2020 Nissan Maxima

2020 Nissan Maxima Review: More Than Just A Sofa On Wheels

by Aiden Eksteen

The full-size sedan segment may not be the most exciting one, but the 2020 Nissan Maxima strives to change that perception with its sporty styling, potent powertrain, and capable handling dynamics. Even though the pursuit of athleticism results in compromises in ride quality, the Maxima is still a great all-round package, blending comfort and dynamism with an impressive compendium of features and advanced technologies, incredibly comfortable seating, and exceptional safety, making it not only a great driver's car but an ideal family sedan as well. A familiar but burly 3.5-liter V6 engine powers the front-wheel-drivetrain of all six Maxima models via a CVT automatic, with peak outputs of 300 horsepower and 261 lb-ft of torque. Nissan punts the Maxima as a four-door sports-car (4D-SC) that offers greater performance and a sportier aesthetic than the average full-size sedan, but with rear-wheel-drive rivals like the Dodge Charger in the full-size arena, can the Maxima really lay claim to being a genuine sports sedan? Against the likes of the Kia K900 and Toyota Avalon, it just might...

2020 Nissan Maxima Changes: What’s the difference vs 2019 Maxima?

The Maxima received a significant update for 2019, so for the 2020 model year, Nissan didn't need to make many changes. Nissan's Safety Shield 360 suite of six advanced driver-assist systems has been made standard for every Maxima model, comprising automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and rear automatic braking. The SR model's previously optional Premium Package has been made standard for the performance-oriented model with features including a driver's memory system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear automated emergency braking, a 360-degree camera, and a power-operated dual-panel panoramic moonroof.

Pros and Cons

  • Potent V6 engine
  • Decent handling for the full-size class
  • Abundant high-end features
  • Intuitive, user-friendly technology
  • High-quality, attractive interior
  • Great reliability and safety ratings
  • You can't say 'CVT' and 'sports sedan' in the same sentence
  • Unengaging steering
  • Firmer than expected ride quality
  • Subpar trunk capacity

Maxima Exterior

The Maxima carries an aggressively sporty aesthetic with its heavily styled front end, sleek, aerodynamic curves, and rearward sloped roofline. A prominent black mesh grille sporting the Nissan badge and V-motion grille, flanked by elongated LED headlights with integrated signature daytime running lights, comprises the front end, with LED fog lights featured on high-end models. The A-, B-, and C-pillars are blacked out for a floating roof appearance. The rear end is as aggressive as the front, with quad-tip exhausts on all models and a boldly styled rear diffuser. Only the SR, however, gets a trunk-mounted spoiler. 18-inch machined-finished alloy wheels are standard on S, SV, and SL models, with 19-inch alloy wheels in varying styles standard on the SR, Platinum, and Platinum Reserve.

2020 Nissan Maxima Front View Driving Nissan
2020 Nissan Maxima Front View Driving 1 Nissan
2020 Nissan Maxima Front View Driving 2 Nissan
See All 2020 Nissan Maxima Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Maxima's dimensions are typical to that of a full-size sedan. With a wheelbase of 109.3 inches, the Maxima is availed with an overall body length of 192.8 inches - that's 3.1 inches shorter than the Toyota Avalon. Both vehicles share a height of 56.5 inches, but the Maxima is 0.4 inches wider at 73.2 inches. A ground clearance of 5.3 inches is standard for a sedan. Curb weights range from 3,559 lbs to 3,678 lbs for the Maxima, placing it around average for the segment.

Exterior Colors

There are a total of seven exterior color options available for the Maxima with varied availability dependant on trim - Super Black, Gun Metallic, and Brilliant Silver Metallic are available for all models at no additional cost; Pearl White Tintcoat can be opted for any trim, but carries an additional cost of $395. Deep Blue Pearl is available for all models but the S at no extra cost, and all but the S and SR can be hued in Carnelian Red Tintcoat at $395. The SR and Platinum models can be dressed in Sunset Drift Chromaflair, also for $395, a choice that suits the design of the Maxima and is our recommended pick of the palette. Otherwise, either the Carnelian Red or Deep Blue Pearl are both great options, too.

