NAPA, CA – Nissan’s flagship Maxima sedan and Murano CUV get midcycle makeovers, receiving styling updates along with a host of electronic and trim upgrades.
The refreshes are important for Nissan’s premium car and CUV offerings that according to Wards Intelligence data collectively accounted for 125,884 deliveries in 2018. That included an 8.9% uptick for the Murano, offsetting a 37.4% swoon for the Maxima amid a market rapidly shifting away from sedans to CUVs.
Murano sees mild styling changes for ’19.
Product cadence dictates the two top-of-the-line models follow the all-new for ’19 Altima sedan and Rogue CUV in getting full makeovers, including the highly acclaimed 2.0L VC-Turbo 4-cyl. now offered in the Altima.
The variable-compression engine, a 2019 Wards 10 Best Engines winner, debuted earlier this year in the Infiniti QX50 CUV and is expected to replace the automaker’s 3.5L V-6 in many models including the Maxima and Murano when the next generations arrive in about three years.
In the meantime, the 3.5L – a 2016 Wards 10 Best Engines recipient – is no slouch. The naturally aspirated engine provides good motivation in each application, with plenty of low-end grunt and ample power across the rev band. The engine produces 300 hp and 261 lb.-ft. (354 Nm) in the Maxima and 260 hp and 240 lb.-ft. (325 Nm) in the front- or all-wheel-drive Murano.
The engine is paired with a well-managed and surprisingly unobtrusive continuously variable transmission that is among the best in the business for providing simulated shifts that closely mimic a step-automatic gearbox.
Out on the road, the Maxima makes its sport sedan intentions evident in excellent handling and a pleasingly racy exhaust accompaniment. Though heavier and taller, the Murano also holds the road well while quieting bumps for a smooth and stable ride.
Upgrades to the two vehicles’ safety systems and user interfaces include a rear-seat reminder to avoid forgetting pets, children or other items in the back seat. Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 is now available, adding technology such as forward automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blindspot warning, lane-departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert and braking. These build on the vehicles’ already substantial driver aids including lane-keeping assistance and full-range adaptive cruise control.
“The technology is not there for the sake of technology,” notes Anne Corrao, Maxima marketing manager. “Technology is there to enhance and assist the driving experience.
Exterior changes include improved and restyled headlamps and taillamps for both models, with the Maxima getting a more-pronounced “V-motion” grille. Interior upgrades include color and trim changes for both vehicles and new SR and Platinum Reserve (left) interior trim levels for the Maxima.
The Maxima is offered in five trims levels ranging from the base S model starting at $33,950 to the Platinum checking in at $41,440, while the Murano goes with four levels from the front-drive S starting at $31,270 to the all-wheel-drive Platinum trim at $45,130. Prices do not include destination charges of $895 for Maxima and $995 for Murano.