Emma Jayne Williams

Nissan’s Maxima sport sedan returns for 2018, with prices starting at $33,020

The eighth-generation Nissan Maxima, completely revised two years ago, has some changes for 2018, including the addition of standard Android Auto; Carnelian Red, a stunning new deep brownish red exterior color; and new black accents on the dramatic V-motion grille.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, standard across the line, provide easy, convenient control of music, navigation, phone, texts and more than a dozen popular third-party apps.

The Maxima SR Night Edition returns for 2018, as well, along with Maxima’s dramatic design language in the form of signature boomerang lights, kick-up C-pillars and unique floating roof appearance.

Late 2017 additions included Intelligent Forward Collision Warning and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB). which can engage the brakes when a forward collision is possible.

Five well-equipped models are available: Maxima S, SV, SL, SR, and Platinum – priced from $33,020 to $40,690.

Maxima’s upscale exterior with a low profile and wide stance, belies its sports car heart -- a 300-horsepower 3.5-liter VQ-series V-6 engine and performance-oriented Xtronic transmission with shift paddles on the steering wheel.

The Xtronic transmission, with its lack of fixed ratios, has the advantage of always being in the right gear at the right time for sports-car acceleration from a standing start and smooth re-acceleration coming out of turns.

Drive Mode Selector with Sport and Normal modes adjusts driving dynamics as well as Active Sound Enhancement tuning. Sport mode increases throttle response, and transmission programming changes for more-aggressive shifting under braking. The ASE further amplifies the engine note in the cabin.

Maxima is built on a platform of high-strength steel for rigidity and lighter weight, which provides refined handling and ride comfort. Standard four-wheel power-assisted/vented disc brakes and Anti-lock Braking System, Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist provide responsive braking, while steering is speed-sensitive hydro-electric power-assisted.

Standard wheels are 18-inch machined-finish aluminum-alloy with dark-painted inserts, wearing all-season tires.

The low, sculpted and streamlined body with deeply sculpted doors presents a sweeping aerodynamic profile with a jet fighter look from the floating roof appearance, blacked-out pillars, and kick-up C-pillars.

In the front, the bold signature V-Motion grille with new black accents extends from the top of the fascia to the bottom of the bumper. Boomerang-style headlights have LED Signature Daytime Running Lights; deep hood creases extend from the top of the grille to the A-pillar, and strong character lines extend from the headlights, curving high around the wheel arches to the door panels and sweeping over the rear wheel arches to the taillights.

Two-piece taillights complete the distinctive lighting theme with their own LED signature, with a chrome accent connecting them across the trunk lid.

A Dual Panel Panoramic Moonroof (standard on SL and Platinum models) accents the upper canopy look and gives passengers an uninhibited view of the sky. Large dual exhaust chrome tailpipe finishers complete the look.

Six exterior colors are available: Super Black, Brilliant Silver, Gun Metallic, Deep Blue Pearl and two premium, extra cost shades – Pearl White and the new Carnelian Red, $395 each.

My Maxima Platinum was the gorgeous dark Carnelian Red – carnelian is a brownish-red mineral used as a semi-precious gemstone – with Cashmere Premium Ascot Leather seating, and Charcoal dash, upper door panels, door armrests, center console and steering wheel. A Charcoal Ascot leather interior with blue contrast stitching is also available.

Inside, the focus was on the driver, with a center stack angled seven degrees toward the driver, a higher floating console with luxurious contrast-stitched padding, and key controls, including a Display Commander control, within easy reach. The standard Nissan Intelligent Key start switch, also on the console, pulses when the driver enters.

The luxurious interior featured stitching on the instrument panel, doors and console, Interior Accent Lighting, diamond-quilted seat inserts, unique Mahogany Wood faceted trim on the dash and doors, and a heated sporty D-shaped (flat-bottom) steering wheel -- nice on cool mornings.

Zero Gravity sport-bolstered front seats were extra soft with three layers of foam, heated and cooled for even more comfort. The passenger seat had a power height adjustment, new for 2018, so even short passengers had a good view.

Technology included NissanConnect with Navigation and Services, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an 8.0-inch color display with swipe and pinch control, Voice Recognition, iPod interface (and other compatible devices) with two front illuminated USB ports, SirusXM Traffic and Travel Link, Bluetooth Hands-free Phone and Streaming Audio, and Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant.

The swipe function allows the driver to move the map from the center display to the Advanced Drive Assist Display in the center of the instrument cluster. Nissan Connect with Navigation and Services included automatic collision notification, remote start via smartphone, emergency call, stolen vehicle locator and more.

Entertainment was provided by an 11-speaker Bose audio system with Center Point Surround Stage technology and a driver’s seat optimization mode, the ultimate premium audio experience. Two illuminated USB inputs in a media bin on the console large enough for an iPhone 6 Plus allowed music playback, while a pair of USB ports supplied power for passengers in the rear.

Laminated glass on the windshield and front door windows (usually reserved for upscale luxury vehicles) and Active Noise Cancellation (included with the Bose audio system, works like noise canceling headphones) kept the cabin exceptionally quiet.

The Active Sound Enhancement system provided an authentic engine note during animated driving, with “Sport” mode allowing an even higher engine note just for fun.

My Maxima had luxury convenience features such as a heated/power tilt/telescoping steering wheel with “Easy Entry” (lifts and retracts the steering wheel), Around View Monitor (helps maneuver in tight parking spots, around low obstacles), Remote Start via Key Fob and a power rear sunshade.

All the latest safety equipment is standard on the Platinum model, including Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Intelligent Cruise Control, Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

The standard Intelligent Driver Alertness system monitors steering inputs and alerts the driver audibly and visually when drowsy/inattentive driving is detected.

Nissan’s Advanced Air Bag System includes occupant classification sensor, front seat-mounted side-impact air bags, and roof-mounted curtain side-impact air bags with rollover sensors for front and rear head protection. Zone Body construction with front and rear crumple zones is designed to absorb and deflect crash energy away from the passenger cabin.

The Tire Pressure Monitoring system with Easy-Fill Tire Alert helps maintain correct tire inflation for safety and economy.

My Maxima Platinum also had rain-detecting windshield wipers, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, and driver-side memory seat, outside mirrors and steering wheel.

The Maxima Platinum is roomy, with lots of amenities, safety equipment and technology, and is very attractive – I had several compliments from random strangers. It’s EPA rated at 21 mpg city/30 highway. I achieved 27.6 mpg driving a mix of neighborhood and highway.

Total delivered price for my 2018 Maxima Platinum was $41,970, including the special paint and $885 destination charges.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at