By on June 3, 2015

2016 Nissan Maxima (11 of 23)

Today, every other outlet publishing driving impressions of the all-new 2016 Nissan Maxima is going to leverage nostalgia – just like Nissan wants them to – as they reference the return of the ‘4-Door Sports Car’, or 4DSC for short. While the four character alphanumeric has never really disappeared since its inception, Nissan is putting a renewed marketing focus on the term with the express purpose of conjuring up mental images of California canyon carving while Timmy Jr. rides booster seat in the back.

I’m not going to do that.

At 30 years old (or young, depending on your relative position along the lifecycle timeline), I hold no nostalgia toward the return of Nissan’s marketing term from yesteryear. I grew up with the Foo Fighters (and the very tail end of Nirvana), $5 Colt 45s and – when I could finally afford a car – a 2000 Honda Civic purchased used when I reached the grand age of 20. By the time cars entered my radar, most of the original 4DSCs (the third-generation Maxima built from model years 1989 to 1994) had succumbed to rust or one of the many ails claiming many a car along the salty east coast I call home.

I’ve not a single memory of the first 4DSC, and that’s a problem.

Nissan flew me to Nashville, Tennessee – the home of Nissan in America – to test the new Maxima. They put me up for an extra night because United doesn’t know how to operate planes, apparently, and offered me a wide selection of red meats to satiate my hunger, which I accepted. My girlfriend put me on a salad-based detox upon my arrival home.

Before we get into the marketing of Nissan’s newest mid-full-size* car, a talk about its nuts and bolts are in order.

* Nissan markets the Maxima as a full-size competitor, but due to interior volume it’s classified as a mid-size sedan by the EPA.

2016 Nissan Maxima (3 of 23)

Just like the current year Maxima, the 2016 model is powered by a 3.5L VQ35DE V6, now with a revised output of 300 hp versus 290 as before while pushing out an identical 261 pound-feet of torque. The valves are sodium-filled just like the GT-R, because GT-R. Also, Nissan made sure all journos in attendance were aware of the Maxima’s stiffer oil pan, because that sounds sporty. (In reality, a stiffer oil pan is to reduce NVH and has absolutely nothing to do with performance.)

And, just like the current year Maxima, the new car also sends power solely to the front wheels by way of a continuously variable transmission. It, too, has been revised with a wider effective gear ratio along with a taller final drive. For those who enjoy the sensation and aural cues of a conventional automatic, the CVT features D-Step logic (fancy talk), or fake shifts (common sense talk). Even with those ‘shifts’ nibbling away a small percentage of fuel economy and output efficiency, Nissan claims the CVT is still more efficient while delivering the same effective gear ratio range as a conventional eight- or nine-speed automatic.

Turning the front wheels to-and-fro is a hydro-electric power steering system while coil springs with independent struts keep the rubber firmly planted where it should. At the rear, a multi-link independent setup is used. All four corners see new ZF Sachs twin-tube shocks as standard while sportier SR models gets a sport-tuned setup, Yamaha performance chassis damper and Integrated Dynamics-control Module (IDM), which includes Active Ride Control (ARC), Active Trace Control (ATC) and Active Engine Brake (AEB).

2016 Nissan Maxima (13 of 23)

Yet, any way you cut it, front-wheel drive and a CVT does not a sports car make. For the rest of the review, let’s call the Maxima what it is – a sporting family sedan – and make the proper comparisons instead of pretending to care how quickly it can shuffle around Buttonwillow.

In the real world, where 100 percent of Maximas sold spend 100 percent of their lives on roads that 100 percent aren’t race tracks, Nissan’s all-new family sedan can shuffle around back roads with ease. In SR trim, those capabilities are kicked up a slight notch thanks to the aforementioned suspension tuning and computer wizardry. However, the Maxima is not a car that instills confidence in the driver.

Even with the decidedly non-sporty combo of naturally-aspirated V6 and rubber-band transmission, the Maxima still pulls hard, though it lacks the immediacy of a true geared automatic or manual. Upon dropping the hammer, revs tend to climb for short periods of time without any change in forward acceleration rate. However, once the CVT finds the ratio it seeks, acceleration is smooth and brisk.

2016 Nissan Maxima (20 of 23)

Steering is far from communicative. Even in SR spec, and I assume this is because of the variable-speed steering, a dead-zone exists within a degree and a half or two of center. On a flat surface during a simulated evasive maneuver, the car also exhibited some quirky reaction differences between the initial evasive steering motion and the return motion to bring the car straight again. Never did I feel I was having a direct conversation with the front wheels, but I also never felt like the conversation through the variable-speed steering intermediary was being misinterpreted. If anything, my choppy directions were being listened to, translated from a Southern drawl to proper Queen’s English, and communicated to the wheels as a more svelte and sophisticated series of commands.

Ride quality is quite exceptional considering the Maxima’s sporting intentions. At no point during the drive day did I come upon a road imperfection, bump or gaping entrance to hell the car couldn’t handle. Nor did I attack a corner without being able to come out the other end – even with my poor, little brain misjudging entry speeds. Nissan has seemingly nailed the suspension tuning equation, solving for X where X equals the perfect blend of sport and luxury.

