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First Look: 2016 Nissan Maxima

New version builds on sedan’s sporty past.

by on Apr.02, 2015

Carlos Ghosn, Renault-Nissan chief, introduces the new Nissan Maxima at the New York Auto Show.

It may not be a pocket rocket, like the GT-R, but the Nissan Maxima has traditionally targeted buyers looking for a midsize to slightly larger car delivering a spirited ride and performance. And Nissan is hoping to up that appeal as it rolls out the latest version of the sedan at this year’s New York International Auto Show.

The 2016 Maxima has been “reimagined and re-energized,” the maker suggests, with a more sporty and distinctive design, a lighter and more rigid platform, features such as its Active Ride Control and, under the hood, an updated version of Maxima’s 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine.

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The 2016 Nissan Maxima “was designed and engineered here, primarily for U.S. customers,” said the maker’s CEO Carlos Ghosn, during a NY presentation. A key goal, he added, was delivering “a level of performance that moves it closer to its little brother, the GT-R.”

The design of the 2016 Nissan Maxima holds close to that of the recent Nissan Sport Sedan Concept that generated quite a buzz on the auto show circuit. The production sport sedan adopts Nissan’s new V-motion front end, boomerang taillights, a distinctive floating roofline and unusual kick-up C-pillars.

Maxima's dramatic styling features the V-motion front end and unique ‘floating roof’ that first appeared on the 2015 Nissan Murano crossover.

As with other recent models, Nissan put an emphasis on “lightweighting,” trimming 82 pounds of mass, even though the new Maxima’s overall length was stretched 2.2 inches. It also was lowered by 1.3 inches, enhancing the appearance of being better planted and more sculpted, with a hint of the GT-R in the design. Chrome-tipped exhaust pipes add to the image, as do the standard 18-inch and upgraded 19-inch wheels.

Inside, the maker went for an aerospace-style wraparound cockpit design, anchored by what Nissan calls a “command central” driver’s control center. The center stack, for one thing, is angled slightly towards the driver to make it easier to read the 8-inch touchscreen and reach key controls. There’s also a new Display Commander control on the center console that can simplify operating the infotainment system.

To further enhance the sportiness of the 2016 Maxima, Nissan opted for a new flat-bottom steering wheel.

The basic leather seating can be upgraded to premium Ascot leather, with other upscale materials, such as Alcantara, offered on high-trim models.

The 2016 Nissan Maxima offers an eight-way power Zero Gravity-style driver’s seat and an optional four-way passenger seat.

Nissan says it has also targeted noise, using a number of features, including laminated side glass and an active noise cancellation system like those used in many air travellers’ headphones.

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Depending upon the model, the new Maxima adds a number of new safety features, including forward collision warning with emergency braking, active cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and blind spot warning. The 2016 sedan also gets a new Driver Attention Alert system, a first for this segment, designed to detect when a driver gets drowsy. If that happens, it will advise them to take a break.

The 2016 Nissan Maxima is the first version of the sport sedan to offer a driver mode selector.

But the emphasis is on performance and driver control. The 2016 Nissan Maxima is the first version of the sport sedan to offer a driver mode selector. It varies throttle response, transmission tuning, steering feel and even adds active sound enhancement to boost the engine note in the cabin when in Sport Mode.

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With the redesign, the 2016 Maxima not only rides on a new platform but has its VQ-series V-6 upgraded with 60% new parts. It lifts some key lessons from the Nissan GT-R, adding new sodium-filled valves, for example, to generate that 300-hp rating. Torque comes in at 261 pound-feet. The engine is mated to a sport-tuned version of Nissan’s Xtronic CVT gearbox.

Nissan also claims to have boosted fuel economy by about 15% in highway mode, now rated at 30 mpg. The sedan gets 22 mpg in city driving.

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Nissan uses several technical innovations to enhance the stability of the new Maxima. That includes Active Ride Control, which uses selective brake intervention to steady the body after hitting a bump or pothole.

Set to reach showrooms by June of this year, the new 2016 Nissan Maxima will be offered in five trim levels. The sedan will be assembled at the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.

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