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2019 Nissan Maxima

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$33,950 — $41,440 MSRP
10
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Sedan
5 Seats
25 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
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Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Debuting at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, Nissan updated its Maxima sedan for the 2019 model year with new styling and safety features.

By Brian Wong

The updated 2019 Nissan Maxima is a survivor in a dying breed: the full-size, non-luxury sedan. With the market for these cars constricting, competitors in the class are either digging in, as with the redesigned 2019 Toyota Avalon, or dying off, like the Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Impala.

Fewer shoppers means it's more important than ever to stand out from the crowd — something the refreshed Maxima does with its styling. But how does the rest of the car hold up? After a week with the Maxima and its changes, I found, as Shania Twain might say, "That don't impress me much."

Related: Sporty 2019 Nissan Maxima: Higher Class for a Higher Price

It's Got the Looks

Among the Maxima's changes for 2019 are styling updates to the front and rear. The front grille dips lower, and the lower part of the front bumper has a floating chrome strip that looks more aggressive. It's a positive change, as the front now more closely matches the rest of the car's overall aesthetic. The fender arches remain strikingly prominent, and each fender has its own character line that gives the side of the car dimension. Other sedans can look flat in profile; the Maxima looks alive.

I tested a Maxima SR, the second highest of the Maxima's five trim levels and the one with the sportiest look. That includes a rear spoiler and 19-inch gloss-black wheels.

The Maxima remains distinct in terms of its styling — it really doesn't look like anything else on ...

The updated 2019 Nissan Maxima is a survivor in a dying breed: the full-size, non-luxury sedan. With the market for these cars constricting, competitors in the class are either digging in, as with the redesigned 2019 Toyota Avalon, or dying off, like the Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Impala.

Fewer shoppers means it's more important than ever to stand out from the crowd — something the refreshed Maxima does with its styling. But how does the rest of the car hold up? After a week with the Maxima and its changes, I found, as Shania Twain might say, "That don't impress me much."

Related: Sporty 2019 Nissan Maxima: Higher Class for a Higher Price

It's Got the Looks

Among the Maxima's changes for 2019 are styling updates to the front and rear. The front grille dips lower, and the lower part of the front bumper has a floating chrome strip that looks more aggressive. It's a positive change, as the front now more closely matches the rest of the car's overall aesthetic. The fender arches remain strikingly prominent, and each fender has its own character line that gives the side of the car dimension. Other sedans can look flat in profile; the Maxima looks alive.

I tested a Maxima SR, the second highest of the Maxima's five trim levels and the one with the sportiest look. That includes a rear spoiler and 19-inch gloss-black wheels.

The Maxima remains distinct in terms of its styling — it really doesn't look like anything else on the road (save, perhaps, for the Murano), and the updates keep that uniqueness intact. It also has the look of something sporty. The Maxima is designed to look like a sedan that has retained an aggressive driving experience.

But Does It Have the Touch?

Living up to those looks is where the front-wheel-drive Maxima falls short. Under the hood is a 300-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 261 pounds-feet of torque and is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission with paddle shifters that work through simulated gears. On top of that, the SR model adds additional performance goodies: a sport-tuned suspension, larger front stabilizer bar and an integrated dynamic control module.

Even though I was in the Maxima's performance model, however, it still falls flat. Though the CVT comes with paddle shifters, it's hard to keep the engine in its power band — max torque doesn't kick in until 4,400 rpm, and getting the engine up there (and keeping it there) is a challenge. It also gives the Maxima less than stellar off-the-line acceleration.

On top of that, the steering lacks feedback. Sport mode adds a decent amount of weight to the steering wheel, but it doesn't do a good job of communicating what the front wheels are doing. I had trouble figuring out where the edge of the Maxima's grip was, and on a FWD car where the front wheels are doing double duty (steering and accelerating), it's an unwelcome feeling.

The Maxima feels a little more athletic than your run-of-the-mill full-size sedan, but that's not enough.

Don't Get Me Wrong, I Think It's All Right

The Maxima SR's interior has a few unique touches, including suedelike Alcantara inserts on the seats and steering wheel, and orange and dark-chrome interior accents. The seats and steering wheel are a highlight, with the front seats especially comfortable and the Alcantara on the steering wheel like something out of a higher-end luxury sports car. Beyond the seats and wheel, the rest of the interior is less exciting but well-appointed. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, and all trims get an 8-inch display.

If the Maxima's interior has a weakness, it's the backseat. For a car with a full-size price tag and full-size dimensions, the backseat is short on room and refinement. This is in stark contrast to the cavernous backseats found in the Avalon and Dodge Charger, which have 40.3 and 40.1 inches of rear legroom respectively, trouncing the Maxima's 34.2 inches. That low roofline also hurts visibility for backseat passengers, making it a less than ideal for longer trips.

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But That Won't Keep Me Warm

The 2019 Maxima isn't a bad sedan. It's actually on the good side of OK, particularly with the added safety features for 2019. It now features the optional Safety Shield 360 system, which includes helpful technology like rear automatic braking, forward automatic braking with pedestrian detection and traffic sign recognition. But for a sedan with sporting intent, it's simply not that fun to drive, especially at my test vehicle's $42,605 price tag (including the $895 destination charge).

Compounding things, there are better options in this class for comfort or driving fun. The Avalon has more interior room, a more refined ride and offers a hybrid model with greater fuel economy. If fun is what you're after, then the Charger with its rear-wheel-drive V-8 setup offers a lot more punch, and the Charger Scat Pack (with its 485 hp) starts at $41,490. Unless the Maxima's styling sweeps you off your feet (and it may do that for some), full-size sedan buyers are better off looking at the other options in the segment.

Cars.com's Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com's long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don't accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com's advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2019 Nissan Maxima currently has 0 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2019 Nissan Maxima has not been tested.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Nissan

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    6 years/less than 80,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    84 months/100,000 miles from original new-car in-service date

  • Powertrain

    84 months/100,000 miles (includes LEAF electric vehicle system and powertrain)

  • Dealer Certification Required

    167-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All CPO Program Details

Latest 2019 Maxima Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Maxima received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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