2016 Nissan Maxima (19 of 23)

Using jet cockpits as inspiration, or so Nissan says, the interior isn’t your typical full-size family sedan environment. Like many true sports cars, the center console sits rather high in the Maxima, cradling you between it and the also rather high window sills. The clear and concise instrument panel is framed by a thoroughly chunky, fully-adjustable steering wheel (trimmed in Alcantara in SR models, just like the seat inserts) while the rest of the interior materials are either top-notch or close as makes no difference to it. Seats are well, but not overly, bolstered and provide a level of comfort slightly exceeding the segment.

The only drawback to the new Maxima’s interior experience is the new NissanConnect infotainment system. While all models come standard with navigation and an 8.0-inch screen, I found the new system a bit clunky and more confusing from a usability standpoint than the outgoing software. Also, Nissan’s Around View Monitor is only available on top trim Platinum models, which is surprising as it’s also available on the lowly Nissan Versa Note and has been for a couple of years now.

2016 Nissan Maxima (15 of 23)

As always, styling is a subjective matter. Considering the outgoing Maxima, which has aged quite gracefully and doesn’t look played out or tired, the new design is a radical departure. It’s floating roof and edgy front end are growing on me, little bit by little bit, and I’ve come to appreciate it. In contrast to the front, the rear looks under styled for the car, almost to the point of being a yawn fest. Other than a chrome trim piece that stretches the width between the two taillights, there’s nothing particularly interesting about the Maxima’s rump, especially from a short distance. Also, there’s nothing about the overall design that shouts, “I’m a sports car!” If anything, it looks rather plump.

2016 Nissan Maxima (5 of 23)

And that brings us full circle: the Maxima is not a sports car, no matter how many 4DSC insignias you find festooned throughout the exterior and interior. And, if you’re under a certain age as I am, the 4DSC branding means absolutely nothing to you.

[Correction: The ‘4-Door Sports Car’ and 4DSC names were first used on the third-generation Maxima between MY1989 and MY1994. Sorry, folks. I dun fucked up. This math at the end is useless, but my statement of having no personal nostalgia toward the 4DSC branding still applies. I’m leaving the following paragraph unchanged.]

If you were 16 when the first 4DSC emblazoned Maxima was introduced in 1985, some simple maths puts you at the prime age of 46 this year. Using Nissan’s own figures, a disproportionately younger demographic flocks to the Maxima in comparison to its competitors; 67 percent of Maxima buyers are under the age of 55 versus only 38 percent of the segment average. From that we can guesstimate there’s a decent percentage of typical Maxima buyers where 4DSC means nothing to them from a historical perspective, just like myself. No nostalgia. No identifiable connection. No interesting historical story to share to impress my friends.

But, it doesn’t matter. Nissan will still sell loads of Maximas. And I hope they do, if for no other reason than to prove the viability of a sportier offering, no matter what shape it takes.

The 2016 Nissan Maxima is available now in five different grades – S, SV, SL, SR and Platinum – priced between $32,410 and $39,860 with no available options.

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144 Comments on “2016 Nissan Maxima Review – Four Doors Yes, Sports Car No...”


  • avatar
    baggins

    drivers seat looks cramped

    pass

    • 0 avatar
      jaceak

      we all vote with our money.you don t like it you don t buy it. do not worry, Nissan is very sucsessful and will sell many. over the years have sold millions. I have a 14 max and its great. more than enough power, luxury and options. in fact some option you pay thousands to get with a label. if you think you are a race car driver out in public, that’s your problem. but to my way of thinking, they have a formula that will satisfy many. glta.

    • 0 avatar
      3rdeyemedia

      Actually, the 2016 Maxima SR has the most comfortable seats I have ever sat in. They are super soft deep rich leather. Both heated and cool with great lumbar support. They literally wrap around you and make you feel all safe and cozy.

  • avatar
    bodayguy

    I’m just going to imagine this with RWD and paddle shifters. The mall-on-Saturday crowd wouldn’t care either way, but I might actually find it attractive then.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The CVT in our cheapo last-gen Altima is excellent for routine driving, but left to its own devices it is not a sporty transmission. It does, however, have a tiptronic-type 6spd ratio toggle that brings surprisingly quick shifts. It eliminates the rubber band feel.

    Does this Maxima have paddle shifters? Doesn’t look like it from the photos, which is unfortunate. Paddles combined with the responsive ratio changes of our econo car might actually be a good combination for a “4DSC”

    BTW, the front end and beltline are horrible. This IS the ugly stick other cars are beaten with.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, it has paddles in the SR trim. While the shifts are quick from the paddles, they’re far from crisp.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      How’s your CVT’s reliability been? I’m curious because a friend had a generally positive experience with a Murano but traded it in partially out CVT-related nervousness. The transmission had always worked fine for him, but he was approaching the 120,000-mile limit on the warranty. I’d love to hear from someone who’s racked up 150,000 miles or more.

      I liked the looks of the 7th and 8th-gen Maximas and am disappointed with the redesign. The front end is awful, and this floating roof trend needs to go away before it becomes firmly entrenched.

