If the idea of buying a full-size sedan sounds like a bit of a bore, consider the 2021 Nissan Maxima: It offers style and driving enjoyment alongside the traditional benefits of a large traditional car. All models are front-wheel drive and powered by a 300-hp V-6 engine. Handling is sharper than expected, but don’t confuse the Maxima with a Z-car. Inside, there’s plenty of room for four adults and plenty of desirable features, including touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Nissan also offers driver-assistance features as standard, but those seeking the most modern tech should consider the SR and Platinum trims.
What’s New for 2021?
Nissan has launched a special 40th Anniversary Edition model of the Maxima for 2021. The special-edition model is based on the high-end Platinum trim, but its more aggressive look is intended to celebrate the car’s four-door sports car history. Black exterior trim is offset by Ruby Slate Gray Pearl paintwork. Inside, all 40th Anniversary models come with red semi-aniline leather upholstery, smoked chrome trim, white gauge faces, and heated rear seats. Otherwise, the Maxima’s lineup has been refocused on the SV, SR, and Platinum trims with the more luxury-oriented S and SL models being phased out.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We think the Platinum trim is well worth the increase in price, since it adds a power-adjustable steering column, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a power-operated rear sunshade, full leather seats with diamond-quilted inserts, and wood interior trim. If you’re feeling spendy, an extra $1140 buys the Reserve package and maximizes the Maxima with heated rear seats, a charcoal-colored headliner, a two-tone leather-wrapped steering wheel, and exclusive 19-inch wheels.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Maxima is one of the quicker full-size sedans, and its V-6 engine sounds good when it’s pushed hard. The 3.5-liter V-6 makes 300 horsepower and moves the Maxima along with purpose. The continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), however, detracts from the Maxima’s sports-sedan mission. In our testing, a Maxima Platinum sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, outaccelerating rivals such as the Kia Cadenza and the Buick LaCrosse. The Maxima handles well for its size. The suspension is nicely damped and firm to the point of being perhaps too stiff for the class. The Maxima exhibits little body lean in aggressive cornering maneuvers, and in our testing, the Maxima SR easily outhandled its rivals.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
With good fuel-economy ratings, as well as above-average results in our real-world testing, the Maxima’s powertrain proves itself adept at blending performance and efficiency. Its long highway cruising range also makes it a perfect long-distance companion. During our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test route, we exceeded the Maxima’s EPA rating, achieving an impressive 32 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Maxima offers room for five in a well-executed cabin that’s full of soft-touch materials, simple controls, and tons of high-end features. Front-seat legroom is among the best in the class, while headroom is average. Rear-seat space is not as generous as it is in larger rivals such as the Chevrolet Impala and the Toyota Avalon. Power-adjustable driver and front-passenger seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and push-button start are standard across the board. One of the smallest trunks in the category means the Maxima starts with a disadvantage in cargo hauling; however, its larger cubbies are convenient places to stash everyday items, and its rear seatbacks fold down to accommodate larger items.
Infotainment and Connectivity
An 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard across the Maxima range, and we found it easy to use. The infotainment system can be used as a touchscreen, but there also are redundant buttons on the center stack for quick access to common adjustments such as audio volume and climate control. The system also provides vehicle monitoring, remote access, and emergency services. Parents of teenage drivers may appreciate the speed, boundary, and curfew alerts, and the system automatically contacts emergency services when the airbags deploy after an accident. Being able to track the Maxima’s location in the event of theft is handy, as are remote start and door-lock access.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Maxima boasts superior crash-test results as well as recognition for its driver-assistance features, but it misses out on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick rating due to headlamps that scored only Marginal in the agency’s testing. Basic driver-assistance features are standard; more advanced tech is available on the SR and Platinum models. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Standard forward-collision warning
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Nissan offers an entirely average protection package. Additional coverage is available at extra cost through dealerships, but the standard periods—a three-year or 36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year or 60,000-mile powertrain warranty—should suit most buyers. Within the segment, the Cadenza offers greater coverage.
- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
More Features and Specs