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2019 Nissan Maxima

$34,050 - $41,540
Price Range (MSRP)
Nissan Maxima

2019 Nissan Maxima Test Drive Review: New Look, New Tech, Same Performance

by Ian Wright

The 4-door sedan market has seen automakers push towards sportier and more athletic styling in an effort to remain relevant as crossovers continue to dominate the American market. Toyota's usually boring looking Camry has benefitted from an athletic makeover and Honda's usually handsome styling has been given a sporty coupe-like roofline for the new generation. Nissan has joined the party with its larger offering for the 2019 model year refresh. This no outright sports sedan though, but it's no slowpoke either.

The Maxima is also feature-packed to tempt the crossover crowd into something closer to the ground. The safety-conscious will appreciate the standard suite of driver-assistance features while everyone should appreciate the touchscreen infotainment featuring both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Power through the range comes from an older but strong V6 engine and a slick CVT that's well behaved until its limits are pushed.

2019 Nissan Maxima Changes: What’s the difference vs 2018 Maxima?

Nothing has changed mechanically for the 2019 Maxima, but Nissan has given it a dose of extra style. The body has been touched up for the new year with chrome detailing on the front bumper and a larger grille, with Sunset Drift paint being added to the premium color palette. The rear has been lowered slightly and now features four exhaust tips. Newly designed LED headlights are now standard, complementing the newly revised LED taillights. The quality of the interior has improved somewhat with new orange stitching features on the SR, while the Platinum Reserve Package on the top trim adds Rakuda Tan semi-aniline upholstery. The tech has been updated with revised SiriusXM and Nissan Door-to-door navigation, as well as the integration of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Rear door alert is also standard on all trims.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros:
  • Strong V6 engine
  • Decent handling for a larger sedan
  • Well-built and designed cabin
  • Diverse array of easy-to-use features
  • High reliability and safety scores
  • Cons:
  • Lacking ride comfort
  • Rear seats and trunk are not spacious
  • High starting price and cost of ownership
  • Not as sporty as it appears

Maxima Exterior

The eighth-generation Nissan Maxima was originally designed by Nissan Design America, but it has seen some refurbishment for its 2019 rerelease. The basic design remains the same, with the body being quite low and boasting aerodynamic curves, while the roof features blacked-out A-, B- and C-pillars to give it a floating roof appearance. The front and rear have been tweaked for 2019, with a larger front grille framed by broad LED headlights and Nissan signature daytime running lights. The rear fascia now sports a lower facade with quad exhausts. While not a sports sedan, the Maxima doesn't look as reserved as many of its full-size rivals.

2019 Nissan Maxima Front Angle View CarBuzz
2019 Nissan Maxima Side View CarBuzz
2019 Nissan Maxima Rear Angle View CarBuzz
See All 2019 Nissan Maxima Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Nissan Maxima is absolutely average in size for the mid-size sedan segment. It measures in at 192.8 inches long, 73.2 inches wide, and 56.5 inches high. Its wheelbase is slightly short at 109.3 inches and it a bit on the heavy side with the base model weighing 3,552 lbs, while the heaviest configuration tips the scales at a hefty 3,676 lbs.

Exterior Colors

The Maxima is available in a choice of four standard colours. Super Black, Gun Metallic and Brilliant Silver Metallic can be applied to any trim, while Deep Blue Pearl is not available on the base S or the SR. For $395, you can opt for a premium paint job, choosing between Carnelian Red Tintcoat or Pearl White Tricoat on any trim, or Sunset Drift ChromaFlair on the SR or Platinum trims, making the Platinum the only trim on which you can choose any one of the seven hues available.

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

Maxima Performance

The 2019 Nissan Maxima offers the same performance that it has for years. The 300 hp and 261 lb-ft V6 engine directs power to the front wheels to pull this bulky, full-size sedan forward for a 0-60 mph time of 6.1 seconds thanks to the smart continuously variable transmission gearing up at perfect intervals. This is on par with rivals like the Chevrolet Impala or Buick LaCrosse, which bests the Maxima by only half a second. While front-wheel-drive may be the default for the segment, some rivals do still offer RWD alternatives, like the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300, while several also offer the option of all-wheel-drive.

2019 Nissan Maxima Front View CarBuzz
2019 Nissan Maxima Rear View CarBuzz
2019 Nissan Maxima Engine CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

The engine shared across the Maxima range is a 3.5-liter V6 designed with apparent influence from the Nissan GT-R. The six-pot develops 300 hp and 261 lb-ft, delivering these figures to the front wheels through a CVT automatic transmission.

