The all-new 2016 Nissan Maxima is closely modeled on the sport sedan concept the OEM introduced at last year’s Detroit Auto Show. For the past couple decades, Nissan has marketed its flagship four-door as the sporty alternative to its long list of family-friendly rivals.
The eighth-generation Maxima follows that mantra with a 300-horsepower powerplant and highly exaggerated exterior styling.
The new engine retains its predecessor’s 3.5-liter displacement and 261 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque but adds 10 horsies and better fuel economy. The 2016 boasts a combined rating of 25 miles per gallon (mpg), beating the outgoing model by 3 mpg and reaching the elusive 30-mpg mark in highway driving.
Much of the improvement can be chalked up to refinements along the powertrain as well as lighter, higher-strength steel in the frame, which helped the new Maxima shed 82 pounds. The 2016 is also 1.3 inches lower and 2.2 inches longer, creating a lower coefficient of drag and a sleeker appearance.
Nissan’s designers completely overhauled the sheet metal, adding a goofy, gaping, V-shaped grille offset by boomerang headlights and trailed by heavy scallops carved into the sides. The new look is completed by blacked-out A, B and C pillars designed to create a “floating roof” effect.
The relatively subdued cabin features upgraded materials, surfaces and controls. It also features a highline-worthy list of standard equipment, including remote ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an 8-inch touchscreen with Nissan’s ConnectSM interface, navigation and rearview camera.
The new Maxima comes in base S, SV, SL, SR and Premium trims. The S brings 18-inch wheels, an eight-speaker stereo system with a six-CD changer, dual automatic climate control and more.
The SV adds upgraded front seats, leather upholstery and front and rear parking sensors. The SL brings a dual-pane, panoramic moonroof, adaptive cruise control and an 11-speaker stereo, while the sporty SR sheds the moonroof but adds 19-inch wheels, active braking, premium leather, suede trim and LED headlights.
The top-of-the-line Premium trim includes all of the above — including the moonroof — as well as driver alerts and memory settings, a 360-degree parking camera system and auto wipers. Fleet buyers must choose a trim level and stick with it because, aside from a few exterior accessories, no add-on options are available.
The 2016 Maxima is in showrooms now with a starting MSRP of $33,235.