• 2016 Nissan Maxima SR: Penalized for Unsportscar-Like Conduct [Review]

    2016 Nissan Maxima SR

    The all-new 2016 Nissan Maxima has been redesigned and breaks out with an attention-grabbing exterior, a revised powertrain, an ensemble of active safety features, and an array of new tech and convenience features. While Nissan has some lofty aspirations for their full-size sedan, it doesn’t measure up to expectations in the sports sedan arena set by the marketing department. That’s not to say the 2016 Maxima is all bad. If we look at it as a mature sedan that offers good value, has a solid history of reliability, and can transport everyone inside safely, then yes, the Maxima excels quite well.

    With a lineage dating back to 1981, the 8th-generation large sedan has been overhauled with an emphasis on comfort, safety, and the goal of delivering an almost sports sedan-like performance.

    So what’s changed? On the outside, the car has a nicely sculpted body profile, a longer and wider footprint, and a very bold front end. The inside – just like the outside – was heavily inspired by Nissan’s Sport Sedan Concept. The center console is busy but functional, and the nicely stitched upholstery is more than inviting. The large infotainment screen in the center stack is angled toward the driver, and the overall feel is comparable to that of more expensive full-size sedans on the market.

    2016 Nissan Maxima SR

    Powertrain choices for the 2016 Maxima are limited to one, which is a revised version of Nissan’s esteemed VQ-Series 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 300 horsepower and 261 lb-ft of torque, mated to an updated continuously variable transmission (CVT) that comes with Sport and Manual modes. Thanks to the car’s lighter weight and improved powertrain, the 2016 Maxima is rated 22/30 mpg city/highway.

    Of the five different trim levels available, the SR trim is the closest thing to a 4-door sports car and is priced from $37,670. It includes Maxima SL equipment, but loses the panoramic sunroof to incrementally lower the car’s weight and center of gravity. Nineteen-inch wheels with low profile tires, a sport suspension, a front performance chassis damper, paddle shifters, and an Integrated Dynamics Module (IDM) with Active Ride Control, Active Trace Control, and Active Engine Brake are exclusive to the Maxima SR.

    The Maxima’s brakes handle their job with confidence, which feel responsive, linear, and fade resistant. The ride quality also impresses, soaking up bumps and potholes without excess impact harshness. Even at 80 mph, the Maxima’s cabin is quiet, making it easy to hold a conversation.

    Switching the SR’s Drive Mode Selector to sport enhances the throttle sensitivity, changes the transmission’s shifting strategy, raises steering effort, and then amps up the engine note inside the cabin. None of that overcomes the dynamic handicap that is born of having 61 percent of the weight carried by the front tires. Lay into the Maxima on a road with delightful curves and straights, and despite having excellent body control, this sedan never comes alive, it just understeers — inescapable, grinding, shuddering understeer. Bring the speed down and the full-size sedan hums along complacently. But a sports sedan shouldn’t give up so easily.

    Begrudgingly, I have to admit the CVT is responsive in Normal and Sport modes. Under normal driving conditions, the Maxima’s transmission operates unobtrusively without the drone associated with most CVTs. Under moderate acceleration, or when launched from a stop under full throttle and in Sport mode, the CVT comes close to acting like a traditional automatic. Adding to the pseudo-sport experience is the Active Sound Enhancement system that is responsible for the strong engine thrum heard inside the cabin and increasing the driver’s subjective sense of speed.

    The SR trim, which is supposed to be Maxima at its most athletic form, can’t overcome the less-than-sharp steering response, the hint of torque steer under heavy acceleration, and a heavy weight bias at the front.

    It turns out, though, that the Maxima is more comparable to a luxury car. The front and rear seats are spacious and soothingly comfortable. Touches of fake suede, diamond-patterned stitching, and metallic trim are welcome embellishments. At night, ambient lighting subtly illuminates the instrument-panel trim and doors. The simple and elegant round gauges have a seven-inch multi­colored screen between them to display information and route guidance. An eight-inch touch screen on the driver-oriented center console can be also be ­controlled by the knob behind the shifter.

    While the 2016 Maxima isn’t a 4-door sports car, no matter how much the marketing mavens at Nissan wish it were true, it will carve itself a slice of the market from the consumers who recognized for what it really is – a stylish and well-crafted sedan with a comfortable and refined ride.


    The 2016 Nissan Maxima is brand new and according to Nissan it is a 4DSC and 4DSC stand for a 4-door sports car. Stick with Roman as he unravels the dilemma of a front wheel drive car with a CVT transmission masquerading as a 4-door sports car.

