By on June 13, 2018

Has it really been five years since I rented and tested the previous Nissan Maxima? Well, as Natalie Merchant once said about children, “At your age / in a string of days / the year is gone.” That less-than-maximum Max was, in my opinion anyway, the worst Maxima ever.

Is there anybody out there who expected anything more than mediocrity from the current Maxima, despite the in-your-face styling, despite that hugely evocative Super Bowl ad? I doubt it. The five-year gap between my last go-round with a big Nissan sedan shrinks to insignificance when compared to the three-decade gap that separates today and the introduction of the first (and last) first-rate automobile to bear this particular nameplate.

Here’s the good news: The new one’s better than the old one, and the one before that. It counts as a pleasant surprise in a business which is increasingly bereft of such consolations. All you need to appreciate this car is the proper perspective, which we’ll triangulate based on two historical points: the first-generation Datsun 810 “Maxima”, and the Renault Laguna.


My agenda for this particular rental was fairly stout. Two Fridays ago, I loaded the Maxima with four Direzza Star Specs mounted to Enkei wheels, a trunk’s worth of tools, a floor jack, and an URB-E Pro GT electric scooter. Then I drove it to NCM Motorsports Park to support my wife’s attempt to win the SCCA Time Trial event being held there on Saturday. (She took 2nd of 7 drivers, thanks for asking.) Then I turned and burned back home to grab my son, swap the car stuff for bike stuff, and head to Dayton for a BMX race. (He made his main and took 2nd, and I actually won my class for the first time in a very long time, thanks again for asking.)

[Get new and used Maxima pricing here!]

The total distance involved in this 72-hour jaunt was somewhere in the range of 1,100 miles.

This is what I needed out of the Nissan: comfort, quiet, and outstanding fuel economy. That’s what I got. The cabin was almost Lexus-silent, the seats were genuinely outstanding, and the Maxima averaged a self-reported 28.9 mpg (without bike rack) and 28.5 mpg (two bikes on an old Rhode Gear rack).

All of this, adjusted for era, was also true of Datsun’s old 810 Maxima, which started out as an upscale trim level on the full-sized (by Japanese standards) 810 sedan. It was a RWD four-door about the size of a modern Civic with a straight-six heart transplanted from the 280ZX — but it wasn’t even remotely sporty. Not like the 510 which had come before it. That was a BMW competitor and an SCCA terror. The 810 was a Cressida-by-Nissan. Nothing more, nothing less.

In the long years since the 810 wandered off into the junkyards, the market has decided that upscale sedans need to be Autobahn-oriented in the manner of the Mercedes S-Class or BMW 3 Series. Lost in the pathetic eagerness with which everyone from Cadillac to Genesis has fallen into line with that decision is the fact that a few companies, most of them French or Japanese, didn’t get the memo. The Renault Laguna was one of those cars. It’s a platform relative of the Maxima, and it specialized in that big bland comfiness that also defined the Citroen C6 and the old Peugeot 604.

If you want to understand the Maxima better, just think of it as a house-brand version of the Renault Laguna. Any sportiness in the car is either mere gingerbread or completely accidental. There’s a stupid flat-bottomed steering wheel; whoever thought of that should have devoted more attention to the fact that the switches on that wheel are remarkably non-intuitive.

Those switches are sort of mirror images, but the cruise-control enable switch on the right side only presses down instead of down and up. On the left, you change music tracks by flipping the switch up and down. The left-right buttons do other stuff. It will take you more than the space of a rental period to get used to them. The same is true for the cruise control, which requires an odd thumb motion to adjust the speed.

The whole car is filled with ergonomic oddities. The left-side HVAC knob occupies the spot where the volume knob should be. The volume knob is up on the dash in an area that is obscured from view by the wheel. The window switches are convex-edged for the front windows and concave-edged for the rears, but they’re mounted in a spot where your hand naturally falls to the rear switches. The menu system for the infotainment system is mildly baffling. Maybe it’s the French influence; if your Laguna had these foibles you would put it down to character.

