2018 Nissan Maxima

2018 Nissan Maxima Sedan Review

It's reasonably affordable and more polished than the average family sedan.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

The Maxima isn't like most other sedans you might be considering. It's sportier than the typical family sedan but is equipped and priced more like a large sedan. It could even be an option for an entry-level luxury car. As such, the Maxima is largely a niche offering, but one with undeniable appeal.

Nissan has long called the Maxima a "four-door sports car." Of course, the phrase is mostly marketing hype. But the Maxima handles pretty well when you're driving around turns and comes standard with a powerful V6 engine. There's even a sporty SR trim with unique suspension tuning and performance-oriented driver aids.

Given the Maxima's lengthy list of features, upscale interior appointments and all-around competence, it could be a solid alternative to luxury sedans such as the Acura TLX or Lincoln MKZ. The cabin is so decadently trimmed in the SR and Platinum levels, it outdoes even those cars at that price.

We will note that this year's crop of midsize sedans is pretty appealing. The redesigned Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, in particular, boast sportier styling and stronger performance than ever before. That might dilute the Maxima's appeal considering the Honda and Toyota are roomier and less expensive. But if you're looking for a sedan with equal parts sportiness and unpretentious luxury, the 2018 Nissan Maxima is certainly worth checking out.



what's new

For 2018, the Maxima adds Android Auto to its lengthy list of standard features. An SR Midnight Edition (with blacked-out wheels and exterior styling elements, among other upgrades) will debut later in the model year. Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking became standard partway through the 2017 model year and carry forward into 2018.

we recommend

The base S model is generously equipped. But if you're considering the Maxima over its lesser Altima sibling, it's probably because you want something a little special. The midpack SL is value-rich, with leather upholstery, a premium audio system, noise reduction measures and several advanced driving aids. If it were our money, we'd get the SL.

trim levels & features

The 2018 Nissan Maxima sedan comes in five trim levels: the base S, midlevel SV, the slightly more expensive SL, sporty SR and the top-level Platinum.

Like all Maximas, the S is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine (300 horsepower, 261 pound-feet of torque) that drives the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Standard features include 18-inch wheels, LED daytime running lights, foglights, remote engine start, keyless entry and ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, adjustable driving modes, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable front seats (eight-way driver and four-way passenger), a 60/40-split rear seat, a navigation system, an 8-inch touchscreen, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD player and satellite radio.

Standard safety systems include a rearview camera and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

The Maxima SV adds front and rear parking sensors, heated mirrors, heated front seats, leather upholstery, and an upgraded driver seat with extendable thigh support and two-way power lumbar adjustment. The SL doesn't cost much more, and its impressive list of extra features includes a dual-panel sunroof, active noise reduction, active engine sound enhancement, adaptive cruise control, a heated steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

The SR adds performance enhancements to the SL, with 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, column-mounted paddle shifters, 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 panoramic sunroof is removed, but the SR does add a few luxury features, including LED headlights, ventilated front seats, and upgraded leather upholstery with quilted simulated suede seat inserts and special interior trim.

A rear spoiler and the Midnight Edition package (black-painted wheels and exterior styling elements, rear spoiler, an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, driver-seat memory settings and a 360-degree parking camera) are optional for the SR.

The top-trim Platinum does away with some of the SR's add-ons, though it retains the LED headlights and ventilated front seats. It then adds automatic wipers, an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, a 360-degree parking camera, a power-adjustable steering column, driver-seat memory settings, a six-way power passenger seat, upgraded leather upholstery and interior trim, a rear power sunshade and NissanConnect services (remote start, automatic collision notification, emergency calling and stolen vehicle location).

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum (3.5L V6 | CVT automatic | FWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Maxima has received some revisions, including newly standard driver aids and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Maxima.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

3.5 / 5.0

Acceleration3.5 / 5.0
Braking3.0 / 5.0
Steering4.5 / 5.0
Handling3.5 / 5.0
Drivability4.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort3.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort4.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.5 / 5.0

Interior

3.5 / 5.0

Ease of use5.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.0 / 5.0
Roominess2.5 / 5.0
Visibility3.0 / 5.0
Quality4.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
The Maxima isn't quite the "four-door sports car" Nissan claims. But it is impressive for a midsize sedan, with above-average handling and strong acceleration from the 300-horsepower V6.

acceleration

edmunds rating
Zero to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds is quick but typical for a V6-powered midsize sedan. The CVT is seamlessly smooth during light acceleration and simulates gears when accelerating hard. Torque steer from the front-wheel-drive powertrain is noticeable.

braking

edmunds rating
The firm brake pedal is reassuring and easy to modulate. In Edmunds performance testing, the Maxima Platinum posted average stopping distances for a sedan of this size with all-season tires. We noted minimal brake fade after several stops.

steering

edmunds rating
The steering feels oddly heavy at parking speeds but is otherwise excellent. Turning is fluid and linear in motion with ample feedback unmarred by excessive effort. Two driving modes (Normal and Sport) govern effort — both are good in everyday use; it's a matter of personal preference.

handling

edmunds rating
The Maxima is an above-average performer for a front-wheel-drive sedan, but all-wheel drive could make this car the performance choice it's marketed to be. Dive into a tight turn and the Maxima feels nose-heavy. The stability control system also limits your fun.

drivability

edmunds rating
The Maxima is an easy car to drive. Gear changes are simulated during acceleration and eliminate the typical CVT droning effect. Unlike most CVTs, the transmission doesn't constantly bounce between high and low revs. But it's not good at downhill engine braking.

comfort

edmunds rating
The Maxima is a notably quiet car with a ride that nicely toes the line between comfort and feel for the road. It is certainly akin to entry-level luxury cars and a clear step up from midsize family sedans. Seat comfort and adjustment are typical for the price range.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
These firm, sporty seats are more typical of a luxury sedan in this price range. Adjustable thigh support is nice; the optional ventilated seats blow cold air rather than circulate cabin air. The rear seats are nicely contoured.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
The Platinum's ride is greatly superior to the SR trim's jittery nature. The standard suspension found on the Platinum and other trims is the way to go, demonstrating a controlled, well-damped ride that soaks up bumps without making the driver feel completely isolated.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
Sound-reducing glass and materials along with active noise cancellation result in a notably quiet cabin. The V6 is quiet, too.

interior

edmunds rating
Nissan's electronics interface is a home run. It's both easy to use and looks good — a rare feat. So many luxury car tech interfaces are overly complicated and confusing to use. Cargo space and storage are good for the segment. However, the Maxima is less generous with space for people.

ease of use

edmunds rating
The infotainment system has big icons and sensible menus, a redundant knob controller and well-placed physical buttons. Overall, it's easy to use and a good example of how to do it right.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
You sit low and the roof is low, which could make getting in and out difficult for some. This is especially true with the rear doors and the sloping roofline.

roominess

edmunds rating
The Maxima might be priced like a large sedan, but it doesn't offer the space of one. The Toyota Avalon and Acura TLX are more spacious. The back seat has limited headroom for those of above-average height, and legroom depends on the front seat position.

visibility

edmunds rating
The side mirrors are large. The rear-quarter view is hampered by thick roof pillars. Parking sensors, a surround-view camera and blind-spot monitoring are all standard on the Platinum.

quality

edmunds rating
The Maxima's cabin boasts solid construction and a nice mix of high-quality interior materials, the exception being the Platinum's unconvincing and oddly contoured simulated wood trim.

utility

edmunds rating
A deep covered bin below the dash keeps a smartphone and its charging cord out of the way. There's a useful center armrest bin and cupholders. The trunk has an adequate 14.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity and an opening wide enough for golf clubs.

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.