2014 Nissan Maxima Review

Consumer Reviews
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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 15, 2014

The 2014 Nissan Maxima isn't the enthusiast car it claims to be, but it is a more luxurious, more stylish option than many of its competitors.

Once upon a time, the Maxima sedan was billed as a "four-door sports car," offering a manual gearbox and sportier handling. But the 2014 Nissan Maxima is, for the most part, just a sleeker spin-off of its Altima family sedan (and the last-generation one at that), with a distinction that's based more on styling than performance. Today something more like "four-door coupe" might be closer to the truth.

The current Maxima chooses comfort of and refined driving feel over the ability to toss the car around turns. That's not a bad exchange, though, especially if you're looking for a car with flowing, unique design, an upscale interior and a long list of features.

Little has changed since the Maxima was redesigned in 2009, but this model has managed to maintain a fresh look despite rolling into its fifth year in 2014. Much of that can be credited to the fact that the Maxima doesn't really look like anything else on the road–with its low grille, tall rear haunches, Coke-bottle fender curves and large wheels, it looks more like a rear-drive sports car than the front-wheel drive sedan that it actually is. Inside, the control center will look familiar to Infiniti owners, and the Maxima's soft lines and finishes at least flirt with the edge of Nissan's more upscale offerings.

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At the base level, the 2014 Nissan Maxima does really maximize the number of standard conveniences (like a power moonroof, power front seats, and Intelligent Key entry and starting), as well as optional extras. But if adding many of those extras, you should be aware that some of the most desirable ones come only by stepping up to the more expensive SV model. New for last year was an SV Value Package that adds nine-speaker Bose audio, satellite radio, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and heated outside mirrors. The Sport Package has also been enhanced with a seven-inch monitor, iPod/USB connectivity, a rearview monitor, and a climate-controlled driver's seat. A Dark Hyper Silver wheel finish (from last year's Limited Edition Package) was new as well.

A power moonroof, dual-zone climate control, power front seats, keyless entry, an Intelligent Key entry and starting system, a six-disc changer, and steering-wheel audio controls are all standard, though, while a heated steering wheel and cooled front seats are among many options.

While the 2014 Maxima might not be an all-out sport sedan or sports car, it does perform smoothly and confidently, and the acceleration from its 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine has a strong, relaxed demeanor in ordinary driving, where it works well with the automatic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). There are available steering-wheel paddle shifters, as well as a manual sport mode for the CVT, and you can tap into a series of simulated gear ratios for high-performance driving. The letdown is that even with these, you don't get the level of control that enthusiasts might hope for (and the available manual gearbox that used to be a Maxima talking point has been history, for years).

Compared to most other front-wheel-drive sedans, the Maxima feels edgier and more fun to drive when the road turns tight and curvy. It's a sporty calibration, with a firm ride, yet at the same time it's supple enough to keep passengers content. The standard front seats are good, although the better-bolstered ones you get with the Sport Package will be a welcome upgrade to some. The back seat is officially good for three, but it's really just good for two adults and headroom can be a bit tight compared to other sedans this size. Interior detailing is superb and really luxury-caliber, with soft leather and carefully coordinated trims. But the Maxima might not meet all of family shoppers' requirements: While its feature set is strong for safety, 'acceptable' ratings in the IIHS roof strength test have kept the Maxima from the top tier. 

9

2014 Nissan Maxima

Styling

The Maxima offers a different take on sedan style, even though it's closely related to the Nissan Altima.

The Nissan Maxima has managed to look fresh over the past few years, despite the fact that it's gone essentially unchanged since its redesign in 2009.

Part of the reason that's aged with such grace is due to how curvaceous and cohesive the design looked in the first place. With its aggressive, swept-back stance–similar to a rear-wheel-drive car–and its Coke-bottle curves, low-set hoodline and grille, and large 18- and 19-inch wheel options, the Maxima remains a head-turner, even five years later. It also has long, raked-back headlights that many of the other Nissan products have emulated since.

Sport models take the look to more a more aggressive extreme, with with smoked headlamps, a dark chrome grille, and shiny gray interior stitching--but it looks like a natural extension, not a forced tuner package.

Inside, the instrument panel would still look at home in an upscale Infiniti product, and the curvy yet assertive look carries through to the cabin. Materials really give high-end gloss and glimmer, with Dark Piano and Atlantic Cherry trims added last year to complement the warm interior upholstery and trim combinations. Last year, audio and HVAC knobs were given a somewhat new look, and gauge illumination was made white.

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6

2014 Nissan Maxima

Performance

Performance is strong, but the Maxima may have reached the fun-to-drive limits a few years ago--before the CVT.

The 2014 Maxima is marketed as a sport sedan, but we wouldn't quite call it one. However, its 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine is a smooth and confident performer, delivering strong, but relaxed power, especially through its automatic continuously-variable transmission (CVT). Just don't expect a race car–this one is more of a highway cruiser.

Overall, the Maxima has one of the sportiest calibrations of any front-drive sedan, and it's reasonably fun to drive, With its sport-tuned suspension, as well as steering and brakes that have been tuned for sportier driving, it has the makings of a solidly performing sporty sedan. Out of a tight corner, if you stomp on the accelerator, a fair amount of torque steer (tugging to the side) serve to remind you that this is a front-wheel-drive sedan running a lot of torque through those wheels. That said, stabilizer bars are included front and back, and a Twin Orifice Steering System helps provide good feedback and control.