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

Handling and Driving Impressions

Nissan's reluctance to replace the Maxima's 3.5-liter V6 engine means we're familier with its strong performance. There are no fireworks, just a healthy amount of grunt that makes it one of the better launchers off the line to freeway speeds in its class. When it comes to living up to the sporty styling, the CVT lets the engine down. Around town and out on the highway though, the CVT starts to shine and keeps the revs in the right place.

For highway cruises, there's a very little complaint as the chassis and engine work together. We also noticed cabin noise, or rather the lack of it. The active noise cancellation featured on our tester did a stellar job in a tricky area that some other competitors in the segment often fall down on.

Considering its size, the Maxima handles well and, for spirited driving, the damping is firm and chassis lean is well limited in deeper corners. However, as a daily driver the suspension isn't compliant enough for what the car is going to be for most people, even in our Platinum trimmed tester model.

Where things fall apart for the Maxima driving experience is in the numb steering that has little interest in communicating with the driver. The brake pedal is less than inspiring with its mushy feel, and between the two they disappoint in what should be a solid all-round package.

Maxima Gas Mileage

Fuel economy on the Nissan Maxima is pretty good for the segment, achieving an estimated city/highway/combined EPA of 20/30/24, regardless of trim level. With a large 18-gallon tank, this means you can travel approximately 432 miles before refueling. But while this consumption is pretty efficient, the higher price of premium fuel means you won't be saving money over regular gasoline sedans.

Nissan's old but gold engine brings a balanced blend in performance and economy to the table. Well, it would if it didn't require premium fuel. However, we got close to the EPA estimates with a combined MPG of 22.8 after a couple of days taking it easy and mixing up journeys between running errands around town and a couple of decent freeway trips.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    18.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 20/30 mpg
* 2019 Nissan Maxima 3.5 S CVT

Maxima Interior

The cabin of the Maxima is very driver-centric, with the center console now rotated seven degrees towards the driver, making controls easier to access, and this is on top of the controls already being very user-friendly and well laid-out. The seats are designed for comfort, supporting up to five passengers, and the console and dash are decked in soft-touch materials around all key touchpoints. The cabin is one of the quietest in the segment, with active noise cancellation paired with active sound enhancement on the upper trims. This dampens external sounds while enhancing internal and even engine sounds. With ample infotainment features for a non-luxury sedan and decent build quality, the interior looks and feels great.

2019 Nissan Maxima Steering Wheel CarBuzz
2019 Nissan Maxima Front Seats CarBuzz
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See All 2019 Nissan Maxima Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

There's enough room in the back seats for five to be comfortable next to each other, and four to be even more so. Front legroom is particularly impressive and allows a leggy passenger to not be banging knees on the bottom of the dash. Rear legroom is just about respectable. The seats themselves are comfortable for the long haul and large cubby holes mean nothing should be rolling around in transit.

The driver benefits the most with excellent ergonomics, convenient controls, and soft-touch materials in the right places. A good driving position is particularly easy to find and, after a journey, there's no excuse to leave anything in the back with the rear seat alert system.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

Either a cashmere tan or charcoal Ascot Leather-trimmed interior are also available, but our tester arrived with the Reserve package added to the Platinum trim and a Rakuda Tan Aniline leather interior. It had a nice old-school look and feel in the saddle-like material that we appreciated along with the Satin Bronze interior accents. The upgraded materials felt good and like they were designed to last, giving a premium feel to the interior. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is a step up and feels great, but the flat bottom to the wheel is unnecessary and an annoyance in a car that's going to get wheeled in and out of driveways and parking lots.

Maxima Trunk and Cargo Space

While the dimensions of the Maxima are on par with rivals in the mid-size sedan segment, its interior and trunk capacity is disappointing. The trunk offers only 14.3 cubic feet of space, able to accommodate eight carefully packed carry-on sized bags, but the rear seats do fold down in a 60/40 split to provide some extra capacity. On the plus side, the trunk does open quite wide, making loading easier.

Inside the cabin, there are generous door pockets, two standard cupholders, a roomy center console, and a glove compartment. The slot below the infotainment center is surprisingly deep, however, and it offers a charging station for your smartphone.

