I recently had the opportunity to test drive the MY-2016 Nissan Maxima SL on California’s Pacific Coast Highway and the adjoining, and rather congested small city of Malibu. In both cases, the Maxima delivered a comfortable and thoroughly satisfying drive, equally on the open highway and in the close quarters of a Southern California beach community.
The MY-2016 Nissan Maxima went on sale on June 3, and is being positioned to compete against midsize and large sedans such as the Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Avalon, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus and entry-level luxury sedans such as the BMW 328i and Audi A4 2.0T, which gives it market flexibility particularly for fleets looking for a vehicle for field managers or top salesmen.
On the styling side, the MY-2016 is sleek and up-to-date, the cockpit and dash were inspired by a modern jet fighter and it feels technological without being ostentatious or gimmicky.
But, the most important question is how does it drive? The answer is simple: beautifully. I can’t think of a large sedan that I’ve driven recently that has both the power and smoothness that the Maxima exhibited. The real test for me was how it navigated the tight neighborhood streets and congested avenues of Malibu, a popular community with locals and tourists alike. There I wasn’t disappointed either. The Maxima might be positioned as a large sedan, but it didn’t drive like one. There was no point where I felt that I was taking any chances making a sharp turn or weaving through tight traffic. It was one of those rare vehicles that felt almost like a second skin as soon as I sat behind the wheel.
One of the innovations for this year’s line of Maxima models is that there are five vehicle grades and no options. This means the Maxima comes with a number of options standard from the lowest grade onward, including navigation, remote engine start, and a rearview camera. This also means that the Maxima has the same power under the hood as well—a 3.5L DOHC V-6, which delivers 300 hp.
The SL grade I tested was also loaded with a number of standard safety systems, including predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking, and blind spot warning with rear cross traffic alert. This last feature was one of my favorite features of Maxima, featuring a subtle visual warning that is designed to catch the eye and not startle.
In addition to having a modern, jet-inspired design and delivering smooth performance, the Maxima would also serve well as a mobile office. It’s center storage well is deep—I was able to stow a 35mm camera with a telephoto lens with no problem—and its infotainment system, including its navigation system is designed to be intuitive and minimize distraction, and would serve fleets well.