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Nissan Maxima Performance

Most sedan shoppers will be impressed with the redesigned 2016 Nissan Maxima's powerful engine and sporty handling, critics say, though some test drivers note that the Maxima's front-wheel drive design prevents it from being as purely athletic as Nissan's "4-Door Sports Car" branding would suggest.

  • "The all-new 2016 Nissan Maxima may not live up to its four-door sports car marketing hype, but it is more entertaining to drive than many of its rivals." -- Edmunds
  • "Even though Nissan bills the new Maxima as a '4-Door Sports Car,' this is no budget-conscious BMW M3. Instead, it's a sporty entry-level luxury sedan, and a pretty good one at that." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "For the average Joe that heads down to their local dealership, we predict they'll walk away impressed by the blend of sharp handling and a composed ride." -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Nissan Maxima comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that generates 300 horsepower. A continuously variable transmission (CVT), which functions like an automatic, is standard. According to the EPA, the 2016 Maxima gets 22/30 mpg city/highway, which is very good for a six-cylinder car.

Reviewers note that the 2016 Nissan Maxima has one of the most powerful non-turbo V6 engines available. Acceleration is quick for the class, they add, and the Maxima has ample highway passing power. Automotive journalists write that the Maxima's CVT is better than the CVTs in most competitors because it mimics the feel of a conventional automatic and provides a more direct sense of connection between the throttle and the engine.

  • "On the road, the V6 delivers as much punch as anything this side of a V8 or turbocharged V6." -- AutoTrader
  • "Acceleration is strong for the class, making highway merging and passing a stress-free affair. We estimate it'll reach 60 mph in a quick 6 seconds or so." -- Edmunds
  • "Nissan has spent a considerable amount of time refining the Xtronic CVT and this has paid off in the near-complete absence of that rubber-band feel that still plagues its competitors. The steps built into the transmission still feel a little artificial, but the Xtronic makes the right noises and the right movements, producing momentum when needed without undue noise." -- AutoWeek
  • "While CVTs aren't everyone's cup of tea, Nissan does a great job due in no small part to its 'D-Step' shift logic, which simulates gear changes." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

The 2016 Nissan Maxima feels agile for its size, according to reviewers, though some say it isn't as performance-oriented as Nissan's "4-Door Sports Car" slogan suggests due to its front-wheel drive layout. They note that it stays flat while cornering and has responsive steering and brakes. The SR model, which comes with a sport-tuned suspension, has tighter handling, though it also has a stiffer ride, according to critics. Test drivers write that non-SR models have a smooth, quiet highway ride that wouldn’t be out of place in a luxury sedan.

  • "The suspension holds the car flat through corners while the platform remains very stable. The steering is nicely weighted, and the car likes to cut through twisty corners with a sharpness not found in other midsize cars." -- Motor Trend
  • "Even though this is a 'midsize' sedan, the Maxima isn't a lightweight; still, it hides its size well when taking on the corners, and the suspension keeps things in check and mostly flat when going through the twisties at a good pace. Overall, the car feels lighter and more nimble than its exterior dimensions would lead one to expect." -- AutoWeek
  • "On the highway, the smooth ride and quiet interior are pure luxury sedan." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The SR model comes closest to living up to the marketing tag line. It has stiffer settings for the shocks, springs and stabilizer bars, upgrades to 19-in wheels instead of 18s and adds a front chassis damper bar to make the front end more rigid. The result is a more agile car, but the otherwise supple ride becomes rather firm." -- AutoTrader
  • "The Maxima reacts pleasantly to sudden steering inputs - turn-in is particularly sharp - as are brake and accelerator inputs." -- Autoblog
  • "Is the Maxima a true 'Four Door Sports Car'? With front-wheel-drive and a CVT, it's a stretch to validate Nissan's branding, but it's certainly a strong entry, both dynamically and in a straight line." -- Left Lane News
Review Last Updated: 6/22/15

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