      • 0 avatar
        300zx_guy

        I don’t see the point of the floating roof design as – it is utterly unconvincing at the effect they are hoping for, so it just looks gimmicky (like Jaguar XJ’s blacked out C-pillars). If I bought one, I think I’d want to paint the whole roof black. The A-pillars are already black, I think that would be a better look.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        My brother-in-law has a first-gen Murano with over 150,000 miles on it, including some light (<2000 lbs) towing. So far no CVT issues. The whole car has been impressively bulletproof.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Only 55K on ours, so I’m not much use. I’m also curious as to what these will look like after 150K.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      What is a sporty transmission?

      The way I look at this car it goes from 0-60 in 5.6 sec (car and Driver test of June 2015) and is EPA rated at 22/30. The Infiniti Q50 goes from 0-60 in 5.2 (driving the right wheels, Car and Driver October 2013) and delivers EPA 20/29.

      So if the CVT is delivering similar performance and similar fuel economy why is it non-sporty and a 7 speed automatic is sporty? Me I’d give up some EPA fuel test results and some 0-60 time for a manual but everyone tells me why bother the auto is faster and gives better fuel economy so its a better choice than the manual.

      • 0 avatar
        300zx_guy

        Fast 0-60 numbers alone does not equal sporty. Better automatics, no matter what the technology (conventional, dual clutch, cvt, etc) shift quickly and get you into the gear you want. An auto that makes you wait for a “one-one-thousand” count before putting you in the right gear are not sporty. An auto that always hurries to be in the highest ratio for fuel economy and then leaves you waiting for that shift whenever you want quick acceleration is not sporty. I hope that explains it.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          My experience driving recent Nissan CVTs is that they get you to the desired ratio pretty quickly when you stomp on it. I think people are reacting more to the absence of a violent shift than actual shift times. People have this idea that sporty means rough. It doesn’t have to be that way.

        • 0 avatar
          pragmatic

          I was being facetious. I’ve only owned manuals and get tired of posts saying get the automatic because its faster and gets better fuel economy. Yet when there’s a transmission (CVT) that get equal acceleration and fuel economy to an automatic its inferior due to its feel.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Well, I get tired of folks taking one comment out of context in order to vent old frustrations, but whaddya gonna do?

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        It’s about feel, not 0-60 acceleration. The slurred ratio shifts are slower than some of the better automatics I’ve experienced, and if you are doing something like going from turn to turn, on and off the power, this becomes noticeable. In manual mode, it’s far more responsive. Not that it matters a hill of beans for a 4-pot Altima like ours.

      • 0 avatar
        catachanninja

        It’s one of those phrase combinations that journal is love to throw around so they all sound the same and credible. Everytime I read a review about a Nissan with a cvt I hop back in my Altima and try to induce it to no avail. I really want to point at the cvt as a problem and go buy a focus ST, but apparently these cvt issues only affect auto journalists looking to make sure they have “the wobble” in their reviews.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Perhaps because auto critics tend to write from the prespective of someone who takes driving seriously and has strong opinions on how a car drives, feels and performs. To this sort of person, driving impressions are important, especially from a car billing itself not just as “sporty”, but rather as a “sports car”.

          You seem to think he should write from the prespective of a 40 year old woman who wouldnt know the difference between a CVT and a conventional automatic if it smacked her upside the head. Im thankful that is not the case.

    • 0 avatar
      3rdeyemedia

      Paddle shifters are super fun and responsive in my 2016 Maxima SR. The CVT works just fine and I find it quite sporty when paired with 19″ rims sports suspension and a 300HP motor. If you can’t win a race with this car, it is due to lack of driving skills NOT the cars CVT or paddle shifters.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    Loads of Maximas? Where? The last truly popular Maxima was the ’00+ gen. After that they became so bloated and unsporty most people opted for Infiniti/Lexus as a luxobarge of choice. I so rarely see any Maximas made after 2004. Which brings me to the point – why does Nissan still builds them? They’re so irrelevant by now. Altima should be the flagship sedan with Infiniti taking over from there.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      Yeah I don’t see the argument to buy a Maxima over a Q40 or Q50 (maybe CPO to be comparable priceless on the latter).

      Or from the other side, if you don’t care about driving dynamics then I don’t see why you’d pay the premium over an Altima.

    • 0 avatar

      Because they still sell between 50,000 and 85,000 Maximas a year in the U.S. Those aren’t insignificant numbers.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I definitely see quite a few of the latest generation cars. I think they’re also fairly commonly seen in rental fleets and therefor on the used market. You’re spot on in regards to the last generation of cars still looking fresh Mark. When they came out in 09 I was left feeling queasy, what with those pulled back corners of the lights and ‘melted’ styling. But as it turns out everything looks like that now, and the Maxima was ahead of the curve.

        One of these days I’ll pick up a 5spd 95-99 car as a fun, quick, and cheap commuter. The original VQ30 is legendary.

