It’s hard to believe, but the Nissan Maxima has been on sale for almost four decades. It started life as the Datsun 810, for the 1982 model year, the 810 was dropped from the name. Although the Maxima has been around for a very long time, I don’t see too many of these on the road, which is unfortunate because the Maxima is an excellent sedan, it could even be called a sports sedan.
One of the reason for not seeing many of these sedans is, you guessed it, the popularity of SUV/CUVs, which have taken a big bite out of sedans. Another reason, I think is the fact that the Maxima is more of a sports sedan, the average mid/full-size sedan buyer usually looks for vanilla-sedans.
The current Maxima is the 8th generation of this car, which first went on sale as a 2016 model. Last week we had the chance to review a 2018 Maxima Platinum, which is the top of the line trim.
Trims & Prices
In Canada, the 2018 Nissan Maxima is offered in four trims, with the SV trim starting at $36,900, the SL starts at $39,690, the SR starts at $41,890, and the top of the line Maxima Platinum starts at $44,150. The SR trim is the sportier version of this car.
Our review Maxima had a sticker price of $46,245, which includes the $300 optional 3 coat paint and $1,795 for Freight & PDE.
With the current environmental movement, it seems every car is now offered with some sort of turbocharged 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine. That’s not the case with the Nissan Maxima, it’s powered by a naturally aspirated (how all engines should be) 3.5 liter V6 engine. The V6 produces 300 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 261 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. Power is sent to the front wheels via an Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission.
According to official government ratings, the 2018 Nissan Maxima should consume 11.1 L/100 km in the city and 7.8 L/100 km on the highway. For our review purposes, the onboard computer showed 12 L/100 km in pure city driving, which is pretty close to the claimed number and on the highway, we managed 7.9 L/100 km, which is pretty much spot on with the claimed numbers. Again, your “mileage may vary” depending on how aggressive you are with the throttle and the type of driving conditions you encounter. I personally have a smooth driving style, so I’m always able squeeze out just little bit of extra driving out the fuel I have.
My first impression after getting into the Maxima was, wow this is a very heavy steering wheel. Although the Maxima has a very nicely weighted steering feel, I felt that way because I had just dropped off the QX50, which has very light steering feel because of the drive-by-wire system it uses. The Maxima’s steering feel is tuned like a sports sedan, which I really liked it, I’d say it’s up there with European luxury sports sedans.
I have been reading a lot of comments on the use of the CVT on the Maxima, most of these comments have been negative. I’m here to break some bad news to these commenters, you have to drive the Maxima and then comment on the CVT. Yes, we all know Continuously Variable Transmissions are horrible, but the latest generation of these transmissions have improved significantly and come with simulated gear shifts. I had also heard Nissan makes the best CVTs. Well I put that claim to the test and when I first drove the car, I thought our review car was equipped with a regular automatic transmission. Yes, the CVT is that good on the Maxima.
On some of the cars I’ve reviewed, with the simulated gear shift CVTs (like the 10th generation Civic), the fake gear shifts make the transmission feel like a traditional automatic transmission, but the gear changes are not 100% natural feeling. On the Maxima, the “gear changes” feel almost 100% like a regular automatic. And when you put your foot down hard on the accelerator, the transmission downshifts a few “gears”, just like a finely tuned automatic transmission. I was really impressed with this CVT. Now the question is, if I couldn’t tell this was a CVT, a person who drives a new car (or two) every week, how is the average consumer going to notice this is a CVT?
The V6 engine on the Maxima is great; I was never really a fan of the saying “there’s no replacement for displacement”, but I have to agree with it. There’s just something special about a naturally aspirated engine, it sounds good and has a good amount of power, and none of that dreaded turbo lag. The 300 horsepower produced by the V6 on the Maxima is more than enough for city or highway driving. The engine/transmission combination is very responsive, and the engine makes nice sounds under heavy acceleration. The Maxima is a front wheel drive car, there’s a lot of power being sent to the front wheels; however, I didn’t notice any torque steer, power is put to the pavement very nicely. The Nissan Maxima truly is a sports sedan.
I would have liked to have paddle shifters on our Platinum trim, to give it just that little bit more sportiness. Paddle shifters are offered on the SR trim, but I think the Platinum trim also deserves to have those.
The 2018 Maxima comes with two driving modes, “Normal” and “Sport”. Normal mode is the standard mode you’d want to drive in for your daily commutes, although I found even this mode is sportier than many “sport” modes on other cars. In Sport mode, throttle response is sharper, steering feels heavier, the transmission holds gears longer, and the exhaust sound is a bit more noticeable. Sport modes makes the Maxima, which is already a fun car, even more fun to drive.
Styling is subjective, I say this in all my posts. For me personally, I wasn’t as big of a fan of the styling on the Maxima as I am of the rest of the car. Again, you might like it. Some of my neighbors loved the styling on the Maxima. I personally like clean lines and I think the Maxima’s design is a bit too busy, but the interior does make up for it.
The interior, on the other hand, is a beautiful design, in my opinion. When I first got into the Maxima, I was pretty impressed by the Ascot leather diamond-quilted leather seats, which are very soft and comfortable. All the controls are easy to reach, and it took me no time to get comfortable with them. At the center of the dash is an 8” touchscreen that displays navigation, audio, and climate information. This screen is also the display for the rear and front cameras. The graphics are crisp, but again (like in the QX50), I would have liked the graphics and maps to be a bit more modern, to me the display output looks aged.
The gauge cluster is a mix of analogue and digital, with the tachometer and speedometer in analog and a digital center TFT screen, which displays various outputs like fuel economy, trip duration etc.
The interior is very quiet, I’d say it’s as quiet as many luxury mid-size sedans. The interior is also very comfortable, and the seats are very supportive for long drives. Our review car was equipped with heated/cooled 8-way power driver’s seat and 4-way power passenger seat, with manual thigh extension for the driver’s seat. I found plenty of leg room in the front and back seats, people over 6 feet shouldn’t have a problem finding a comfortable seating position.
Our Platinum trim was the top of the line Maxima, so it was loaded with all sorts of features that most people have come to expect from new cars. Below are a few highlights from the long list of available features, for a full list, head on over to nissan.ca.
- Remote engine start, keyless entry with push button start
- LED lights
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Front/Rear cameras with 360 degree monitor
- Bose premium audio
- Intelligent Forward Collision Warning
- Intelligent Emergency Braking
- Blind spot warning
- Rear cross traffic alert
I had a great time in the 2018 Nissan Maxima Platinum. I think it’s one of the sportiest sedans in this segment and is also very luxurious. The V6 engine is very powerful but it’s also not that bad on fuel. Some potential buyers might be dissuaded by the CVT transmission, but trust me, it is one of the best, if not the best CVT out there, you’ll have to drive it yourself to see how good it is.
It is unfortunate so many consumers are turning to cross overs and overlooking great cars like the Nissan Maxima, because it offers great features, lots of room, and is very fun to drive.