In many ways the Nissan Maxima has been underrated. But when you consider the Nissan Maxima is priced under $34,000, delivers a sumptuous leather interior, lots of luxury inclusions and one of the world’s sweetest V6 engines…well for those considering a large-size sedan that all adds up to a compelling proposition by any measure.
Car Showroom has just spent a week in the latest Nissan Maxima – the 250 ST-L - and to be honest we were sad to give it back…we would be happy for ‘Big Max’ to remain in our garage. Sure it’s no Nissan GT-R, but the Nissan Maxima is a competent all-rounder, which impressed (again!) with its refinement, performance and family-friendly spaciousness.
Nissan Maxima Overview
The 250 ST-L is the latest entry-level Nissan Maxima and carries a $33,990 list price. That’s $1,000 less than the entry-level Toyota Aurion and a whopping $6,000 under the V6-powered Honda Accord.
Nissan Maxima outscores its rivals for luxury features and interior space. And while some criticized earlier Maxima models for their bland exteriors, that isn’t valid for the current crop – in fact we reckon the latest Nissan Maxima is contemporary and handsome.
Inside, the abundant leather, nice seats, mood lighting and comprehensive audio system add to the Nissan Maxima’s luster and defy its price tag.
The Nissan Maxima rides on Nissan’s ‘D’ platform – shared with the excellent Murano SUV - with improved levels of noise insulation and road-holding.
Nissan Maxima Engine
The ‘250 ST-L’ nomenclature highlights a new specification grade and powerplant for the Nissan Maxima lineup. While the 3.5-litre V6 engine is still available in ST-S and range-topping Ti versions, the ST-L scores a new 2.5-litre V6 and it’s a beauty.
Maximum power is 134kW at 6,000rpm and peak torque of 228Nm arrives at 4,000rpm. While those figures don’t quite match V6 rivals Honda Accord and Toyota Aurion, Nissan Maxima 250 ST-L is ahead on fuel consumption – the combined cycle rated at 9.5l/100kms.
Drive is to the front wheels via Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic with a six-speed manual mode.
On the road, the Nissan Maxima 250 ST-L continues Nissan’s V6 engine tradition with sweet performance and high levels of refinement.
Nissan Maxima The Interior
Unlike earlier models, the current Nissan Maxima delivers a very modern interior style with an enveloping, luxury feel and a rather sporty driving position. It’s all pleasantly up-market for a vehicle which retails south of $34,000.
Underpinning things are excellent, electronically adjustable front seats – very supportive and highlighted by double-stitched leather. With rake/reach adjustment for the steering wheel and nice under-thigh support, the Nissan Maxima driver is well catered-for.
The latest instrument panel (conventional gauge arrangement) and center console deliver a thoroughly modern appearance. Nissan Maxima 250 ST-L scores a six-speaker, six in-dash CD audio system with MP3 and WMA capability.
Rear seat passengers are also nicely equipped with supportive seats and reasonable legroom.
Nissan Maxima boasts an enormous 506-litre boot capacity.
On the safety front, Nissan Maxima comes with six airbags (including curtain airbags) and active front headrests.
Nissan Maxima Exterior & Styling
Styling for the current Nissan Maxima has really stepped-up with detailed enhancements transforming Nissan’s large sedan into a contemporary good looker.
At the front, the new grille and large Xenon headlights deliver a powerful and stylish appearance, while at the rear the new the protruding LED taillights are unusually sculptured for a distinctive look which adds makes the Nissan Maxima look wider.
We also liked the curved side panels and wheel arches which add richness to the silhouette of the Nissan Maxima (earlier models were a bit slab-sided) and the six side windows enhance the overall up-market look.
Nissan Maxima runs 17-inch alloy wheels and overall delivers a distinctive and modern appearance – again beyond its sub-$34,000 sticker.
Nissan Maxima On The Road
Remember Nissan is the company responsible for the GT-R supercar so its obvious their engineers know a thing or two about on-road dynamics and chassis development.
We put our Nissan Maxima 250 ST-L through our usual range of city and rural conditions and it was undeniably competent in all circumstances.
Around town, the smooth-revving 2.5-litre V6 was an admirable performer – quiet, refined and, with nice mating to the CVT, delivered handy torque for freeway merging. Our CBD high-rise carpark was no challenge for the Nissan Maxima’s 11.4-metre turning circle and good visibility.
And over our high-speed mountain roads loop, the Nissan Maxima – admittedly not in the GTR league - was nicely balanced and refined. At the upper limit, it’s apparent Nissan biased things towards luxury and while grip levels were high, we would have preferred a bit more of a sporty feel with more feedback from the steering and a tad less body roll.
Nissan Maxima Challenges
While the excellent Skoda superb is currently only a small seller in this segment, it has an advantage over rival Japanese models with an optional turbo-diesel engine. With a range of turbo-diesel engines available in the Nissan-Renault family, we wonder if the appeal of the Nissan Maxima might be broadened by a diesel variant – particularly a European Renault engine.
Nissan Maxima Verdict
As a total package, the Nissan Maxima succeeds thanks to its blend of very sharp pricing, extensive luxury features, interior space, good looks and refined, quiet operation.
Nissan Maxima The Competition
Despite its $1,000 price premium, Toyota’s Aurion is the sales leader in a sub-segment which also includes the Nissan Maxima, Honda Accord and Skoda Superb. Nissan Maxima is the price leader in that field, so if these cars are on your shopping list you really need to test-drive ‘Big Max’ – it will surprise.
Nissan Maxima Likes:
The value leader in this class; lots of up-market goodies; spacious inside
Nissan Maxima Dislikes:
Not the sharpest drive at high speed