2019 Nissan Maxima Front Angle View CarBuzz
2019 Nissan Maxima Rear Angle View CarBuzz
2019 Nissan Maxima Trunk Space CarBuzz
  • Trunk Volume
    14.3 ft³

Maxima Infotainment and Features

The Nissan Maxima borders on being a luxury sedan, and its offering of features shows as much. Standard on the base S is keyless entry and ignition, remote engine start, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and a seven-inch advanced drive-assist display. The seats are cloth-upholstered, with power-adjustable front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The SV upgrades to adaptive cruise control, leather upholstery, and heated eight-way power-adjustable front seats with power lumbar. It also adds blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. The SL further adds front and rear parking sensors, a sunroof, a heated steering wheel, and manual thigh support. Intelligent lane intervention, climate-controlled front seats, and pedestrian detection become standard on the SL. The top-tier Platinum rounds out the Maxima's offering by adding driver-seat memory functions, a power-adjustable passenger seat and steering column, automatic wipers, a surround-view parking camera, and optional heated rear seats.

Features

The tech system is comprehensive when it comes to features such as remote access, vehicle monitoring, and emergency services. Digging in, there are also boundary, speed and curfew alerts for parents with teen drivers. Remote start and door locking are always useful for those living in harsher climates as would location services if the car is stolen.

Driver aids do an excellent job of staying in the background until they are needed and called upon and the advanced drive-assist display is clear and communicative. Most tellingly when it comes to attentin to detail in convenience features, Nissan's remote start is easy to use and the ventilated seats are some of the strongest we've come across recently.

Infotainment

The 8-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple Carplay are standard across the trims and the whole system is easy and intuitive to use. Redundant controls buttons are on the center stack for things used often such as audio volume and climate control.

Overall, the infotainment system is unfussy. The Bose sound system in our tester did its usual job of initially sounding great with its overriding bass, but after a time becoming apparent it's lacking in the mid-range. A few tweaks through the interface though, and it sounds decent and better than most stock systems.

Maxima Problems and Reliability

J.D. Power awarded the Nissan Maxima its Highest Quality award in 2018, with an overall score of 87/100. While it has yet to be rated for 2019, a similar score is likely. There were a number of customer complaints lodged against the Maxima in 2016 regarding the interior cabin. There was also a severe recall in 2016 for faulty airbags and a moderate recall in 2018 for leaking brake fluid. The 2019 Maxima offers an extensive new vehicle warranty for 60,000-miles/36-months, a powertrain warranty for 100,000-miles/60-months, and roadside assist for 36 months.

Maxima Safety

The Maxima received a top rating of five stars from the NHTSA. The IIHS tested the sedan extensively and gave it ratings of Good – the highest rating – in all categories save for headlights, for which it received a Marginal rating.

Key Safety Features

The Maxima S comes equipped with few basic safety features. These comprise a rearview camera, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, vehicle dynamic control and traction control, three-point seat belts with pretensioners, and eight airbags - front, front knee, front side, and side curtain. As you go up in trim level, this list grows to include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, intelligent lane intervention, front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view parking sensor, and automatic rain-sense wipers. The rear seats feature LATCH systems that are easy enough to use.

Verdict: Is the 2019 Nissan Maxima a good car?

There's nothing blatantly wrong with the Maxima but it does disappoint in areas such as rear passenger space and the overall driving experience. The engine is strong, but the Maxima's new sporty poise doesn't live up to the new look. However, the interior is up to scratch and going up the trim levels they become remarkably pleasant places to be when stuck in traffic considering the Maxima isn't filed under the Luxury Car heading.

It's fair to say that with its mix of a great interior, strong engine, but mushy steering and brake feel, the Maxima leaves us conflicted when it comes to giving a verdict. It really is a car thats choice boils down to exactly what the buyer wants from it. Ultimately, the Maxima is compromised but it is a solid sedan if interior, looks, and a proven engine are the most important ingredients for a buyer.

What's the Price of the 2019 Nissan Maxima?

While not the cheapest of mid-size sedans, you get behind the wheel of a brand new Nissan Maxima for as little as $34,050. But if you want more than just the base offering, you can choose the SV for $36,060 or the SL for $38,540. The more sporty SR will set you back $39,630, while the top-tier luxury Platinum model costs a substantial $41,540. These are MSRP prices and do not include tax, registration, licensing, or Nissan's $895 destination fee.

