2021 Nissan Maxima

2021 Nissan Maxima Review: A Solid Sedan With No Sparkle

In a world dominated by SUVs and, slowly but surely, electric vehicles, large V6-powered family sedans seem somewhat outdated. Enter the Nissan Maxima, the answer to a question no one in 2021 was asking. A big, 300-horsepower V6 that sends its power to the front wheels via a CVT transmission makes this car less than sporty, despite Nissan's best efforts with the SR trim. At least it's safe and well equipped, but it is hopelessly overshadowed by more accomplished competitors such as the Honda Accord and Mazda 6. There are some redeeming traits, however, such as the aforementioned 300 ponies, and seats that live up to their Zero Gravity nomenclature with unrivaled levels of comfort. Nissan might market the Maxima as a performance-focused midsize sedan, but in reality, it's a comfy, well-equipped, safe sedan with a fun side.

2021 Nissan Maxima Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Maxima?

The 2021 Nissan Maxima Sedan Celebrates 40 years and eight generations with the new 40th Anniversary Edition, which adds unique features such as a two-tone Ruby Slate Gray Pearl exterior color with black roof, 19-inch gloss black aluminum-alloy wheels, black exterior finishes including a 40th Anniversary badge, red semi-aniline leather seats with 40th Anniversary embossing, and heated rear seats, among others. The Maxima lineup now consists of four trim levels, including the SV, SR, and Platinum. All models get leather seats, Nissan Door-to-Door Navigation, and NissanConnect services as standard.

Pros and Cons

  • Lots of standard features
  • Cool, modern styling
  • Enough power for daily needs
  • Sleeper status
  • Unimpressive cargo capacity
  • Disappointing CVT transmission
  • Numb driving experience

Best Deals on Maxima

2021 Nissan Maxima Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
SV
3.5L V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$37,090
SR
3.5L V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$42,250
Platinum
3.5L V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$42,320
40th Anniversary Edition
3.5L V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$44,445

2021 Nissan Maxima Sedan Exterior

Unlike many class competitors that disappear into traffic (what's up, Honda Accord?), the Maxima has a bold and in-your-face look that is truly refreshing. Its updated exterior features a large front grille with a resounding "V," and all models come standard with intelligent auto LED headlights and DRLs. SR models and above also get LED fog lights, and an auto-dimming driver-side mirror. The base model rides on 18-inch machine-finish alloys, which increase in size to 19-inches for the rest of the range.

2021 Nissan Maxima Front Angle View Nissan
2021 Nissan Maxima Rear View Driving Nissan
2021 Nissan Maxima Front Angle View 1 Nissan
See All 2021 Nissan Maxima Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Maxima is classified as a full-size sedan and shares similar dimensions with competitors such as the Toyota Avalon. Photos do not do this car justice: out in the real world, it seems larger and provides a pretty decent presence on the road. The 2021 Maxima has an overall length of 192.8 inches, a width of 73.2 inches, and a height of 56.5 inches. The track width is 62.4 inches all around, and the base model rolls on a 109.3-inch wheelbase and weighs in at 3,612 lbs. The SR weighs 3,697 pounds, while the Platinum and 40th Anniversary Edition come in at 3,736 lbs.

  • Length 192.8 in
  • Wheelbase 109.3 in
  • Height 56.5 in
  • Max Width 73.2 in
  • Front Width 62.4 in
  • Rear Width 62.4 in
  • Curb Weight 3,565.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

Try as it might, the Maxima will still go mostly unnoticed by the majority of people, so you have two choices: go with a muted color and stay under the radar, or go for something bright and see the disinterest manifest tenfold. The base model is offered in six exterior colors: Deep Blue Pearl, Super Black, Gun Metallic, Brilliant Silver Metallic are no-cost options. Pearl White Tricoat and Carnelian Red Tintcoat go for an extra $395. SR models add Sunset Drift ChromaFlair ($395) but reduce the rest of the palette to Super Black, Gun Metallic, and Pearl White TriCoat. Similarly, the 40th Anniversary version is offered exclusively in a unique two-tone Ruby Slate Gray Pearl color. The Platinum trim, on the other hand, gains access to all seven color options. We dig the Pearl White TriCoat.

