I have long been a Nissan fan since owning my first car – a 1984 300ZX (Z31) Turbo. I currently own two (second generation Z32) 300ZX’s and am well acquainted with the Nissan product line through the network of friends in my car club – Ontario Z-Car Owners Association. When Nissan Canada recently gave me the opportunity to road test any vehicle on the media fleet (GT-R wasn’t available), I chose the all-new 2016 Maxima SR because that is the model that most appealed to me as a family man who wants a sport performance sedan.
I had the pleasure of using the Maxima for two weeks and put on 1,300 KM in a variety of driving conditions. The Maxima is a full-size luxury sedan, which Nissan re-dubbed their “4-door sports car.” Indeed the current eighth generation Maxima is athletic with a low wide stance and sharp muscular lines. When I first saw the new Maxima I didn’t care for its radical chiseled contours but after spending time with the blue beast (Deep Blue Pearl), the look grew on me, as did being spoiled by this level of luxury and performance.
While filling up at the gas station (premium fuel required), a gent at the pump beside me with the previous generation Maxima asked, “Is that the new Maxima?” I said, “Yes, what do you think?” He came over to take a closer look and commented “Really nice, I’ll seriously consider it when my lease is up.” Friends and family were also impressed with my posh new ride. My kids wanted to keep it so I had to explain that it was a temporary loaner. I drove the Maxima to my monthly car club meeting in Toronto and most of the guys quite liked the new design. The majority of our club members own Nissan/Datsun Z cars and GT-Rs so a sport sedan with this level of performance appeals to driving enthusiasts.
The 3.5L DOHC 24-valve V6 puts down 300 horsepower and 261 lb/ft of torque mated to a smooth CVT transmission with Drive Mode Selector and manual mode. With 61% new parts from the previous generation V6, power and fuel efficiency has increased which placed the Maxima’s new VQ-series engine on the prestigious WardsAuto annual “Wards 10 Best Engines” list for 2016.
Further accolades came from the U.S.-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) who awarded the 2016 Nissan Maxima a “Top Safety Pick Plus” safety rating, which is the group’s highest designation. The Maxima offers an extensive range of available safety, security and driving aids, including Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Cruise Control, Forward Emergency Braking, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Warning and Driver Attention Alert.
During the long drive on Highway 401 from Mississauga to a family gathering in Chatham, I experienced many of these safety features. In particular, I found the Intelligent Cruise Control and Predictive Forward Collision Warning to be useful. I’d rather have the car tell me that I’m getting too close before my wife voices her concern from the passenger seat.
The interior exudes luxury with an abundance of soft touch surfaces and premium-quality leather seats with suede diamond-quilted inserts (unique to the SR model). Chrome accents, colour stitching and ambient lighting give the interior and upscale feel that rivals more expensive luxury nameplates. The driver command centre is inspired by fighter jet cockpits with all of the pertinent information and dials within easy reach. There are two LED displays for infotainment and performance statistics. The main 8” touch screen display uses the latest swipe and pinch technology for connectivity and is also controlled by the multi dial selector knob on the shifter console.
The most fun I had driving the Maxima was on a sunny early winter day on a spirited jaunt through the Halton Hills countryside. I stopped at several locations to take photos and put the Maxima through the paces with several runs along Forks Of The Credit Road in Caledon, one of my favourite roads to drive. It was interesting to feel the difference between normal and sport mode, which tightens the suspension dampening on the SR model for more agile handling utilizing the 4-wheel independent suspension with monotube rear shock absorbers.
My 1990 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo also has an adjustment switch for normal (touring) and sport shock absorber dampening. It’s no gimmick, I can tell the difference in ride quality and handling capability for both sports cars as the Maxima felt more confident and capable when taking hard corners at high speed. The paddle shifters (SR model only) ensure quick and precise gear shifting and the tiptronic function on the shifter gives a sports car feel.
With Van Halen blasting through the awesome 11-speaker premium Bose stereo system I felt euphoric, “on top of the world for a little while,” as I called on the full 300 ponies many times during my test drives. I also love the sound of the raspy deep exhaust note from the large dual chrome tip finishers, reminiscent of the 370Z sports coupe.
I would have loved to keep the Maxima as it was quite an adjustment getting back into my Acura CSX daily driver with half the power. I’ll be in the market for a new car soon and the Nissan Maxima and Altima will be on my comparison list. There’s a lot of competition in the luxury sedan segment however Maxima has an advantage in it’s price range with bold radical styling and performance plus exceptionally good fuel economy for a large sedan. I averaged a respectable 9.6L/100KM combination of city/highway and I certainly was not easy on the throttle.
There are four Maxima trim levels, each building on the previous model: SV $35,900, SL $38,950, SR $41,100 and Platinum $43,300. Aside from the already mentioned sport tuned characteristics, the SR model has unique features including aluminum sport pedals and 19-inch alloy wheels with Goodyear 245/40R19 all-season tires.
The 2016 Nissan Maxima SR is a luxury performance sedan that I could live with everyday and justify the extra cost of operation with premium fuel. My only complaints are there should be an all-wheel drive option. And as good as the CVT transmission is, some old school driving enthusiasts will still prefer a 6-speed manual option and rear-wheel-drive. The power, performance and luxury of the Maxima SR is an excellent value compared to the Infiniti Q50 AWD Sport starting at $47,450. Nissan’s flagship sedan is back in the all-new 2016 Maxima 4-door sports car. This story will have a happy ending when I have a Maxima permanently parked in my driveway.
2016 Nissan Maxima SR at a glance
BODY STYLE: Full-size performance sedan
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, CVT with manual shift mode
ENGINE: 3.5-litre 24-valve DOHC V6, 300 hp, 261 lb/ft of torque
FUEL ECONOMY: 10.9/7.8/9.5L/100 km city/highway/combined
CARGO CAPACITY: 14.3 cu ft
PRICE: SV $35,900; SL $38,950; SR $41,100; Platinum $43,300
COMPETITION: Acura TLX, Toyota Avalon, Audi A4, Hyundai Genesis, Lincoln MKZ
2016 Nissan Maxima SR
- Cool family car with radical styling and a sporty aggressive stance
- Upscale interior with premium quality materials to rival luxury nameplates
- Refined V6 produces 300 horsepower and 261 lb-ft of torque
- Good fuel efficiency for a full-size sedan
- Fantastic handling with adjustable shock dampers
- Front wheel drive only, no option for rear or AWD
- No option for 6-speed manual transmission
- Interior is less spacious than other full-size sedans
- Higher cost of operation with premium fuel