2016 Nissan Maxima resets the meaning of a 4-Door Sports Car

Granted, Nissan was the one who coined the "4-Door Sports Car" moniker to christen its own brand of sports sedan, so it does probably have the right to redefine what that means. Now in its 8th running, the 2016 Nissan Maxima is poised to become the standard of a sports car wrapped around a sedan body, and for this generation, it is including a few twists and tweaks to the design, from without, within, and deep inside the guts. With a nod to a aviation, insights from Nissan's own GT-R, as well as the latest in infotainment and driver assistance technologies, the 2016 Maxima becomes a meeting point of the past as well as the future.

The Engine

A new Maxima definitely requires a new engine, and here we get a glimpse of one of the first refinements that Nissan implemented in this new sports sedan. The new 3.5-liter V6 engine has been redesigned using more than 60 new parts. The 2016 Maxima's engine delivers 300 horsepower, with a high output of 85.7 hp per liter and a torque of 261 lb-ft. Despite that increase in power, it can still boast of a 15 percent increase in fuel economy, marked at 22 mpg. Owing from the lessons that Nissan learned from the GT-R's engine, Nissan outfitted the Maxima's engine with sodium filled valves to achieve these impressive stats. Working with the new engine is an equally new Xtronic transmission with a wider gear ratio range. This allows the Maxima to gain stronger acceleration from a standing start. An all new D-Step shifting logic provides rapid shifts. 2016 Maxima drivers are assured of always being in the right gear at the right time.

For the first time, the 2016 Maxima will feature a Drive Mode Selector, letting the driver switch between Normal and Sport modes. In the latter, the engine throttle response is enhanced, Xtronic transmission shifting gets more aggressive, steering weight increases, and the Active Sound Enhancement or ASE enhances the engine sound inside the cabin with a higher note.

Of course, things really heat up with the sportier SR trim. This performance tier of the 2016 Maxima boasts of upgrades that really put the "sports" in the car. These include the Performance Chassis Dampers in the front that quell high frequency vibrations in the body, a larger front stabilizer bar, and 19-inch diamond-cut machined aluminum-alloy wheels. Sadly, the SR also does away with the Dual Panel Panoramic Moonroof found found on the SL and Platinum trims in favor of a solid one in order to lower the center of gravity, improving torsional rigidity in the process.

The Body

Nissan wanted to give the 2016 Maxima a slight facelift and it went to a rather odd source to find inspiration: the US Navy's Blue Angels flight demo squad. The Maxima line was already sporty, but when you add the accents of an aircraft, you get a body that just screams motion. 1.3 inches lower and 2.2 inches longer than its predecessor, the 2016 Maxima evokes the images of a cockpit with its wrap-around design and sweeping aerodynamic profile.

Despite those changes, the 2016 Maxima cannot be mistaken for anything but a Nissan car. It still sports the car maker's peculiar V-motion grille. Boomerang-style headlights and similarly-styled two-piece taillights that give the Maxima an undeniable presence on the road. Those familiar with the Nissan Sport Sedan Concept will likely be able to draw similarities between the two. Once again learning from the Nissan GT-R, the 2016 Maxima uses blacked-out A pillars. Combined with similarly blacked out B and C pillars, this creates a "floating roof" appearance. This is further enhanced on the SL and Platinum models with the Dual Panel Panoramic Moonroof.

Fun fact: When taking a closer look at the headlights and side taillights, viewers will get to see an embossed "4DSC" logo, further emphasizing the 2016 Maxima's sports sedan character.

The Interior

The cockpit theme continues inside, where drivers and passengers are greeted not just with control and power but also luxury. Like an airplane cockpit, the command central puts everything within easy reach, with the center stack angled towards the driver at exactly seven degrees. The floating console, on the other hand, sits higher than previous Maximas. But while the cockpit spoke of power and performance, the rest of the cabin cabin whispered luxury with its bespoke design. genuine stitching, ambient lighting, and Ascot leather upholstery.

But just as important as what you see are the luxuries that you don't see. Like the 11-speaker Bose sound system specifically developed to deliver maximum audio experience inside the 2016 Maxima. But speakers alone wouldn't be able to drown out unwanted noise, which is why the Bose sound system also includes Active Noise Cancellation to reduce unpleasant low-frequency noise. In addition, laminated glass not only on the windshield but also on the front door windows also augment the noise cancellation process.

But what about the noise that drivers do find desirable, like the purring of the engine during a more spirited drive? That is where the aforementioned Active Sound Enhancement system comes in, to enhance the sound that the engine makes and direct it into the cabin. All it takes is a simple flick of the Sport mode switch.

The Technology

Of course, what self-respecting, high-end luxury sports sedan would be without the amenities of technology? The 2016 Maxima will definitely come with the latest and greatest of Nissan's automative infotainment and driver safety advancements. The 8.0-inch NissanConnect color display might be somewhat unexciting, with the usual feature set of mult-touch gestures, connectivity with SiriusXM applications as well as Google Search, voice recognition for navigation and audio, as well as free text messaging assistance for Android users.

More interesting perhaps, is the 7.0-inch Advanced Drive-Assist Display or ADAD embedded in the instrumentation panel. The ADAD has two screens, a Home for displaying all critical information at a glance, like driving route and speed, and a Sport screen for display engine output, oil pressure and transmission oil temperature. The ADAD and the navigation display work in tandem through the Swipe-to-Navigation feature, where the driver or the front passenger can set a route on the navigation display and then swipe it towards the ADAD to display exact directions.

The 2016 Maxima also offers a variety of safety and driving aid features. All three of the SL, SR, and Platinum trims come equipped with Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW), Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC), Forward Emergency Braking (FEB), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Blind Spot Warning (BSW). To this, the 2016 Maximum Platinum adds Nissan's latest innovation, the Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, which gives drivers a complete 360-degree view of the car's perimeter. In addition, a new Driver Alert Attention system is also included in this top grade. The DAA can detect the alertness level of a driver, based on changes in driving behavior, and alert him or her to the fact, hopefully prevent accidents before they happen.

The Range

The 2016 Nissan Maxima will come in 5 models: the Maxima S, SV, SL, SR, and Platinum. All five are the pride of Tennessee, with the Maximas assembled in Smyrna and the engines assembled in Decherd. The cars will come in a variety of color options, including Bordeaux Black, Storm Blue, Super Black, Brilliant Silver, Gun Metallic, Pearl White, Deep Blue Pearl. There are also two colors completely exclusive to the Maxima line: Forged Bronze and Coulis Red.

The all-new 2016 Nissan Maxima will go on sale summer this year with a starting price of $32,410.