  • Carnelian Red Tintcoat
  • Pearl White Tricoat
  • Sunset Drift Chromaflair
  • Carnelian Red Tintcoat, Build Out: 11/04/2020
  • Pearl White Tricoat, Build Out: 11/04/2020
  • Sunset Drift Chromaflair, Build Out: 11/04/2020
  • Ruby Slate Gray Pearl w/Black Roof
  • Deep Blue Pearl, Build Out: 11/04/2020
  • Brilliant Silver Metallic, Build Out: 11/04/2020
  • Gun Metallic
  • Super Black
  • Deep Blue Pearl
  • Brilliant Silver Metallic

2021 Nissan Maxima Performance

The word "Maxima" might sound like some super awesome '90s Japanese robot transformer but, unfortunately, it is but a mere family sedan. However, Nissan has granted the Maxima a notable V6 engine pushing out 300 horses, which results in a car with deceptive levels of performance, and one that will leave most of its competitors in the dust. Take it for a test drive, and you'll think it's faster than what its independently tested 5.7-second 0-60 time suggests. The Toyota Avalon, by comparison, takes 6.1 seconds to complete the same sprint.

Push it even further, and you should have no trouble reaching speeds in excess of 140 mph. The only downside to the Maxima when it comes to performance is its restriction to front-wheel-drive, while rivals such as the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300C offer RWD and all-wheel drive.

2021 Nissan Maxima Front View Driving Nissan
2021 Nissan Maxima Wheel Nissan
2021 Nissan Maxima Gauge Cluster Nissan

Engine and Transmission

Under the hood of the 2021 Nissan Maxima sedan lies a 3.5-liter 24-valve V6 engine that produces a healthy 300 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque. This is enough to haul close to 4,000 pounds of Japanese metal quite rapidly. While the Maxima never feels slow, this engine does require one to make full use of the rev range, as maximum power is only attained at a heady 6,400 rpm. Unfortunately, the engine is let down by a sluggish and uninspiring CVT transmission. The Maxima shoots off the line with impressive eagerness, but the classic rubber-band feeling creeps in as one picks up speed. This is most noticeable when attempting to overtake or pick up speed when merging onto the highway - the engine makes more noise, but the car doesn't really make any progress. Rivals with traditional automatic gearboxes offer much better in-gear acceleration.

  • Engine
    3.5L V6 Gas
  • Transmission
    Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Nissan's engineers must have been confused when they set up the Maxima's suspension system. The car is not aimed at fans of traditional sport sedans; take a look at the engine and transmission setup and this becomes abundantly clear. So it remains a mystery as to why they made the suspension so firm. The suspension is dampened for a more aggressive driving style, which then naturally sacrifices ride comfort. This issue reveals itself at almost any speed: over low-speed surfaces, imperfections are felt more so than in most competitors. The Sporty SR trim gets the worst of it thanks to a stiffer suspension setup. The upside to all of this is that the Maxima is one of the better-handling cars in this segment. The sharp and responsive steering inspires confidence, although the Maxima struggles to hide its weight through the twisty bits.

With all that weight and power sloshing over the front wheels, the Maxima will eventually turn toward understeer as is to be expected of an FWD car of this size. On the plus side, Nissan has done a good job of canceling out road noise, which adds a touch of refinement.

2021 Nissan Maxima Gas Mileage

For such a heavyweight, the Maxima is a car that won't completely ruin your bank balance at the gas station. Its 3.5-liter V6 engine will, according to the EPA, consume 20/30/24 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles. This is slightly less economical than the Toyota Avalon, which will return 22/31/25 mpg from its 3.5-liter V6 engine. The Honda Accord with its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine returns 22/32/26 mpg. With its 18-gallon fuel tank, the Maxima will get you 432 miles out of Las Vegas before the bookies realize anything.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    18.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 20/30 mpg
* 2021 Nissan Maxima SV CVT

2021 Nissan Maxima Interior

Forget what you thought you knew about Nissan interiors: the Maxima houses a beautifully refined interior that can easily stand up to German rivals in terms of build quality and choice of materials. The seats offer just the right amount of support and are exceptionally comfortable. The dashboard layout is refreshingly simple and easy to navigate, which will appeal to an older, less tech-savvy crowd. Space is ample in the front, but limited headroom in the back and a tight middle seat can be a source of complaint for some. The infotainment system in the Maxima is a solid effort, and, when fully specced, the Maxima can become a real luxury yacht.

2021 Nissan Maxima Dashboard Nissan
2021 Nissan Maxima Steering Wheel Nissan
2021 Nissan Maxima Driver Seat Nissan
See All 2021 Nissan Maxima Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The Maxima officially provides seating for up to five individuals. In the front, this Japanese sedan offers a good amount of headroom and a class-leading 45 inches of legroom - perfect for those six-foot-plus occupants. Things in the back don't look so good, though. Legroom is decent, but there is little headroom for taller passengers, and the center seat is so small that it should be considered a children's seat, at best. Besides the relatively tight back seat, the Maxima offers good visibility all around, and the driver and front passenger have easy access to all important controls. Getting in and out of the Maxima is a trouble-free experience, but taller passengers will have to watch their heads upon entry. The driver gets an eight-way power-adjustable seat with power lumbar support, while the front passenger gets a four-way power-adjustable seat. A driver's side memory system and manual thigh support extension are also standard on certain trims.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 45.0 in
  • Front Head Room 39.4 in
  • Rear Leg Room 34.2 in
  • Rear Head Room 36.7 in

