The Nissan Maxima is a premium sedan, a midsize model powered by a V6 engine and loaded with amenities. It is this brand’s flagship sedan, although it is sized smaller than competing models from Toyota, Chevrolet, and Ford. The current model is part of the eighth-generation line introduced in 2016.

2019 Nissan Maxima Overview

For 2019, the Maxima receives updated front and rear styling, including now-standard LED headlights. Nissan also added more standard and optional safety features, and tweaked its package offerings.

Nissan offers the 2019 Maxima in six trims: S ($34,050), SV ($36,060), SL ($38,540), SR ($39,630), Platinum ($41,540), and Platinum Reserve ($42,680). Add $895 for the destination and handling charge. All models come with a V6 engine paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission.

Not every trim offers packages as Nissan equips each version accordingly. There are a few exterior paint options that incur a $395 upgrade.

The Maxima SR offers a Premium Package ($1,820). This one includes an automatic-dimming driver-side outside mirror, and outside mirrors with a reverse tilt-down feature. Other features include a dual-panel panoramic moonroof, an around-view monitor, driver seat memory, and automatic rear braking.

Choose the Maxima Reserve and this model offers a Reserve Package ($1,140). Here, you’ll find 19-inch designer wheels, heated rear seats, upgraded leather seats, a charcoal headliner, and interior trim upgrades. In effect, by choosing the Reserve Package, this makes this trim a Platinum Reserve model.

A Matter of Style

The 2019 Maxima is no longer the largest sedan offered by Nissan, as the all-new Altima offers nearly two additional inches between the wheels and is a hair longer than the Maxima. In recent years, both models have shared the same platform, but with the Altima overhauled, the length laurels and a new platform goes with it.

But the Maxima is clearly the design and price leader among the two models. Its silhouette is more expressive with its low roofline and high beltline supplying it with a “gangster sedan” look. From every angle this sedan captivates with is pronounced cutouts, deep creases, sharp ridges, and wing-like lighting elements. Up front, the signature horse-collar grille is amplified by off-setting blacked-out trim on some versions. Its look is at once elegant as it is sporty.

The sedan’s profile suggests a model always in motion with signature lines flowing out from the headlights to the door panels. A strong crease begins in the middle of the rear doors and pushes to the rear deck. The floating roof design adds to this model’s sporty appeal. Our test model with the designer wheels, black deck spoiler, chrome embellishments, and diffuser-like trim completed that look.

Inside, the cabin is no less elegant. On paper, it seats five and five can comfortably sit inside. As with any sedan, two individuals on the rear seat is ideal, especially for folding down the center armrest. Still, you’ll find enough room for three back there. Tall passengers, however, may find the sloping roofline impedes comfort, so there is that.

The curvilinear drama of the exterior plays out inside with a dashboard that’s layered, padded, and twin-stitched. The instrument panel is fairly simplistic with two analog displays flanking a digital driver’s information center. The center stack is the focal point with its color screen flanked by switches and knobs. The ignition, transmission shifter, and drive mode controller are present as well.

My test model came with quilted leather seats that are very comfortable. I especially welcomed the seat extender, which is typically offered on luxury models only. When pulled out, you’ll enjoy the extra thigh support, which is quite helpful for long trips as it also eases lower back pressure.

The 40-20-40 split-folding rear bench seat supplies much support and comfort. Overall, the cabin is quiet and has numerous storage compartments. I especially appreciated the large compartments in the front doors, as they hold wide drink bottles and places to store treats.

Safety & Technology

Nissan equips the 2019 Maxima with the expected levels of standard tech and safety features. The base model comes with an 8-speaker audio system, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and a pair of USB ports. An 8-inch color display along with Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto smartphone compatibility round out the list of included features.

You only need to move up one trim to find navigation, although with smartphone compatibility you may prefer your familiar way of getting there. Beyond the base trim, you’ll also find traffic and travel apps, along with HD Radio. An 11-speaker Bose audio system with active noise cancellation rolls out at the SL level. Nissan also doubles the number of USB ports there.

On the safety front, Nissan includes forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Features such as blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert begin at the SV level. Lane intervention and rear automatic braking roll out with the SL trim.

