Nissan rolled out the eighth-generation of its midsize Maxima sport sedan for 2016, with a complete restyling that included all-new sheet metal, deeply sculpted lines using a special stamping technique, and a new grille, headlights and front end.
For 2017, Maxima prices begin at $32,910 for the entry level S model, and range as high as $40,340 for the Platinum model. In between are the SV ($34,890), SL ($37,250), and SR ($38,030).
Added mid-2017 on the S and SV models as standard equipment were predictive forward collision warning and forward emergency braking. These two high-tech safety features were already included on the SL, SR and Platinum versions.
This newest version of the Maxima brought flowing lines and a “floating” roof, giving the four-door sedan a distinctive sport coupe look. Nissan calls it the “4-Door Sports Car.”
For this report, I drove the stunning Maxima SR with the Midnight Edition package ($1,195). It came in super black with charcoal premium ascot leather seating with Alcantara inserts.
My car also had the powerful-looking gloss black 19-inch wheels with five sculpted “V” spokes, rear diffuser, and sport spoiler (both gloss black, no matter the color of the car), all part of the Midnight Edition package.
Splash Guards were required with the Midnight package, adding $190. A sport floor mat package for $260 also included a trunk mat and trunk net. The floor mats had a brushed-metal Maxima logo.
Maxima’s gloss-black roof support pillars blended seamlessly into the glasswork, suggesting the appearance of a fighter jet canopy – the inspiration for the 2016 redesign.
The now familiar V-Motion grille introduced on the Nissan Sport Sedan Concept in 2014, boomerang-style headlights with LED signature daytime running lights, and two-piece taillights with their own integrated LED signature are carried forward for 2017.
A subtle reminder of Maxima’s sports car heritage, “4DSC” is embossed within the taillight reflectors and the headlights. Large dual exhaust chrome tailpipe finishers add to the futuristic appearance.
“Kick-up” C-pillars accentuate the horizontal lines of the rear windows, while a strip of chrome from just behind the A-pillar to rear of the C-pillar draws the eye back, making the car appear longer.
Also for model year 2017, Maxima includes standard Apple CarPlay connectivity on all grade levels, the first Nissan to feature the technology. CarPlay connects an iPhone to the vehicle via a USB cable for easy, convenient control of music, navigation, phone, texts and more than a dozen popular third-party apps.
Two new accessory packages are added – the Medallion Package ($1,345) and Dynamic Package ($990) – in addition to the Midnight Edition.
Medallion, for the Platinum model, includes 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, exterior ground lighting, premium spoiler, illuminated kick plates, and interior accent lighting. Dynamic, for the SV, includes 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, illuminated kick plates, side rocker molding, and premium spoiler.
All models have a 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine and a continuously variable automatic transmission with large, sporty column-mounted aluminum shifter paddles.
Drive Mode Select offers two distinct shift options – normal, for smooth, refined, fuel-efficient operation; and sport, for sharper throttle response, heavier steering, quicker shifting and a satisfying roar from the engine.
Nine exterior colors – including elegant storm blue, intriguing bordeaux black, and striking forged bronze – and three interior colors are available, with seating in cloth or leather, all depending on model chosen.
Heated and cooled “Zero Gravity” seats, contoured to the body’s natural position, supporting the lower and mid back to reduce fatigue and back pain, were new for 2016. Bolstering at the right height and width helped keep us comfortably in position.
The premium made-to-order interior, with contrasting blue stitching on the dash, armrests, center console, shift knob, bolsters and diamond quilted seat inserts, liquid chrome diamond faceted finishers across the door panels and around the dash, and LED ambient lighting were driver-centered – with the center stack rotated seven degrees toward the driver.
The multifunction eight-inch color display allows pinch/zoom/swipe functions, and displays NissanConnect with navigation, climate settings, rearview camera images, and CarPlay Apps. Display commander (just behind the gearshift) lets the driver toggle up and down and side-to-side, scroll, rotate and control the entire system without looking down or touching the display screen.
To complement the navigation system, “Swipe to Meter” allowed directions to be sent from the center stack screen to the seven-inch advanced drive assist display behind the steering wheel, using a simple swipe of the multi-function screen.
The advanced drive assist helps the driver keep eyes on the road rather than a smartphone or the center stack display. The screen has 3-D depth and a tilt design for the best visualization of incoming calls/texts, navigation instructions, service warnings, and more.
The heated premium ascot double-stitched leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel with Alcantara inserts at grip points was also driver friendly, allowing extra leg clearance in the snug cockpit. Incidentally, a manual thigh extension helped make the driver’s seat extra comfortable for my short legs.
A Bose 11-speaker sound system, with active noise cancellation and active sound enhancement, supported satellite radio, XM Traffic/Travel Link, streaming audio via Bluetooth, and hands-free phone. Voice control was available for navigation and audio functions.
Two front illuminated USB connection ports located in a cubby under the center stack (with enough room for two phones) charged our phones during use with the system.
Audio enhancements for 2017 include more optimal placement of tweeters for better staging, more speakers and the introduction of center point surround stage and a driver’s seat optimization mode for a driver-focused experience.
In addition to being a driver’s car, Maxima SR offers a wide range of safety, security and driving aids. They include the predictive forward collision warning and forward emergency braking, along with intelligent cruise control, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot warning.
Our Maxima SR was very comfortable and fun to drive, getting attention wherever I went, with sports car-like acceleration and handling even in normal mode.
The split rear seatback folded 60/40 using straps under the trunk lip, and there were coin slots in the center console. The sides of the center console were padded, the shift paddles were large and impressive, and entry/exit was easy, front and rear.
With $1,645 in options and $885 destination charges, the total delivered price of my 2017 Maxima SR was $40,560.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.