2016 Nissan Maxima Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Well-made and attractive interior rivals those of luxury-branded sedans
- easy-to-use tech controls
- abundant features for the money
- sharp driving dynamics
- top crash scores.
- Backseat and trunk aren't very spacious given the car's cost
- price is high given the car's size and Nissan badge
- SR model's firm ride
- all-wheel drive is not available.
The redesigned 2016 Nissan Maxima is worth a look if you're searching for a car that's more exciting and refined than a typical family sedan, but not so expensive as to be in true luxury-car territory. Read more to see what you might think of the new Maxima.
Notably, we picked the 2016 Nissan Maxima as one of Edmunds' Best Used Cars.
The Maxima has always been Nissan's luxury leader, but conservative styling and a too-similar résumé to Nissan's Altima have made it a tough sell for many consumers in recent years. That could change for 2016, as Nissan has redesigned the Maxima to help the car stand out more between mainstream family sedans and entry-level luxury cars.
Certainly, the 2016 Nissan Maxima is one of the more dramatic-looking sedans to come out this year. The new model is 2.2 inches longer and sits 1.3 inches lower than its predecessor, enabling sleeker styling and better aerodynamics. Overall curb weight is down slightly, while structural rigidity has increased, changes that Nissan says contribute to improved efficiency and handling. There are incremental gains under the hood, too, as Nissan has revised the Maxima's 3.5-liter V6 to produce 10 extra horsepower while using less fuel.
Lower and sleeker, the 2016 Nissan Maxima has been redesigned with a bolder look than before.
Changes can be found on the inside of the 2016 Maxima as well. The interior design looks more luxurious than before, and most materials are high quality. In particular, the upper trims' leather and simulated suede upholstery give the Maxima a premium and sporty feel. A new touchscreen technology interface with a separate rotary controller, allowing the driver to choose his or her favorite way to operate the system, is another welcome change this year.
Really, the 2016 Maxima exists in a curious no man's land among segments. It has a similar badge, and it's priced similar to full-size sedans like the Buick LaCrosse, Dodge Charger, Hyundai Azera (and its Kia Cadenza cousin) and Toyota Avalon, but has a much smaller backseat and trunk. At the same time, it has a much more luxurious cabin and better performance than well-equipped midsize sedans like the Honda Accord and Mazda 6, which are cheaper and actually also a bit more spacious as well. Finally, there are entry-level luxury sedans like the Acura TLX that share many of the Maxima's traits (not to mention the Audi A4s and BMW 3 Series of the world), but they obviously offer a luxury badge, unlike the Maxima.
As such, saying how the Maxima compares to others in its class is impossible; it really doesn't have a class. Instead, should you be interested in any of the above cars, the Edmunds "B"-rated 2016 Nissan Maxima is certainly worth close consideration.
2016 Nissan Maxima models
The 2016 Nissan Maxima is a five-passenger midsize sedan available in five trim levels: S, SV, SL, the sporty SR and the top-line Platinum.
Standard features of the base S model include 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats (eight-way driver and four-way passenger), a 60/40-split folding rear seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Electronics features include a large gauge cluster display, an 8-inch touchscreen display, a navigation system, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio, two USB ports and an eight-speaker sound system with satellite radio, HD radio and a six-disc CD changer.
The SV model adds heated outside mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, heated front seats and extendable thigh support and power lumbar for the driver seat.
The SL model gets a panoramic sunroof, a heated steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, active noise cancellation, active sound enhancement, a premium 11-speaker Bose audio system and adaptive cruise control. It also adds several safety features (see Safety section below).
With upscale materials and a standard 8-inch touchscreen, the 2016 Nissan Maxima is a step above more common family sedans.
The sporty SR adds 19-inch wheels (with available summer performance tires), a sport-tuned suspension, Active Ride Control (uses the brakes to quell body motions over bumps), Active Trace Control (uses targeted braking to keep the vehicle on its intended path) and active engine braking that helps slow the car when heading aggressively into corners or approaching a stop. The SR also has LED headlights, premium leather upholstery, simulated suede interior trim and heated and ventilated front seats. The SR lacks the panoramic sunroof, however.