        • 0 avatar
          zamoti

          Having sold off my 00 with the VQ30K, I recall that I enjoyed it a lot, but I would not call it legendary. With 220 HP, you’d get passed by minivans (as I did) regularly. It was better than the competition of it’s time when most Japanese V6s were packing 190 HP but it’s time has passed.
          If only they offered a manual with the new Max–but given that the only manual they have goes into a longitudinal engine RWD car I don’t think one will be created for this application.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Well given their combination of world class performance (at the time) and incredible longevity, I would call the VQ30 legendary. The 6.6 0-60 time of the original ’95 SE by motor trend set the automotive world on its ear. The fact that a mainstream 4 door sedan achieved performance that is still relevant today in the era of 5.8-6.3 0-60mph V6 family sedans, 20 years ago, is incredible IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            zamoti

            Shoulda called me last July, woulda sold you a living legend for $1700 (extra wheel arch patina included free of charge).

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            No thanks LOL. By the time they went to the 5th generation, it seems like they lost the plot. More weight, worse quality materials, etc. And yes rust seems to be a Nissan problem all through the 90s into the early/mid 2000s, as bad as Mazda.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          I agree, 95-99 was my favorite Maxima, especially in SE trim with a manual, black over black.

      • 0 avatar

        And quite a portion of those end up in Fleet Services Remarketing lanes after 2 years…

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        They must be being purchased and stored in garages for future generations. Cause I almost never see them!

  • avatar
    Tosh

    I was around in 1988 when ‘4DSC’ was coined (not the previous gen, as author says), and that white ’89 Maxima SE 5spd sure made an impression, as I remember the occasion as if it happened last month. My friend and I were left alone to test drive it, and we sure did try out that ABS! It was as tight as the original Legend, with nice seats, good manual tranny, and the original black-to-white numerals (when the lights are turned on) for the instruments. Good times! Unlike today…

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      I was also around back then and don’t ever remember seeing or hearing the phrase 4DSC until the introduction of the new body 1989 Maxima in the fall of 1988 and even then it was mainly used on the SE and not on the more luxury oriented GXE.

    • 0 avatar
      j3studio

      The 4DSC branding was definitely the third-generation car. From my blog:

      “My grandfather had purchased a couple of Maximas over the years. When the new and much sportier 1989 version was announced, I (firmly convinced of my twenty year old hipness) just assumed that he would not go for it. I was wrong: within a year, my grandfather was driving a new Winter Blue Metallic Maxima. An instructive lesson for this young man.

      New for 1989, the third-generation Nissan Maxima was a big change toward a more sporty image and reality, with attractive new styling and an independent rear suspension. Nissan named it the “4-Door Sports Car” (even putting 4DSC decals on the car), but I remember wondering if they had moved too far away from their previous conservative designs for their market. They hadn’t—the 1989 Maxima sold quite well, despite the fact that the station wagon version had been eliminated.”

      More for those who care:

      http://eightiescars.com/2014/03/28/1989-nissan-maxima/

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The 4DSC marketing and over-the-top styling is really too bad. Without those things, this would be an honest and rather good cruiser — designed mostly for luxury, but with a suspension that allows it to get out of its own way.

    It’s a big upgrade over an Altima in terms of refinement in just about any area.

    And I really don’t understand complaints about a CVT in a car like this. It’s the smoothest transmission out there. I don’t understand why people are so attached to the revs going up and down for no reason.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      It’s unpredictable, and it’s a complete enigma on snowy surfaces. Initial power application is laggy and somehow soft feeling. It has gotten better, but the fact that they green lit the cvt even in its truly awful early generations tells you all you need to know about the product gatekeepers at Nissan.

      • 0 avatar
        3rdeyemedia

        I don’t think you have ever driven a 2016 Maxima SR as it has none of the issues you are describing. There is absolutely no lag or unpredictability. When you step on the gas pedal it goes immediately and it engages in gear much faster than my Lexus ES 350. There is absolutely no comparison. The Lexus shifts very late almost like an after thought it go “Oh” I was supposed to shift, hold on let me get that. The Maxima even in snow is immediate and absolutely silent and smooth.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      For everyday driving CVT’s are great, but they do apply power differently than conventional automatics. For many people different is inherently bad irregardless of the benefits.

      Most drivers will never really notice the difference; the entire drive train is considered to be some sort of magic if it is considered at all.

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    Why keep referring to this (and others) as a family sedan? Families don’t buy sedans as primary transportation anymore. As soon as the EPT shows a “+” sign, most people are off to the dealer to test drive compact CUV’s, if not something larger.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “Families don’t buy sedans as primary transportation anymore.”

      Fools. Not willing to sacrifice the least bit of family-friendliness for the sake of styling or performance. I blame women. :-D

    • 0 avatar

      Nissan quotes a rate of 60 some-odd percent of Maxima customers have kids – so family sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Most families have two cars, and plenty of those have a CUV/SUV/Minivan AND a sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        That’s the way it is around here for the most part. Mom in a CUV or van, Dad’s in a sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        Tomifobia

        Right, but I have the great misfortune of living near a school. Every afternoon, the mommy brigade swings by to pick up the offspring, and 9 out of 10 of them are not driving sedans. The sedans that do appear are more often than not old and decrepit. It’s just not the primary transportation choice of families anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        “Most families have two cars…”

        In America, maybe; not in most of the world.