  • Brilliant Silver Metallic
  • Super Black
  • Gun Metallic
  • Pearl White Tricoat
  • Carnelian Red Tintcoat
  • Deep Blue Pearl
  • Sunset Drift Chromaflair

Maxima Performance

Full-size sedans are generally not fast cars, but the Nissan Maxima is one of the quicker alternatives out there. The 300 hp and 261 lb-ft from the Maxima's 3.5-liter V6 mill are enough to accelerate it from 0-60 mph in a quick 5.7 seconds in real-world conditions. That's considerably faster than the Toyota Avalon, which completes the 0-60 mph run in a slower 6.1 seconds, the Chrysler 300 is even slower, getting from 0-60 mph in around 6.3 seconds. The Chrysler 300, when equipped its V8 engine, manages the 0-60 mph sprint in 5.7 seconds as well, according to some tests.

The Nissan Maxima is solely available as a front-wheel-drive vehicle, but rivals such as the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger are offered with front- or rear-wheel-drive systems, and many other rivals, such as the Chrysler 300C, even offer all-wheel-drive options, to boot.

2020 Nissan Maxima Front Angle View Nissan
2020 Nissan Maxima Rear View Driving Nissan
2020 Nissan Maxima Wheel Nissan

Engine and Transmission

Equipped with a single available engine, the Maxima's 3.5-liter V6 engine performs competently, considering the full-size sedan's heft. 300 horsepower and 261 lb-ft of torque are robust figures, dragging the Maxima along impressively well. The V6 engine feels potent and sounds decent, but it's let down by a weak link in the form of the standard CVT automatic gearbox. While it's quick off the line, the rubber-band sensation quickly rears its head, and while the 0-60 measure is impressive, the Maxima fails to impress in real-world scenarios such as overtakes or getting up to highway speed. There's more drone than purposeful performance when performing such maneuvers, and rolling starts see rival sedans leaving the Maxima for dead. The CVT 'box is not synonymous with performance, and such, Nissan shouldn't have even equipped the Maxima with one if it wished to deliver on the promise of a four-door sports car.

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

Handling and Driving Impressions

There's a notable compromise in the Maxima's ride quality; while its suspension is nicely damped and tuned for sporty handling, it comes at the expense of ride comfort, making the Maxima a little firm for the segment in which it competes. Everyday road imperfections and bumps are dealt with reasonably well, but not to the extent of many of its less sporty rivals with softer suspensions. The Maxima SR model comes equipped with an even firmer suspension setup, which further compromises on ride comfort, but there are few rivals that can compete with the SR in terms of handling. Nissan has done a good job of isolating the cabin from exterior noise though, which gives the Maxima with a premium nature when out on the road.

While there could be more feedback and better weighting from the steering, the Maxima is relatively easy to control. Oddly, the steering feels heavy at lower speeds and tends to feel lighter and more agile at higher speeds, feeling more un-assisted than the industry norm. While there isn't the same sensation as the best hydraulic or unassisted systems on the market, the responses are quick and direct and the steering inspires confidence. However, the Maxima's dynamic limits are fairly low, and while it manages to keep body roll down to a minimum when punted through bends aggressively, grip yields to understeer if you push too hard.

Maxima Gas Mileage

The Maxima's gas mileage figures are relatively average for the class, with EPA estimates of 20/30/24 mpg city/highway/combined. This makes the Maxima significantly more fuel-efficient than the Kia K900 (18/25/21 mpg) but a little less fuel-efficient than the Toyota Avalon (22/31/25 mpg). On an 18-gallon tankful of gas, expect around 432 miles range in mixed conditions.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    18.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 20/30 mpg
* 2020 Nissan Maxima S 3.5L

Maxima Interior

The interior of the Maxima gives off a pleasant impression, with high levels of quality, exceptional build, and an abundance of high-grade materials throughout. The premium leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel in the Platinum and Reserve models is a highlight. The seats are comfortable and spacious, barring the center rear seat, which is a little squashed overall, but the general interior ergonomics are otherwise intuitive and practical. Adults up front have plenty of stretch room, but in the back, the headroom can be a little limited, especially with the available moonroof. The eight-inch infotainment system touchscreen in the Maxima is certainly a highlight too, but the power-operated dual-panel panoramic moonroof available from the SL model is the winning feature.

