WASHINGTON — Sedans are useful cars but have fallen out of favor with buyers. If you fancy a car, now is a very good time to buy.
The Nissan Maxima, a larger sedan, is a nice mix of sport and luxury at a decent price. But now that price might be even sweeter if you buy a 2018 model.
Why the deal? The Maxima is being redone for 2019, and a few are starting to hit local dealers. The 2018 Nissan Maxima SR I recently drove is the sportier version of the big Nissan, with a sticker price of $41,000 — and you can subtract anywhere from $6,000 to $8,000 just to start.
The Maxima is a handsome sedan with a modern look. An interesting grill design with a V-pattern in the middle breaks up the size nicely. My car’s look was enhanced with the $1,195 Midnight Edition, which adds exclusive black 19-inch wheels, with the spoiler and trim pieces all blacked out. Even the badges and lettering are in black, which works nicely with the gray Gun Metallic paint.
The Maxima body doesn’t have many straight lines; the look is about curves and creases. The body looks more like a coupe, with a sloped rear roof that has hints of a hatch even though it’s a normal sedan. The back end has the black spoiler, and dual exhaust pipes add to the sporty look.
The Maxima SR has a sportier attitude through to the inside, too. Leather seats with diamond-quilted Alcantara inserts look the part, and they’re comfortable and climate-controlled, with heat and ventilation. Driver and front passengers get a host of power adjustments and power lumbar support. Aluminum pedals, a heated leather/Alcantara steering wheel and a large paddle shifter complete the look.
The rest of the interior is nicely finished, with soft touch materials and aluminum pieces adding some color to the primarily dark inside. Back-seat riders are treated well, with plenty of head and leg room. The rear windows slope upward making for taller windows so children have less vision than taller adults when seated. An 8-inch touch screen is easy to use, though the graphics aren’t as good looking as some others in this class.
The Maxima SR comes with a nifty around-view camera so you have a birds-eye view of your surroundings when backing up. The 11-speaker Bose system offers a nice clear sound, though some drivers might want for a bit punch at higher volumes. Connectivity is made easier with ApplePlay and Android Auto and hooking up the phone with Bluetooth is a quick process.
Remember when the Maxima was called the 4-door sports car? This grown-up Maxima SR has a bit of that flavor back. While it’s no small ride, this Maxima packs a punch with a V6 and 300 hp. It moves with authority; I haven’t been a fan of the CVT transmission, but it works well with the Maxima. There was no odd feeling that you sometimes get waiting for the transmission to do something; it just keeps the car in the proper power band when needed.
In this big car, I managed 26 mpg for my week of driving. While the handling wasn’t in sports-car territory, it was a comfortable cruiser that could take some turns without complaint. I’m not sure many people will push it, but it’s ready when you are.
The view out is a mixed bag — the forward sight lines are nice, but the larger rear pillars and smaller rear window can be a bit limiting. You still get a collision warning system with automatic emergency braking, a blind spot warning system and cross traffic alert help.
Want a large sedan that mixes luxury and sport, but for a deal? The 2018 Nissan Maxima checks a lot of boxes and with a new one coming, you can save big now.
Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by DriveShop, FMI or Motus One for the purpose of this review.
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