Nissan Maxima Aims for Luxury Feel

Nissan’s large sedan soldiers on with a more premium look and upmarket features than ever before, including standard navigation.

April 2, 2015

5 Min Read
3916 Nissan Maxima
'16 Nissan Maxima.

After teasing the car in pictures for the past two years, Nissan reveals full details of its eighth-generation Maxima large sedan at the 2015 New York International Auto Show.

The new ’16 Maxima, on sale this summer in the U.S., has a bolder appearance and leans more toward the luxury realm than the model it replaces, which debuted in summer 2008.

“Ultimately, history will decide where the new design fits in the legacy of the previous seven generations of Maximas that have gone before,” Mamoru Aoki, executive design director-Nissan, says in a statement. “But one thing is certain: there will be no mistaking the ’16 Maxima for any other ‘midsize sedan-plus’ in the segment.”

The look of the production Maxima replicates strongly that of the Sport Sedan Concept from the 2014 North American International Auto Show.

“A virtual clone of the stunning Nissan Sport Sedan Concept, the new Maxima is 1.3 ins. (33 mm) lower and 2.2 ins. (56 mm) longer than the previous-generation design,” Nissan says in a statement. “It is also lighter and offers greatly increased torsional rigidity, all of which help Maxima push the performance envelope in its segment.”

The car still is powered by Nissan’s 3.5L VQ V-6, 14-time winner of a Ward’s 10 Best Engines award, but Nissan says 60% of the parts are changed from the 3.5L in the outgoing seventh-generation Maxima.

Sodium-filled valves, a technology taken from the Nissan GT-R, help the V-6 achieve specific output of 85.7 hp/L.

Total engine output is 300 hp, up from 290 hp in ’15, but maximum torque remains 261 lb.-ft. (354 Nm).

Nissan estimates fuel economy will rise sharply in the new Maxima to 22 mpg (10.7 L/100 km) city and 30 mpg (7.8 L/100 km) highway. The outgoing model is rated at 19/26 mpg (12.4-9.0 L/100 km) city/highway.

The V-6 is paired with Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission, which gets new shift logic to hold rpms in high-G cornering. This allows “for seamless re-acceleration on corner exit,” Nissan says.

For the first time the Maxima offers drive modes. Sport mode results in quicker throttle response, weightier steering and more aggressive shifting under braking. The car’s Active Sound Enhancement system pipes more engine sound into the cabin.

Maxima Torsional Rigidity Up 25%

More high-strength steel content in the new Maxima vs. the outgoing model is said to improve ride and handling, increasing torsional rigidity 25% and lowering weight 82 lbs. (37 kg), for a power-to-weight ratio that Nissan claims is better than the ’15 BMW 335i or ’15 Acura TLX V-6 grade.

Nissan says the ’16 Maxima marks the first time it has used 1.2GPa steel in a sedan.

Available in S, SV, SL, SR and Platinum grades, the car continues with an independent subframe-mounted strut/coil spring design front suspension, and an independent multilink double wishbone rear suspension with ZF Sachs monotube dampers. Front and rear stabilizer bars are bigger than those in the seventh-gen Maxima.

The new SR trim level is for the performance-oriented customer and has unique suspension damper tuning, a bigger front stabilizer bar and a Performance Chassis Damper, which Nissan calls a segment first. It is installed on the chassis’ front section to help limit high-frequency vibration associated with a stiffer suspension.

The panoramic moonroof available on the SL and Platinum grades isn’t available on the SR to help lower its center of gravity.

The Active Ride Control featured on the SR’s Integrated Dynamic-control Module system “uses targeted brake applications after the vehicle encounters a bump or undulation to immediately improve the level of the body, allowing the SR to offer a ride quality that defies its sporting intention.”

Nissan calls the design of the Maxima “groundbreaking,” and it’s hard to argue with that as the proportions are unlike anything seen before in a mass-market 4-door.

The car’s wraparound styling was inspired by aircraft flown by the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and arises from a newly developed metal stamping technique, leading to the Maxima’s deeply scalloped doors.

The 4-door wears the Nissan brand’s V-Motion grille as well as boomerang headlights with standard LED daytime running lamps. Decorating the rear of the car are dual exhaust chrome tailpipe finishers. Standard wheels are 18-in. aluminum-alloys, while the SR gets 19-in. alloys with a diamond-cut machine finish.

Blacked-out A-, B- and C-pillars lend the look of a floating roof and “wraparound canopy appearance.”

As an Easter egg of sorts, the Maxima’s headlights and taillights are embossed with “4DSC” for its 4-door sports car heritage, Nissan says.

Interior Goal: Rival Luxury Models

The goal of the redesigned Maxima interior was to “truly rival luxury vehicles,” Nissan says.

Elements that help it achieve this goal are padding and contrast stitching on the instrument panel, doors and sides of the console, available ambient lighting and premium Ascot leather seating surfaces with diamond-quilted inserts, as well as Alcantara micro-suede surfaces.

The interior has a center stack angled seven degrees toward the driver to emphasize a “command central” cockpit feel, a floating console with easy-to-reach buttons (the car’s start switch is on the console and pulses when a driver enters the car), and what Nissan is calling Display Commander control. Placed on the console, it allows for fingertip control of the center display.

Navigation will be standard on ’16 Maximas as part of the NissanConnect telematics system. An 8-in. (203-mm) display screen, voice recognition, SiriusXM, Online Search with Google and hands-free text messaging assistant for Android also are standard.

Upgrade features include an 11-speaker audio system by Bose, whose development team benchmarked audio systems in cars several classes above the Maxima, a heated steering wheel and remote start.

Many safety technologies are standard on mid and upper grades, including adaptive cruise control, blindspot information and rear-cross-traffic alert.

Nissan says with the Maxima’s passenger space it wanted to break away from a standard beige-and-black scheme. The SR grade has a Camel color option, while other grades offer a choice of Charcoal with blue stitching and a lighter beige, dubbed Cashmere, which contrasts more sharply with black trim pieces.

The Nissan Maxima will continue to be assembled at the automaker’s Smyrna, TN, plant.

Pricing is expected to begin at $32,410, up $1,120 from ’15.

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