2019 Nissan Maxima Models

The Maxima range consists of the five trims: S, SV, SL, SR, and Platinum. Standard throughout the range is the 3.5-liter V6 mated to an automatic CVT gearbox directing power to the front wheels.

The base Maxima S offers the kind of performance you can expect throughout the range, save for the SR. It has the basic safety and infotainment features that should come standard on any modern mid-size sedan, including smartphone integration, automatic emergency braking, and a rearview camera.

The SV enhances the safety and comfort offering of the Maxima by adding blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and heated leather front seats.

The SL is where premium luxury really starts to come in. The standard eight-speaker sound system is upgraded to an 11-speaker Bose system, a sunroof is added, and front and rear parking sensors are equipped.

The SR is the sport variant of the Maxima. The 18-inch wheels are upgraded to 19-inch alloys, while a sport-tuned suspension is added, along with paddle shifters, alloy sports pedals, and active engine sound enhancement.

The Platinum loses the sport enhancements from the SR to focus purely on luxury and convenience. These additions comprise automatic wipers, a premium leather interior, a surround-view parking camera, driver-seat memory functions, and NissanConnect services.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
S
3.5-liter V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$34,050
SV
3.5-liter V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$36,060
SL
3.5-liter V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$38,540
SR
3.5-liter V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$39,630
Platinum
3.5-liter V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$41,540
See All 2019 Nissan Maxima Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The Nissan Maxima has several useful standalone add-ons, as well as class-dependent packages. The SR allows for the inclusion of the Premium Package for an additional $1,820, which adds a memory system for the driver's seat, rear automatic braking, a dual-panel panoramic moonroof, an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, and an intelligent around-view monitor. For $1,140, you can apply the Reserve Package to the Platinum trim, which comprises 19-inch alloy wheels, semi-aniline-upholstered seats featuring dynamic diamond-quilted leather inserts, a two-tone leather-wrapped steering wheel, and heated rear seats. The interior trim is also changed to a Satin Bronze palette. Useful standalone add-ons include alloy sports pedals ($180), a wireless smartphone charger ($250), or Nissan Wi-FI ($450) on trims that don't already have them standard.

What Nissan Maxima Model Should I Buy?

When it comes to choosing one, we would either go down the middle with the SV model that has the most important options already ticked, or just lay the money down and go all out on the Platinum trim with the reserve package for the particularly tasty interior. For the money though, we would definitely do some shopping around first.

For those that want to go with a base model, the S offers value for money with all the basic features well covered and good looks and a pleasant interior. Ultimately though, we would still shop around first and check out the Kia Cadenza or Toyota Avalon for comfort, and the Acura TLX or Lexus ES for a more engaging drive. If we couldn't decide between them, then the Maxima splits the difference.

2019 Nissan Maxima Comparisons

2019 Nissan Maxima
2019 Nissan Maxima

2019 Nissan Maxima vs Nissan Altima

The Maxima is a decent contender within the full-size sedan segment, but the Altima is perhaps the best sedan Nissan has made to date. The Altima's 2.5-liter turbocharged engine isn't as strong as the Maxima's V6, but the mid-size sedan still keeps its big brother on its toes. However, the so-called mid-size Altima offers a more spacious interior and trunk than the full-size Maxima. Add to this the fact that the Altima is quite a bit cheaper at around $25,000, and you can overlook a few of the luxury features it is missing, since it doesn't lack in safety or infotainment. In terms of value for money, it is hard to beat the Altima, and impossible for the Maxima to do so.

See Nissan Altima Review

2019 Nissan Maxima vs Honda Accord

While the base Accord doesn't have the power output of the Maxima, it boasts exceptional handling characteristics, and if you opt for the larger turbo four-cylinder engine, you can get a competitive 252 hp. Add to this the array of driver aids that come standard and the Accord offers an enjoyable and reliable ride. The optional manual gearbox also promotes a more engaging driving experience, while the more spacious interior also offers a more comfortable ride for both the driver and passengers. The Accord's much larger 16.7-cubic-foot trunk and better fuel economy make it a great day-to-day vehicle, and the high-quality interior is a plus. But the Maxima has a few tricks up its sleeve, with more intuitive infotainment being chief among those. With a low MSRP of around $24,000, the midsize Accord seems like the better buy, offering comparable space at a much cheaper price.

See Honda Accord Review

Nissan Maxima Popular Comparisons

2019 Nissan Maxima Video Reviews