Driven

4DSC? 2016 Nissan Maxima

The Nissan Maxima is the company’s flagship sedan. Touted as a Four Door Sports Car, or 4DSC, the eight generation Maxima was unveiled at the 2015 NYIAS. Nissan has thoroughly redesigned the exterior be in line with the design language first seen on the new Murano. The radical changes carry over to the Maxima’s interior. Thankfully, the long-time V6, FWD formula remains unchanged. Does the new Maxima still have its 4DSC credentials, or has it become just another sedan in the full-size market?

2016 Nissan Maxima 4

On the outside you really notice the new design. It’s bold, and it’s love it or hate it. From all angles, the rear C-pillar attracts your attention first. Echoing the “pillarless” look of the Murano, a trait that has been copied by Lexus,  takes some getting used to. But by weeks end, we really started to like the overall look of the Maxima. The new grille and headlight design work well when you step back and observe the whole car. If you get up close, you’ll notice the marketing department has subtly hidden the 4DSC moniker in several places. Inside, you get the same feeling of attractiveness. The materials are high quality, and Infiniti-sourced switchgear is prominent, especially on the steering wheel and door panels. The textured wood trim was interesting to look at and the seats were supremely comfortable. The center stack’s piano black trim showed fingerprints and dust like no other, but the overall layout was well thought out and utilized the perfect combination of physical controls and touchscreen options.

Our Platinum trim tester featured all of Nissan’s latest driver assistance tech as well. All of the systems were present and accounted for; frontal collision warning, blind spot warning, and adaptive cruise control . Unlike some of its competitors, the Maxima does a great job of keeping it out of sight and mind until it is truly needed. It’s one of the most unobtrusive set of driver’s aids we’ve experienced to date. The infotainment system was easy to use and the touchscreen was compliant without needing to double tap menu options. However, the screen resolution and some of the displays, particularly the navigation map, looked a little out of date.

2016 Nissan Maxima 5

The main concern, if you’re going to hide 4DSC labels on your car, is the drive. The Maxima carries on its usage of the front wheel to do all the work. As a result, there is some wheel spin and torque steer under hard acceleration. It was readily apparent in the wet conditions that prevailed for almost all of our week with the Maxima. The 3.5L V6 is churning out 300 horsepower now, which is ten more than the previous generation. However, the biggest talking point has to be the transmission. There’s no other way to put it, it’s a CVT. There are certainly good CVT’s and bad ones. This one is the best in the business. It performs such a convincing imitation of a transmission with physical gears, and so quickly changes “gears” in sport mode, that we felt like stopping to double check the spec sheet at times. The active sound and paddle shifters mounted on a brilliantly sporty wheel really add to the charisma and overall feel of the drive. The Maxima also handles incredibly well. Direction changes are handled with adept fortitude and are accompanied by some actual steering feel through the flat-bottomed steering wheel. The suspension works wonders to remind you that you’re in something that’s sportier than your typical family sedan. The balance of comfort and performance is well done here; Nissan nailed it.

2016 Nissan Maxima 7

The Maxima sets itself apart from its full-size competitors with its top-notch interior and long list of standard features. But Nissan continues to distance itself from the rest of the pack by focusing on the car’s dynamics. It’s 4DSC ideal, and the execution of making a full-size sedan actually fun to drive, is enough to make it a standout star. The Four Doors Sports Car heritage is still there. The car might be bigger and have more equipment than ever, but Maxima faithful need not worry. The 4DSC legacy continues to be upheld.

-Scott Villeneuve

2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum
$39,860
Floor mats, trunk mat, trunk net $220
Destination Charges $825
As Tested MSRP $40,905

Related: Kaizen: 2016 Nissan 370Z Nismo

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