2019 Nissan Maxima

By September 17, 2019

The 2019 Nissan Maxima undergoes some changes for the new model year. It wears a new face and rear end to go with its shapely body. The refreshed cabin gets two more airbags, for the knees of the driver and front passenger. The SV and higher models get a suite of active safety equipment that Nissan calls Safety Shield 360: blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, and rear cross-traffic alerts. 

Maxima SR and Platinum models get traffic-sign recognition and active lane control, although the system falls short of the ProPilot Assist features found on other Nissan models.

The engine remains the same, a 3.5-liter V-6 making 300 horsepower mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) to power the front wheels. The Maxima is sportier than Nissan’s Altima family sedan, and it has more lively feel, though interior space is down a bit compared to the Altima. 

The EPA rates the Maxima at 20 mpg city, 30 highway, 24 combined.

The Maxima hasn’t been fully crash-tested in 2019, but last year it aced its crash tests. The NHTSA gave the Maxima five stars, and the IIHS named it a Top Safety Pick. 

Model Lineup

The Maxima is offered in S, SV, SL, SR, and Platinum trim levels.

The base Maxima S costs about $35,000 and comes with cloth upholstery, automatic emergency braking, an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, power-adjustable front seats, two USB ports, and 18-inch wheels.

The SR is the sportiest model, truer to the car’s roots. For more than $40,000, it adds a firmer suspension tuned for better cornering, 19-inch wheels, paddle shifters, and special trim. Inside, it offers similar equipment to the top Platinum model, skipping the surround-view camera (it’s optional) and replacing the soft leather with synthetic suede. 

The Platinum at more than $42,000 comes with soft leather, heated and cooled front seats, wood trim, a heated steering wheel that’s power adjustable, 19-inch wheels, dual-pane sunroof, premium audio, navigation, concierge services, a surround-view camera system, and Nissan’s suite of active safety features.

Exterior

The Maxima’s looks are more daring than its rivals. It’s a refreshing take that’s relatively racy. The facelift has smoothed some of the rough edges on the previous model, while maintaining the muscular stance and profile. The Maxima’s face is now proportional to the rest of its sculpted body. The new nose is more dramatic, with a deeper dip in the V-shaped grille and more stylish headlamps. 

The SR adds a rear spoiler and smoky eyes up front.

Interior

The instrument panel is canted toward the driver, a significant detail that gives the cabin a handsome feel, enhanced by the quality of the materials. The touchscreen is large at 8.0 inches, but the Maxima isn’t overloaded with technology. 

Speaking of handsome, for 2019 there is an available diamond-quilted brown leather.

The front seats are supportive and comfortable for hours, whether in cloth, synthetic suede, or leather. Power adjustment is standard on even the base S model, rare among mainstream sedans.

Given the exterior dimensions, there’s less room inside than might be expected. The rear seats are relatively small, because they’re deeply sculpted–for two people. The roofline cuts into headroom, as well. The Maxima’s trunk offers 14.3 cubic feet of cargo space.

Driving Impressions

The 3.5-liter V-6 engine has been in Nissan’s stable for a long time. It makes 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque, with most of its power at higher rpm, coupled to a CVT that has pre-programmed “gears” and paddle shifters for a sporty driving feel.

The electric power steering is well-weighted and fairly heavy. During hard cornering there’s some body roll, but the Maxima doesn’t mind being driven with spirit. 

The SR remedies some of these things. Its stiffer springs and thicker anti-roll bars reduce the body roll, while it rides better on its 19-inch wheels. Its paddle shifters spin the CVT through its simulated shifts, to keep the engine in its high-rpm happy place. The brakes are more responsive. It’s a good compromise between a sporty sedan and a true sports sedan.

Final Word

The 2019 Nissan Maxima takes Altima running gear and spins it into a more stylish affair, one powered by a rorty V-6 engine. Though it lacks all-wheel drive, the 2019 Maxima handles well and looks sleek from every angle. It’s a useful sedan, but one with back roads on its mind.