- Muscly V-6
- Handsome looks
- Driver-centric cabin
- Fun in SR form
- Standard active safety tech
- Aging interior design and quality
- Short on head and leg room
- Small trunk for its size
- Sluggish CVT
features & specs
The 2020 Nissan Maxima is a handsome, relatively sporty sedan in an era when fewer people than ever are interested in one.
The 2020 Nissan Maxima is a sharp-looking, relatively fun sedan but a far cry from the “four-door sports car” of yore. In an era where sedans are less popular than ever, it doesn’t do quite enough to stand out.
The 2020 Maxima, sold in S, SV, SL, SR, and Platinum trims, earns a TCC Rating of 6.5 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
For 2020, the Maxima gets a tiny price bump but gains new standar safety features such as automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control.
The Maxima puts styling first, especially with its recent refresh, and the result is a distinctive but undeniably handsome sedan. Dramatic character lines, a floating roof design, and big bright LED headlights make for a distinctive look, and the interior makes use of quilted faux suede, textured accents and a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel to stand out from other sedans.
A 3.5-liter V-6 comes standard and makes 300 horsepower but is unfortunately tied to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that sends power to the front wheels only. The smooth, powerful V-6 is a tried-and-true powerplant from the company’s stable, but it’s let down by an economy-car gearbox and no all-wheel-drive option. SR models add a bit of sporty handling to the mix, coming with beefier suspension, 19-inch wheels, and paddle shifters on the steering wheel that simulate actual gear shifts. This is a relatively fun sedan to drive, but not as fun as it could be.
Inside, the 2020 Maxima is comfortable for the two adults up front, but the rear seat is somewhat small, and the trunk isn’t as big as many large sedan competitors. This is more of a sportier mid-size option than a true full-size sedan like the Toyota Avalon or Kia Cadenza.
Base models come with 18-inch wheels, a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth, and standard safety tech for just over $35,000. The sporty SR model rings in at over $42,000, with a panoramic roof, premium sound, and leather upholstery.
2020 Nissan Maxima
The 2020 Nissan Maxima checks all the right sporty styling boxes for a sedan.
The 2020 Nissan Maxima is less subtle than many of its contemporaries, but the design works well overall. The interior follows suit, warranting 7 out of 10 here.
Nissan’s V-shaped grille has adorned the brand’s vehicles for nearly a decade now, and it seems bigger and bolder than ever. We like the results on the recently restyled Maxima though, especially when paired with bright LED headlights, distinctive character lines, and neat touches like a floating roof effect. In sporty SR guise with black wheels and accents, it looks properly sporty.
The interior shows its age somewhat but draped in fine materials on top trims and featuring just enough sporty accents like a flat-bottomed steering wheel, it works overall. We especially like the abundance of real knobs and buttons, and the way the center stack is angled towards the driver, similar to Nissan’s GT-R supercar.
2020 Nissan Maxima
The 2020 Nissan Maxima can be fun, but its transmission makes it a far cry from the “four-door sports car” of yore.
Compared to other mid-size sedans, the 2020 Nissan Maxima is sportier thanks to its standard V-6 engine. But does that make it actually sporty? We’re not so sure, so we awarded a 6 here, with an extra point for the Maxima’s supple ride.
Think of the Maxima as an Altima V-6 rather than a large sedan like the Toyota Avalon or Kia Cadenza. Its size and shape are better compared to the mid-size class, but its performance is a small step above.
A 3.5-liter V-6 is standard and makes 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque. Unfortunately, this tried-and-true powertrain is mated with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that’s better suited to an economy car than a sports sedan. Front-wheel drive is standard as well, with no option for all-wheel drive available.
While the engine has solid pickup, the transmission lets it down by droning and holding revs too long. SR models add paddle shifters that simulate an automatic gearbox, but we’d bet it would work better with a conventional 8-speed automatic.
