Move over BMW 5-Series, the latest update to the "4 Door Sports Car," the Nissan Maxima is nothing short of brilliant. From an aggressive exterior styling that feels more "GTR" than "Altima," the Maxima has once again started to define the Japanese Full Size car segment with an affordable, fun to drive, and well balanced vehicle.
I call this the "ultimate dad car" because it does three things very well, that most other mid-size and even full-size sedans do not: 1. I can fit 2 infant or 2 convertible car seats in the back seats , all while I (6'2) and my wife (5'9) sit comfortably in the front seats. 2. I can fit a ton of luggage, including a double jogging stroller, 2 coolers, a suit case and a diaper bag all in the trunk. 3. If and when you want it to be fast, IT IS.
Nissan got some flack for the CVT transmissions in the Pathfinders and Altimas in the 2013 era, but it seems that the latest Flagship Maxima is using it to it's advantage. They tuned the classic Nissan 3.5L V6 engine (originally debuted in the reincarnation of the 350Z in the early 2000s) into a 300 HP Beast (much more than even the twin turbo BMW 528I) all while averaging about 26MPG in mostly city driving. I drove the vehicle to and from texas (600+Miles each way) and got a combined 29MPG.
While i love nearly everything about the car, three things really stand out as being merely "manageable." The maxima platform (used for the pathfinder as well) is front wheel drive. I get it, it's hard to get the Japanese automakers to create anything RWD aside from a few Lexus products - however, making an AWD version would create an even better driving experience. The second is the departure angle. While I know the styling is that of a sports car, and in reality, the ride height is pretty darn great, I do find myself scrapping the bottom bumper a bit more than I would like. Finally, make a 6 Speed manual option. I love the sport mode, and when the kids aren't in the car, I throw this baby in Sports Mode with manual control and have a blast. But for those of who "enthusiasts" who need a 4 door full size sedan, but want the feel of a weekend beach racer, a manual transmission would be the perfect balance.