Speaking of the HVAC: It’s been years since I sat in a new vehicle that did so little indirect venting, and when I did it was a Chevy truck from the previous generation. The Maxima can blow ice-cold air — and it does, right at your face. The preferred methods of the “AUTO” setting are all remarkably indelicate, frosting or boiling whichever part of your face or body is closest to the vents. It’s like Nissan hasn’t bothered to keep up with industry practice in this area.

The styling, on the other hand, is as modern as today’s headlines, and just as moronic. The front grille, which appears to have a single stupid buck tooth jammed in the middle of an Audi trapezoid that failed quality-control inspections. The bizarre faux-glazing on the C-pillar. It’s not unique to Nissan, as you can see above. Maybe it’s the Landau padded vinyl quarter-roof trim of 2018. Except it looks worse. This theme of unnecessary complexity is repeated inside the cabin, where unconvincing stitching battles with several different kinds of grey plastic and an over-generous helping fake-brushed metal trim in a variety of shapes for your attention.

It’s a shame, really, because unlike the Avalon or the now-discontinued Azera the Max has a genuine difference in proportion when compared to the Altima from which it sprang. It looks lower, wider, meaner. Shame that it’s been festooned with so much surface confusion. At least the trunk is properly large, although the long tubular arms of the trunk can squash your luggage if you’re not careful.

On the move, the faithful old VQ-and-CVT combination keeps you at least even with the crossovers. Nissan has given into popular sentiment and tuned the CVT to (poorly) mimic a conventional transmission. Too bad it can’t hide the odd jumpy behavior the powertrain displays on the freeway as you engage, then relax, the throttle. A slight extra brushing of the pedal is accompanied by a 500 rpm jump and a lurch throughout the body that is then repeated in reverse as the CVT guesses at your next move. I’m being ungracious here, because the payoff for all this weirdness is, as previously mentioned, some really solid fuel economy. Hell, in this day and age Nissan deserves a medal for not saddling this big honker of a sedan with an asthmatic 2.0-liter turbo four.

As supplied, this SV sedan without sunroof would cost you about $34k before all the inevitable discounts. That’s the same price Nissan charged five years ago for a car that didn’t handle the basics nearly as well as this one does. You can spend up to seven grand more for a variety of upscale trim packages both sporting and luxurious. Some of them come with a better sound system. That would be a welcome upgrade; the stereo in the SV is not good.

Nissan likely thinks this competes with the Avalon. It doesn’t. No Avalon buyer would bother to look at this, because they’d be frightened of the reliability and the looks. In truth, this is a left-field alternative to an Accord 2.0T, the same way that the Renault Laguna is a left-field alternative to a BMW 3 Series overseas. The Nissan is quieter, probably gets better real-world mileage, and has more usable trunk space. Every other possible advantage would go to the Honda. Except, of course, for the fact that your Nissan dealer will work with your credit in a way that the Honda dealer won’t.

If you’re currently in an, ahem, rebuilding phase of your life, you could do worse than this Maxima. It’s an improvement over its recent predecessors and it’s a very pleasant freeway cruiser. Don’t expect anything more than that, and you won’t be disappointed.

[Images: Jack Baruth/TTAC]

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79 Comments on “2018 Nissan Maxima Rental Review – Lowered Expectations...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    4DSC? Oh how the mighty have fallen…

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Today only the 4D part remains, the SC part is long gone.

      The only odd thing about steering wheels buttons is normally volume is mapped to the larger toggle, where track/channel change is the smaller control.

      The fake floating roof thing has got to stop, it really looks bad, who thought a random piece of black plastic would look OK inserted there? The over emphasized front fender arch / body line bothers me too. It makes the front end look fat with too much over hang up there. The only company that seems to pull that look off well is Mazda.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      We got the option of a Maxima Brougham in Canada, around ’91 (right around peak 4DSC as well) – it might be about time for Nissan to dust off that name plate.

    • 0 avatar
      legacygt

      Yes. The review is right that this Maxima is better than the one that came before it. But it still doesn’t live up to its history. Nissan has little vision for the Maxima and it shows. It’s generally a styling exercise at this point. The same can be said for the Murano which really broke new ground as one of the first mid-sized crossovers but then they grew the Rogue and softened the Pathfinder to the point where there’s little space left for the Murano.