Ride and handling is good, but not quite sharp enough to warrant being called truly sporty like the Maxima would have you believe. Again, the SR trim improves the driving experience with better suspension components and brakes, but we think there are more fun sedans out there.
2020 Nissan Maxima
Comfort & Quality
The 2020 Nissan Maxima is comfortable up front and features nice materials, but its back seat and trunk are too small.
The 2020 Nissan Maxima is almost the size of a large sedan but is mid-size on the inside. Comfortable front seats and good material quality make up for a tight rear seat. We give it a 6 for comfort and utility.
Nissan and Infiniti have figured out the art of making supportive front seats no matter the vehicle, and the Maxima is a chief example of this. Even in base cloth form, they’re power-adjustable, well bolstered, and all-day comfortable. Higher trim models add finer materials like real leather and grippy synthetic suede.
Unfortunately, that level of comfort and space doesn’t translate to the rear, where the Maxima feels closer to a mid-size sedan than its full-size dimensions would suggest. With only 34.2 inches of leg room, it lags behind some mid-size competitors, and is comfortable only for two adults. Headroom is in short supply too thanks to the Maxima’s sloping roofline. If it’s rear seat comfort you’re looking for, opt for the Altima.
Trunk space is limited as well at only 14.3 cubic feet, again less than most mid-size sedans. And while the Maxima’s interior is trimmed out nicely and feels substantial, it’s just rich enough to justify its base price.
2020 Nissan Maxima
The 2020 Nissan Maxima lacks full crash test scores, but those that exist are good and active safety tech is now standard across the range.
Due to its low sales volume, the 2020 Nissan Maxima lacks comprehensive crash test scores. What’s published so far is enough to give it an 8 out of 10.
The federal government has only given the Maxima a rollover rating of five stars, but the IIHS tested it fully last year and awarded a Top Safety Pick award thanks to “Good” ratings in every category minus the headlights.
While last year saw expanded active safety feature availability, Nissan has made nearly every system it offers standard on the 2020 Maxima, including automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitors, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control.
Higher-tier models offer a surround-view camera system along with other features. It’s helpful, since the Maxima’s rear roof pillars obstruct some of the view.
2020 Nissan Maxima
The 2020 Nissan Maxima is well-equipped across the range, but choose the SR model for the sportiest experience.
At more than $35,000 in its base edition, the 2020 Maxima is not as affordable as it’s been in the past, but it does offer impressive standard features. We give it 8 out of 10, with points for standard and optional equipment and its infotainment, but it leaves value and warranty points on the table.
For 2020 the Maxima is still offered in S, SV, SL, SR, and Platinum trims. The $35,145 Maxima S comes with standard active safety features, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, 18-inch alloy wheels, power-adjustable front seats, and two USB ports, it’s the Maxima we’d have if value is of the essence.
Maxima SV and SL models add more luxury touches like leather seats and satellite navigation, but the $42,435 Platinum has the most, including Bose audio, a dual-pane panoramic moonroof, a surround-view camera system, 19-inch wheels, heated and cooled leather seats up front, real wood trim, and more. We’d spend slightly less and choose the SR trim though ($42,345), which includes stiffer sport suspension with better sway bars, more responsive brakes, and blacked-out trim and 19-inch wheels. It’s the closest to the “four-door sports car” ideal that made the original Maxima a hit and includes nearly all the same equipment as the Platinum model.
Nissan backs its cars with a 36-month/36,000-mile limited warranty, and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
2020 Nissan Maxima
The 2020 Nissan Maxima is reasonably efficient at 24 mpg combined, and requires premium fuel.
The 2020 Nissan Maxima isn’t particularly thrifty, but we’ve seen worse mileage from V-6 sedans. We give it 4 out of 10 here.
Thanks to front-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), the Maxima gets EPA ratings of 20 mpg city, 30 highway,24 combined with a total range estimate of 432 miles. Premium fuel is required, so expect to spend a bit more at the pump than you would with other mid-size sedans.