Entry price: $34,250
Price as tested: $44,910
This week, we’re driving the company flagship 2020 Nissan Maxima, delivered in top class Platinum Reserve trim and built in Smyrna, Tennessee. Dating back to 1981 as the Datsun 810 Maxima, this eighth generation model features a host of upper class features and its most enthralling exterior motif, In its long, successful history, prospective buyers will appreciate a refined Maxima interior and surprising low entry price for its full-size, sport luxury sedan.
Important is Maxima’s recent top recommendation by Consumer Reports 2020 Buying Guide, which lists Maxima in any state of dress as one of just two top pick “Standout Models” in the large car category (along with Toyota Avalon Hybrid). Now four years into its current generation, Maxima for 2020 rides on a 2.2-inch longer wheelbase than the seventh generation and is also near 100 pounds lighter.
All Maxima trims feature a powerful 3.5-liter V6 packing 300-horsepower and 261 lb. ft. of torque. The V6 connects to a continuously variable Xtronic CVT automatic that now mimics shift points under full throttle acceleration. Featuring wider ratios for better fuel mileage and “gear changes” through an adaptive shift controller, the result is a CVT transmission that feels way better than it has in the past. Maximum acceleration is now more exciting as the Maxima will zoom to 60 mph in just 5.9-seconds and still deliver 20 city and 30 highway MPG, which is good for a larger vehicle. A “Drive Mode” selector offers both Normal and Sport driving manners, the latter which sharpens throttle response and gives a more precise steering wheel feel.
Our Maxima was the top class Platinum Reserve trim finished in Pearl White Tricoat ($395 more) and featuring everything that’s great about Nissan’s flagship sedan. Notable is good handling, performance oriented suspension and sporty all-weather touring 19-inch tires as standard fare. The ride is firm yet comfortable as a front strut setup co-ops with a rear multi-link design to deliver grip and handling abilities.
All Maximas feature lots of standard high-tech driving aids, including Nissan’s exclusive Integrated Dynamics-Control Module. Included are intelligent trace control, intelligent engine brake and active ride control, all of which your dealer will explain in detail. Remember that each and every Maxima, including S, SV, SL, SR, Platinum and Platinum Reserve, all feature identical drivetrain mechanicals.
Inside, the Platinum Reserve features both opulence and sporty features. Nissan designers went beyond the call of duty as the Platinum Reserve’s two-tone interior, wood-tone faceted accents and comfortable, snug seating are inviting. Standard are both Apple and Android compatibility, SiriusXM satellite, Bluetooth, a 7-inch display drive assist and 8-inch infotainment display that divvy up the car info and entertainment duties, respectively. From Nissan Connect door-to-door navigation with active voice, traffic sign recognition, intelligent driver alert, engine and operating particulars and even rear door alert proves Maxima is a modern day technological wonder.
More cabin notables include power front seats that offer lumbar and thigh support with heated and cooling abilities and more than enough rear headroom. Rear legroom might be a bit tight for taller adults especially if the driver is also tall, but other than this the interior is outstanding. For listening pleasure, an 11-speaker Bose stereo system with Nissan Active Noise Cancellation is standard as is a trusty CD player that nowadays seems to be a Nissan extra special highlight. Because of streaming capabilities with your smartphone, many manufacturers no longer offer a CD player to the dismay of the many baby boomers and younger who still own hundreds of CDs.
Standard safety items include forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking (across the board) and our Platinum Reserve’s front and rear sonar, intelligent 360-degree all-around monitor, high beam assist, driver alertness, rear emergency braking, rear cross traffic alert, active cruise control, blind spot monitors, lane correcting intervention and all the airbags assure driver and passengers that automobile protection is a Nissan top-of-mind priority.
Our Platinum Reserve also features trim specific 19-inch dark hyper silver aluminum-alloy wheels, dual panoramic sunroof, power trunk, zero gravity front seats, intelligent key with push button start, several USB ports, tilt and telescopic steering, rain detecting wipers, Nissan First Aid kit, and heated rear seats. Other leather notables include special semi-aniline leather seating with dynamic diamond-quilted inserts, “satin bronze” interior trim and a charcoal headliner. There’s more, but we just don’t have the space.
Although near fully loaded, our Maxima featured a few options like a sport floor and trunk mat kit for $375, rocker panel moldings for $435, and the above mentioned (and recommended) Pearl white premium paint for $395. With delivery of $920, the final retail came in at $44,910 from a Platinum Reserve base of $42,780. Remember, the entry S starts at just $34,250 so there’s a lot of play room in there for prospective consumers.
Nissan’s 2020 Maxima underwent a design refresh in ’19, and now features aggressive boomerang LED headlights, a slippery aero hood, performance quad exhaust and racy rear deck. It also looks more like a sports car thanks to an innovative “floating roof” that camouflages the side pillars by blacking them out.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 109.3-inches, 3,678-lb. curb weight, 38.1-ft. turn circle, 14.3 cu. ft. of cargo space and an 18-gallon fuel tank.
In summary, Nissan’s marketing promotes Maxima as its luxury sports car with a powerful V6. We agree, and with its top Consumer Reports 2020 Buying Guide rating, a test drive is a no brainer if shopping this segment.
Likes: Sporty design, cabin, CVT improvement, 300-horsepower.
Dislikes: Rear-seat legroom, no AWD models, some engine noise.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive: 2020 Nissan Maxima
Entry price: $34,250