When Nissan set out to put together the 8th generation Maxima in 2009, they weren’t looking to copy what was already out there in the large luxury sport sedan market. Instead, Nissan shrank the size of the Maxima a bit but upped the ante in terms of luxury options, interior comfort, and drivability. And with the 2016 Maxima SR they have once again nailed it with a perfect sized five-passenger luxury sport sedan . . . without the luxury price tag.
The Maxima comes with a 3.5 Liter DOHC 24-Valve V6 engine kicking out an impressive 300 horsepower. When driven in sport mode, this 5-passenger, four-door sedan transforms into a rocket ship with ferocious sounding exhaust notes and super quick throttle response. Nissan has completely redesigned its Continuously Variable Transmission which to me felt more responsive then previous CVT’s with more distinctive shift points that simulates smooth shifting as you pound away on the paddle shifters racing from zero to sixty in mere seconds. All around handling of this car is excellent. Cornering is tight and the steering and brakes are responsive when pushing this car to its limits, but yet it drives smooth and quiet on the highway.
With 5 trim packages to choose from ranging from $32,410 for the base S trim package to $39,860 for the top-of-the line Platinum, you can equip your Maxima as your budget will allow. The car I tested was equipped with the SR package which had just about every option I could ever want, other than a moon-roof (a huge dual panel panoramic moon-roof is included in the Platinum package). It came in deep blue pearl on the exterior with a charcoal leather package on the interior with Alcantara® inserts (even the dash was smartly leather covered). The interior leather on the seats and dash was double stitched with deep blue pearl stitching which brought the vibrant exterior color smartly into the cabin. This matching double stitched leather in the cabin is reminiscent of some of the interiors I have seen in $300,000 plus super cars. This is one of the most luxurious upscale interiors I have seen in a vehicle costing less then $40,000.
The exterior styling of this car is sleek, sharp and aggressive. This is not your ordinary 5-passenger, four-door sedan. The styling is not over the top like some of the severe angular designs you see on the road today but it is also not a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This car is the perfect combination of styling, performance, luxury, reliability and comfort. Some say it is hard to categorize the Maxima because it is smaller than its big luxury car rivals but larger than most mid-sized sedans. That’s fine with me. I don’t disagree. You can’t categorize it. You don’t need to. I think the Nissan Maxima (particularly when equipped with the SR or Platinum package) is literally a car in a class all its own. At under $40,000, it represents an outstanding opportunity for those looking for perhaps the perfect luxury sport sedan.