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2016 Nissan Maxima

The 4-Door Sports Car
2016 Nissan Maxima

Yes, 4-Door Sports Car® (4DSC) is actually a thing, as you can see by the “®”. Nissan has been using the term to describe the Maxima since the late 1980s, and it still fits.

And it’s not just a marketing ploy—the Maxima does give you the feeling it’d rather be flung around those curvy back roads on the way to junior’s soccer game. Yes, go the long way, because you’ll love the drive.

Not a small car by any means is the new Maxima, nor has it ever been. As a matter of fact, the 1989 model was only the second Japanese sedan in the U.S. to be categorized as mid-sized, and it’s still a very comfortable, roomy sedan with room for five. My test car was the top-line Platinum model which means the interior was trimmed in a diamond quilt design Ascot leather which was both heated and cooled in the front, and heated in the rear. In addition, the driver’s seat had a retractable thigh support which gives much-appreciated extra support to taller drivers. The diamond quilt pattern was also carried over very subtly in the mahogany dash trim. The flat-bottomed, heated, leather-covered steering wheel was very comfortable to use, while its contrasting white stitching, which matched that on both the seating surfaces and much of the dash, was quite attractive and broke up the otherwise very dark interior.

A rear-window power shade, dual power panoramic moonroofs, and Around View Monitor (think of this as a bird’s-eye view camera system) are among the many standard features on the Platinum model. There are no factory options on any of the five different Maxima models (S, SV, SL, SP, and Platinum), as they are all offered equipped as-is. I can’t imagine what else you’d need anyway that wasn’t already on the test car. Other niceties included LED low-beam headlights, push button start, outside mirrors with reverse tilt-down feature, 19” aluminum alloy rims, power tilt/telescoping steering column, and too much other stuff to mention here. (See it all in the online brochure.)

Mike Barney’s Chris Kivi pointed out before my test drive began many of the fine points of the Maxima Platinum, including Nissan’s new NissanConnect services (powered by SiriusXM). Think of it as Nissan’s version of OnStar. We also went over the clever system of on-board cameras which help you park and see what’s on all four sides of the car. But I really wanted to get the Maxima out on the road. So off I went...

All Maximas are powered by Nissan’s 3.5L DOHC V-6, which is rated at 300 hp and connected to an XTronic CVT (continuously variable transmission). On the console are switches for both normal and sport drive modes—the sport mode sharpening the throttle response, steering feel, and transmission tuning. It also can adjust the drivetrain sound coming into the cabin, which is kind of a driver ego thing, as the sound outside the car remains the same. Oh well.

As one would hope with a moniker like 4DSC, the Maxima is quite at home no matter what kind of a road you point it down. My test drive included stretches of the 990 and 290 and some of the back roads of northern Amherst. The interstate cruising was effortless and relatively quiet, with the confidence of the V6’s power to keep up with (and overtake if necessary) anything that might come along, while those back road drives were actually fun as we (the car and I) thrashed each other around the curves. Carefully, of course!

Pricing of the Maxima lineup is quite straightforward, what with the optionless option list (of course, accessories like floor mats and splash guards will never go away). The least expensive S model lists for $32,410. My Platinum test car had a list price of $41,095 (which included destination, splash guards, and carpeted mats).

So if you’re one of those people who dreads the idea of the Google self-driving car because you like to drive (Hear, hear!), and you do need to toss a human or two into the back seat on occasion, you owe it to yourself to at least take a 4DSC out for a test drive.

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Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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