  • avatar
    HuskyHawk

    Sounds about as I would expect. I’m not sure when Nissan last made a car that I found at all interesting. Noisy, thrashy V6, CVT, bad ergonomics, reliability far behind its competition, and still bad rust resistance.

    The brand is completely off my radar.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I don’t think Toyota or Honda people are willing to defect to Nissan.

    I’d say this Maxima competes closest to the Charger V6 and Impala (they even all offer some type of “Midnight Edition” package).

    Of that trio, the Nissan coming in 3rd for me. Although it might have the best fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “Of that trio, the Nissan coming in 3rd for me. Although it might have the best fuel economy.”

      I’ve always managed to get 29mpg+ on highway trips in V6/8AT Chargers and 300s.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Same here. I’d be at a Dodge dealer for an LX car well before I’d be at a Nissan store. No CVT drama, just a solid cruiser that delivers with RWD goodness. I’d buy one if I could justify such a large car for mostly just me, since we have a minivan for family duties.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    The looks are certainly polarizing, but no worse than some best selling sedans such as Civic, new Camry, everything Lexus makes. The blacked out C pillar is thing now apparently. I see is spreading like a rash.

    This is my personal opinion, obviously not shared by the majority of auto enthusiasts or journalists, but Nissan’s CVT is no better or worse than just about any automatic I can recall driving. Its an automatic, it goes from fast to slow. I don’t find any additional pleasure in cars with fixed cogs and a slushbox.

    I will say that I think you are wrong on the interior. Not sure if the SV is the lowest trim, but higher trim Maximas are pretty nice inside. Certainly competitive for the price if not a step above.

    I haven’t been in an Avalon, but I find the Maxima a far more pleasing place to spend time in than an Accord. The last Accord I drove, an EX-L V6 I believe, was pretty disappointing to me after all the praise heaped upon it by the automotive press.

    Speaking of which, maybe its the trim you drove, but most of the auto press on the Maxima is fairly positive as I recall, dinging the CVT, as is any auto journalist’s duty, but otherwise consistently against the bulk of your negatives.

    I have owned a few Maximas, a 1991, a 2012. The 1991 was pretty spritely, really punched above its weight. By 2012, it was a pretty comfortable highway cruiser with some sporty intentions. I have a place in my heart for the car, despite my good credit. But it is easier to dis a car if you associate it with the poor, so good persuasive writing with the subliminal jabs to drive it home.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “The last Accord I drove, an EX-L V6 I believe, was pretty disappointing to me after all the praise heaped upon it by the automotive press”

      Glad I’m not the only one. Midpack interior materials, unsupportive seats, and drove like a Camry LE with a bit more steering feel. Reminded me of the GM axiom I’ve heard around here: they sold you a great engine and threw in the rest of the car for free. Outside the manual transmission models, what was all the hubbub about?

      I had a Nissan CVT and liked the responsiveness but I’d worry about durability.

      • 0 avatar
        montyz81

        I bought a 2013 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum brand new with said CVT. It currently has 120k miles on it. That includes a trip to Virginia, South Carolina, Indiana(while pulling an air hockey table on a utility trailer), multiple 3 plus hour trips from my home in New Hampshire with the kids. I am living proof that the CVT is no better or worse then your standard automatic. I am a guy that prefers to select my own gears too (currently have 2012 G37s 6MT and a 280zx 5MT). This fallacy about CVTs being bad is so overstated in my book.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          “I am living proof that the CVT is no better or worse then your standard automatic.”

          Well, really you’re just proof that your particular CVT has lasted 120K miles, just as I’m living proof that my particular CVT showed early signs of failure by 85K.

          Only Nissan and Jatco have the full proof, and they aren’t sharing. But worrying signs are seeping into the public realm. My service advisor didn’t even blink or make excuses when hearing about our car’s symptoms–he had the replacement price memorized, suggested very frequent fluid changes and a $1000 transmission cooler to help it last longer. I saw this scenario repeated several times on owner’s forums.

