Nissan Maxima SL

Nissan Maxima SL

Test Drive Notes Library
  • Pros

  • Acceleration. The Maxima is quick. Even with the continuously variable transmission (CVT), there’s never any waiting. With 300 horsepower, we even had to train ourselves to tap gently, lest we provoke disapproving looks from the spouse in the passenger seat.

  • Looks. Looks are subjective, but we think Nissan did a nice job with the Maxima. It’s a full size sedan with a lot going on on the body panels. It may be too much for someone trading up from, say, a 1978 Volvo. But for a lot of people, it’s sharp.

  • Good ergonomics. Nissan did a great job on the controls. The large touch screen is logical. There are tangible buttons for commonly used screens like “home,” “map,” and “audio.” The temperature controls are nearly perfect in their clarity and ease of use. There’s an “iDrive-like” controller that we barely used because the touch screen seemed so easy and intuitive. Most important controls are duplicated on the steering wheel. A+ on ergonomics.

  • Safety. The Maxima comes standard with forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Nice! Nissan offers a “Safety Shield 360” package standard on some trims, which we highly recommend. It includes automatic braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, and automatic rear braking. The blind spot monitors work well, and have nice, clear lights on the insides of the A-pillars where the driver can’t easily miss them. We’d say “can’t miss them,” but this is America, and we know some yutz, somewhere, will be doing a NY Times crossword puzzle while changing lanes. But we’ll blame that on Will Shortz, not Nissan.

  • Nice interior. The fit and finish are very good, and the car has a premium feel inside. The driver and passenger will be happy in the Maxima’s front seats, which are supportive and comfortable. Taller drivers, however, should make sure they don’t bump whatever’s left of their hair up against the sunroof. In the back, there’s a good amount of legroom, but the seat itself is a little low for our taste.

  • Cons

  • Not quite a sports sedan. Nissan has long aspired to bill the Maxima as a sports sedan, presumably to compete with the likes of BMW and Audi. The Maxima is a perfectly nice, quick car. Handling is solid. It’s got all the amenities. But it’s not a sports car in any real way. In particular, the steering is very light, not super precise, and lacks feedback. Using the “sport” mode didn’t improve steering feel at all.

  • Noise. It’s not overly noisy, but the CVT — while working very well — drones a bit on hard acceleration. And road noise does make its way into the cabin. It’s kind stuck between wanting to be sporty and wanting to be cushy and isolating, and it doesn’t really nail either one.

  • Mileage. We were actually surprised by the unimpressive fuel economy we got in the Maxima. We’ve driven the Altima (the Maxima’s sibling), and gotten truly impressive mileage with almost no effort. Our city mileage in the Maxima came in at only 15-16 mpg. Overall we got in the low 20s. The EPA claims you’ll do much better than that, and perhaps you will given our lead-ish feet. The EPA says you should expect 25 mpg overall, 17 city and very good 36 highway.

Test Drive Notes Library

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