Interior Colors and Materials

The Maxima offers a convincingly premium interior experience, with even the base model offering some notably upmarket materials. Step inside the SV, and you'll be greeted with leather upholstered seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and subtle Satin Chrome interior trim. The SR model gets premium Ascot leather seats with diamond-quilted Alcantara inserts. The top of the line 40th Anniversary Edition receives semi-aniline Leather-appointed seats with dynamic diamond-quilted leather inserts with embossing. SR cars also feature Dark Satin Chrome interior trim, Aluminum sport pedals, a Charcoal headliner, and Platinum models add Satin Birdseye Maple Wood-tone trim. It is worth noting that not all seat colors are available with all exterior paint colors.

2021 Nissan Maxima Trunk and Cargo Space

While passengers won't complain about the amount of space on offer in the cabin, they will be disappointed to find that the Maxima has one of the smallest trunks in its class. Its only saving grace is that the trunk lid has a square opening and low liftover angle that makes for easy access. You are offered 14.3 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, which should be enough for a week's worth of grocery shopping. The good news is that the 60/40 split seats fold down for even more space. By comparison, the much more affordable Honda Accord offers 16.7 cubic feet of space.

On the inside, the Maxima provides its occupants with a sizable cubby in the center console and a large bin under the front armrest. Deep door pockets, dual front cupholders, a decent glovebox, and seat backrest pockets round out the small-item storage solutions.

2021 Nissan Maxima Dashboard 1 Nissan
2021 Nissan Maxima Air Vents Nissan
2021 Nissan Maxima Rear Passenger Seats Nissan
  • Trunk Volume
    14.3 ft³

2021 Nissan Maxima Infotainment and Features

Features

Even in base form, the 2021 Nissan Maxima offers an impressive array of standard features. Notable interior features include dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote engine start, and a heated eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat and four-way passenger seat wrapped in leather. All models come with intelligent cruise control, forward collision warning, auto-braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, and more. The SR adds features such as intelligent lane intervention, a surround-view camera system, front and rear sonars, LED fog lights, HomeLink, ambient interior lighting, and a driver's side memory system. Platinum cars add a power-adjustable steering column and more exclusive interior materials, while the 40th Anniversary cars tops things off with special touches such as white gauge faces and semi-aniline seating surfaces.

Infotainment

Nissan clearly understands the importance of a good infotainment system. From the base model right up to the 40th Anniversary Edition, the Maxima offers a user-friendly and capable system that includes all the features you'd expect from a car in this price range. All vehicles come standard with an eight-inch touchscreen display that includes door-to-door navigation, SiriusXM, in-car Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth streaming USB, and AUX inputs. The base model features an eight-speaker sound system, while SR cars and up get a premium 11-speaker system, which sounds excellent when blasting Hip Hop by Dead Prez.

2021 Nissan Maxima Problems and Reliability

The 2021 Nissan Maxima's reliability seems to be solid, and no recalls have been issued for this model year. However, a recall was issued for certain 2020 models due to rear window glass that may not remain adequately secured to the vehicle. Nissan will cover the Maxima with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile drivetrain, and three years or 36,000 miles of roadside assistance.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles

Maxima Safety

The results from the Nissan Maxima safety review speaks for itself; it's NHTSA safety rating of five out of five stars should give you peace of mind, and if that doesn't, then a Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the IIHS will. With tons of standard driver assistance features across the range, this is one safe cookie.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

The first defense line is ten airbags, including driver and front passenger knee airbags and rear-seat side airbags. LED headlights, traction control, and a rearview camera are also included. Nissan's Safety Shield 360 suite of driver assistance technologies is of real interest here. It includes lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, intelligent cruise control, forward collision warning, auto-braking with pedestrian detection, and rear cross-traffic alert. An intelligent surround-view monitoring, and forward sonar are available on the upper trim levels.

Verdict: 🏁Is the new Nissan Maxima a good car?

Looking at images of the Maxima can be deceiving: this car is not particularly exceptional at anything it does. The exterior is handsome, and the interior is well-appointed, but there are competitors who do it all better. The 3.5-liter V6 offers good potential performance but is let down by a lethargic CVT transmission and, on the road, competitors from Toyota and Honda are more comfortable. The interior of the Maxima stands out as its best attribute. High-quality materials and a solid list of standard features all help the Maxima rival the class-leaders. Another big reason for looking at the Maxima is its brilliant safety record. With a full rating from the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS, the Maxima is as safe as they get. There are better deals out there, but you could certainly do worse.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Nissan Maxima?

