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- Plush cabin
- Available adjustable sport suspension
- Firm, deep buckets
- Strong V-6 power...
- ...that doesn't sound all that great
- Front-drive, CVT isn't a recipe for thrills
- No alternative powertrain
- Safety gear only comes on pricey models
The 2017 Nissan Maxima is the wild child of the Nissan bunch. It looks the part, but don't be fooled: after first blush it acts more like a near-luxury cruiser.
The 2017 Nissan Maximais a four-door sport sedan with a heavy emphasis on style over 0-60 mph times. It looks like a wild child, but at heart, it's a capable cruiser with above-average handling.
With the Maxima, Nissan has a automaker's fraternal twin to the mid-size Altima. Although the two share a similar platform and related powertrains, the pair are fairly far apart in terms of styling approach and mission.
The Maxima's 7.2 score is a reflection of how much we like the car, and its above-average performance in its class. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Styling and performance
One year removed from a significant overhaul, the Maxima has an edgier look and polarizing styling. Its "floating roof" effect—achieved by a blacked-out rear pillar—is something few other automakers have dared to try and we think it looks good on the Nissan. For now, at least.
Inside the Maxima is awash in firm but comfortable seating, rich textures, and in soft upper trims, near-luxury material. Although Nissan's famous claim for the Maxima is the "four-door sports car" it may be better considered as a more luxurious mid-sizer.
Under the hood is a uprated version of Nissan's 3.5-liter V-6 that produces 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of twist. It's mated exclusively to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and can be optioned with paddle shifters that simulate gears in SR trims. The Altima shares a similar, but less potent, version of the V-6 as its top engine. The CVTs are more closely related, but the Maxima's final drive is geared more toward keeping the car in higher revs.
We've found the Maxima to be fairly brisk—it can race up to 60 mph in around 6 seconds—but unsettling. The aging V-6 can border on too loud, and its sound isn't wholly satisfying, either. Thankfully, most Maximas will come equipped with active noise cancellation and acoustic windshield glass that will damp some of those nasty waves.
Quality, safety, and features
Between the wheels, the Maxima is 109.3 inches (same as the Altima) but has less interior space. Most of the Altima's cabin is packed with deeper, firmer buckets, and more available interior tech. If you're looking to haul five, we wouldn't recommend it for long jaunts. The roofline angle penalizes a rear middle passenger, and in SR trims the panoramic sunroof cuts deeply into available head space.
This year's Maxima aced the federal battery and the IIHS tests too. The 2017 Maxima managed perfect scores from the NHTSA (although its initial crash test prompted a stop-sale and recall) and the IIHS designated the sedan as a Top Safety Pick+, which is its highest award.
The 2017 Nissan Maxima is priced within $50 of the 2016 model, and starts around $33,000 for a well-equipped base sedan. Base S models sport navigation with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, two USB ports, power adjustable front seats, and rearview camera.
Subsequent trims from SV to SL, SR, and Platinum, add varying levels of creature comforts and leather. The SR model boasts suspension upgrades and bigger wheels to be the "sport" version of the bunch; Platinum is the primo-luxury offering with wood trim and leather everywhere.
The Maxima doesn't offer much in the way of fuel-saving devices, but manages to be relatively competitive with non-hybrid models from other automakers. It's rated by the EPA at 21 mpg city, 30 highway, 25 combined.