2020 Nissan Maxima Dashboard Nissan
2020 Nissan Maxima Steering Wheel Nissan
2020 Nissan Maxima Driver Seat Nissan
See All 2020 Nissan Maxima Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

There is seating for up to five passengers in the Maxima, though the center rear seat is best left reserved for small children, as head and shoulder room is a bit tight in the rear. Passenger room up front is otherwise more than ample; legroom is class-leading at 45 inches and, with the highly adjustable steering wheel and driver's seat, just about anybody can find an optimal seating position. The driver's controls are ergonomically displayed and in easy reach, and outward visibility is great all-round. The seats themselves offer all-day comfort thanks to well-cushioned bottoms and supportive contouring. Ingress and egress are effortless to and from the front seats as well, but due to a rearward sloping roofline, some excessive bending will be required to get in and out of the rear seats.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

Cloth seating upholstery in Charcoal is standard in the S; most of the in-cabin materials are a charcoal hue too with a satin-chrome diamond-cut panel running through the center of the dash and into the front doors. There is some satin-chrome trim on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, here and there on the media hub, around the A/C vents, and prominently on the center console. Charcoal leather upholstery is standard in the SV and SL with Cashmere leather optional, which also hues the lower dash and door panels in the Cashmere color, too. The seats in the SR are upholstered in a Charcoal-colored premium Ascot leather with Alcantara inserts, while the Platinum gets Ascot leather available in either Charcoal or Cashmere. Reserved exclusively for the Platinum Reserve, Rakuda Tan semi-aniline leather is a step into luxury territory.

Maxima Trunk and Cargo Space

The Maxima has one of the smallest trunks in the class, with only 14.3 cubic feet offered behind the rear seats. That's about enough room to store a week's worth of grocery shopping, but the rear seats are a 60/40 split with folding functionality, though, which can accommodate larger items if required. The Toyota Avalon offers a fair bit more cargo capacity in the trunk with 16.1 cu-ft behind its rear seats, while the Chrysler 300 boasts 16.3.

Though it may be at a disadvantage in terms of trunk capacity, the Maxima does feature plenty of in-cabin storage solutions - up front there's a deep cubby in the front of the center console, dual cupholders, and a cavernous center armrest bin. There are sizable door side pockets with bottle holder slots and the passenger-side glove box compartment is reasonably large. There are door side pockets with bottle holder slots in the rear doors as well, and dual cupholders and a small-items storage bin within the center seat backrest.

2020 Nissan Maxima Rear Passenger Seats Nissan
2020 Nissan Maxima Side View Nissan
2020 Nissan Maxima Rear Bumper Nissan
  • Trunk Volume
    14.3 ft³

Maxima Infotainment and Features

Features

Features are plentiful within the Maxima lineup, even at the base level, with the S featuring remote keyless entry with push-button start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with a tilt-and-telescopic adjustment, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, and dual-zone automatic climate control. In terms of standard-fit safety and driver-assist technology, there's cruise control, a rearview monitor, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning. The SV is additionally fitted with heated front seats, a ten-way power-adjustable driver's seat, intelligent cruise control, and traffic sign recognition. The SL gets a heated steering wheel, a dual-panel panoramic moonroof, a six-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, a HomeLink Universal transceiver, front and rear parking sensors, and ambient LED cabin lighting. In the SR you'll find amenities like heated and ventilated front seats, driver memory settings, a 360-degree camera, and lane departure intervention. There's a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column and a power rear sunshade in the Platinum, while the Platinum Reserve brings with it heated rear outboard seats and bespoke cosmetic enhancements.