          I’m curious what the failure rate of these is compared to the infamous Honda automatics of the early-aughts.

          I’m jealous of your G37, though. That car is Nissan done well.

          • 0 avatar
            SSJeep

            Nissan CVTs are bad – the first generation was practically cancer to the brand due to failures. The current generation is marginally better, but still has a failure rate that is notably higher than average. I wish Nissan would go back to a standard automatic transmission. The newer 8-10 speed units in use by their competitors notably outshine the Nissan CVT.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Do you have any info on failure rates, SS? I’m curious. Without additional info I would remain worried about the new ones as well. 2007-2009 altimas had great consumer reports ratings in the transmission category until a few years ago, now they’re well below average. Takes time for that kind of data to accumulate. Pre-cvt altimas still have great marks.

        • 0 avatar
          ozzypriest

          All hail the mighty G37s 6MT. That’s the real 4dsc from Nissan,

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      “…but Nissan’s CVT is no better or worse than just about any automatic I can recall driving. Its an automatic, it goes from fast to slow. I don’t find any additional pleasure in cars with fixed cogs and a slushbox.”

      This.

      CVTs drive differently than torque converter and dual clutch slushers. Not “worse.” Since most people come from one of the latter, the difference takes some time getting used to, before driving them becomes intuitive. But once you are used to how to to move your ankle in the presence of a given CVT, the end result isn’t really any different than the others. The only common exception being above 9/10ths acceleration (and (dream on…) engine braking), where many CVT drivelines seem more bent on self protecting than sportily tuned traditional autos.

  • avatar

    Unlike Ford, at least Nissan will still be creating competitive cars. When the Fusion and Taurus cease production Ford will fall behind everyone. Ford will soon be a sedan-free company just like Mitsubishi. How the mighty have fallen!

    Ford – what a disgrace!

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      They’re already a minivan-free company! Oh, the huge manatee!

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I was reminded that the QUEST no longer exists yesterday in the Walmart parking lot. There was a (looked brand new) Quest sitting in the handicap parking shining like a diamond in a goats a$$. Must have been a leftover 2017.

        We’ll see how the “no sedans” thing works out. Honestly I think that there will be many companies that follow Ford down that path.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Except this isn’t competitive on anything but fuel mileage.

      And Ford still sells cars abroad, including a newer Taurus than what we have. I don’t see how they could “fall behind” when sedan sales in this market are on a steady downward trend. Seems to me that investing in cars that nobody wants would be an excellent way to waste resources that could be poured into vehicles that DO sell and DO make money.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        I disagree that the Maxima isn’t competitive. It has a strange place in the market. Sold as a large car but really more of a large midsized. Its a bit too small for the large car segment, but there are certainly worse examples of “big on the outside cramped on the inside” contenders in the large car segment. Its also a bit too expensive for midsize market.

        I would think that discounts would put it closer, if not below, similarly spec’d camry’s and accords. At which point it becomes very competitive in size, amenities, power, fuel economy, etc. So I guess it is competitive with a caveat in my book.

        But you are right that nobody wants them and I seriously doubt Nissan makes any money off of the Maxima as evidenced by their fairly common rental fleet appearances. There will not be a next generation Maxima. There are plenty of other cars that I consider very competent, even some exceptional vehicles, that will not make it another generation in the current sales environment.

        The Maxima needs to become a trim level of the Next Altima Sell it with more power, some unique features and some visual flare, call it the Maxima or some other variation on Altima/Maxima. Save the development dollars for another crossover.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Akear – Channeling @EBFlex??

      Why should Ford care about cars when the USA market clearly wants pickups and CUV/SUV’s?

      • 0 avatar

        Why is GM, Toyota, Nissan, and Kia still making cars.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          “Why is GM, Toyota, Nissan, and Kia still making cars.”

          Please note “USA market” portion of my comment.

          GM has a bad habit of trying to fill every possible segment with a vehicle with their badge on it. “Too big to fail” wasn’t that long ago.