The 2021 Maxima starts with an MSRP of $37,090, excluding tax, registration, and a destination fee of $950. The base model is followed by the SR, which costs $42,250. The Platinum trim Maxima has a price of $42,320, and the top-of-the-line 40th Anniversary Edition Nissan Maxima has a cost of $44,445. In comparison, the excellent Honda Accord starts at only $24,970, and the Nissan Altima will cost you $24,300 in base trim. Fully-specced, the 40th Anniversary Edition will cost you around $47,500.

2021 Nissan Maxima Models

There are four Nissan Maxima models on offer for 2021, starting with the SV and followed by the SR, Platinum, and 40th Anniversary Edition. All models are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine producing 300 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a CVT transmission.

The SV comes equipped with standard LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels on the outside. Its cabin features include dual-zone climate control, heated front leather seats with eight-way power control for the driver and four-way power control for the passenger, an eight-inch infotainment display with navigation and smartphone connectivity, and driver assistance features such as smart cruise control, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning.

The sporty SR model adds features such as paddle shifters, a sport-tuned suspension setup, 19-inch gloss black alloy wheels, a memory system for the driver's seat, premium Ascot leather seats with Alcantara inserts, and an Anthracite headliner.

The Platinum includes rain-sensing variable intermittent windshield wipers, a rear-window power sunshade, Ascot leather seats with diamond-quilted leather inserts, and Satin Birdseye Maple Wood-tone faceted interior trim.

Finally, the 40th Anniversary Edition adds 19-inch 40th Anniversary Edition gloss black aluminum-alloy wheels, special Edition Edition badging, 40th Anniversary Edition semi-aniline leather seats, Satin Dark Chrome faceted interior trim, and white gauges.

See All 2021 Nissan Maxima Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Nissan offers the Maxima with a comprehensive list of standard features, but new owners still have the option to add some extras. The base model is offered with optional dual rear USB charging ports for $140 or an impact sensor for $215. The exterior can be upgraded with a different set of alloy wheels for $900. The Sporty SR is available with Rocker rear panel moldings for $435 or a sporty rear bumper diffuser for $370. For those who want the works, the Platinum trim can be equipped with the 40th Anniversary package for an additional $2,125.

🚗What 2021 Nissan Maxima Should I Buy?

All Maxima models share the same engine and most safety features, so we would suggest going for the cheapest model. The SV packs a 300-hp V6 punch and handsome styling with standard LED headlights and alloy wheels. The interior of the SV is decked in leather upholstery and features dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable and heated front seats, and an eight-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM radio with navigation and built-in Wi-Fi. Its safety systems include blind-spot warning, emergency forward braking, and pedestrian detection. Why pay more for a few frivolous features?

2021 Nissan Maxima Comparisons

Nissan Altima CarBuzz
Honda Accord Honda
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Nissan Maxima300 hp20/30 mpg$37,090
Nissan Altima 188 hp28/39 mpg$24,450
Honda Accord 192 hp30/38 mpg$24,970

2021 Nissan Maxima vs Nissan Altima

The Altima slots below the Maxima in Nissan's sedan range and is classified as a midsize sedan. From the outside, the Altima is arguably the better-looking car. It's powered by a 2.5-liter four-pot engine or 2.0-liter turbocharged unit. While less powerful, it offers similar performance levels thanks to a lower curb weight, while boasting superior gas mileage figures. Sitting on a longer wheelbase means the Altima provides more interior space and larger trunk space. Nissan has really screwed up here: not only is the Altima better to look at, but it's around $10,000 cheaper, offers more space, is more fuel-efficient, and delivers similar performance levels. The choice should be obvious.

See Nissan Altima Review

2021 Nissan Maxima vs Honda Accord

Nissan made a massive faux-pas when it made the Maxima over $10,000 more expensive than the similarly-sized Honda Accord. Its rival has been a traditional front-runner in this class and offers a brilliantly balanced package that is hard to beat. From the outside, the Accord is the better-looking car. With two turbocharged engines and a better choice of transmissions, the Accord is more efficient, more fun to drive, and will blow the Maxima away through a set of twisty roads. The Accord's interior feels just as well put together and luxurious, and Honda has not been stingy when it comes to standard features. It is also safe as houses, and with such a massive price gap, Honda is the only way to go.

See Honda Accord Review

Nissan Maxima Popular Comparisons

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2021 Nissan Maxima Video Review

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$37,090 - $44,445
Price Range (MSRP)
Nissan Maxima
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