Pricing and Equipment

Nissan has moved away from the a la carte options pricing of previous generations of Maxima to offer five trim levels designed to provide owners with the best features at the lowest pricing. By prepackaging the options, Nissan can take advantage of the same type of savings that we get from the big box stores when we buy 24-packs of paper towels.

The entry-level Maxima S starts at $32,410 and tops out with the Platinum’s $39,860 price tag. In between those two poles you will find the SV, SL, and SR models. Every 2016 Maxima employs the same powertrain, keeping the basic formula alive while allowing the buyer to decide how many toppings they want. In a time when options can almost double the price of a vehicle, the small difference in price between the S and the Platinum reveals just how well equipped even the base Maxima really is.

Performance Pros

No longer a performance sleeper, the new Maxima makes a visual statement that requires an equally lively engine, suspension, steering and brakes to complete the package. The 300-horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque 3.5-liter V6 in the new Maxima is better than ever.

Even the continuously variable transmission (CVT) that often relegates vehicles to the category of gas-sipping people movers surprisingly inspires. Nissan has created a computer program that allows the transmission to act like a conservative environmental activist at cruising speeds and under light throttle acceleration, and turn into a high revving thrill junky in more aggressive driving situations. Not only does the Maxima make you forget that you are driving a CVT-equipped vehicle, Nissan’s new flagship sedan just may have the best CVT option currently available in any vehicle.

Performance Cons

The CVT, while the best in the business, is still a CVT. I didn't find this to be an issue personally, but I know that purists would prefer if Nissan offered a traditional automatic transmission or even, gulp, a manual gearbox.

Interior Pros

While the performance aspects may grab the lion’s share of the headlines, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the all-new 2016 Maxima is the interior. Again taking inspiration from a jet fighter, the Maxima’s cockpit is an amazing balance of ergonomics and visual aesthetics.

NASA-inspired zero gravity seats adorned with ascot leather are the most comfortable and forgiving that I have experienced in a relatively affordable sports sedan. They actually feel more comfortable the longer you sit in them. The seats and overall fit and finish of the interior is so good that simply sitting in the parked car may be enough to persuade you to sign a sales contract.

Interior Cons

Nissan has gone to long lengths to create an interior that belies the 2016 Maxima's price tag and segment. If I had any criticism, it would be that the jet fighter inspired styling may be a bit much for conservative tastes.

Most Pleasant Surprise

Amazingly, the new Maxima can reach 60 mph in only 5.5 seconds and deliver 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined. Whatever complaints an enthusiast has over Nissan’s choice of the CVT transmission should be somewhat quieted when considering the engineering marvel of those numbers from a well-equipped mid-size sedan that weighs 3,564 pounds.

Least Pleasant Surprise

While the "four door sports car" moniker that Nissan has employed on the 2016 Maxima's branding is a great throwback to the companies long history, it is lost in translation when cars like BMW's M3 sedan exist.

Bottom Line

Even at first glance, it is clear that Nissan has created the boldest Maxima yet with fighter jet styling adapted straight from a concept vehicle. From the no-nonsense grille to the floating roof lines, the Maxima looks fast and, perhaps for the first time, has exterior styling that truly lives up to the “four door sports car” marketing.

It's an excellent car that rivals many mid-size luxury sedans at a lower price point.