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2020 Nissan Maxima overview: Not your typical four-door


The Maxima has aged properly. It is nonetheless aggressive but good-looking.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

At present’s household vehicles are typically fairly sedate. Few of them break new floor on the subject of seems to be or efficiency, however Nissan desires you to think about its Maxima as one thing completely different, a big sedan with a great deal of soul. After testing a 2020 Platinum mannequin, for essentially the most half, I agree with this framing… principally. 

LikeDecent infotainment techSmooth, potent V6Brisk acceleration

Do not LikeLimited rear-seat headroomIffy leather-based qualityNo ProPilot Help

Sporty seems to be inside and outside

When the current-generation mannequin launched 5 years in the past, the automaker touted it as a “four-door sports activities automotive,” a descriptor Nissan first used with the third-generation Maxima in 1989. Sure, it is a bit hyperbolic, however at the least when parked subsequent to a Toyota Avalon or Chrysler 300 the Maxima seems to be extra attention-grabbing, with its aggressive grille, pumped-up fenders and quad exhaust shops, issues that indicate it is a bit rowdier than common.   

The present-generation Maxima isn’t any spring hen, even after final yr’s refresh. Nonetheless, its inside, particularly in Platinum trim with the Reserve bundle, has aged fairly properly. The general design is engaging, with easy-to-use secondary controls and a comparatively easy structure. The middle stack is angled barely towards the driving force for a extra cockpitlike really feel.

My top-shelf Platinum-trim tester’s inside trimmings are good, with loads of gentle plastics on the door panels and dashboard, plus a sprinkle of distinction coloration stitching to liven issues up. This automotive’s steering wheel feels good within the hand, being each chunky and properly sculpted, with a flat backside for an additional sprint of sport. Thoughtfully, the tiller’s Rakuda tan inserts match the leather-based used on the seats and doorways. Form of an orangish-brown, this semianiline cow conceal seems to be upscale, particularly with the diamond-stitch sample Nissan designers utilized to it. Sadly, this leather-based is not all that particular, feeling extra like a vinyl bathe curtain than any pure materials. 

Rear-seat air vents maintain passengers touring in financial system class completely satisfied; ditto for the heated outboard seats, that are included within the Reserve Bundle, a modest $1,140 additional. The Maxima’s again bench is supportive and comfy, providing a great quantity of legroom, nevertheless it’s not significantly pleasant for taller people. If I do not slouch, my noggin hits the headliner. 

Tried-and-true tech 

Ensuring I by no means get misplaced, this Maxima includes a NissanConnect infotainment system with built-in navigation on an 8-inch show. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are normal throughout the mannequin vary. That multimedia array seems to be fairly outdated, with some less-than-modern graphics, nevertheless it’s straightforward to make use of and surprisingly responsive, with no delays when typing out addresses or zooming in or out on the navigation map, which you are able to do with the touchscreen or utilizing the {hardware} knob on the middle console. It is good that you’ve a few methods to work together with the infotainment system. 

Nissan Security Defend 360 is normal throughout the Maxima lineup. It features a vary of superior driver aids like automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Adaptive cruise management and traffic-sign recognition are normal on SV fashions and up, although the helpful however considerably gritty-looking 360-degree Round View Monitor is simply included on SR and Platinum grades. Nissan’s wonderful ProPilot Help adaptive cruise management with lane centering shouldn’t be supplied on the Maxima, so, unhappy trombone. 

The driving force aids this automotive does provide are OK. Blind-spot monitoring is all the time a great factor to have, attentively reminding you of visitors in adjoining lanes. As for the adaptive cruise management, it is completely enough, adjusting automobile pace as required by surrounding visitors. Naturally, lane centering can be significantly appreciated. 

The Maxima’s inside is fashionable and comfy, even when rear-seat headroom is a bit restricted.

Craig Cole/Roadshow
CVTs get a nasty rap 

Most automotive fanatics hate repeatedly variable transmissions, and it is easy to grasp why. All too usually, they’re teamed with droning, malnourished four-cylinder engines, a mixture that is about as nice as being locked in a room with an countless Dave Matthews Band playlist blaring. However they do not need to be torture, because the Maxima proves. When a potent and refined powerplant is factored into the driveline equation, all of the sudden a CVT’s dangerous habits turns into rather a lot much less objectionable. 

With 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque on faucet, the Maxima’s 3.5-liter V6 offers loads of efficiency, getting as much as freeway pace simply if not fairly immediately. Even when wound out, this engine is easy and relatively hushed, sounding prefer it’s working someplace off within the distance relatively than just a few inches forward of your toes. 

Powertrain refinement and respectable torque make the usual Xtronic CVT way more nice to stay with than you may count on. However one thing referred to as D-Step shifting logic performs an necessary function as properly. This characteristic simulates gear modifications below average to heavy acceleration, which helps cut back droning powertrain sounds. Past that, the Maxima can even acknowledge if it is going by way of a high-G nook and keep in a decrease transmission ratio that can assist you energy out of the flip. 

Naturally aspirated V6 engines are an endangered species as of late.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

There are, nonetheless, a few downsides to the Maxima’s CVT. It may be shifted manually with the gear selector, however solely SR fashions include paddle shifters, which is a bit unusual. Additionally, when cruising at speeds round 40 mph, the drivetrain can really feel a bit gritty as a result of the transmission likes to maintain the engine revs as little as bodily attainable for improved gasoline financial system.  

And that proper there may be why automakers go for CVTs. These “gearboxes” can considerably enhance a automobile’s effectivity, and the Maxima isn’t any exception. This automotive is rated at 20 miles per gallon metropolis and 30 mpg freeway. Mixed, the EPA says it ought to return 24 mpg, although in typical driving I am averaging round 29.7, a formidable determine. 

Competent dynamics 

There is a syrupiness to the Maxima’s steering, which is of the electro-hydraulic selection, a sure viscosity that is just a little arduous to explain. The texture by way of its wheel is one in every of denseness: It is unexpectedly heavy. Whereas not overly exact, this sedan remains to be fairly agile, and it tracks as straight as a Japanese bullet prepare, besides in corners the place there generally is a tiny wisp of torque steer below heavy acceleration.  

Journey high quality flirts with outright stiffness, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a step away from crossing that line. The Maxima feels properly managed and physique roll in corners is mainly nonexistent. As for this Nissan’s binders, they’ve a pleasant chunk to them, and the pedal is kid’s play to modulate, being neither sink-to-the-floor squishy nor overly keen at preliminary utility.  

The visually attention-grabbing styling continues to this Nissan’s rear.

Craig Cole/Roadshow
Nonetheless a good-looking, sporty-ish four-door   

The present-generation Nissan Maxima is nice sufficient to drive and it nonetheless seems to be nice 5 years after first happening sale. It is arduous to argue with what the automaker has delivered right here, CVT and all, although some drivers may object to the value. A base Maxima S stickers for about $35,375, together with $925 in vacation spot charges. That is about 4 grand greater than an entry-level Chrysler 300, although it undercuts the Toyota Avalon by about $1,500. The highest-shelf Platinum mannequin kicks off at round 42 grand, however with the Reserve bundle, a rear diffuser, underbody lighting and some different odds and ends my overview unit checks out for nearly $46,000, which is sort of a bit of cash for a mass-market machine. Nonetheless, if you’d like a sporty four-door that is on the bigger facet and options considerably aggressive styling, the Maxima suits the invoice.

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