Nissan Maxima SR
A Touch or Three of Sport
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD. – The Maxima has gained a reputation as an entry level luxury car without tiptoeing into the performance realm. Until now.
See those little letters above? The SR? That means Nissan engineers have gone tiptoeing. Now this is nothing like Uber suddenly hiring Richard Petty but it does result in a fun to drive sedan that remains luxury oriented.
What sets the Maxima SR apart is a sport-tuned suspension, Integrated Dynamics-control Module (IDM), a front chassis performance damper, premium Ascot leather-appointed seats with diamond-quilted Alcantara inserts, Climate-controlled front seats, Ascot leather-appointed steering wheel with Alcantara insert, paddle shifters, aluminum sport pedals, Liquid Chrome faceted finishers, LED low beam headlights, 19-inch diamond-cut machined aluminum-alloy wheels and 245/40R19 all-season tires developed uniquely for Maxima.
The energetic 3.5-liter V6 gets more than 60 percent new parts such as sodium filled valves but don’t worry, we won’t tell your doctor.
It is a DOHC 24-valve V-6 with aluminum block and heads, plus port fuel injection, good for 300 horsepower @ 6400 rpm and 261 lb-ft of torque @ 4400 rpm. It will gallop to 60 from a standstill in 5.5 seconds or so, and top out at an “Excuse me officer” 135 mph. That is more than ample power for the kind of every day driving that most of us do.
SR made particularly quick work of getting around a slow moving piece of farm equipment where the operator sat so high in the sky that he probably also qualified to work in an airport control tower.
Out on the highways with an “I” prefix, the six was just not heard from unless your leg got twitchy.
It was matched to one of the best CVT’s that I have driven. There was none of the rubber band effect, unlike many others, in fact most passengers will never catch on that it is not a conventional automatic.
EPA fuel economy checks in at 22 city, 30 highway for a combined 25 mpg.
The Xtronic transmission with a wider gear ratio range allows for stronger acceleration from a standing start while the shifting logic allows rapid shifts at high throttle openings. There is also a drive mode selector on board for the first time giving operators the choice of Sport and Normal modes.
I liked the Sport setting that increases throttle response, with more aggressive shifting under braking and gear loading. The steering gets heftier and the Active Sound Enhancement system allows more engine noise to enter the interior. But never to excess.
It is a solid build with a 25 percent increase in torsional rigidity, but the car is also 83 pounds lighter thanks to various enhancements.
Unique to the SR is a larger front stabilizer bar, and suspension damper tuning. One thing that you will notice in daily operation is the so called “Performance Chassis Damper” that helps reduce high frequency vibration in the body that can result from the SR’s stiffer suspension.
A touch of first class was the Alcantara seating inserts and steering wheel insert. The Zero Gravity Ascot Leather seats were comfortable at first sitting, and remained so with just minor adjustments on a long day in the saddle. The seats were both heated and cooled.
The interior, Nissan said, echoes the cockpit design of the Navy’s Blue Angels. Not sure about all that since it never occurred to me to yell “Lift off” at any speed, but the interior was nicely outfitted in quality materials and all of the vital controls were within easy reach and instantly identifiable.
The center stack is angled seven degrees toward the driver and the console sits higher than the previous model. And the Bose Sound System with 11 speakers was simply outstanding. You might want to take the long way home just to enjoy your favorites. There are two USB ports and a bin large enough to accommodate your iPhone 6 Plus.
Two adults will fit just fine to the rear, and three can also ride along for short trip, but the passenger stuck in the middle might not like the shortage of head room.
The “V-Motion” grille turns some people off, while others see an aggressive design here. Personally, I go with the latter.
Nissan calls it a “4-door Sports Car.” I am not ready to go that far but all of the work Nissan put into this car shows when you want to make some time on a back road. No BMW here, but a fun to drive sedan with a long, long list of standard equipment.
In fact, the only option on the “Deep Blue Pearl” test car were floor and trunk mats. The bottom line with delivery came to $38,750.
The eighth generation of the Maxima is a product of the Nissan factory in Smyrna, Tennessee.