The SR is available with the Midnight Edition appearance package, which includes a different wheel design and black trunk and under-body spoilers.
To the SL's equipment roster, the Platinum adds the LED headlights, a power-adjustable steering wheel, driver memory settings, premium leather upholstery, automatic wipers, a power rear sunshade, a 360-degree parking camera system (with a moving object detection system) and a driver attention alert system. The Platinum also features Nissan Connect.
Performance & mpg
Under the hood, the 2016 Nissan Maxima features a familiar 3.5-liter V6, but it is updated this year to produce 300 horsepower (up 10 from last year). Torque stays the same at 261 pound-feet. The lone transmission is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that drives the front wheels.
In Edmunds.com testing, a Maxima Platinum sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, which is average for a sedan in this segment with a V6.
EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings check in at 25 mpg combined (22 city/30 highway), which is a bit better than most of its rivals.
Standard safety features on the 2016 Nissan Maxima include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and a rearview camera. Standard on the SL and above are a blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and a forward collision warning and mitigation system with automatic braking. The Platinum model also adds a 360-degree parking camera system with a moving object detection system that sounds a beep and gives video alerts on the center screen when even small objects are moving anywhere around the vehicle. The Platinum also includes a driver drowsiness monitor and Nissan Connect, which includes automatic collision notification, remote starting, emergency calling and stolen vehicle locating.
In government crash tests, the 2016 Maxima earned an overall score of five stars (out of a possible five), with five stars for total front-impact safety and five stars for total side-impact safety. The Maxima also earned top scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, receiving a "Good" rating in the moderate- and small-overlap frontal-offset impact tests as well as a "Good" rating in the side-impact, roof-strength and seat/head restraint tests. The IIHS also tested the Maxima's forward collision mitigation system and awarded it a score of "Superior."
In Edmunds brake testing, a Maxima Platinum with all-season tires stopped from 60 mph in 122 feet, an adequate showing by class standards.
The 2016 Maxima isn't really the "four-door sports car" that its marketers would have you believe, although it does feel rather sporty until you start to explore its modest limits. The steering is precise, body motions are fairly disciplined when going through turns, and the car is generally fun to drive. Notably, the SR model has 19-inch wheels instead of 18s, plus a sport-tuned suspension. Those features slightly improve overall agility, but the ordinarily supple ride becomes firm -- perhaps too firm for some buyers. No matter which trim level you pick, the Maxima is quiet at highway speeds.
If you're looking for a sporty family sedan, the 2016 Nissan Maxima should be an excellent choice.
The 3.5-liter V6 provides ready and willing power across the rev range, and it works well with the CVT, although torque steer is noticeable during hard acceleration (The addition of all-wheel drive would correct this and improve traction to boot, but it's unavailable). As with other CVTs, the Maxima's transmission has no fixed gear ratios. However, Nissan has added seven simulated gear ratios that are used in certain instances to provide the feeling of a regular automatic transmission, minimizing the prolonged high-rpm droning that has given CVTs a bad reputation. We generally like the result, as the CVT does a pretty fair impression of a conventional automatic without giving up its edge in fuel economy.
The Maxima may not have the brand name of a luxury car, but it has the interior of one. Passengers are surrounded by quality materials, including soft-touch surfaces on most of the major touch points. Nissan's "Zero Gravity" seats are present as well. They're supportive, though we haven't found these to be as superbly comfortable as the ones in the Altima. One particularly thoughtful feature is the bin mounted forward of the shifter that contains two USB ports, space for the largest phones on the market and a slot to mount a phone vertically so you can see messages as they pop up.
The 2016 Maxima's intimate, well-trimmed interior is one of its strongest suits.
The Maxima's 8-inch touchscreen interface is paired with a redundant control dial (called "Display Commander") that's located on the center console, giving drivers multiple ways to control the various functions. When paired with a smartphone, the system can read incoming text messages aloud through the speakers and even conduct Google searches. A navigation system is also included. In general, the system is intuitive and responsive to inputs, but as of this writing, Nissan Connect's collection of apps for smartphone integration is quite limited.
