The Nissan Maxima is one of the most recognizable names in Japanese automotive, alongside the Accord and Camry, and has been around since the 80s. The 2016 Nissan Maxima is in its 8th generation now, although now all of the previous 7 have been released in the UAE.
Maximas are known since inception to have a split personality, a great, comfortable and spacious family car with a sporty side for when dad is driving by himself. The new one is bolder than ever, more comfortable and luxurious than ever, and I couldn’t wait to try it out!
Huge thanks to Memac Ogilvy Public Relations & Nissan for this amazing weekend ride.
Before jumping into specs and details, Nissan wanted to put a lot of emphasis on the 4DSC element of the new Maxima, which means 4 Door Sports Car. Right off the start, that worries me, and I will tell you why soon enough.
Nissan Maxima Specifications
The new Nissam Maxima is probably Nissan’s boldest looking car to date, with strong curves, cuts, slits and lines that no one would imagine this would pass through the concept stage to begin with, but it did, and here it is.
The engine in the new Maxima is a 3.5 litre V6 engine, capable of pumping 300 horsepower and 354 nm of torque. It may sound like a carry-over engine, but it isn’t as up to 60% of the components have been changed for increased power and reduced fuel consumption and emissions. The Nissan GTR research and development team passed by the Maxima team and showed them a few tricks too with sodium-filled exhaust valves and a few other small tricks.
Power is delivered through the next generation xtronic CVT transmission. One of my least favorite gearboxes although this time around it offers dynamic step shifting, wider gear ratio coverage, and an adaptive shift controller. This is supposed to satisfy both the enthusiasts and the economists.. more on that when we talk about the drive.
Power is still driven to the front wheels, so they will be handling braking, acceleration and cornering.. quite a lot to do there, Nissan had a lot understeer to take care off.
Nissan has taken the new Maxima to new levels of safety and technology as the car now comes with:
Active Trace Control – The car applies brakes to the inner wheels through a corner for better turning ability
Active Engine Braking – The car downshifts the engine while you brake for enhanced braking performance
Active Ride Control – The car monitors activity and applies brakes to smoothen out driving experience on bumpy roads
Around View Monitor – The car has 4 cameras located around the car for maximum 360 degree visibility
Driver Attention Alert – The car monitors the driver and alerts him/her when they are not paying attention to the road
Predictive Forward Collision Warning – The car will alert the driver when the car is too close to the car ahead
Forward Emergency Braking – The car will react and brake if the PFCW alerts did not get the driver’s attention to brake
Bling Spot Warning – The car scans both blind spots and alerts the driver when a vehicle is near
Rear Cross Traffic Alert – The car will warn and stop if a car is crossing behind the Maxima, out of visibility of the driver
Intelligent Cruise Control – The car constantly monitors the road ahead for cars and adjusts vehicle speed accordingly
Not bad for your average daily Nissan Maxima huh?
Now that we covered some technical and technological aspects of the car, let’s step outside and look at the aesthetics for a little bit.
The Nissan Maxima on the outside
The designers at Nissan have gone to the boldest extreme they ever have, the design is probably even bolder than the GTR.
Lets start at the front, the new aggressive lowered stance makes the Maxima looks sportier and more aggressive than ever, and at the rear the trunk is proportionally raised giving it an even more sportier look.
At the front Nissan has fitted the Maxima with completely new muscular lines, LED headlights and daylight running lights, a camera neatly tucked in the lower half of the Nissan logo and more angles than in an interior design schematic.
The smooth and muscular lines continue from the front headlines, through the wheel arches and down the side of the car. There are plenty of chrome trim pieces on the SR giving it a very sporty look.
One thing I noticed was that on darker colors, a lot of these lines are not visible, which kills most of the designers’ good work.
The SR model also comes with 19″ Diamond-cut machine-finished aluminum-alloy wheels, for an even sportier look. They aren’t incredible looking, but sporty enough.
Another element Nissan are very proud of is their new floating roof design, where the rear has a strip in black (on all models and colors). Personally, I do not think it adds much to the car’s design as there is a lot going on to being with. Can’t harm though.
The rear quarters have their windows a raised up into that floating roof element, which may make the rear passengers feel like they have less visibility.
Around the back, the looks are quite a lot more subtle. You still get a lot of chrome on the trunk and exhaust tips with a sporty spoiler that raises the rear stance all-together, giving it a sportier look.
The rear lights are LED as well, and light up around the edges during the night. It is an interesting look, but perhaps makes the rear lights look larger than they are.
Before we open the doors and take a look inside, I wanted to show you how big of a difference this new generation has in terms of stance compared to the previous generation. Lowered facia, larger stance, and aggressive styling makes the new Maxima an eye-catching piece of artwork.
The Nissan Maxima on the inside
So looking at the car from the outside has confirmed that Nissan has overhauled the car and taken it up to their competitors and beyond. Now the question is, what have they done to the interior?
The answer to that would be, what haven’t they done? It is not all perfect, but they have changed. A lot.
Let’s start from where the driver would be, because let’s face it, that’s where it matters the most.