          Toyota and Nissan don’t have any competitive full sized pickups. Small pickups are a small fraction of the truck market.

          Kia doesn’t even have a pickup.

        • 0 avatar
          dantes_inferno

          >Why is GM, Toyota, Nissan, and Kia still making cars.

          Answered in order of names of automakers in the question:

          Insanity,
          old people,
          cheaply-built transportation,
          slightly-better inexpensive transportation

  • avatar
    pinkslip

    I rent a car two weeks out of each month for work and the Maxima is my current rental car of choice (sadly). Of course, that’s because my other options are typically limited to: Altima, Impala, Equinox, Rogue, and the occasional Camry. I would prefer the Camry if not for the large gap in available equipment and horsepower between Toyota and Nissan rental fleets.

    While I hate CVTs and I am no fan of Nissan in general, at least the Maxima offers nice seats and power as compared to lower-rent alternatives usually found in the National Executive isle.

    But then, last week I had a CX-5, which was pretty pleasant- save for the underpowered feeling and sounding engine. And I did see an MX-5 RF as I walked back to the terminal shuttle pick-up- that could be a fun comparison to my modified 6-speed soft top. And there is the occasional Camaro or Challenger RT to pick up, but they are fewer and farther between than a Maxima (and the Camaro is not really a car you want to take out more than once). The Chrysler 300 had ventilated seats which was nice to have last month, but the rest of the car made the Maxima feel like a top-shelf Infiniti.

    Rental car options are usually the “I’d never buy this” models, and the Maxima is no exception.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      This. Making CVT trannies all jerky and shifting feeling simply annoys the hell out of me. Every time I drive my friend’s 2017 Crosstrek, the artificial herky-jerkiness of it’s imitations of a geared transmission is quite simply a degradation of the quality of the driving experience. It could be absolutely smooth, seamless, and silky in its power delivery like my 2016 Prius is, but no, cater to people’s (or is it automotive journalists’?) prejudices and old habits.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Infiniti’s 7spd auto would do a lot to make this car more appealing. But its a FWD Nissan so you get to take your chances on the CVT.

    If leasing at $34K + Nissan discounts, the big V6 paired with the comfortable and quiet interior would make it worth a serious look against upper trim Camcords, though.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Carlos had better pick up the pace if he seriously expects to make this a premium brand.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Anyone looking at this might as well check out the Kia Cadenza as well, which at least manages to look respectable, and comes with a V6 and no CVT. The new Azera that didn’t come to the US is a much nicer car than this as well.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    *sigh* I remember – in the 90s- when I wanted a Maxima as my daily. With a manual. And a 300ZX and a hardbody truck. These days, except for the Frontier and the departed Xterra, I have little use for the company.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      There are a few car companies where literally no product they make in any shape or form has any appeal to me, such that if you offered me the choice of any of their vehicles, for free, but on the condition that I couldn’t sell it for cash, I’d turn it down flat. Nissan is one of them.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      I’d love to have a hardbody Nissan or Toyota “Truck” from the late 80’s early 90’s. 2wd, manual(I’d accept an auto so the wife could drive it), crew cab for the kids, but it must have air. Little simple trucks for simple DIY stuff or hauling bikes/stuff around.

      I share your assessment of Nissan, especially as a former Altima owner. Unless it’s a GT-R, pass…

  • avatar
    V16

    Next to the current Civic, the biggest styling mess of any current sedan.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Ahh, the Maxima. For people who make good money at their slightly blue collar job, but haven’t yet figured out why they need a good credit score.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Only laughing because a teacher my wife works with (low level license making just under $40K per year) traded a clapped out Escalade for a brand new Maxima this past year. He let slip something about his payment and he either has terrible credit or was way upside-down on that Caddy.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “Welcome to High Desert Nissan, sir. What can we do for you?”

        “That jerk Honda dealer down the street won’t give me legit trade-in on my sweet Cadillac and slapped me across the face for even looking at a base Civic once they ran my credit score. What can you do for me on one of those $9999 special Versas out there?”

        “Well, sir! I’m certain we can get you into our flagship sedan instead!”

