Better than I thought possible
I’ve been exposed to the Maxima since before I could even drive, but it was nothing like the 2018 picture above. Oddly enough, I returned this gem parked in between a Versa and Rogue in the background. One of my favorite family cars was a 1985 Maxima wagon, which according to the salesman was the first 1985 model year wagon sold in the state of Kentucky on Halloween 1984. It employed the same v-6 engine as the 300ZX and was a very enjoyable driving experience. It had a peppy 150hp engine (peppy for 1985 at least) and achieved about 26mpg on the highway. Fast forward 33 years and the current Maxima has double the horsepower. I had a dear friend in Las Vegas that had a 2002 model in the best shade of navy blue I can ever remember on a car. I can still hear and feel that booming bass from the Bose sound system!
The “SV” version bathed in Brilliant Silver paint looks great although a little too similar to the much less expensive Altima. It was one trim level up from the base “S”, but still was plagued with several blank buttons inside the cabin. The larger wheels and partially black rear pillars are the only things that set it apart from a 2018 Altima. The revamped 2019 Altima is even more undistinguishable from the current Maxima as it has the same rear pillar color combo and nearly identical tail lights. I hope Nissan is planning for a major refresh for mid-year 2019 or 2020 to set the Maxima apart from it’s cheaper sibling.
The 300hp V6 was an absolutely thrill to drive. The throttle response, steering, and braking meshed together flawlessly and is a refreshing change from the hybrid or lag laden turbos that are taking over this segment now. The 0-60 time is 3rd only to the Challenger that I drove in September and the Q50 I drove last month. The Maxima felt much faster than the Q50 due to the instant acceleration.
I noticed something odd under the hood that was new territory for me. The antifreeze is the exact shade of blue of windshield washer fluid. Is this a new trend breaking away from the traditional green and pink antifreeze choices? That could get expensive if refilling one or the other at a quick glance.
Another potential glaring flaw was the super soft foam sealant between the top of the firewall and the hood. I can’t tell if this was to protect leaves, water, and other debris from entering the engine compartment or if it was to keep engine heat off of the glass. Either way, it was so soft that there’s no way it is going to age well and keep that elasticity.
The driver’s seat was very comfortable even though it was more fitting for a racing seat than a highway cruiser. The side bolsters seemed to hug the love handles a little more than I prefer, but I wouldn’t change a thing about the seat bottom or lumbar support. I found it unusual that the power operated forward leg support moves separate from the bottom base of the seat.
My short-term passenger for the day also commented that the seats were comfortable, but much different from the other rentals. Also of note, the passenger seat is only 4-way adjustable.
The back seat of most cars is forgettable, but the Maxima is memorable in a horrible way. I sat in a normal seating position with average leg room, but my head was touching the roof. I’m 6′ tall and I think that’d be totally unacceptable on a trip over a few miles and completely miserable for anyone over 6’3″.
The trunk was adequate, but the wheel wells seems to intrude into the space more than necessary. The grocery net was much appreciated and put to good use for my weekly Kroger trip.
The base engine on the Altima is the 2.5 liter 4-cyl, but the V6 is an option. We should be getting in some new 2019 models soon and I’m anxious to see how a $6000 less Altima compares.
The center stack was well laid out, but seemed to be a little more compressed than necessary. A 2″ bigger screen would’ve done wonders for ease of use. Standard navigation is unusual in this segment and could save renters the daily fee of renting a portable unit offered at all rental counters.
I toyed with the center control knob a few times, but didn’t really need it. I set a few favorite channels on the SiriusXM and had the climate control set and had no practical use to play with this extra feature. It would be put to good use if the driver frequently switched between SiriusXM, AM/FM, Aux, or CD’s (a pleasant surprise for this old school guy). I don’t have SiriusXM in my TL, so I just left it alone and stuck with satellite radio.
Things of note:
MSRP is $35,000, but dealers are unloading 2018’s for $7,000 off.
V6 engine very eager to hit the redline.
Achieved 26mpg is in-line with the EPA stated 21CITY/30HWY.
Transmission displays 7 gears on the dash, but is actually a much improved CVT.
Buy it? Rent it? Avoid it?
I would be a happy man renting a Maxima again for a local trip or 5000 mile road trip. Reliability is better than average on older Maximas, but still hit or miss in varying aspects of transmissions and electronics. If I couldn’t find an Acura I loved after my current TL plays out, I’d definitely scope out a well maintained Maxima as a replacement.
Nissan if you’re listening . . .
The sunroof was standard on all Maximas in 1985, why aren’t they standard now?
On a scale from 1-100: (1- a 200K mile Versa is fine / 100- I don’t need a GT-R)
Buy it now – 50
Buy it later at half the current price – 85
F.E.D. (Fun, Efficiency & Desirability) – 80
Oooh and ahhh factor – 65
Recommended – 90