The driver’s point of view is lovely! Starting from the full leather steering wheel that is flat-bottomed (or as Nissan would call it, D shaped wheel), aluminium paddle shifters, bright display screen and a centre console that is tilted by 7 degrees towards the driver, all the way to the soft woods, rubbers and leathers.
The interior looks nice, but that is where a part of the split personality begins to slightly get to me.. The steering wheel and paddle shifters make the car feel very sporty, yet the subtle wood and leathers make it look luxurious.
The seats are their new zero-gravity seats, which are designed with state of the art technology to be as comfortable and supportive as possible, makes the Maxima such a lovely place to be in. The seats are also heated and cooled for added comfort, very much appreciated in the summer heat.
The center console supports an 8-inch, touch screen Nissan Connect system which can be controlled via touch screen, buttons and dials on either sides of the screen or the controller below the gear lever. This bugs me a lot because, I get having options, but this is excessive. Give me two options, three is a lot. This could have probably had less buttons and controllers allowing for a cleaner design with the same functionality – one touch screen, one physical buttons and dials.
A lot of manufacturers are just going touch screen and eliminating buttons all-together, which I think is the way forward now.
Curious about Nissan Connect? Here’s a quick review of it:
Let’s get back to the rest of the car shall we?
The thing they definitely got right on the Maxima was the gear lever and starter button. I think these were in the perfect position to hold while driving, and the overall dimensions of the gear lever were just right, sporty and solid. Very good looking too.
I even liked how they wrote 4DSC on the lever, even though I am against the 4DSC concept.
Fit and finish is typical 2016 Nissan, which means nicer materials than previous generations, and more luxurious design cues. The Maxima SR had plenty of leather, rubber and wood which were all super smooth to the touch.
I did not get why the wood had physical lines going against the grain, which made it look and feel like fake wood.
The Maxima is a comfortable family sedan, which means rear space is vital. Fortunately, the car is big enough. The rear seats 3 people comfortably, although the middle occupant will be slightly raised than the others. There is plenty of head room, leg room and knee room.
Once again, you can see that the rising design on the rear doors had reduced the size of the rear windows, which I did not really like. Rear passengers should be able to look out of the car, especially if you’re riding with children or a dog.
While on the conversation of space, the trunk on the new Maxima is 405 litres which is actually lesser than its direct rivals, I wonder what happened there, they made the car bigger overall..
Driver Information System
The Nissan Maxima has Nissan’s latest driver information system, which offers quite a lot of options for the driver controlled by the steering wheel with absolute ease.
The screens are very direct and self explanatory, clear and easy to use. Starting from the left we have the home screen, car’s compass, drive computer and fuel economy – immediate and average.
At the top of the screen one will find the warnings, blind-spot monitor icon indicating it is active and the outside temperature.
Moving on, there is a screen that displays the driving aids (visually), tyre pressures, sport display – showing the vehicle speed and temperatures, and a warning menu – which displays all current vehicle warnings, if there are any.
Settings is pretty straight forward as well, with main sub-sections giving easy access to driver assistance settings, customization settings, general vehicle settings and more.
The 360 degree cameras on the Nissan Maxima gives you a great view around the car at all times. They are bright and clear, with little fish-eye effect but not crystal clear with a lower resolution than I would have liked to see in 2016.
Driving the new Nissan Maxima
To keep things direct, the car’s drive is really good, but that is not all I have to say.
Regular driving – The car is extremely comfortable to drive. Every time I got into the car and drove off, I would immediately feel a lot more comfortable than what ever it is I was doing. There is definitely a sigh of relief the moment you sit in the new Maxima.
The ride is smooth, comfortable and definitely quiet and as a family car, the new Maxima is hard to beat in this segment.
The car has 300 horsepower and for general daily use, that is more than sufficient to accelerate and overtake other motorists. Fuel economy is fairly decent at 11.3 – 11.7 l/100km in combined driving between regular highway, city and performance styles. A more economic focused driving can bring that down to 10 l/100km.
Performance driving – The only reason this section even exists is because Nissan claims this car to be a 4DSC, which is where the problem started to be honest.
The car is front wheel drive with a v6 engine pushing 300 horsepower through a CVT gearbox. There are 2 main problems right there, the front wheel drive and the CVT.
300 horsepower to be pushed to the front wheels of such a car, is a lot. Under hard acceleration and cornering, the car understeers, and the CVT although improved and tries its best to mimmic a regular gearbox, is still a regular CVT which is loud, annoying and far from sporty.
Speaking of feeling sporty, I just do not see the point of paddles with a CVT. Body control is great and the tech constantly does its best to keep the car flat, stable and let it corner without too much understeer. It is fun but far from a proper sports sedan, perhaps they should have ventured into an 8 speed ZF, coupled with AWD for the SR model.
Overall – The Nissan Maxima is a very nice family car. For daily driving, it is spectacular and even for enthusiastic driving, it does a great job. I would have wished they ditched the 4DSC badges and left it as the new Nissan Maxima which happens to also perform well, because that is where it shined the most.
Full spec sheet of the Nissan Maxima available here.