Room front and rear is acceptable, but the Maxima can't match the rear seat space of similarly priced sedans like the Chevrolet Impala or Toyota Avalon. Similarly, the Maxima's 14.3-cubic-foot trunk capacity is smaller than those of midsize sedans, let alone full-size ones.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover5 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover9.5%
- Side Impact TestGood
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
More About This Model
The completely and rather uniquely redesigned 2016 Nissan Maxima is a little puzzling. It has the price tag and badge of a mainstream full-size sedan, but less interior space than most cars in that class. It lines up well with many entry-level luxury cars except for the Maxima's lack of an actual luxury badge. At the same time, its marketing boasts the performance and handling of a sport sedan, but it has a very non-performance-oriented drivetrain combination of front-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The sport-oriented SR trim further adds to the confusion with an unpleasant, jittery ride. So it's either out of place no matter what you want to call it, or an interesting alternative to all of the above.
What Is It?
The Nissan Maxima is the brand's largest and most expensive sedan and it has been completely redesigned for 2016. It's a few inches longer and lower, but it remains a midsize sedan with a 3.5-liter V6, front-wheel drive and a CVT. It also continues to straddle the line between the mainstream and luxury sedan segments with a luxurious cabin, copious available features and strong performance.
There are a total of five trim levels from which to choose. The base S trim starts at $33,235 and includes 18-inch wheels, power-adjustable cloth seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera and, notably, a navigation system. The SV and SL trim levels add luxury equipment like leather upholstery, heated seats, premium audio and advanced accident avoidance tech, while an SR trim we tested ($38,485) goes a step further with 19-inch wheels, partial faux-suede upholstery and trim, paddle shifters and, crucially, a sport-tuned suspension that improves handling but sullies the ride. We also tested the pricier, plusher Platinum trim that hits the register at $40,685.
How Well Does It Ride and Handle?
Nissan likes to refer to the Maxima as the "Four-Door Sports Car," a moniker that dates back to the third-generation car of the early 1990s. It was marketing hyperbole then, and although the 2016 version makes great performance strides, it remains more marketing hype than substance.
So what is it, then, and how does it drive? Nissan's familiar 3.5-liter V6 engine has been reworked and now produces 300 horsepower, a more-than-healthy figure good enough to propel the Maxima from zero to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds. That's impressively quick, but it's actually the same time we clocked for the less powerful Nissan Altima 3.5 as well as the V6-powered Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. If anything, that says something about those family sedans, since entry-level luxury cars like the Acura TLX V6, Audi A4, Cadillac ATS 2.0T and Mercedes-Benz C300 are actually a hair slower.
In the real world, there are no complaints about power, as the Maxima moves away with authority. The CVT provides a smooth, uninterrupted power delivery under relaxed, normal acceleration, but then simulates gear ratios during hard acceleration to re-create the feel and sound produced by a car with a traditional automatic. This latter element certainly aids the Maxima's sporting intent, but ultimately, the CVT lacks the crisp response and aural experience delivered by the traditional automatic or automated manual transmissions offered by most luxury segment rivals.
The Maxima's front-wheel-drive layout also betrays its sport sedan aspirations. When accelerating hard or when powering out of a tight corner, those 300 horses tug and pull on the steering wheel (a.k.a. torque steer). It isn't the bucking-bronco variety of some past overpowered front-drivers, but it's present in a segment where most competitors are immune to it given their rear- or all-wheel-drive layouts.
Offering all-wheel drive would not only quell the torque steer and assist foul weather traction, but would further enhance what is otherwise a sharp handling sedan, especially in the SR trim. The Maxima SR feels impressively low, wide and glued to the pavement through high-speed sweepers, but even other Maximas with the standard suspension deliver handling that's well above average for a front-wheel-drive sedan.
The steering, though oddly heavy at parking speeds, manages to be light in effort everywhere else, while delivering feedback that is admirably fluid and linear in its movement. There are actually two steering effort levels, Normal and Sport, and unlike most such systems, we liked elements of both settings in most driving situations.
