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- Daring styling
- Comfortable interior
- Superlative safety record
- Strong V-6 engine
- Taut feel
- Not exactly thrilling to drive
- Less-than-refined powertrain
- Styling not for everyone
- More cramped than size suggests
The 2018 Nissan Maxima is a zippier alternative to more traditional full-size cars, but we stop short of calling it a real sports sedan.
The 2018 Nissan Maxima is a large sports sedan with a roomy interior, but its definition of performance is more about racy styling than it is about corner carving.
It’s more fun to drive than most large sedans and the Maxima has more personality than its more staid rivals. It has one of the highest safety ratings you’ll find, meaning it scores 7.2 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The 2018 Maxima adds Android Auto to its Apple CarPlay-enabled infotainment system, swaps out its grille for a new design, and sees the addition of Carnelian Red to the color palette.
The Maxima is available in S, SV, SL, SR, and Platinum trim levels—an unusually high number of configurations. All share a 300-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 paired to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). That’s not exactly a recipe for thrilling performance, but the Maxima accelerates quickly, albeit with some unnecessary gruffness underhood. High-effort steering helps the Maxima feel decidedly more athletic than rivals such as the Toyota Avalon, but our staff is mixed on the steering’s lack of road feedback and its occasionally springy nature.
Underneath its swoopy styling, the Maxima shares much of its architecture with Nissan’s smaller Altima mid-size sedan. You’d think that would result in a roomier cabin, but the Maxima prioritizes deep, thickly padded bucket-style seats for outboard passengers and the low roofline makes the rear feel even tighter. A driver-oriented dashboard provides a sporty feel and interior materials range from above average to downright decadent in the range-topping Maxima Platinum.
The entry-level Maxima S doesn’t quite deliver on the luxury mission with its cloth upholstery, but it comes standard with navigation and remote engine start. Maxima SVs throw in proper leather hides and a multi-adjustable driver’s seat with thigh support that makes them feel a little more special for not too much more cash. If you’re sold on Nissan’s “four-door sports car” marketing line, the Maxima SR’s firmer suspension, retuned brakes, and available summer tires turn it into a convincing corner carver.
The Maxima is available with a wide range of safety tech and it has performed exceptionally well in crash-testing. All trim levels come standard with automatic emergency braking, still a rarity among big four-doors.
Given its underhood power and sport-tuned transmission, the Maxima’s 25 mpg combined makes it fairly frugal, although Nissan recommends premium unleaded fuel.