After a few months in our Four Seasons fleet, the 2016 Nissan Maxima SR is making a mostly good first impression on our Detroit staff. We’re especially enjoying the distinctive styling, plush cabin, and strong powertrain, though a few quirks with the steering have us questioning its sports-sedan billing.
As our Maxima arrived around the same time the cold weather set in, we wasted no time fitting a set of Pirelli Sottozero 3 winter tires from Tire Rack, which cost $1,087.16 including shipping and installation. Videographer Sandon Voelker put the rubber to use good during a trip to Northern Michigan, where he reported that the front-wheel-drive Maxima easily got through a few inches of fresh powder.
Every driver praised the upscale feel of the Maxima’s interior, which uses materials that rival those found in premium brands like Acura or Lincoln. “The controls, knobs, and buttons feel substantial and chunky, which lends a sense of quality to the cabin,” said daily news editor Conner Golden, who is also a big fan of the stitched leather and diamond-pattern design of the seats.
Others praised the crisp color displays, including the useful 7-inch screen in the gauge cluster that shows a wealth of information in a clear, attractive manner. The central touchscreen is easy to use too, and Detroit bureau chief Todd Lassa especially appreciated inclusion of the real knobs for radio volume and tuning.
The 300-hp V-6 and CVT automatic are also living up to their performance and fuel-economy promises so far. “The engine has a ton of power on tap, and I have no complaints about this CVT,” said daily news editor Eric Weiner. “It responds quickly to throttle inputs and doesn’t get fussy or tripped up.”
On a long-distance run to Nashville, Tennessee, the Maxima also lived up to its highway rating of 30 mpg, while our overall average or 23.9 mpg so far is just a bit under the combined rating of 25 mpg. We’ll see if that number goes up as the temperature rises in Michigan.
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for our 2016 Nissan Maxima SR, as we had complaints right off the bat about its steering, which is a weak link in the SR’s otherwise capable dynamics. “The steering’s weighting is unpredictable,” noted daily news editor Jake Holmes. “It’s sometimes way too heavy at parking lot speeds, forcing me to wrestle the wheel, and sometimes goes way too light at higher speeds.”
We also started hearing a strange squeaking noise from the steering column while maneuvering at parking-lot speeds, so we took it to our local dealer to get it checked out. After extra lubrication for a boot in the steering column failed to fix the problem, a technician found that a clamp was loose in the lower steering shaft. Tightening the clamp silenced issue, and the bothersome squeaking is gone for now.
We asked the dealer about the strangely heavy steering at low speeds too, but the technicians told us that everything was operating normally. They even pointed us to a perplexing section of the owner’s manual that reads: “When the steering wheel is operated repeatedly or continuously while parking or driving at a very low speed, the power assist for the steering wheel will be reduced. This is to prevent overheating of the power steering system and protect it from getting damaged.” We can’t quite wrap our head around this, as low-speed parking maneuvers are precisely the time when we would want easier, lighter steering. We also can’t recall having this problem in any other modern car with a hydro-electric power steering setup like the Maxima’s.
We’ll keep an eye on the steering situation in the coming months, so stay tuned to future updates for more info. The Maxima is already scheduled for a trip to Chicago and is sure to go on plenty more adventures this spring and summer.
- Body style 4-door sedan
- Accommodation 5-passenger
- Construction Steel unibody
- Base price (with dest.) $38,495
- As tested $73,395 $38,750
EPA Fuel Economy
Steering Electrically assisted
Lock-to-lock 2.6 turns
Turning circle 38.1 ft
Suspension, Strut type, coils
Suspension, Multilink, coils
Brakes F/R Vented discs/vented discs
Wheels 19-inch aluminum
Tire size 205/45R-17 88Y, 235/40R-18 95Y
Headroom 39.4/36.7 in
Legroom 45.0/34.7/ in
L x W x H
Weight 3,564 lb
Weight dist. F/R
Est. fuel range
Fuel grade 91 octane (premium unleaded)
- 3.5-liter, 24-valve, DOHC V-6 engine
- Continuously variable transmission
- Automatic climate control
- 8-inch NissanConnect screen with Navigation
- SiriusXM satellite radio w/one-year trial subscription
- Auxiliary audio jack
- Two USB connection ports
- Heated and cooled front seats
- 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
- 4-way power-adjustable front passenger seat
- Tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Heated steering wheel
- Paddle shifters
- 19-inch machined aluminum wheels
- LED headlights and daytime running lights
- Remote start
- Keyless entry and ignition
- Rearview camera
- Forward collision warning
- Blind spot warning with rear cross traffic alert
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Adaptive cruise control
- 11-speaker Bose sound system
options for this vehicle:
- Sport floor mats, trunk mat, and trunk net- $255