What you won’t find is Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist Technology, a Level 2 semi-autonomous system designed to help drivers maintain lane control, navigate stop and go traffic, keep a constant speed, and maintain a set distance behind the car in front. Steering assist is one of the most significant elements as this feature keeps a vehicle centered. It is hands-on technology, but it points to where Nissan is going with autonomous drive. We expect a future Maxima model will include this safety suite.

On the Road

One of the most significant differences between the Maxima and Altima is the choice of engines. This year, the Altima replaced its optional V6 with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. That left the Maxima as the only Nissan car with a V6.

And that V6 is a strong one too, delivering 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque. That’s a lot of power sent to the front wheels, which normally would be a huge concern except for the fact that Nissan incorporates torque vectoring technology to keep the sedan centered. Indeed, if you press hard on the gas pedal, the wheels begin to slightly pull to either the left or right, but immediately the side-to-side motion automatically corrects. This writer has driven similar powerful front-wheel-drive models in the past without the technology and I must tell you the experience was not fun. In fact, it can be downright scary when the wheels pull to either side when accessing full power.

The V6 suits this sedan well as it offers generous step-off acceleration and plenty of passing power. Nissan pairs this engine with a continuously variable transmission, which isn’t my favorite choice for sending power to the wheels. Nevertheless, the transmission is refined as it is tuned to adjust RPMs downward at various intervals in the band curve. Anyway, a CVT is more efficient than a cogged automatic transmission, thus its use in this car.

Interestingly, Nissan supplies paddle shifters with the Maxima. They’re made of titanium and they’re mounted to the steering column — not to the steering wheel. Column-mounted shifters are my favorite as they stay fixed while you move the steering wheel. This means you won’t cross your arms when cornering. Just keep in mind that the shifters work when the transmission is in sport mode. Here, they simulate seven forward gears, just like an automatic transmission. Some people don’t like the simulated shift points, but it works. I’m more enthralled by the shifters’ location and the titanium material used.

Regardless of how you manage the Maxima, it delivers weighted steering and spot-on handling. The Maxima’s smaller size gives it an edge against the Ford Taurus, Toyota Avalon, and Chevrolet Impala, by supplying improved agility. Its front-wheel-drive layout is apparent at times, especially when cornering as the sedan tends to lean forward. We like to imagine what this sedan would drive like if all-wheel drive was available as it is now optional in the Altima. But then an all-wheel-drive Maxima would likely siphon sales from Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury marque.

We have driven SR versions of both the Maxima and Altima and this is the trim level we like best. The SR offers a wonderful combination of sportiness and luxury for this handsome sedan. Add in the available Premium Package and your cost comes in at $42,550.

Some good news is that Nissan regularly discounts this model, therefore this particular version will likely cost you no more than $40,000. That’s still luxury car territory for some, but its pricing is in line with the competition and is slightly lower than a well-equipped Buick LaCrosse. Finally, if a crossover is still your thing, we suggest you begin your search with the Nissan Murano, a midsize model with room for five.

2019 Nissan Maxima Specifications

  • Sticker price from $34,945
  • Price as tested: $42,550
  • Seats five
  • Engine: 3.5-liter V6 gas
  • 300 hp @ 6,400 RPM
  • 261 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,400 RPM
  • Continuously variable transmission
  • Wheelbase: 109.3 inches
  • Length: 192.8 inches
  • Width: 73.2 inches
  • Height: 56.5 inches
  • Passenger volume: 98.5 cubic feet
  • Storage volume: 14.3 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: NR
  • EPA: 20/30/24 mpg city/highway/combined
  • Premium gasoline
  • Fuel tank: 18 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 3,552 to 3,676 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick (2018)
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 36 months/36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 5 years/unlimited miles
  • Vehicle assembly: Smyrna, Tenn.

The 2019 Nissan Maxima at the Rocky River Truss Bridge, an aged viaduct in Chatham County, NC. Constructed in 1921 and refurbished in 1959, this single-lane bridge carries traffic across NC 1953 (35°37’27.0″N 79°11’58.0″W).

This article was originally published by Auto Trend Magazine.