Infotainment

Even the base-grade infotainment system in the low-spec S and SV Maximas is pretty decent, comprising an eight-inch color touchscreen display with multi-touch control, which is integrated with an AM/FM stereo with MP3 and WMA playback, a single CD-player system, and an eight-speaker sound system. Base-level functionalities include full smartphone integration with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth audio streaming with hands-free phone functionality, and voice-recognition commands. Every other model is fitted with a premium 11-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system and receive added functionality in navigation, HD and SiriusXM satellite radio connectivity. Nissan boasts one of the better standard infotainment software offerings around; the user interface is intuitive and responsive, and the visual quality is crisp and clear.

Maxima Problems and Reliability

It's always a good start when a car doesn't hit the showroom floors with a number of recalls behind it, and at the time of writing, the 2020 Maxima is part of the recall-free club. However, there was a recall issued for 2019 models for a faulty reverse camera. Nissan covers the Maxima with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Maxima Safety

The NHTSA is yet to evaluate the current generation of the Nissan Maxima. The IIHS, however, has fully evaluated the Maxima, awarding it as a 2019 Top Safety Pick with specific optional headlights, scoring it top marks in almost every evaluation.

Key Safety Features

There's a reason Nissan achieved exemplary scores from the IIHS, and it's largely down to loads of safety equipment fitted right from the base level Maxima. Every model comes standard with ten airbags, including driver and front passenger knee airbags and rear-seat side airbags. Nissan's Safety Shield 360 suite of driver-assist technologies is also standard in every model and includes blind-spot monitoring, automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, and automatic high-beam headlamps. A rearview camera is standard in the S, SV, and SL, while a 360-degree camera is stock fitted on all other models, along with front and rear parking sensors. All but the S feature traffic sign recognition and SR and Platinum models are equipped with lane departure warning and mitigation, too.

Verdict: Is the 2020 Nissan Maxima a good car?

There's nothing overtly exceptional about the 2020 Nissan Maxima, and, as a sporty full-size family sedan, it doesn't stand out - not like a Dodge Charger or V8-powered Chrysler 300 does. Nevertheless, it still offers plenty of appeal for the typical full-size sedan buyer. It lacks the cushy ride comfort that has come to typify the segment, but it handles decently and the V6 engine under the hood is one of the most impressive in the segment. However, the engine is let down by a CVT automatic gearbox, which dims mid-range responses and robs the Maxima of driver enjoyment for the sake of gas mileage, although the Maxima isn't exactly a standout in this regard either. Where the Maxima offers exceptional attributes is the interior: sublimely comfortable seats, a well-built, high-quality interior, and impressive levels of specification are up there with the best rivals, even if the interior dimensions are matched and even beaten by smaller midsize sedans. Throw in an IIHS Top Safety Pick rating and loads of standard safety equipment, and the Maxima is the complete package. It isn't the four-door sports car Nissan lays claim to, but it's a comprehensive full-size sedan well worth taking a look at.

What's the Price of the 2020 Nissan Maxima?

With an MSRP of $34,250, the Maxima S sets a relatively affordable entry point for the Maxima lineup, with the SV following closely behind at an MSRP of $36,450. Closing in on the $40k mark is the SL with its MSRP of $38,640 while the SR breaches that mark with an asking price of $41,450. The Platinum carries an MSRP of $41,640 and the Platinum Reserve an MSRP of $42,780. Those prices are excluding Nissan's destination and delivery charge of $895 as well as any tax, registration, and licensing fees.

2020 Nissan Maxima Models

There are six models within the Maxima lineup, all of which are equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that's mated to a CVT automatic by default. The SR is exclusively equipped with a sport-tuned suspension for improved handling.

18-inch alloy wheels are standard on the S and it's fitted with all-LED exterior lighting. An eight-inch touchscreen and an eight-speaker sound system cover infotainment, and it includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. Features such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel with manual tilt/telescoping column, power-adjustable front seats, and dual-zone automatic climate control are also standard in the base trim, and there's a rearview camera, cruise control, and the full Nissan Safety Shield suite of collision avoidance features.

Upgrading to the SV sees heated front seats, two-way power lumbar support in the driver's seat, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, and HD and SiriusXM radio connectivity.