        Even there, “Most families”? Most white suburban families, perhaps. Single-parent black inner-city families, probably not so much.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    “the decidedly non-sporty combo of naturally-aspirated V6 and rubber-band transmission”

    Don’t blame the VQ. A lot of the more modern engines infecting competitors are peaky and sound truly godawful. They only make a VQ all the more desirable by comparison.

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    BTW, that pad or whatever you want to call it on top of the instrument cluster looks like a cheap, pointless afterthought. It reminds me of those carpeted pieces that I see at antique car shows that people use to cover up cracked dashboards.

  • avatar
    Noble713

    I like the interior: flat-bottom steering wheel, center stack
    I like the exterior: aggressive JDM Gundam styling

    If it was RWD + better trans (even paddle-shifted auto)……well, I’d still get a used Toyota Mark X, Toyota Crown, or Lexus IS for my next car, but at least I’d respect what Nissan is selling.

  • avatar

    Get a Dodge Charger instead. V6 with AWD if necessary.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      Yes. Any damn day off the week. For that matter Solara, accord, passat, and all the other generic fwd family sedans are a better choice. The rwd Chrysler sedans and hyundai genesis absolutely murder this car. Overkill almost.

      It’s so disappointing I’m genuinely angry about it.

      • 0 avatar

        +1 on the Genesis.

        As big a MOPAR Fanbot as I am, I always have to recommend the Genesis and Kia Cadenza/ K-900/ Equus.

        Those cars are EXACTLY what Lincoln and Cadillac should be offering.

        The Genesis – for what it offers – is a BETTER luxury sedan for its price than the Maxima by far. The options make it great.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Solara? As in the Camry’s terrible slow (and not just slow sales) sister? Lol.

        Accord? Yes. Fusion? Yes. Even the new Impala or Taurus SHO? Yes. Camry or anything related to it? NO!

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Speaking as an economist, this is the golden era when the planet goes on wheels. Love it.

    The Communist mistake more or less created a gap between what would have been next and what actually came next – South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, etc. and a few others were exceptions.

    For the time being, the motor vehicle market is highly competitive in every respect. This is real good for customers.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    I was 22 in’85. In ’94 I worked with a girl who owned a ’90 SE 5-spd. She pointed out the 4DSC sticker and explained it to me like I didn’t know. But I rode with her and it was apparent she really understood. She had skills with the rear end. There isn’t much left to admire but the steering wheel which makes me wonder if Catlin can still run fast.

  • avatar
    John R

    Sigh. Everyone and their mother knows the Maxima needs to go RWD, but Infiniti dealers would be severly nettled.

    Oh, well. Can’t wait to see what second hand Infiniti G3…er…Q40’s are going for! Brand new these things can be had for $32~k!

    http://goo.gl/ayJi5V

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      So true.

      This Maxima looks sporty: aggressive grill, squared off tiller, bucket seats, but a front drive CVT? Umm try again. Just get a Genesis instead.

      Seems the Maxima lost its way when the Altima gained the V6 and became the better car. To make the Maxima different they should have given it a small turbo and AWD.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Thought Platinum was a Ford thing.

    Wonder why Max needs 4 trims and noted lack of around view on 3/4.

    Once early production flaws worked out, a better second owner buy.

  • avatar
    tedward

    I hate what Nissan has done to this car, the last generation as well. It is not sporty. It is just a supremely cynical trim level of the altima. That would be fine if Nissan wasn’t vomiting pr b.s. about the 4dsc and if I hadn’t driven quite a few old the second gen car. You know what’s a better 4dsc than the maxima? Literally every existing four door mid size sedan sedan with a large engine option.

    This latest generation is just insult on injury with the exterior ugly. Three interior isn’t bad but you don’t get a cookie for that.

  • avatar
    caljn

    I suspect if this were a Honda you’d be fawning.
    Squeezing blood from this stone of a review, I think the author came away with a somewhat positive impression but is loathe to say so publicly of a Nissan product, which baffles me. I think I would have preferred a straight forward, snark free Alex Dykes review.
    And no Maxima customer will point with pride to the 4dsc sticker. Most understand it is the marketing ploy of a ‘sporting’ sedan.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a really good family sedan, but it isn’t a very good sports sedan with the CVT and front wheel drive.

      As far as Honda reviews go, you can dig up my prior review of the Civic Coupe on here and realign your response.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “I think the author came away with a somewhat positive impression but is loathe to say so publicly of a Nissan product,”

      I think it’s more like, “the author came away with a somewhat positive impression but is loathe to say so publicly of a FWD/CVT car” which is anything but baffling.

      Personally, I think this thing looks the business inside and out, and I would STRONGLY consider one if it was 6/7/8/9AT and AWD (I’m not going to pretend they’re going to make it RWD). But I hate CVTs and I have no interest in high-powered (over 200hp) FWD.