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      LOL

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      Always good for a laugh to make fun of the poor and less fortunate members of society, right guys! Seems like a common theme lately, who knew EVERYONE in this crowd was so well heeled. Are there weekend get togethers where you you guys go out and beat up homeless people for fun too? You guys are awesome! Tell us more about how rich you are and how poor people are soooo stupid.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @thegamper – a low credit score is not the exclusive domain of the poor and less fortunate.
        “Beat up homeless people for fun”……. isn’t that what law enforcement is for? /sarc
        As far as being poor and being “stupid”, there are linkages between mental health and poverty. Intellect… not really. Patterns of behavior… yes.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Completely agree, gamper. While I’m lucky enough to have enough money to keep my used cars with six-figure miles on them, we’re all just one health crisis or recession away from being penniless and homeless in the new monopolist America. Anybody who thinks they’re superior to that risk is either one of the nation’s 300 billionaires or utterly deluding themselves.

  • avatar
    asphaltcowboy

    We rented a 2018 Nissan Murano a month ago for two weeks. Horrid SUV design with a terrible drivetrain, unsettled and anemic feeling CVT. Boring boring boring – with cheap looking interior – I know some auto journalists give the interior high marks, but don’t see why – guess they only drive the top trim. It was adequate however and at least better than a Ford Edge or the POS GMC Acadia.

    The one good thing – good fuel mileage.

    Nissan just makes boring vehicles. Although they seem to be spicing up their designs lately. The most boring (non-Mitsubishi) vehicle sold in the NA market – IMHO – is the Nissan Rogue.

    I would pass the Murano up as a rental next time – it has joined the likes of the pre-2019 VW Jetta, Nissan Pathfinder (bleh), Ford Explorer, most GM garbage and pretty much all FCA crap on my will not rent list… funny tho, I am continually surprised/pleased with KIAs that i want to hate…

  • avatar
    vvk

    Compared to competitors mentioned, Maxima has very little rear leg room.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    The 4DSC Maxima was available with a stick, as was Nissan’s other tasty offerings in the 90’s like the rat-like 300ZX, the 240SX and the jellybean 1st gen Altima. Nissan, like Honda, experienced their heyday in the 90’s with cars like those, and their fall from grace has been brutal.

    The Maxima should have figured out how to remain the poor man’s 5 series, the Z should have continued with evolving the 90’s version, as that design still looks modern today, and the 240, had it continued to today, could have been Nissan’s A5 coupe and swoopy sedan.

    As it stands, the brand doesn’t offer much appeal besides it’s known ability to finance those who can’t get financing in other places.

    Unlike Honda, who appears to be finding it’s way, Nissan still looks lost.

  • avatar
    Null Set

    The decline of Nissan over the last 30 years is tragic. I remember well how great their cars were in the late 80s and early 90s. The two Maxima iterations I remember best from that period – the circa 1988 model and the circa 1992 model – were groundbreaking and great. Just great. Ditto the Toyota Cressida. What the hell happened?

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    Jack, you’re starting to sound like James May in the latter days of his time on Top Gear…

  • avatar
    Scandinavian

    The Laguna is dead and replaced by the Talisman. Its main ccompetitors would be the VW Passat (European version), Skoda Superb, Opel/Vauxhall Insignia (Buick Regal), Ford Mondeo (Fusion) and Peugeot 508.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      After a handsome couple of generations they took the decision to make the last Laguna intentionally bland.

      Except for the coupe which looked like a poor man’s Aston Martin, albeit ruined with the bland googly headlights straight from the hatchback.

      I’m just glad Peugeot will sell the new 508 in the UK.

      • 0 avatar
        Scandinavian

        Spot on for the Laguna, and at least the Talisman looks decent as do most recent Renaults. Can’t wait to see the 508’s they did well with the 3008.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    Irrespective of my opinion about this Maxima (for the record any vehicle with a CVT does not exist for me), this is a beautifully composed review.

    Well done Jack.