The SL is fitted with a heated steering wheel, a dual-panel panoramic moonroof, an 11-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system, extended passenger seat adjustability, HomeLink universal transceiver, LED ambient cabin lighting, and active noise cancellation.

SR-badged derivatives bring sporty styling to the table, equipped with 19-inch alloy wheels and a performance-tuned suspension. It gets LED fog lights and auto-tilting exterior mirrors with memory, paddle shifters, aluminum sport pedals, heated and ventilated front seats, extended front seat adjustability, a 360-degree monitor, and lane departure warning.

The top-spec Platinum is equipped with 19-inch machine-finished alloy wheels and, on the inside, is fitted with a premium leather-wrapped steering wheel with a power tilt/telescoping steering column, a power rear sunshade, and an upgraded infotainment system with automatic collision notification, remote start via smartphone, emergency call, and a stolen vehicle locator.

In the Platinum Reserve, there's Rakuda Tan semi-aniline leather-appointed seats with diamond-quilted leather inserts, contrast Rakuda Tan inserts on the steering wheel, a charcoal headliner and pillars, and heated rear outboard seats.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
S
3.5-liter V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$34,250
SV
3.5-liter V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$36,450
SL
3.5-liter V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$38,640
SR
3.5-liter V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$41,450
Platinum Reserve
3.5-liter V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$41,540
See All 2020 Nissan Maxima Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

There are no noteworthy packages available for the Maxima, but there are a few general add-ons available for all models. There's a $545 Illumination Package available to all trims that adds an LED welcome lighting system, exterior illumination, and programmable interior LED lighting. There are Rocker Panel Moldings at a price of $435, a rear diffuser for $370, and an impact sensor at a cost of $215. For all but the SR model, a premium rear trunk spoiler is available for $420, while the SV and SL models can be equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels for $900.

What Nissan Maxima Model Should I Buy?

The Maxima range is broad and well-equipped right from the base S trim, so we really couldn't fault you for saving some money and getting a Maxima S. However, from the six available trims, the SL presents the best package. In addition to the heated front seats, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, SiriusXM and HD radio of the SV, it also gets a power panoramic sunroof, the premium 11-speaker Bose sound system, and creature comforts like a heated steering wheel, LED ambient interior lighting, and active noise cancellation, making it a premium-quality sedan at an asking price of less than $40,000.

2020 Nissan Maxima Comparisons

Nissan Altima Nissan
Honda Accord Honda

2020 Nissan Maxima vs Nissan Altima

The Nissan Altima is classified as a midsize sedan and so is supposed to be smaller and more affordable than the Maxima - it is around $10,000 more affordable, in fact. The Altima boasts a more sophisticated appearance inside and out while the Maxima's aesthetic errs on the sportier side of things. The Maxima is equipped with a stronger engine than the Altima's, but with less weight to carry, the Altima is almost as quick in base form, while the available turbocharged engine sees it outgun the larger Maxima while consuming less fuel. The Altima also offers buyers both FWD and AWD, making it more suitable for cold-weather climates. Despite being classified as a smaller vehicle, the Altima is incredibly well-packaged, and with a longer wheelbase than the Maxima, it boasts more interior volume and a bigger trunk. It's a no-brainer, with more power, greater efficiency, more space, and a $10,000 saving, the Altima is the superior Nissan sedan.

See Nissan Altima Review

2020 Nissan Maxima vs Honda Accord

Also around $10,000 cheaper than the Maxima, the mid-size Honda Accord is actually as large as the Maxima, and gives buyers even more passenger room, along with a larger trunk. The Accord doesn't leave things there, though, as it proudly offers two turbocharged engines that offer greater efficiency than the Maxima, while the available manual gearbox means you can take control of a wonderfully engaging chassis and potent engine combination. While the Maxima's Platinum Reserve trim might equip luxurious interior trimmings, on lower trims the Accord feels just as luxurious, while boasting as much functionality and just as much safety equipment. It begs the question, why spring for the more expensive full-size sedan when the mid-size Accord does almost everything better?

See Honda Accord Review

Nissan Maxima Popular Comparisons

$34,250 - $41,640
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