      • 0 avatar

        Interestingly enough, Nissan did say it could make it AWD if it wants to, but there is currently no case for it.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          The right AWD system would make me a lot more interested in this car than I am. But it would have to be a good system. At a minimum, it would have to send roughly half the torque to the rear under normal driving conditions. Ideally it would have an active rear differential like SH-AWD or Audi’s Sport Differential.

  • avatar
    jaceak

    whats all the hubbub about sports cars. sport utilities way out sell sports cars.where the hell are there roads where you want to drive a sports car, especially with run flat tires. bottom line to 2016 max is a winner. guaranteed.

    • 0 avatar
      Noble713

      “where the hell are there roads where you want to drive a sports car”

      Japan, for one.

      But if you are in the States….you’ve got a LOT of wide roads that you can drift down/around corners at intersections/etc.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Maxima stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    Cant encroach on the RWD Infinitis so that’s out. But the Altima 3.5 is not far off. They should have made it a (really) poor man’s GT-R… ditch the goofy CVT stuff and make good on the DSG promise. Its already a boat so AWD wouldn’t hurt…. give it an AWD DCT drivetrain and punch the V6 out to 4.0L. It will be different enough from the Q40/50 and Altima to warrant a look IMO.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Pretty sure ’89 was the first year of the 4DSC campaign.

    It was 2000 when I got my 1990 Maxima SE. My Sunbird died and my dad’s wife used my need for a replacement car as a way to get a new one and gave it to me. I should point out that this car spent 10 years in New Hampshire and when I got it it had a little bit of a rust problem. The rockers had totally rusted out, there was a random hole forming in the middle of the driver’s quarter panel, the fuel filler tube failed while pumping gas, the rear seatbelt anchors separated from the car, the shocks we unable to be removed from the car, a friend mechanic refused to ever touch the car after the first time I had him work on it.

    I was ashamed of the 4DSC decals on the rear glass so I scraped them off. Otherwise, I loved that car. It was fantastic in every way and I would buy a new one even today. It was sized perfectly, it had good power, it handled great, and it looked very nice inside and out (minus the rust). I guess it was probably a little bigger than a modern Civic? (EDIT: My Max was bigger than the 2015 Civic by the same margins that the 2015 Maxima is bigger than the 1990) Either way, it stands in the top 3 or 4 of best cars I’ve owned.

    I’m not sold on this new one. It’s just not the same as the car I loved. It’s moved up a size class and lost all of what made it a great car in 1990.

  • avatar
    pb35

    No sir, I don’t like it. My brother had an early 90s Max, he ran it to over 250k. It was a manual too, nice car.

    There are better choices, I think I’d rather have a Taurus which I once heard described as “automotive sweatpants.”

    I ferry my 2 kids around in a Charger R/T (soon to be an SRT 392) but that’s just me.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    The 4dsc which had automatic seat belt retractors. While looking at one on a dealers lot I leaned over to find the hood latch (after all this was a sports car, it said so in the window sticker) just as the auto seat belt retractor wizzed past cutting open my forehead. Sort of lost interest in the 4dsc at that point. Might be that this was the beginning of too much fancy and not enough sports.

  • avatar
    michal1980

    The valves are sodium-filled just like the GT-R, because GT-R.

    Because WHY?

    This because XYZ stupid needs to die.

    You talk about an oil pan and how its stiffer and that helps with nvh.

    But you mention the valves and fail to explain why, because STUPID.

    TTAC needs to get its house in order, before it just dies, because suck.

    • 0 avatar

      “The engine utilizes more than 60 percent new parts (compared to the previous generation 3.5-liter V6), applying lessons learned from the Nissan GT-R such as sodium filled valves, to achieve a high specific output of 85.7 horsepower/liter. Torque is rated at 261 lb-ft.”

      They don’t actually say why. The reason for the “because GT-R” is because it feels like a marketing ploy so Nissan can say the Maxima has the same valves as the GT-R.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      No, you missed the joke. The sodium filled valves don’t do anything (or at least much) in this application, but the GT-R has them so Maxima drivers can say their car has something the GT-R has an Nissan can use it as a selling point. There is little tangible value to explain.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I have a 1977 Yamaha XS500 motorcycle, with an exotic for the time 4 valves per cylinder DOHC head. It too had sodium filled valves, and this honestly isn’t anything THAT special in this day and age. But it is a very neat trick. The sodium actually melts within its cavity inside the valve, and circulates (due to the inherent motion of valves in a running engine), carrying heat away from the head in doing so.

        So the correct answer is: “because heat transfer”

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          The 351E V6 in my GMC pickup has sodium-filled valves *and* valve rotators.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            Bud Lindemann informs me that’ll put your GMC in a good position to handle the upcoming low-octane, lead-free fuel.

            youtube.com/watch?v=jI9lhA9dlEw&feature=youtu.be&t=97

          • 0 avatar
            nickoo

            LOL “A double panel roof with acts essentially as a roll cage”…Improved brakes! Panic stop 70-0 in 191 feet!

            In light of just how far automotive tech has come since ’71, that video is hilarious.

  • avatar
    ajla

    So Mark, how does the new Maxima compare to the Q40/G37? Interior volume seems similar and new the Infiniti costs about the same.

