Oakville Drives: 2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum: A Professional Driver’s Perspective

2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum
Oakville Drives: 2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum: A Professional Driver’s Perspective

About the Author

R. G. Beltzner

R. G. Beltzner

A long time automobile enthusiast, and competitive race driver, Rainer Beltzner provides performance driving and racing instruction for Porsche, BMW, and Ferrari owners and clubs. He's been doing this for over 25 years. Often, Rainer is found driving/teaching on one of the Canadian Tire Motorsport, Shannonville or Watkins Glen tracks. During the “off-season”, Rainer spends his spare time driving and evaluating a broad range of vehicles. Follow Rainer on Twitter @redy2rol.

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Nissan has taken the successful Maxima four door family sedan and completely redesigned it to be an even more upscale and sportier performance vehicle – now a four-door sport sedan. But does it retain enough of the older features to remain attractive as a family sedan, or has the change to a sportier version now put it into another category? Does it meet the appetite for an upscale four-door sports sedan? Read my review and judge for yourself.

Nissan

Model: 2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum
Engine: 3.5L 24-V, DOHC V6
Base Price: $43,300
Price as Tested: $45,145

Handling characteristics

The 2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum is equipped with a 300 horsepower (261 lb-ft of torque) 3.5-liter V6 engine matched with Nissan’s Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) and front wheel drive. This combination of 300 horsepower and the CVT can get you up to speed from a standing start quickly enough to put a satisfying smile on your face despite the disappointing sounds from the engine. Pushing that accelerator pedal too aggressively from a standing start or slow speed can also result in the front end sliding around on dry and definitely on wet roads. The Maxima’s suspension is excellent – provided by McPherson struts for the front and independent multi-link for the rear. On driving our country roads with the usual uneven pavement and occasional bumpy railway crossing, the car always felt completely stable and responsive. Driving our 400 series of highways at higher speeds, the Maxima’s strong power, responsiveness, road stability, speed sensitive electric power steering and the excellent adaptive cruise control system are all a definite plus. The car comes equipped with all season 245/45R18 tires that are quite adequate for spring, summer and fall driving. Does it drive and feel like a sports sedan? Perhaps if I had driven the SR model with available paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, 19” wheels and specifically tuned suspension I might be convinced.

Comfort

2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum InteriorFrom the moment you open the driver’s door, you are greeted with a luxurious interior appearance. Most noticeable are the climate controlled leather appointed seats with diamond quilted leather inserts (a bit much actually). The position memory, power tilt/telescopic and leather wrapped (sport style) steering wheel combined with the leather wrapped shift knob add to the luxury look. But is the car comfortable for both driver and passengers? For the driver, the 8-way power seat with lumbar support includes a manual thigh support extension. Comfortable enough but I could do without the quilted leather inserts. I also found my right leg/knee frequently hitting the side of the center console – too narrow a space for my legs. Finally, the sleek lower roofline design looks sporty but left a little more than an inch of headroom for me, even with the seat in its lowest position. The front passenger gets a four-way power seat. Rear passengers have a 60/40split fold down seating area that includes a fold down armrest with dual cup holders. Leg and headroom for rear passengers will be a challenge for larger folks. Nissan has done a very good design job with the layout and usability of the illuminated steering wheel controls. For ease of use, the Maxima comes equipped with remote as well as push button start, remote window down and trunk release through the intelligent key. The car is equipped with a touch sensitive 8” colour display; voice command for navigation and audio; bluetooth hands free phone connectivity; bluetooth wireless streaming audio capability; USB connections; Sirius satellite radio; and smartphone app integration. All of this combined with the Bose audio system with 11 speakers provides a full and entertaining environment.

Safety

The 2016 Maxima includes predictive forward collision warning; intelligent cruise control; forward emergency braking; rear cross traffic alert; and blind spot warning as standard equipment on the SL, SR and Platinum models. The Platinum also includes a 360-degree “surround view” monitor with ability to detect moving objects. This is an excellent safety feature that I found quite useful. It’s nice to see what’s all around your car. The Platinum model includes as standard equipment a driver attention alert system – designed to signal the driver when “drowsy or inattentive” driving is detected. A coffee cup symbol magically appears suggesting that you should take a break from driving. From my experience across now several manufacturers, the conditions that contribute to set off this warning feature are a mystery. Just how many lane drifts count? Precisely which “steering inputs” count to detect changes in my driving behaviour and are all of these changes dangerous? The Maxima comes equipped with air bags for the driver and front passenger seats, supplemental front air bags, seat belt sensors, front passenger seat occupant classification sensor, front seat-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags and roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags with rollover sensor for front and rear outboard occupant head protection, and 3-point rear seat belts for all seating positions. Traction control, dynamic stability and tire pressure monitoring are also included.

Things to consider

This redesigned Maxima is a good looking “four door sport sedan” that is comfortable, has just about every convenience and safety feature that you might need or want, is nicely finished on both the inside and outside, drives and handles quite well. In my opinion, this is a good option for those looking for a car with modern design, current features, comfort, and a sporty look with acceptable sporty performance. Is it a true family car? Like with every car, nothing is perfect for all drivers. I did not like the quilted leather driver’s seat or the lack of room at the side of my right knee. I found the roof of the car to be unnervingly close to the top of my head and tilting the seat further back to compensate made reaching for the steering wheel uncomfortable. Speaking of the steering wheel, the flat bottom may look sporty but is not comfortable in tight turns. The sleek design of the car also limits the legroom and headspace for larger people. For families with older kids, this might not be the most comfortable car option for longer drives. Finally a word about practical trunk space and design. I couldn’t get an average sized plastic storage tote into the trunk. I’m not sure a golf bag would fit either (golfers – better check that out). And what is with the unprotected audio and other equipment sitting on the rear roof of the trunk? It seems to me that much of what I usually stuff into the trunk of my car on a trip would interfere with this equipment and possibly damage it.

Fuel consumption (and that’s with the required premium level fuel) for this Maxima Platinum is rated at 10.9 L/100 km city, 7.8 L/100 km hwy. After driving in city, highway and country road conditions, my obvious lead foot managed only 14.9/100km.

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