At the same time, the Maxima begins to lose its sport sedan feel in tighter corners, where the as-tested all-season tires easily surrender their grip. The overly aggressive stability control system and front-drive layout also hamper quick transitions and acceleration out of corners. Those all-seasons also didn't do much for the Maxima's stopping distances either, as its shortest emergency stop from 60 mph took a thoroughly average 122 feet. Both the Platinum trim and more sport-oriented SR produced virtually identical stopping distances.
Now, if the Maxima SR truly performed like a "Four-Door Sports Car" or even a proper sport sedan, it would be easier to forgive the jittery and jiggly ride it produces over even seemingly smooth pavement. However, it doesn't, so we can't.
While big bumps are well damped and don't send shudders through the car, other pavement irregularities are are always felt, jostling you and your passengers aboutstill noticeable. It grows tiresome quickly, and we think potential buyers should steer clear of the SR trim since the handling difference between it and the Platinum are minimal.will be difficult to notice in most driving conditions by most drivers. Other Maxima trims, includinged the Platinum, iron out those irregularities, demonstrating a an impressively controlled ride that soaks up bumps without making the driver feel completely isolated.
How Luxurious Is the Interior?
Just as the 2016 Nissan Maxima's price straddles the line between standard family sedan and entry-level luxury, so, too, does its cabin. The interior design suggests it's biased more toward the luxury side of the scale, and most materials are high quality. In particular, the upper trims' leather and/or Alcantara upholstery give the Maxima a premium and sporty feel.
The entire cockpit is wrapped around the driver, with the center stack screen and controls angled for easy operation at a glance. The sharp 8-inch touchscreen display features sensible menus, large virtual buttons and pinch-to-zoom commands like a smartphone, and is supported by a dial controller (placed right where your hand rests) that does many of the same tasks as the touchscreen. This redundancy provides the driver with a choice of how he or she wants to accomplish most tasks, and contributes significantly to the Maxima's high marks for ease of use.
The generous amount of sound insulation is also noticeable, as road and wind noises are well muted. Active noise cancellation on SL and higher-trimmed models helps as well. These trims also feature active sound enhancement when Sport mode is engaged, adding select noises from the engine through the speakers if you're into that sort of thing.
The driver seat provides an impressive amount of adjustability, including an extendable thigh support cushion. The tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel also has a wide range of settings. However, the Maxima's seats aren't of the variety found in the Nissan Altima or Murano, meaning they aren't as cushy, enveloping and generally friendly over long distances. Instead, they are harder and more aggressively bolstered, which we found to be welcoming around corners, but less so on extended highway trips. The backseats can accommodate average-size adults with just enough head- and legroom, but taller passengers will find both lacking, and thigh support in short supply. In fact, the Maxima actually has noticeably less backseat space than the Altima.
Cargo space, on the other hand, is slightly above average with a maximum 14.3-cubic-foot capacity. The wide opening, mostly unobstructed floor and the remote rear seat releases further enhance utility. Small-item storage is excellent, with a useful center armrest bin and cupholders, as well as a deep covered bin forward of the shifter where you can plug in and store a smartphone.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Can You Expect?
The EPA estimates the Maxima will return 25 mpg in combined city and highway driving (22 city/30 highway). We managed 28.6 mpg on the Edmunds evaluation route in an SR and virtually equaled that in a Platinum. This is quite thrifty given the power and size of the Maxima. That said, the Acura TLX V6 delivers similar numbers, as do any number of entry-level, four-cylinder luxury sedans. In other words, it's very good, but not extraordinary.
Which Safety Features Are Available?
In addition to the typical safety features found on other sedans, all 2016 Nissan Maxima models include a standard rearview camera. With the SL trim and higher, you also get a blind-spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alerts and a forward collision warning system that can monitor two cars ahead and automatically apply the brakes if the driver fails to act. The Platinum trim bolsters the package with an around-view monitor, moving-object detection and a driver drowsiness monitor.
