The Nissan Maxima has been completely redesigned for 2016, with all-new sheet metal featuring deeply sculpted character lines created using a special stamping technique.
Maxima has evolved over the past 35 years from a tight, sporty four-door to a luxurious full-size sedan. The restyling of the eighth-generation model includes a new grille, headlights, and front end.
The sculpted sides flowing back to the broad rear quarters, deeply scalloped doors, and the “floating roof,” introduced in 2014, give the Maxima four-door sedan a distinctive sport coupe look.
Gloss-black roof support pillars blend seamlessly into the glasswork, giving the appearance of a fighter jet canopy. In fact, Nissan designers visited the Navy’s Blue Angels and studied the configuration of fighter jets to design a sports car “built to fly.”
Maxima offers five trim levels, priced from $32,410 to $39,860. No options packages are available, as each model builds on the previous and comes with lots of standard equipment.
But lots of accessories are available, from a trunk net for $35, to ground lighting for $240, to 18-inch machined aluminum-alloy wheels with dark-painted pockets for $900.
A 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine and a completely re-engineered Continuously Variable Transmission with column-mounted shifter paddles are standard for all models.
More than 60-percent of the legendary VQ V-6 engine has been redesigned, from sodium-filled exhaust valves and anodized pistons, to a high-flow induction system.
Maxima’s CVT has also been re-engineered for a more-connected, spirited driving experience -- with the bonus of increased fuel economy.
Drive Mode Select offers two distinct shift options – Normal and Sport. Normal Mode is smooth, refined and very fuel efficient. Sport Mode literally kicks it up a notch with sharper throttle response, heavier steering, quicker shifting and a satisfying roar from the engine.
New for 2016, Maxima has “Zero Gravity” seats, designed to contour to the body’s natural position and especially support the lower and mid back, reducing fatigue and pressure on the lower back. Bolstering at the right height and width helps keep you in position, even during aggressive turns.
The NissanConnect navigation/infotainment system (powered by SiriusXM) debuts in the new Maxima. It works through your smarphone and the integrated telematics control unit, and connects you, your world and your car. Play music, access your social network or navigate any city with a host of features and apps.
An eight-inch color display with multi-touch control (allows pinching, zooming, and swiping) displays NissanConnect with Navigation functions, as well as climate settings and images from the rearview camera.
With the “Swipe to Meter” feature, directions can be sent from one screen to another with a simple swipe.
Google Search with voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, Bluetooth hands-free phone, audio streaming, and text-messaging assistant are included, as well as two iPod/USB ports and one 12-volt outlet. Navigation and audio voice control is also available.
The tall center stack has been rotated seven degrees toward the driver, positioning every display, button, and knob perfectly for quick, easy, intuitive command and excellent visibility.
Display Commander, located just behind the gearshift, allows the driver to toggle up and down, side-to-side, scroll, rotate and control the entire system without looking down or touching the display screen.
A Bose Sound System with 11 speakers and Active Noise Cancellation is standard for the SR, with satellite radio, including SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link.
Active Noise Cancellation monitors unwanted engine noise using microphones in the front and rear, and helps to cancel it out. Another part of the system, Active Sound Enhancement, generates a signal to enhance or modify select engine sounds and provides a smooth or sporty sound inside the cabin, as desired.
The Advanced Driver-Assist Display’s seven-inch screen directly behind the steering wheel displays turn-by-turn directions, caller ID, and safety features such as Predictive Forward Collision Warning and tire-pressure monitoring with easy-fill tire alert to minimize the amount of time the driver looks away.
My Maxima was the performance-oriented SR for $37,670, in Deep Pearl Blue. It came with Charcoal Premium Ascot leather seating featuring soft diamond-quilted Alcantara inserts. Subtle blue top stitching accented the bolsters, quilted inserts, center console, shift knob, dash, and door armrests.
Liquid Chrome diamond faceted finishers, unique to the SR, highlighted the door panels and curved around the dash. The wraparound design, along with the warm, understated glow of the ambient lighting, echoed the cockpit of a fighter jet. Diamond Cut machined aluminum-alloy wheels, exclusive to the SR, added a touch of pizazz with their mirror effect.
The Zero Gravity front sport seats were heated and cooled, with multiple power-controlled positions, power lumbar support and manual thigh support extension for the driver.
The slope of the floating roof did result in a slight loss of headroom in the rear – 36.7-inches, versus 39.4-inches in the front.
My tester had a heated Premium Ascot double-stitched, textured, contoured, leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel with Alcantara insert. The racing-inspired design allows for added leg clearance in the snug cockpit. The open dual-panel panoramic moon roof also helped give the cockpit a roomy feel.
Nine exterior colors are available, including stunning Bordeaux Black, elegant Forged Bronze and Pearl White, which adds $395. Interiors come in cloth or leather, in Camel, Cashmere or Charcoal, depending on the model chosen.
Boomerang-shaped headlights featured an eye-catching LED signature line that is illuminated as long as the vehicle is turned on. The wraparound taillights were LED-accented, and all light housings were embossed with “4DSC,” subtly indicating the new Maxima’s 4 Door Sport Coupe status.
Below the bumper, dual rolled, chrome-tipped exhaust finishers finished the look.
Intelligent Cruise Control not only kept my Maxima at a steady speed, it also maintained a set distance between me and the vehicle ahead, and could bring us to a complete stop if necessary, although it is not considered a “collision avoidance” technology.
My SR was equipped with Predictive Forward Collision Warning, which monitored the speed and distance of the vehicle in front and the vehicle in front of that one as well, detected sudden slowing or stopping, and alerted me in time to react. Forward Emergency Braking also monitored speed and proximity, and visually and audibly warned me to reduce speed, and could engage the brakes to help reduce the speed and severity of an unavoidable collision.
An Integrated Dynamics-control Mode brought three components: Active Trace Control to maintain precise turns; Active Engine Braking to slow the vehicle with less effort by downshifting the CVT under braking; and Active Ride Control to help maintain control by subtly applying the brakes to level the chassis if the vehicle is unexpectedly jolted by a bump or pothole. This is accomplished automatically, and is nearly indiscernible to driver or passengers.
The Remote Start Engine System with Intelligent Climate Control made it possible to start my SR and, if needed, heat or cool the cabin from as far away as 160 feet. The system could also defrost windows and warm the steering wheel.
In addition to the Advanced Air Bag system with occupant-classification sensors in the front, front seat-mounted side-impact air bags, and roof-mounted curtain side-impact and rollover head protection front and rear, my SR had high-strength steel side-door beams and hood-buckling creases.
Maxima is more than a stunning sports car. It is a comfortable, fun to drive luxury sedan with a coupelike appearance and lots of advanced technology and amenities. My tester had a Sport Floor Mat accessory package with a trunk mat and trunk net for $255.
With $825 destination charges, the total delivered price was $38,750.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.