    Heck, loaded up this Maxima encroaches on Q50 territory.

  • avatar
    Gregg

    Your asterisk makes no sense. Did you actually mean that the EPA classifies the Maxima as a mid-size car? Because otherwise “full-size” and “large car” are the same thing.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Some questions:

    * Can the CVT be set to _not_ fake shifts? I really liked the linear feel of early Nissan CVTs.**
    * Can you get it without the infotainment option?
    * Do the front parts of the seat extend for people with longer thighs?

    ** Side: It would be nice if we didn’t add anachronisms for the sake of making people feel better. Leather dashes bug me for the same reason: do we need crank starters or artificial horse flatulence too?

    • 0 avatar

      Fake shift disable: not that I know of.
      Infotainment: no, all trims have nav so they’d all get the 8.0-inch screen.
      Seats: I am trying to remember. Something makes me want to say yes about the seats, but it might have also been my other press car on the same week. I’ll look into it.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    My long time friend Paul just traded in his 2012 Max and as with anybody I speak with about there cars ask “would you buy another”? His answer took about a half hour to come out. At first he had pretty positive things to say about the car. The V6 is smooth and quick. The car handles well enough and feels a bit sportier than his last ride (a 2006 Sonata) and he got a good lease deal which is pretty common on Nissans these days. But as the conversation wore on so did the problems inherent in many of today’s design flaws. Blind spots, harsh ride over all but the smoothest bumps, horrible Winter traction, wheel bearing failures left and right, warped brakes often, poor gas mileage, fuel pump left his wife stranded at the mall and rubber band tires loose air all the time.

    In all fairness the dealer did work fairly well with him on some of these items that were covered under warranty save the tire issues and brake warping which conveniently happened right out of coverage. He wrapped up the conversation by giving a resounding “no” never again living here. This car is made for perfect climates with glass smooth curvy roads and light traffic. A nice touring car. But as a daily family hauler it failed miserably for him.

    His next ride ironically was a 2015 Sonata Limited after the lease was up and more manageable 17″ tires and they love it so far. The 17-18 MPG averages have given away to 28-30 on the Hyundai. Power is down at 185 horses VS 290 but they say the car is plenty quick enough. Winter driving is far better as is visibility, the 6 speed makes a refreshing change from the CVT, the car rides much quieter and smoother and actually has far more in the way of equipment that the Nissan lacked. No wheel bearings, rotor warpage, fuel pump issues or tire leaks to report.

    As for the 2016 is looks and sounds like Nissan has smoothed the ride a bit but visibility actually looks worse and overall this car looks like it sat out in the sun too long and melted.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      First you say that the brake rotors on his Maxima warped after the factory warranty ended, but later you use it as a positive for the Sonata that it hasnt had that problem (or the other issues he had with a car over the course of 3-4 years).

      So, was the Nissan less than a year old when it had that problem (or the others)? No, so why mention that the *brand new* car isnt having an issue(s) that an older (out of warranty) car had?

      I should hope that a brand new car isnt having the issues an older car did, but in your desire to heap praise on the Hyundai, you instead give the impression that despite the fact that its new, its remarkable that it doesnt have the issues of an older car. It isnt a fair comparison until the new Sonata incurrs the same age and mileage of the Maxima, unless of course you expect a new Hyundai to have mechanical issues at a year or less of age.

      Yes, it is noteworthy that a 3-4 year old car had those issues. My parent’s have a Ford Taurus of the same year as that Maxima, it has somewhere around 66k and has had 0 mechanical issues, and still drives as well as it did when new.

  • avatar
    montyz81

    The fact that you can’t do research and find out that the first marketing of the 4DSC started with the 3rd gen model in 89 discredits everything you say in this article. Your inability to prove to people that you know what you are talking about speaks volumes in this article!

  • avatar
    Toad

    Comparing the new Nissan Maxima to the 1989 3rd generation models is sort of like comparing what happens to people over 25 years: the 1989 model was smaller, tighter, nimble, quick, sporty, and sexy. The new one is bigger, plumper, richer, smarter, more sophisticated, and has much wider hips that look better in dark colors.

    If Nissan took the Maxima to the gym and tightened it up a little I think they would have a better looking car. I’m sure the same could be said about me.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    The front end is unfortunate and is is a shame many companies have gone this direction. It is still better executed than the new Lexus front end styling. I blame Audi for starting all this.

    It is refreshing to see some companies moving away from the gaping front ends like the new Charger compared to the last generation.

  • avatar
    NN

    I think it looks great, inside and out. However, i wouldn’t buy a “sporting sedan” with a CVT. And I own a 13′ Quest with a CVT and the VQ engine, which works great for a minivan. Not a sports sedan. Give it a manual option for the few who care, it will actually enforce the old image of the car, even if 95% of buyers pick the CVT. FWD, on the other hand, is fine. Maxima has always been FWD, leave RWD to Infiniti.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    It can stay FWD but if it did offer a manual trans I would buy the whole 4DSC marketing hype. At this point I would argue (as I have before) that Maxima should simply be a Nissimo trim level on the Altima – all the luxury features + mandatory manual trans + supercharged/turbocharged V6. The development costs on that would have to be cheaper than creating an all new Maxima like they did.

