Used 1996 Nissan Maxima Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

All new for 1995, the excellent Maxima receives few changes for 1996. A four-way power passenger seat is available, a new center console cupholder will hold a Big Gulp and two new colors grace the Maxima's decidedly dull flanks. Taillights are as ugly as ever.

Vehicle overview

Nissan designers underwent a complete switch in design philosophy during the late eighties, and began producing cars whose styling was as fresh five years after introduction day as it was on introduction day. These cars were a far cry from the carved-from-a-cinderblock styling of previous Nissans. The 1989 Maxima was one of the new generation of cars to roll out of Nissan plants, and it continued to look better year after year, aging more gracefully than Dick Clark. For 1995, Nissan replaced it with an all-new car, one with a stellar drivetrain and first-class cabin, but with a somewhat dowdy exterior and funky-ugly taillights.

First, the good stuff. Under the hood is a twin-cam, aluminum 3.0-liter V6. It puts 190 horsepower to the ground through the front axle. A five-speed is standard on GXE and SE trim levels, but an automatic is optional. This engine is a jewel, providing swift acceleration without penalizing fuel economy.

Inside, the Maxima sports an interior befitting an Infiniti. No coincidence here; the Maxima serves as the basis for the luxo-oriented Infiniti I30. Roomier than the old Maxima, the new one finds nobody complaining about the accommodations.

The new Maxima's styling is growing on us, but the taillights and sculpted decklid are just too overwrought. Something closer to the Altima's tail would have been more tasteful. Also, on models not equipped with fog lights, tacky ribbed-plastic inserts fill the holes in the front fascia where they would have gone. The inserts jar the eye and detract from an otherwise clean frontal design.

For 1996, the Maxima receives few changes. A four-way power passenger seat is now available, and a huge cupholder has been installed for those who must have 32 ounces of your favorite soft drink with them in the car. Two new colors also debut; Starfire Blue Pearl and Deep Evergreen.

Overall, the Maxima lost some of its sex appeal in last year's redesign, but the new engine, interior, and price structure of the car more than make up for the slight styling shortcomings.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.