The radically styled 2018 Nissan Maxima definitely has what it takes to turn heads. A 300-horsepower V6 is standard, as is a long list of comfort and safety features that make the Maxima feel more like an entry-level luxury car. Modest rear-seat room is one drawback, while enthusiasts will likely shun the Maxima’s front-drive layout.
You'll Like The 2018 Nissan Maxima If...
If you’re looking for a 4-door sedan priced under $35,000 that can deliver the kind of performance and attention-grabbing good looks usually reserved for brands like Audi and Mercedes-Benz, the 2018 Maxima should hold strong appeal.
You May Not Like The 2018 Nissan Maxima If...
If you’re looking for a sporty sedan that also has a large rear seat, optional engine choices and more traditional styling, a Dodge Charger or Kia Stinger makes a better choice. A Toyota Avalon or Chevrolet Impala is much better at hauling people, but nowhere near as much fun to drive.
For 2018, Nissan adds Android Auto to the Maxima’s suite of connectivity options, joining Apple CarPlay and NissanConnect. The Maxima SR Midnight Edition carries over this year, as do forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, two features made standard late in the 2017 model run.
Despite its flagship status, the 5-passenger Nissan Maxima is actually a little smaller inside than the Nissan Altima sedan, which is slightly shorter. However, the Altima can't compare to the Maxima's upscale atmosphere. The diamond pattern on the accent trim extends to the seats and door panels on upper-level models. The stitched and soft-touch dash and doors impart a premium feel, as does the 8-inch infotainment system with its console-mounted multifunction knob. The driver and front passenger easily get comfortable thanks to power seats and tilt-telescope steering, but the rear seat's lack of head- and legroom may leave tall passengers complaining.
Nissan has packed a lot of styling onto the Maxima sedan. Nissan's V-Motion grille treatment dominates the front end, and like it or not, you sure know what's coming your way. Similarly, there's a lot of styling on the sides. The Maxima's roof, for example, appears to float over the rest of the body thanks to some clever paintwork. The sides are sculpted with intersecting character lines, and even the rear of the car, normally a weak point in styling, gets highlighted with sculpted taillights, twin chrome exhausts and a chrome lip over the license plate.
While the “4-Door Sports Car” tagline may sound appealing, don’t mistake the 2018 Nissan Maxima for a bargain-basement BMW substitute. Instead, we like to think of the Maxima as a sporty entry-level luxury sedan that has more to offer than your run-of-the-mill Camry or Accord. Power from the Maxima’s 300-horsepower V6 is routed to the front wheels by means of a CVT automatic transmission, not exactly the favorite formula of purists. Still, the Maxima’s CVT is one of the best in the industry, aided in its performance aspirations by a set of steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and its “D-Step” simulated gearshift logic. Torque steer does make itself known if you stomp the accelerator hard, but it’s a minimal event that rarely shows up once the Maxima is up to speed. The Maxima’s suspension delivers a comfortable ride and admirable cornering abilities, but the steering can feel vague at times, being somewhat numb in the feedback department.
The 2018 Nissan Maxima sedan has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $33,915 for a base S model. If you want leather seating and a more supportive driver's seat, spend the roughly $2,000 more for a Maxima SV. The rest of the lineup climbs into the high $30,000s, and the top-line Maxima Platinum starts over $40,000. At these prices the Maxima starts higher than a Chevrolet Impala and Acura TLX, but the Nissan boasts more standard grunt. It nearly mimics the starting prices of the Toyota Avalon, Kia Cadenza and Hyundai Azera, which also offer a V6 as standard. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their Maxima. The Nissan Maxima's resale value is expected to fare pretty well, in line with that of the Avalon and above that of the Impala, Cadenza and Azera.
All 2018 Maxima sedans are the same under the hood, sporting a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 300 horsepower and a CVT automatic transmission. Also standard are LED headlight and taillight accents. Even base-model Maxima S sedans come with NissanConnect, an 8-inch touch-screen navigation and infotainment system with voice command, Google search, Bluetooth, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Also standard are an 8-way-power driver's seat, cruise control, push-button ignition and keyless entry, and a rearview camera. The color 7-inch information screen between the main gauges is standard on all models. Safety equipment includes forward-collision warning and emergency braking.
Nissan adds features through the 2018 Maxima's four higher trim levels instead of options packages. With its leather upholstery, heated front seats and heated outside mirrors with LED turn signals, and front and rear parking sensors, even a Maxima SV is a highly recommendable vehicle. SL and Platinum models get a dual-panel panoramic moonroof, upgraded audio systems, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control. The sporty SR loses the panoramic roof but gains bigger wheels/tires, while the luxury-like Platinum also gets moving-object detection, a driver-attention alert system and surround-view camera.
INTELLIGENT FORWARD-COLLISION WARNING (I-FCW)
Now standard on every Maxima, Nissan’s Intelligent Forward Collision Warning system goes beyond standard systems that alert the driver to a slowed or stopped vehicle by actually looking two cars ahead. The system helps anticipate a possible emergency and react accordingly.
Joining the already standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto allows the rest of the smartphone world to join in the convenience of being able to mirror a smartphone through the car’s infotainment system. This feature gives full access to apps like Pandora, Google Maps and music through the Maxima’s large touch-screen display.
Under the Hood
There's only one engine choice available for the Nissan Maxima, but it's a good one: a 300-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 connected to an Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). It manages decent fuel economy, all while delivering smooth and quiet power to the front wheels. CVTs have come a long way, and Nissan's D-Step shift logic mimics the operation of a traditional automatic by letting the revs rise and fall when at full throttle. A Sport mode livens feel by adjusting throttle response, steering effort and transmission tuning. Given its 300 horsepower, we're impressed that the Maxima doesn't suffer from aggressive torque steer, a peculiar side-to-side wiggle felt in the steering wheel that's common in powerful front-wheel-drive cars. Note that premium unleaded is recommended for the Maxima.
300 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
261 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30 mpg
As Nissan flagship sedan, the 2018 Maxima successfully blends the company’s love for for both styling and performance. Wearing one of the most radical designs ever to grace Nissan’s “4-door Sports Car,” the Maxima definitely has what it takes to turn heads. A 300-horsepower V6 and taut chassis place the Maxima’s driving dynamics closer to those of the the new Kia Stinger, and a cut above sedans like the Honda Accord and Chevrolet Impala. Yet, for all its performance rumblings, the Maxima’s long list of standard and available equipment makes it feel more like a premium-level luxury car. If the 2018 Maxima has any shortcomings, it would be its minimal rear-seat accommodations and front-wheel-drive layout, the latter often a deal-killer for die-hard enthusiasts.