  • avatar
    r129

    I came away from this review with the sudden urge to look for a nice third generation Maxima with a manual for sale.

  • avatar
    fleeno

    I had a 2001 (Anniversary Edition even!), and a 2009, and loved them both. I don’t mind a CVT, but without AWD I can’t go back from my Infiniti, even though everything else on the new Maxima looks great.

    I guess Nissan is getting my money either way, so they probably don’t mind!

  • avatar
    cartunez

    Should make a great new/used car for someone just not me. Front wheel drive and sporty is complete rubbish although I did enjoy the old school Honda Preludes before Honda screwed them up.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Screwed them up? Ive driven several of the last-gen Preludes and found them to be excellent. I really like the styling compared to the 96 and older, and the interior was much improved. I dont see how Honda “screwed [it] up”.

      Fwd cars can handle decently, its just that most dont. And, RWD mainstream cars from yester year handled horribly. Compare an 85 LTD (the midsize one) to an 86 Taurus, the FWD is clearly the better handling car.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    It looks better in the front compared to recent Maxis.

    Thats all the positive I can come up with.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    There are probably a large number of four-door sports cars, depending on how one defines the term, but a front-drive CVT Nissan isn’t one of them. However, if BMW can move a boat-load of 3’s and 4’s that have retreated from the fine edge of earlier models, I guess Nissan can shift a few of these softies with the 4DSC label. The auto market doesn’t care for sport as much as we’d like. (Just ask Cadillac.)

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Actually, this new Maxima is pretty decent piece. But why would I consider it when I can lease an Infiniti Q50 with AWD for $299 a month for 39 months with no money down? If I want to be more frugal, I can actually buy a Hyundai Sonata Eco with 1.6-liter turbo power and a seven-speed DCT for $350 a month for 36 months using my 2010 Subaru as the down payment. My point being that the Maxima is a nice car for $32K. But maybe not nice enough or not cheap enough.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Good review, Mark. You covered the basics and didn’t get all caught up in “Omygawd nobody buys this Maxmia” like our commenters here do, at any point in the day the word Maxima is mentioned.

    The interior looks pretty good for this level, honestly. Don’t care for the rear either, it’s Q50-discount. You’re gonna lose sooo much of your money purchasing a new and loaded Maxima that you’d be much better off with a one year old Q70.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Infiniti-Q70-V6-/151696605574?forcerrptr=true&hash=item2351d28186&item=151696605574

    Srsly.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks, Corey.

      For the record, I’d take a Maxima over a Q70.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Goodness you really do like you a CVT!

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I’d take a good CVT over a fair number of conventional automatics.

        • 0 avatar

          After driving the Q70 and Q70L, I think the Maxima is a more engaging car, and even more comfortable in a lot of ways.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I guess that makes sense. The Q70 is much heavier and has to have a stiffer suspension so it don’t roll like a Fleetwood.

            And if they’re still using the crap Goodyear RS-A’s they put on mine, that’s a factor as well.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I hate the RS-As! Those tires have no mileage warranty and are prone to seperation.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I don’t like mine, too loud and busy all the time, and they aren’t that old. They’re also very “thumpy,” and I don’t think it’s my suspension.

            But hey I convinced my friend when it was time for him to replace tires to go with Conti ProContacts on his V6 Fusion, and he’s happy with them. The Cruze rental I got had them too and they were pretty good on the highway (Cruze too low powered to even chirp the tires or test grip.)

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            My Pontiac came with RS-As. They are crap tires in every respect that has to do with driving quality. But they were sure durable. They lasted over 35,000 miles (with regular rotation) on a car that heavily abuses its back tires.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            So what you’re telling me is that with my roughly 1900 mi/year driving, I’ve got 18 years on these tires.

            Haz a sad.

  • avatar
    runs_on_h8raide

    Did Nissan steal Mazda’s Kodo design elements with this Maxima?

  • avatar

    I drove Maxima twice, both times as rentals for a week. First time I chose it over Mercedes C-class (only two cars were available) because of reputation and was rewarded – it felt like a muscle car – crude but powerful and tight. Second time I asked to replace Camry and they gave me Maxima, top trim as premium rental. This time it felt like a boat and was actually scary to drive – I did not feel car much and it was too big to feel comfortable behind wheel.

  • avatar
    jayzwhiterabbit

    I would SO buy this car over an Accord or Camry. I love the styling. Arg!!! Why can’t Toyota make a midsize sedan that’s a bit sexy, like this thing.

  • avatar
    jayzwhiterabbit

    The black A-pillars look a lot better than the huge and less-than-elegant painted A-pillars on almost every other sedan these days. The 1980’s were the last time that A pillars were graceful.

  • avatar
    fireballs76

    Not a bad looking car by any means. I have a ’13 Altima 3.5 which is very fun to drive so I can’t wait to drive the new Maxima at some point. Albeit, yes the CVT makes things interesting but I have the paddle shifters if I want to screw around.

    Time will tell

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