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2020 Nissan Maxima Review: Not Your Typical Four-Door



2020 Nissan Maxima Platinum

The Maxima has aged well. It’s still aggressive and yet handsome.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

Today’s family cars are rather quiet. Few of them break new ground when it comes to looks or performance, however Nissan I want you to think of the Maxima as something different, a big sedan with a lot of soul. After testing a 2020 Platinum model, I largely agree with this framework … mostly.

To like

  • Decent infotainment technology
  • Smooth, strong V6
  • Fast acceleration

I do not like it

  • Limited headroom in the rear seats
  • Iffy leather quality
  • No ProPilot Assist

Sporty looks inside and out

When the current generation model hit the market five years ago, it was touted by the automaker as a “four-door sports car,” a descriptor Nissan first used in 1989 with the third-generation Maxima. Yes, that’s a bit hyperbolic, but at least when parked next to you Toyota Avalon or Chrysler 300 The Maxima looks more interesting with its aggressive grille, inflated fenders and four exhaust outlets. This means that he is a bit rowdy than average.

Even after being refreshed last year, the maxima of the current generation is not a spring chicken. Nevertheless, its interior, especially in the platinum version with the reserve package, has aged quite well. The overall design is attractive, with easy-to-use secondary controls and a relatively simple layout. The middle stack is angled slightly towards the driver for a cockpit-like feel.

The interior of my top shelf platinum trim tester is lovely, with lots of soft plastic on the door panels and dash, plus a dash of contrasting color casts to liven things up. The steering wheel on this car feels good in the hand, is both chunky and nicely shaped, and has a flat bottom for that extra shot of sport. Thoughtfully, the tiller’s rakuda tan inserts match the leather used for the seats and doors. This semi-aniline cowhide is kind of orange-brown and looks upscale, especially with the diamond stitch pattern that Nissan designers applied to it. Unfortunately, this leather is nothing special and feels more like a vinyl shower curtain than any natural material.

Ventilation slots on the rear seats ensure that passengers in Economy Class are satisfied. The same goes for the heated outboard seats that are included in the reserve package, a modest $ 1,140 extra charge. The Maxima’s back seat is supportive and comfortable, with plenty of legroom, but not particularly friendly for taller people. If I don’t lie down, my noggin hits the headliner.

Proven technology

So that I never lose myself, this Maxima offers one NissanConnect infotainment system with integrated navigation on an 8-inch display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard in the entire model range. This multimedia array looks pretty old, with some less than modern graphics, but it’s easy to use and surprisingly responsive, with no delays in entering addresses or zooming in or out of the navigation map, which you can do with the touchscreen or the Hardware button on the center console. It’s nice that you have different ways to interact with the infotainment system.

Nissan Safety Shield 360 is standard across the Maxima range. It includes a range of advanced driver aids such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic warning. Adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition are standard on SV models and above, though the useful, but somewhat gritty-looking 360-degree all-round view monitor is only included in the SR and Platinum classes. Nissan is excellent ProPilot Assist Adaptive cruise control with track centering is not offered with the Maxima, so sad trumpet.

The driver assistance this car offers is fine. Blind spot monitoring is always a good thing to keep you alert of traffic in adjacent lanes. The adaptive cruise control is perfectly adequate to adapt the vehicle speed to the requirements of the surrounding traffic. Of course, a track centering would be very welcome.

2020 Nissan Maxima Platinum

The interior of the Maxima is stylish and comfortable, although headroom in the rear seats is somewhat limited.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

CVTs get a bad rap

Most car enthusiasts hate continuously variable transmissions, and it’s easy to see why. All too often they work with booming, malnourished four-cylinder engines, a combination that’s about as comfortable as being locked in a room with an endless Dave Matthews Band playlist. But they don’t have to be torture, as the Maxima proves. When a powerful and refined powerplant is included in the powertrain equation, suddenly the poor behavior of a CVT becomes much less objectionable.

With 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque, the Maxima’s 3.5-liter V6 has plenty of power and easily, if not instantly, reaches highway speed. Even when this motor is wound up, it’s quiet and fairly quiet, and sounds like it’s working somewhere far away, rather than an inch from your feet.

The refinement of the drive train and the decent torque make the standard CVT from Xtronic far more pleasant than expected. But the so-called D-Step switching logic also plays an important role. This function simulates gear changes during moderate to strong acceleration, which reduces droning drivetrain noise. In addition, the Maxima can also detect if it’s going through a high G corner and stay at a lower gear ratio so you can get out of the corner.

2020 Nissan Maxima Platinum

V6 naturally aspirated engines are threatened with extinction these days.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

The Maxima’s CVT has some drawbacks, however. It can be shifted manually using the gear selector, but only SR models have paddle shifters, which is a bit strange. Even when driving at speeds around 40 mph, the powertrain can feel a little rough as the transmission loves to keep the engine RPM as low as possible in order to reduce fuel consumption.

And that’s exactly why automakers choose CVTs. These “transmissions” can greatly improve the efficiency of a vehicle, and Maxima is no exception. This car is rated at 20 miles per gallon city and 30 mpg highway. Collectively, the EPA says it should return 24 mpg, even though I averaged 29.7 on typical driving, an impressive number.

Competent dynamism

The steering of the Maxima, which is electro-hydraulic, has a certain syrupiness, a certain viscosity that is a little difficult to describe. The feeling from his bike is tight: it is unexpectedly difficult. This sedan is not particularly precise, but it is still quite agile and drives as straight as a Japanese high-speed train, except when cornering, where a tiny torque surge can occur during strong acceleration.

Ride quality flirts with absolute stiffness, but it’s still a step away from crossing that line. The maxima feels well controlled and there is basically no rolling of the body in corners. The binders on this Nissan have a nice bite and the pedal is a breeze as it doesn’t sink to the ground in a muddy manner, nor is it overly eager the first time you use it.

2020 Nissan Maxima Platinum

The visually interesting design continues to the rear of this Nissan.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

Still a pretty, sporty four-door

The current generation Nissan Maxima is pleasant to drive and still looks good five years after it was first sold. It’s hard to argue about what the automaker supplied here, CVT and everything, though some drivers may be protesting the price. A base Maxima S sticker for approximately $ 35,375, including $ 925 in destination fees. That’s about four grand more than an entry-level Chrysler 300, though it undercuts the Toyota Avalon by about $ 1,500. The top-notch Platinum model starts at around 42 grand, but with the reserve package, a rear diffuser, underbody lighting, and a few other bits and bobs, my review unit checked out for only about $ 46,000, which is pretty much a mass-market machine. However, if you are looking for a sporty four-door that is slightly larger and has a slightly aggressive design, the Maxima is for you.


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