and fast-paced on the Maxima, however, giving the vehicle more forward movement by comparison. The 2:3:1 element to the Maxima's design is well-done and balanced, with its mid-sized hood, long body, and shortened rear deck. This balance is what creates the muscular, tilted look of the Maxima.

Along its length, a line flows down the Maxima from the rear edge of the headlamps along the bodywork to the rear fender, where it curves aggressively. This enhances the "muscle car" stance of the 2018 Maxima, helping create the forward tilt. A line above, at the beltline, follows the lower bodywork line, mimicking its movement until terminating at the blackened rear pillar.

The V-motion grille, thin headlamps, and black grille mesh are all Nissan standards shown on the Maxima that debuted them. An integrated spoiler on the rear deck, barely-visible exhaust tips, and fast lines up the hood all finish the sport sedan look.

The 2018 Nissan Maxima is easily one of, if the the, best-looking full-sized sedan on the market today.


Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (9/10)

When redesigned in 2016, the Nissan Maxima saw several changes to its interior as well. Materials quality is excellent in the 2018 Maxima with good choices throughout the cabin. The upscale appeal created by those materials is aided by the overall well-done cabin design with its smart ergonomics and textures.

Roominess is good in the front seats, which are of Nissan's "Zero Gravity" design for maximum comfort. A small phone bin, easy access to driver's controls, and well-placed USB ports are highlights from the driver's seat. We especially like the high-visibility of the Maxima's gauge cluster design.

The front passenger is treated to similar comfort and storage. In the back seat, things continue along that theme. The outboard seating in the rear is also Zero Gravity and somewhat adjustable to help with that. Taller folks will have headroom issues, however, thanks to the sport coupe-like roofline of the Maxima, especially in the center position. The center seat is mostly for kids, but three adults sitting across is possible in the back, assuming none are large in size. Shoulder room is most at premium in three-across seating.

Cargo in the 2018 Nissan Maxima is good for the class, but not for roominess. Instead, it's accessible and easy to get to with the wide, low trunk opening. At 14.3 cubic feet, though, the amount of trunk space available in the Maxima is below par for the full-sized sedan classes. The rear seat bench drops down to expand cargo and lays nearly flat.


Technology (10/10)

An improvement this year is in technology for the 2018 Nissan Maxima. An 8-inch touchscreen has a redundant rotary knob below it for inputs. There are thus two ways to control the system, each of which can either backup the other or stand alone as a primary input method. The touchscreen is most intuitive, of course, but paging through menus and selections on the go is often easier with the knob. Good thinking on Nissan's part there.

The 2018 Maxima introduces Android Auto to the infotainment system, going along with the Apple CarPlay added last year. This removes our chief beef with the Maxima's infotainment last year and thus raises its score to a perfect 10. We're fans of the Nissan Connect suite (an optional upgrade) and its integrated apps for the more tech-savvy.

The large driver's information display that comes with the tech upgrade in the Maxima is also really well done. It's informative, but not pushy or distracting. It helps keep the driver's eyes on the road as well. It's clear, crisp, and useful.

Fuel Economy (10/10)

The 2018 Maxima offers some excellent fuel economy returns despite being lower-than-average in the segment. The EPA's estimates are set at 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Our experience, however, is that these numbers are very conservative for the car. We average closer to 27 mpg overall (versus the EPA's 25 mpg combined rating). Those were consistent throughout this generation of the Maxima as well, telling us that the EPA's numbers are a bit low for this car.

Our average highway MPG in the 2017 and 2018 Nissan Maxima has been 33 mpg or better.


Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (9/10)

The 2018 Nissan Maxima has a good reliability expectation from the J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study. It's rated as "Better Than Most," as it was last year, and now has more standard advanced safety systems on board. There have been no safety recalls thus far for the 2018 Maxima.

Safety (10/10)

The 2018 Nissan Maxima has received maximum safety scores from both crash test organizations in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the Maxima a full suite of 5-Star top ratings for all crash tests conducted. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has named the 2018 Maxima as a Top Safety Pick with a full set of top-level "Good" scores on all crash tests including the often problematic small overlap front passenger-side test. The Maxima also received a "Superior" rating for its front crash prevention technologies.

Performance (8/10)

A 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine powers the 2018 Nissan Maxima and is paired to a surprisingly well-done continuously variable transmission (CVT). This engine is more than enough to motivate the Maxima well and keeps the car in the "sports" category for sure. The simulated gears in the CVT appear during spirited driving, when the pedal is pressed, and largely disappear during normal driving in order to maximize fuel economy.


The sporty SR model adds more robust suspension and handling components, adding even more to the Maxima's already well-done chassis. We like the standard edition of the 2018 Maxima for its smooth ride and good cornering characteristics; all of which bring confidence to the driver. The SR, however, adds even more of that with a decidedly stiffer, more concentrated drive quality. Even better, if you're the type that likes that sort of thing. Most would prefer the smoother feel of the standard models of the Maxima, but those wanting a true sports sedan will enjoy that SR option.

Out on the road, the 2018 Maxima will sprint to 60 miles per hour in under 7 seconds easily, making it great fun to run up freeway on-ramps or when jumping out of a light to move on. The Maxima is sprightly and smart and feels very good on the road. Maneuverability is also very good when it comes time to park and the new rearview camera system is clearer than it was in earlier versions of the Maxima, thanks to the better screen.

Pricing and Value (8/10)

We recommend pricing the SL trim point for maximum value for the money or the SR trim for its better performance feel. With these, the value proposition for the 2018 Nissan Maxima is pretty good and very comparable to other full-sized sedans. The Maxima's starting price is higher than average, but the car is more upscale than most as well. For the right buyer, that premium quality without the premium nameplate may be a perfect match.

The base level S model is cheapest, of course, but it's not much of a price leap to get into the SV with its better setup and accoutrements. The SL is even better than that, as mentioned. Pricing there will run under $40,000 and have plenty of comfort and convenience items to make it worth the while.


Total Score and Competitive Comparison (74/80, 93%)

Competitors to the 2018 Nissan Maxima are both upper-trim standard full-sized sedans and premium-level offerings at their lower end. The Toyota Avalon is the nearest match for the Maxima, overall, and offers similar goodness in its packaging, but sans the sportiness and exterior appeal. The Avalon Hybrid is the benchmark for ultimate efficiency in the full-sized sedan market, though. The Chrysler 300 is a big, roomy sedan with a uniquely American look. It does well against the Maxima, but is larger and less contemporary in its upscale appeal. The Buick LaCrosse is a good choice against the Maxima as well, offering similarly good design qualities and interior comfort. Sportiness is about the same, but not as refined in the Buick as it is in the Maxima. We'd say the same about the Chevrolet Impala.

The 2018 Nissan Maxima is a compelling package of beauty, sportiness, and an upscale interior. It's got wonderful technology, a very robust drive quality, and a great on-road feel. It tops the charts for crash-readiness as well. All high points worth putting the Maxima on a short list of buy options.

Trim Engine Drive Train MSRP
3.5 S 4dr Sedan 6 Cylinder FWD 33420
3.5 SV 4dr Sedan 6 Cylinder FWD 35420
3.5 SL 4dr Sedan 6 Cylinder FWD 37840
3.5 SR 4dr Sedan 6 Cylinder FWD 38680
Platinum 4dr Sedan 6 Cylinder FWD 41090

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