The CVT includes a manual sport mode and available steering-wheel paddle shifters to access a series of simulated gear ratios for high-performance driving (there's no manual available). There's very little of the drone on moderate or hard acceleration (or the rubber-band-like response) that's so typical with CVT arrangements; the only letdown is that this setup simply doesn't offer the same level of control as conventional transmissions. The available manual gearbox that used to be a Maxima talking point has been history, for years.

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2014 Nissan Maxima

Comfort & Quality

Rear-seat and trunk room are slimmer in the Maxima than we'd like, but comfort is good.

The 2014 Nissan Maxima is surprising comfortable and luxurious, despite being marketed as a four-door sports car. That's not to say that it isn't sporty–the ride is tuned on firmer side of the spectrum, but it's still gentle enough to keep passengers comfortable. It's not necessarily the quietest car on the road, due to some road noise from the low-profile, V-rated performance tires.

Up close and aesthetically, it's simply hard to fault the Maxima's interior details and materials. With soft, supple leather and carefully chosen trims, there's a true luxury-brand look and feel.

The standard front seats are good, although the better-bolstered ones you get with the Sport Package will be a welcome upgrade to some. The back seat is officially good for three, but it's really just good for two adults and headroom can be a bit tight compared to other sedans this size. Interior detailing is superb and really luxury-caliber, with soft leather and carefully coordinated trims.

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For those envisioning long cross-country road trips, take a look in back first. Trunk space is on the small side for a larger sedan, at just 14.2 cubic feet.
7

2014 Nissan Maxima

Safety

Safety scores for the latest Maxima lag, with only "acceptable" ratings for roof-crush strength.

The Nissan Maxima ha a long list safety features, but it may not have meet all family shopper's needs. While the the 2014 Maxima hasn't yet been rated by the IIHS, last year's model's only received "acceptable" ratings for its roof strength.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the car only three out of five stars for frontal impacts, though the Maxima receives five-star ratings in side impact and rollover tests.

Outward visibility is a strong point for the Maxima, despite the curvy exterior, and an available rearview monitor does provide additional help when parking.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave last year's Maxima top 'good' scores for frontal and side impact, but it still receives only a 'marginal' in the seat-based rear-impact category—indicating a much higher chance of whiplash than in other vehicles—and it rates only 'acceptable' in both the agency's new roof strength test and small overlap frontal test. The results aren't altogether so stellar from the federal government either. In federal NCAP testing, the Maxima has earned a lackluster three stars (out of five) for frontal impact, though it gets five-star side ratings.

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2014 Nissan Maxima

Features

Well-equipped in base trim, the Maxima outstrips its slim marketing niche when you add a lot of options.

In its base trim, the Maxima comes with a long list of a standard features, as well a few options, too. But, if you're looking for many of the most desirable features, you'll likely have to step it up to the SV model.

There are two trims available on the Maxima–S and SV–with the SV model adding standard leather, Bose premium audio, fog lamps, among other items. The S model comes well-equipped, too; it also includes standard dual-zone auto climate control, power front seats, and the Intelligent Key entry and push-button start system.

A power moonroof, dual-zone climate control, power front seats, keyless entry, an Intelligent Key entry and starting system, a six-disc changer, and steering-wheel audio controls are all standard, though, while a heated steering wheel and cooled front seats are among many options.

Especially of note is a Sport Package, which brings firmer suspension tuning, larger 19-inch wheels, paddle shifters, upgraded front seats, and a host of other upgrades. The Sport Package has also been enhanced with a seven-inch monitor, iPod/USB connectivity, a rearview monitor, and a climate-controlled driver's seat. A Dark Hyper Silver wheel finish (from last year's Limited Edition Package) is new as well.

The SV Value Package that adds nine-speaker Bose audio, satellite radio, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and heated outside mirrors.

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6

2014 Nissan Maxima

Fuel Economy

With its big V-6 and CVT, the Maxima fares just okay in the gas-mileage wars.

The 2014 Maxima earns relatively average fuel economy for the segment, rated at 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway by the EPA. However, the Maxima does require premium fuel, which may affect your budget if you were looking for a car with decent gas mileage.

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However, we do suspect that the EPA numbers might be on the low side; in short-trip city driving, we easily averaged 20 mpg in a test Maxima.
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February 10, 2016
2014 Nissan Maxima 4-Door Sedan 3.5 SV w/Premium Pkg

Nothing but problems!

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Brake/rotor problems at 16,000 miles and after repairs again at 19,000 miles, a/c dials don't work 40% the time, already had to replace a faulty master cylinder at 18,000 miles, emergency brake light randomly... + More »
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June 3, 2015
2014 Nissan Maxima 4-Door Sedan 3.5 SV w/Premium Pkg

Nice car with decent power

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Nice car with decent power and fun to drive, could use more horsepower and better upgrade in luxury styling and transmission upgrade.
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April 30, 2015
2014 Nissan Maxima 4-Door Sedan 3.5 SV w/Premium Pkg

STYLISH AND FUN

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I love the Maxima! It is a superb combination of sleek sophisticated styling and fun performance. No wonder Nissan calls it a 4door sports car :) I previously had a 2005 Ford Mustang GT and as an addition to... + More »
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April 17, 2015
For 2014 Nissan Maxima

A great car.

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I have had 7 Maximas over the years, and this one is the best yet. They just keep getting better.
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Expert Rating
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Styling 9
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 7
Features 8
Fuel Economy 6
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