2016 Nissan Maxima First Look
Lighter, Bolder, Smarter
The Nissan Maxima has seen little change since the current generation debuted for the 2009 model year. Now, Nissan is introducing a next-generation model that promises better fuel economy, a more athletic road demeanor, and a driver-focused interior.
Nissan calls the new Maxima a "virtual clone" of the Sport Sedan Concept that came out in January, and although we don't think the two models look exactly alike, we definitely see the inspiration. The 2016 Maxima features a V-Motion grille flanked by boomerang-style headlights with standard LED DRLs. Thanks to its blacked-out A-pillars, the Maxima adopts a floating roof appearance that creates a wraparound canopy. In back there are strong character lines and LED rear parking lights. Overall, the new Maxima is 1.3 inches lower and 2.2 inches longer than the seventh-generation Maxima.
Under the hood, look for a heartier 3.5-liter V-6 with 300 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque. This engine has been redesigned with more than 60 percent new parts and should help increase fuel economy for an unofficial target EPA rating of 22/30 mpg. A new Xtronic transmission with a wider gear ratio range and new shifting logic should improve acceleration from a start and while exiting a corner. Perhaps even more important is a completely new chassis that sheds 82 pounds from the previous model, helping to boost performance further.
The Maxima also benefits from a Drive Mode Selector that adjusts the ride experience to the driver's command. In Sport mode, steering weight and throttle response increase, and new active sound enhancement amplifies the engine note to the driver's ear. Normally, however, the new Maxima is supposed to run quietly thanks to laminated glass and active noise cancellation that drown out road noise.
Peek inside the cabin, and you'll see a new ergonomically designed cockpit. The center stack is pointed 7 degrees toward the driver, and a floating console sits higher than in the old Maxima and puts important controls such as push-button start within easy reach. Padded materials give the Maxima a premium feel, and a flat-bottom steering wheel adds sporty appeal.
The 2016 Nissan Maxima will be available in five trims, including a new performance-oriented SR trim. Even the base Maxima S is well-equipped; it now comes standard with NissanConnect navigation and an 8-inch display. Other standard features include remote engine start via Intelligent Key, online search with Google, an eight-way power driver's seat, a four-way power passenger's seat, dual-zone climate control, HomeLink, and Sirius XM satellite radio. Stepping up to the SV nets leather-appointed seating, heated front seats, driver lumbar support, parking sensors, and more. The SL brings a dual panoramic moonroof, 11-speaker Bose sound system, and a number of safety features such as forward emergency braking, rear cross traffic alert, and blind-spot monitor.
The SR joins the upper trim levels. It brings a sport-tuned suspension, front chassis performance damper, Ascot leather seats with diamond-quilted Alcantara inserts, paddle shifters, aluminum sport pedals, and upgraded 19-inch wheels. At the top of the lineup sits the Platinum, which comes with driver memory, power tilting and telescoping steering column with easy access feature, Around View Monitor with moving object detection, mahogany wood-tone finish accents, and other premium extras. No optional packages are offered on the Maxima; instead, buyers can add accessories such as splash guards, spoilers, unique tires, and a few other extras.
The 2016 Nissan Maxima goes on sale this summer and starts at $33,235, including an $825 destination fee. This makes it more than $1,000 more expensive than the 2014 Maxima, which is expected given all the radical changes the new model has in store. In its new generation, the Maxima now has a chance to transform itself from an also-ran model to a uniquely athletic competitor in the large-sedan category.