Family Car Of The Year 2016 Nissan Maxima 4DSC

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2016 Nissan Maxima
Created by driving enthusiasts for driving enthusiasts, the dramatically styled 2016 Nissan Maxima looks like nothing else on the road today - and drives like nothing in the segment. The all-new Nissan flagship not only resets Maxima's iconic "4-Door Sports Car" positioning, it sets a new standard for style, performance and technology in the large sedan segment.

2016 Nissan Maxima: Nissan’s “4-Door Sports Car” By Sue Mead

They call it the “4DSC” for 4-door sports car, and they say it’s bold. After driving it recently, I say they’re right on both counts. When Nissan’s designers and engineers went back to the drawing board to craft this 8th-generation flagship, they set their sights on the sports car market and the premium sedan segment. They endowed the full-sized 5-passenger sedan with a lighter and more rigid chassis that is propelled by an updated 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 with a new performance-oriented Xtronic transmission, and gave it a stunning, futuristic looks and what Nissan calls a “class-above, bespoke crafted” interior that rivals some luxury vehicles.

Nissan also grew the list of standard features, with a collection of goodies like NissanConnect navigation with 8.0-inch display paired to a 7.0-inch Advanced Drive Assist Display; Remote Engine Start via Intelligent Key; dual USB ports; SiriusXM Satellite Radio and SiriusXM Travel Link applications; Online Search with Google; LED Signature Daytime Running Lights; 18-inch machined finished aluminum-alloy wheels; Zero Gravity front seats with 8-way Power Driver Seat/ 4-way Power Passenger Seat; dual-zone Automatic Temperature Control with front and rear vents; and a HomeLink Universal Transceiver. Plus, an impressive cache of standard safety technologies brings standard a Tire Pressure Monitoring System, with Easy-Fill Tire Alert and Vehicle Dynamic Control, with Traction Control.
Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Cruise Control, Forward Emergency Braking, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Warning are all standard on up-level grades.

Maxima is Nissan’s longest-running nameplate; the model has now been purchased by 2.9 million buyers in the U.S. The 2016 Nissan Maxima starts at $32,410 and comes in five grades: Maxima S; SV; SL; the new sport-themed SR trim; and the new upscale Platinum level. Each grade is well equipped and, although there are a few accessories, there are no options. It competes with the Toyota Avalon, Buick LaCrosse, Ford Taurus, and the Chrysler 300, among others.

Designers used inspiration from the Blue Angels fighter jets when recrafting the exterior and laying out the ergonomics of the interior. The outside copies the Nissan Sports Sedan Concept, penned with a lower profile, a V-Motion front end and boomerang LEDs, with a wider stance, sculpted doors, kick-up C-pillars, a floating roof, and 2.2 inches more length. The rear has large, dual exhaust pipes and LEDs, with “4DSC” embossed within the taillight reflectors and headlights.

Slip inside and you’ll find the “command-central driver’s cockpit” and the center stack canted toward the driver (borrowed from the legendary GT-R) and a flat-bottom steering wheel. A floating higher console makes important controls easy-to-reach. The console is trimmed with posh padding on the sides with contrasted stitching that punctuates doors and panel throughout the interior.The two USB inputs have music playback capability in the media bin on the console, which can fit an iPhone 6 Plus. Available is an 11-speaker Bose audio system, ambient lighting, premium Ascot leather seating surfaces with diamond-quilted inserts, unique faceted finishers, and material choices like Alcantara, more often found on high-end exotic vehicles. Heated and climate-controlled front seats and steering wheel are standard depending on grade level. The rear seat is now a standard 60/40 split fold-down design.

2016 Nissan Maxima

The top level Maxima Platinum grade gets Nissan’s innovative Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection that provides a 360-degree “surround view” of the vehicle. Maxima Platinum also offers a standard Driver Attention Alert system, which helps alert the driver when drowsy or inattentive driving is detected.

Six factory installed accessories can be ordered for additional customization; they include splash guards, illuminated kick plates, premium spoiler, sport spoiler (SR only), 19-inch summer tires with full-size aluminum-alloy wheel spare (SR only) and unique 18-inch alloy wheels.

Under the hood, Maxima’s V6 engine has more than 60 percent new parts. It gets 261 lb.-ft. of torque and is matched to a new CVT transmission, with manual shifting mode, wider gear ratios and an all-new D-Step shift logic for faster-shifting, more sporty driving. A 15 percent increase in highway fuel economy is rated at up to 30 miles per gallon and 22 mpg for city.

We drove the Maxima SV on a 150-mile drive route out of Nashville, Tennessee, with city traffic and freeways, as well as along narrow and winding country roads. Notable is the strong acceleration from a stop and ample power on tap matched to responsive brakes that are backed up with standard 4-wheel Anti-lock Braking System, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist. The speed-sensitive steering feels like higher-end European models and the Xtronic holds rpms in high-speed corners for authentic sports-car feel. A new Drive Mode Selector, has Sport and Normal modes; it adjusts throttle response, transmission tuning, steering feel and Active Sound Enhancement tuning that heightens the exhaust note, when you choose to motivate the throttle.  On the other hand, quietness in the cockpit is enhanced by the use of laminated glass on the windshield also on the front doors.

The SV grade adds leather-appointed seats, heated front seats, front and rear parking sensors, driver’s seat power lumbar support, driver’s seat power lumbar extension, heated outside mirrors, and outside mirrors with turn signal indicator.

2016 Nissan Maxima SV

Type: large, mid-sized/ full-sized sedan

Base price: $33, 235

As tested, including destination: $35, 215

Drivetrain: 3.5-liter V6; Xtronic CVT transmission, FWD

Horsepower and torque: 300 hp.; 261 lb.-ft.

Fuel: premium unleaded

EPA estimated fuel economy: 22 city/30 highway

Curb weight: 3,488 lbs.

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Sue Mead
Sue Mead’s automotive career began as a freelance evaluator for Four Wheeler Magazine in 1988, on the first team that included women as testers. Today, she travels the globe test-driving cars and trucks, and working as a photojournalist/feature writer for dozens of publications, specializing in 4WD and adventure. Mead has been an auto editor and 4WD editor for CNN/fn. Her books include Monster Trucks and Tractors; Off Road Racing, Legends and Adventures; and Rock Crawling. She has been to 70 countries; driven enough off-road and 4WD race miles to have circumnavigated the globe twice! Mead won the Open Production class at the 2011 Dakar; and is an inductee into the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.