The Maxima isn't like most other sedans you might be considering. It's sportier than the typical family sedan but is equipped and priced more like a large sedan. It could even be an option for an entry-level luxury car. As such, the Maxima is largely a niche offering, but one with undeniable appeal.
Nissan has long called the Maxima a "four-door sports car." Of course, the phrase is mostly marketing hype. But the Maxima handles pretty well when you're driving around turns and comes standard with a powerful V6 engine. There's even a sporty SR trim with unique suspension tuning and performance-oriented driver aids.
Given the Maxima's lengthy list of features, upscale interior appointments and all-around competence, it could be a solid alternative to luxury sedans such as the Acura TLX or Lincoln MKZ. The cabin is so decadently trimmed in the SR and Platinum levels, it outdoes even those cars at that price.
We will note that this year's crop of midsize sedans is pretty appealing. The redesigned Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, in particular, boast sportier styling and stronger performance than ever before. That might dilute the Maxima's appeal considering the Honda and Toyota are roomier and less expensive. But if you're looking for a sedan with equal parts sportiness and unpretentious luxury, the 2018 Nissan Maxima is certainly worth checking out.
The 2018 Nissan Maxima sedan comes in five trim levels: the base S, midlevel SV, the slightly more expensive SL, sporty SR and the top-level Platinum.
Like all Maximas, the S is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine (300 horsepower, 261 pound-feet of torque) that drives the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
Standard features include 18-inch wheels, LED daytime running lights, foglights, remote engine start, keyless entry and ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, adjustable driving modes, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable front seats (eight-way driver and four-way passenger), a 60/40-split rear seat, a navigation system, an 8-inch touchscreen, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD player and satellite radio.
Standard safety systems include a rearview camera and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.
The Maxima SV adds front and rear parking sensors, heated mirrors, heated front seats, leather upholstery, and an upgraded driver seat with extendable thigh support and two-way power lumbar adjustment. The SL doesn't cost much more, and its impressive list of extra features includes a dual-panel sunroof, active noise reduction, active engine sound enhancement, adaptive cruise control, a heated steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The SR adds performance enhancements to the SL, with 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, column-mounted paddle shifters, Active Ride Control (uses the brakes to quell body motions over bumps), Active Trace Control (uses targeted braking to keep the vehicle on its intended path) and active engine braking that helps slow the car when heading aggressively into corners or approaching a stop. The panoramic sunroof is removed, but the SR does add a few luxury features, including LED headlights, ventilated front seats, and upgraded leather upholstery with quilted simulated suede seat inserts and special interior trim.
A rear spoiler and the Midnight Edition package (black-painted wheels and exterior styling elements, rear spoiler, an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, driver-seat memory settings and a 360-degree parking camera) are optional for the SR.
The top-trim Platinum does away with some of the SR's add-ons (LED headlights, ventilated front seats) and retains the Active Ride Control, Active Trace Control and active engine braking systems. It then adds automatic wipers, an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, a 360-degree parking camera, a power-adjustable steering column, driver-seat memory settings, a six-way power passenger seat, upgraded leather upholstery and interior trim, a rear power sunshade and NissanConnect services (remote start, automatic collision notification, emergency calling and stolen vehicle location).