  • avatar

    Automakers probably have exhausted most of the design variations for the sedan. One way to differentiate sedans today is through distinctive body work. This may explain all the groves we see in current sedans like the Camry and Maxima.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Artificial steps on CVTs are so annoying. I recently rented a Pathfinder with this same powertrain and it was cursed with them too. Just give me the power level I ask for with my right foot.

    Other than that, I agree with your assessment. This is a good car to buy at a steep discount, although an (Epsilon) Impala 3.6 at a similarly steep discount is a tough competitor for it.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      What bugs me along with that is fake “creep”. Creep is a bug not a feature of torque converter transmissions. There is no reason a CVT, DCT, pure electric, hybrid, anything that doesn’t have a torque converter should move by itself without you pressing on the go pedal. Drives me nuts in traffic.

      Deciding between this and an Impala would be easy. This is hideous, inside and out, and they drive like a floppy whale. The Impala is not, and does not, and actually is pretty darned nice inside in LT and up trim. And no CVT…

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        You’re crazy :)

        Creep is the one worth vile feature of slushers. Used to be included in high-torque-engine manual cars as well. But those are now idling so close to stall that only Cummins powered HD Rams seem to retain that feature-not-bug.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    “Too bad it can’t hide the odd jumpy behavior the powertrain displays on the freeway as you engage, then relax, the throttle. A slight extra brushing of the pedal is accompanied by a 500 rpm jump and a lurch throughout the body that is then repeated in reverse as the CVT guesses at your next move. I’m being ungracious here, because the payoff for all this weirdness is, as previously mentioned, some really solid fuel economy.”

    This is why I began to loathe my ’10 Altima, especially in the hills where I live. Need a little extra oomph? Ease into the pedal and suddenly 500 rpm’s appear. Ease off because you don’t need it all and there’s the rubber-band feeling. Hills make this worse. Since most people drive like the pedals are switches, most folks probably don’t notice.

    Probably worse with the 2.5 than the VQ since the 2.5 is coarse and nowhere near as strong as the V6. But on the flat-ish OH turnpike? 80 mph was around 2000 rpm, the car was fairly quiet and achieving better than 30 mpg. Passing is great because there was no kickdown, just a lot of revs and noise. The Nissan 2.5 above 4000 rpm is not a show you want an encore from.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Thanks for writing an article about an actual honest-to-goodness car; even if it isnt’t a very good one it’s nice to know why.

    Too many articles today and most other days for that matter about Crapwagon Upraised Vehicles. No interest for me, because they can never be the ultimate at any performance metric. A CX-5’s handling precision compared to the new 6? Not even close for the same money.

    TTAC used to occupy me for a good hour each day. Now it’s run by people of a different mindset, where snappy not-well-informed pseudo snark and stretched weak metaphor, backed by an attitude that they are experts or something when it’s obvious they’re not, is the order of the day. Mind numbing.

    But it’s free, so at least I can skip articles without feeling hard done by.

    • 0 avatar
      MK

      Nailed it. Yeah I only recently started checking ttac after not coming around for over a year or so and the article tone is definitely more breezy and with fewer hooks and even less substance. Oh well, their website their choices.

      Jack ls article really makes me miss the 4DSC Maxima…. Takes me back to that several month period where I was finishing up university and also really getting to know Mindy, the cute, newly divorced waitress who had decided to blossom from plain to amazing looking and was also looking to enjoy herself and make up for lost time.

      Best summer ever when she pulled up to my house in her dads new pearl 4DSC maxima.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Sitting in your daddy’s Max
        You told me that you’d wait forever
        Oh when I look back now
        That Nissan was the best one ever…

        It was the summer of ’89!

  • avatar
    johnnyz

    I don’t comment very often as someone who has always liked Nissan’s and owned a 300ZX and several Maxima’s including a 2016 I must be heard.

    The 3.5 V6 is probably the smoothest motor I’ve ever had. It’s smoother than my BMW 4.4 liter V8 1997 E39. And absolutely smoother than my 2.7 twin turbo Ford motor- I know na vs turbo. Smoother than junk Acura 3.0 or Toyo v6. Way smoother than my Durango 2004 with the V-6 and definitely smoother than the Hemi 5.7 V8 I had before that.