These accident avoidance technologies were given a rating of "Superior" from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety when they were tested in the Nissan Murano.
Do You Get Good Value for Your Money?
If you find the as-tested prices for the Maxima SR ($38,485) or Maxima Platinum ($40,905) rather hefty for a Nissan, you aren't alone. However, as we noted earlier, you get a lot of equipment for that price. Even the standard Maxima includes a navigation system, for instance, and a similarly equipped luxury-branded sedan would cost much more than either of our test cars.
Even an Acura TLX 3.5 V6 or Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E would top $43,000, while a two-wheel-drive Audi A4 approaches $47,000. A similarly equipped Q50 from Nissan's Infiniti division approaches $50,000. Adding all-wheel drive would drive those prices even higher. The biggest element the Maxima lacks is a luxury badge, which may or may not make a difference depending on your point of view.
Now, when you compare the Maxima to non-luxury models, the value proposition gets a bit murkier. Clearly, a like-size and similarly equipped midsize sedan like an Altima or Honda Accord will be cheaper, but will lack the Maxima's handling acumen and interior quality/ambience. The same can be said of similarly priced but substantially larger full-size sedans like the Chevrolet Impala and the Toyota Avalon.
What Competing Models Should You Also Consider?
The above value discussion underlines how much of an oddity the Nissan Maxima is in the marketplace. Still, there are a number of similar sedans worth considering.
The Acura TLX falls somewhere between the Maxima and an Audi or Mercedes when it comes to brand cachet. Its impressive available all-wheel-drive system also gives it a leg up on the Maxima, while also boasting relatively strong value, good fuel economy, generous interior space and a more comfortable ride.
Although it's slower than the Maxima in a straight line, the BMW 320i is far more engaging and rewarding when that straight line gives way to curves. In other words, it's an actual sport sedan available in rear- or all-wheel drive. Its ride, fuel economy and interior space are also quite good, although you'll get far fewer features for your money.
Finally, the Nissan Altima 3.5 SL may not have its Maxima sibling's flamboyant styling, higher-quality cabin or superior handling ability, but it's just as quick and has a slightly more spacious cabin, comfier seats and many of the same available features.
Why Should You Consider This Car?
You want the performance, interior ambience and equipment of an entry-level luxury sedan, but at a much lower price. Or maybe you want all the trappings of a luxury car without looking as if you spent a lot of money.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
Rear-seat room is lacking compared to cheaper midsize sedans and similarly priced full-size sedans. You could also get a sedan from a luxury brand for a similar price in exchange for giving up a few features. We also found the SR trim's handling improvements are not enough to off-set that trim's jittery, tiresome ride.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Used 2016 Nissan Maxima Overview
The Used 2016 Nissan Maxima is offered in the following submodels: Maxima Sedan. Available styles include Platinum 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT), 3.5 SL 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT), 3.5 S 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT), 3.5 SV 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT), and 3.5 SR 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT). Pre-owned Nissan Maxima models are available with a 3.5 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 300 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2016 Nissan Maxima comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: continuously variable-speed automatic. The Used 2016 Nissan Maxima comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2016 Nissan Maxima?
Price comparisons for Used 2016 Nissan Maxima trim styles:
- The Used 2016 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SR is priced between $18,250 and$27,990 with odometer readings between 24596 and110718 miles.
- The Used 2016 Nissan Maxima 3.5 S is priced between $15,500 and$24,990 with odometer readings between 11559 and136413 miles.
- The Used 2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum is priced between $19,999 and$29,998 with odometer readings between 27602 and81231 miles.
- The Used 2016 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SL is priced between $21,499 and$27,998 with odometer readings between 39974 and75106 miles.
- The Used 2016 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV is priced between $19,204 and$26,998 with odometer readings between 21145 and98875 miles.
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Which used 2016 Nissan Maximas are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2016 Nissan Maxima for sale near. There are currently 57 used and CPO 2016 Maximas listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $15,500 and mileage as low as 11559 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2016 Nissan Maxima.
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Should I lease or buy a 2016 Nissan Maxima?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.