NY LIVE: 2016 Nissan Maxima [Video]
Nissan revives the 4-door sports car moniker for the eighth-generation Maxima.
For the 2016 Maxima, just unveiled in New York, Nissan is reviving the "4DSC" moniker. Introduced over 25 years ago on the fourth-generation Maxima, the code stands for Four-Door Sports Car, and provides an idea of where Nissan wants the latest Maxima to fall along the comfort-sport spectrum.
In fact, Nissan is so committed to setting up the Maxima as the athlete in the big sedan class — one that includes competent but not exactly exciting alternatives like the Buick LaCrosee, Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon — that it embossed "4DSC" into the 2016 Maxima's head- and taillights.
However, there is good indication that it's not just marketing-speak. The new Maxima is 82 pounds lighter than the outgoing model, despite being 2.2 inches longer. It also measures 1.3 inches lower and, according to Nissan, has 25 percent better torsional rigidity. The resulting lower center of gravity and stiffer body should result in a more sporting character than its predecessor.
Powering the new flagship sedan is an improved version of Nissan's evergreen VQ-series 3.5L V6. In its new home, it's been tuned to extract 10 extra horses for an even 300hp. Its torque figure, 261 lb-ft, remains unchanged, but although EPA numbers aren't available yet, Nissan expects a 15 percent increase in mileage, about 22 mpg city and 30 highway. However, it will achieve those numbers with the Xtronic CVT as the sole transmission option.
The four-wheel independent suspension now has monotube rear dampers, while front brakes are vented. The hardware uses standard 18-inch machine-finished alloys as standard, though 19-inch wheels are available as an option.
The design hews true to the car we saw in Nissan's Superbowl ad, which is itself a fairly faithful version of the Sports Sedan Concept, albeit fitted with production ride height and wheels. Boomerang lights, the new corporate V-Motion grille and the floating roof design all made it to production, while blacked out A-pillars were taken from the GT-R supercar.
Stepping into the cabin, drivers are greeted with a wrap-around console inspired by cockpits of the Blue Angels jets, with a gear selector shaped to resemble a fighter plane's joystick. The aerospace theme continues with Nissan's "Zero Gravity" seats, designed to conform to the human body's natural contours for a more natural feel. A large dual-panel panoramic moonroof on higher trims provides jet-canopy levels of upward visibility.
Beyond that, the interior is less afterburner and more after-dinner mint. Diamond quilted seat inserts coddle occupants in material such as Ascot leather and Alcantara. Laminated glass on the windshield and side windows provide so much quiet that engine growl must now be piped into the cabin.
Tech-wise, the Maxima does pretty good keeping up with a McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18. An 8-inch NissanConnect display now features smartphone-like multi-touch gestures such as swiping and pinch-to-zoom. Nissan's partnership with Bose continues, with the audio company supplying an 11-speaker stereo system.
A slew of modern safety features are included, with predictive forward collision warnings and forward emergency braking, intelligent cruise control, blind spot warnings and rear cross-traffic alerts all standard equipment. Platinum models even have the bird's-eye Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, along with a Driver Attention Alert system to detect when the pilot is sleepy.
Five trim levels will be offered: S, SV, SL, SR and Platinum. The new SE trim will be the sportiest choice, with unique suspension tuning, fatter sway bars, Alcantara upholstery and a D-shaped sport steering wheel.
All 2016 Nissan Maximas will be built in Smyrna, Tennessee and will go on sale this summer with a starting price of $32,410.
Live images by Brian Williams.