    2016 NISSAN MAXIMA SR
    MSRP $37,670
    Price as tested $38,750
    Engine 3.5l DOHC V6
    Power (hp) 300 @ 6,400 rpm
    Torque (lb-ft) 261 @ 4,400 rpm
    Transmission Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission)
    Drivetrain layout transverse mounted front engine / front-wheel-drive
    Curb weight 3,564 lbs
    EPA-estimated fuel economy mpg 22 / 30 / 26 (city/hwy/observed)
    Acceleration 0-60 mph 5.9 sec **
    Top speed 135 mph **
    Review overview
    Summary Nissan delivers a flagship sedan with a premium edge and a competitive price point. The exterior redesign is dynamically better than the previous generation and the interior is terrific. But this still isn’t a 4-door sports car, no matter what Nissan tells you.
    3.5
    Derek Mau
    Derek Mau
    Before becoming an automotive journalist, Derek was diving into engine bays and wiring car audio systems for competitions since high school. Granted, there were a few extra bits and pieces after reassembling everything but nothing ever fell apart on the road. Today Derek applies his enthusiasm and gearhead knowledge into the latest cars, unraveling today's complex automotive technology, and learning the rich history behind classic cars.

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    11 thoughts on “2016 Nissan Maxima SR: Penalized for Unsportscar-Like Conduct [Review]

    1. I owned a brand new not used 05 Nissan Maxima loaded in 05 nicest driving fastest sedan most comfortable great fuel economy I was seeing 32 mpg regularly HOW ever by 09 engine went out got that replaced then transmission went out got that replaced then radiator and hoses spent a grand total of 14 grand fixing everything still didn’t run right I now own only Chevys since 2010 no issues Nissan worst car ever always had issues not reliable not sure where u get your reliable info from tfl look at craigslist all the maximas from 04-2009 all have the same issue transmissions problems do your research please

    2. I currently own a 2016 Maxima platinum edition and I can see how Nissan can call it a 4 door sports car, its completely different from the previous generation which I also owned, that one felt like a luxury sedan… everything about this new version is sporty to me. Especially the SR version.

    3. And also my previous Maxima which was a 2011 with 150k+ miles, NEVER had any tranny issues, if you follow the manual and use only synthetic oil changes and Premuim gas, nissans tend to last very long with no issues, the only reason why I gave mine up is because I wanted the new one.

      1. Brandon Srt4
        October 8, 2016 at 3:50 am
        Melissa read again any car can reach a 150k as mine had 147k as an ASE certified technician I can tell you this , one of the reasons for the transmission issues was the 3.5 is a variant of the old 350z engine and the transmission for the 04 and up that used the traditional 5sp auto was not built for that powerful of an engine so to speak that was an issue. also nissans are notorious for being the most expensive cars to fix also your comparing the 2010 and up generation witch used the cvt apples to oranges but nice try and the maxima while being quick is not fast at all it’s quick it’s not a sports car, when being dynoed the 04-09 3.5 only put down 212 hp from a claimed 265 hp whitch doesn’t move a 3500 pound car even your current model whitch says 300 hp when dynoed only puts out 230 hp whitch for 3500lbs again is why it’s slow but again nice try know your info not your feelings lol

    4. Melissa read again any car can reach a 150k as mine had 147k as an ASE certified technician I can tell you this , one of the reasons for the transmission issues was the 3.5 is a variant of the old 350z engine and the transmission for the 04 and up that used the traditional 5sp auto was not built for that powerful of an engine so to speak that was an issue. also nissans are notorious for being the most expensive cars to fix also your comparing the 2010 and up generation witch used the cvt apples to oranges but nice try and the maxima while being quick is not fast at all it’s quick it’s not a sports car, when being dynoed the 04-09 3.5 only put down 212 hp from a claimed 265 hp whitch doesn’t move a 3500 pound car even your current model whitch says 300 hp when dynoed only puts out 230 hp whitch for 3500lbs again is why it’s slow but again nice try know your info not your feelings lol

    5. Unfortunately the writer is being lazy as this very same review was posted back in the early summer of 2016, rehash old articles, very much a no-no as a writer of current interest stories. How about a review of the 2017 model.
      Anyways, I had a 1985 maxima that was truly a sport sedan, as well as being luxurious appointed accessories, and trim.i agree the new models are more luxury than sports car, and sporty is not the same as a sports car, looks wise, sure it’s sporty, in the performance lineup . Not do much.

      1. Dave, I looked back and couldn’t find another Maxima review. Keep in mind, that we have video reviews that we post here, along with written reviews. We also have multiple writers who contribute reviews, and they have different views of the cars, which makes them all relevant.

        Derek is the former managing editor here and I assure you he’s far from lazy. Also, we are at the mercy of the press fleets, so once more 2017s arrive and are available for testing, we will most certainly review them here.

        1. The point is that your views on a lot of the vehicles are very scued and kind of misleading the maxima is a rebadged past year Infiniti as far as looks and equipment also I say again look at used maximas for sale after 140k whitch isn’t a lot they take a crap timing chain transmission plastics falling apart paint peeling I can go on their nice cars quick not fast over priced very very comfortable not worth the money new great used tho

      2. Dave Jacques,

        The Maxima was redesigned inside and out for 2016. Thus, the 2017 model is pretty much the same as the 2016MY. New for 2017 is the addition of standard Apple CarPlay™ iPhone® connectivity and two new accessory value packages – the Limited Package and Premium Package.

        1. Your right cause that changes reliability and cost of ownership or the fact that it’s just rebadge crap , you can paint over crap guess what it’s just nicer crap might smell a lil better to

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