    The Kinks have definitely been worked out of the CVT. It gives a direct power delivery to the wheels, more like a standard transmission than a slushbox.

    I get the point about the Chrysler 300. However, front-wheel drive is nice because it is lightweight, yes, it may not handle as well as a rwd. Here in Minnesota it gets through the snow pretty well.

    I don’t understand the wholesale hatred of Nissan? The media is guilty, is Nissan affiliated with Trump?

    Peace out.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Nissan is affiliated with Trump voters…….

      The classes of cars Nissan competes in, are all so perfected by now, and have been so since 1990, that there’s not much between any of them. Such that those whose job or hobby is nitpicking, end up blowing every millimeter of legroom and mean-distance-traveled-between-failure out of proportion.

      The biggest difference between a Nissan and any of the “leaders,” is the intangible that buying one of the former signals Credit Score status. While Nissan signals one may have voted for Trump.

      Nissan and Toyota don’t have much in the way of cars with proper transmissions. Mazda and Honda do. Which does mean the former generally suck as drivers cars, viewed objectively. Almost as badly as Ferrari.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I like this era of Maxima. I go looking for them when I need a rental. The interior quality is in the ball park of legit luxury cars in my experience, and the driving experience is very “easy”. I was just spooked my CVT worries though.

  • avatar
    AK

    Drove one of these Maximas when shopping used Q50s and GS350s.

    Great seats, was a little smoother than the Q50 and had the most compelling stereo controls of all 3 simply by default. Aside from that, pass. Cvt and styling we’re deal breakers though the Maxima looked sort of interesting in white.

    The Nissan dealer was offering $8k off msrp as a starting point. And this was on a 2018 right as they were first hitting lots. The desperation was strong.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    I get really annoyed with Nissan’s “sports sedan” advertising. It’s not!!! Lol

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    How is the Blu-tooth in these? Ours cannot read the directory from the phone so you have to program the numbers for the voice commands. For instance when I say “call home” it calls the previous owners house because I am too lazy to reprogram it. I was curious if they fixed that feature since it seems the other weird ergonomic stuff has not been.

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    I think the thing that has killed cars is the putrid styling – high beltlines – squashed roofs – horrible views from interior to the outside. It is like the entire industry benchmarked the 1972 Ford Torino and said, “we can build an even more unpleasant interior experience”.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I remember driving as a 16 y/o borrowing a friends light blue over dark blue velour 810 Maxima , manual trans. Compared to my mk1 GTI , the powertrain was a revelation. It had well over 120k miles on it but it was rock solid well over the speed limit.
    Later in the early 90s one of my dads friends bought a new 4DSC Maxima 5spd, black over tan , just like the advertisements in R&T. Aspirational the Maxima was.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I have long had a soft spot in my heart for Maximas….because, of course, they could be had with manual transmissions longer than any other full sized car.

    My last Maxima was a 2003 SE version, with Driver Preferred Package, and the manual 6-sp.

    The stereo was fantastic. The drivetrain (VQ3.5 265 bhp) was also great. VQs with a manual are good fun, though the noises are forgettable. The shifter was not so good on the 2-3 or 4-5 shifts, but I got used to the notchiness.

    I did not like the exterior design–especially the grille. Since I could not see the exterior while I was driving…I ignored it….kind of like how our wives ignore our growing beer bellies when we approach our 50s…they know complaining will serve no purpose.

    The interior was certainly built to a price, which happened to be about $33,000 at the time–which was overpriced in my view, but since it had the manual trans, I paid it the premium grudgingly.

    I discovered a quirk: The cruise control would maintain 92mph, but would not engage at 93 mph or higher.

    I had a trailer hitch installed (none marketed for Maximas, but the Altima hitch fit perfectly) so I could haul around my motorcycles. Maxima was a good utility trailer-puller, no complaints.

    I miss my Maxima. I averaged 25 mpg over the 70k miles I drove it…at which time my needs changed and it went away.

    Once Nissan dropped the manual trans option, Maximas were dead to me.


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