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2021 Nissan Maxima Review

The 2021 Nissan Maxima finishes in the bottom half of our large car rankings. It offers a wealth of standard safety features and a powerful V6 engine, but its back seat is small, and the steering is numb.

Pros & Cons

  • Good predicted reliability rating
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Lengthy standard features list
  • Potent V6 engine
  • Not as agile as rivals
  • Below-average trunk room
  • Small back seat

New for 2021

  • S and SL trims discontinued
  • Navigation, Wi-Fi hot spot, leather upholstery, heated front seats, adaptive cruise control, and traffic sign recognition now standard

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Nissan Maxima's #4 ranking is based on its score within the Large Cars category. Currently the Nissan Maxima has a score of 7.8 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 29 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

7.8

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.8
Performance: 7.1
Interior: 6.5
Safety:
This model has never been fully tested for safety. Its overall score is being calculated without safety.
N/A
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

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Is the Nissan Maxima a Good Car?

Yes, the Nissan Maxima is a good large car. It boasts an easy-to-use infotainment system, a good predicted reliability rating, and quick acceleration. Still, the Maxima isn’t a slam-dunk pick in this class. Its passenger and cargo space are on the small side, and it isn’t as agile as some rivals.

Why You Can Trust Us: 29 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 29 Nissan Maxima reviews, as well as performance specs, interior dimensions, fuel economy ratings, and more, to give you all the information you need to make a smart car-buying decision.

This 2021 Maxima review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2016.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Nissan Maxima?

The Maxima is a good car, but its high price tag makes it tough to recommend over rivals that deliver better value. For example, you’ll get more bang for your buck with the Toyota Avalon, which offers pleasant driving dynamics and a roomier cabin than the Maxima. The Nissan Altima is a midsize car, but it offers more trunk and passenger space than its stablemate, and it costs less.

Find a 2021 Nissan Maxima for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Nissan Maxima: What's the Difference?

For 2021, Nissan simplifies the Maxima's lineup, shedding the base S and midlevel SL trims to leave just the SV, SR, and Platinum. The SV becomes the new base model, which means navigation, a Wi-Fi hot spot, leather upholstery, heated front seats, adaptive cruise control, and traffic sign recognition are now standard. Also new for 2021, a limited-production 40th Anniversary Edition package is available in the Platinum trim

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Maxima »

Here are the key changes for the Nissan Maxima over the last few years:

  • 2017: gained standard Apple CarPlay
  • 2018: Android Auto, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking added to standard features list
  • 2019: refreshed exterior styling
  • 2020: smoother ride; Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite made standard; SR trim gained a panoramic moonroof and a surround-view parking camera system
  • 2021: S and SL trims discontinued; gains some standard features; 40th Anniversary Edition package available in Platinum trim

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Maxima, 2019 Maxima, and 2020 Maxima reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Nissan Maxima Cost?

The 2021 Nissan Maxima starts at $36,990, which is high for the large car class. The other two trims each start at around $42,200.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Nissan dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Nissan deals page.

Nissan Maxima Versus the Competition

Nissan Maxima vs. Nissan Altima

The Nissan Altima is a midsize car, but it has a tad more trunk space and a roomier back row than the Maxima. You’ll need to step up to the Altima SL trim to find a similar number of standard features as the Maxima, but you can save more than $5,000 comparatively by doing so. The larger Nissan has a more powerful V6 engine, but the Altima offers an optional turbocharged four-cylinder with plenty of oomph, and it has sharper steering. The smaller Nissan also offers all-wheel drive, which isn’t available in the Maxima.

Compare the Maxima and Altima »

Nissan Maxima vs. Toyota Avalon

The Toyota Avalon and the Maxima both have potent V6 engines, lots of standard safety tech, and above-average starting prices. However, the Avalon boasts a larger trunk and back seat, as well as more responsive steering, making it the better pick.

Compare the Maxima and Avalon »

Compare the Maxima, Altima, and Avalon »

Maxima Interior: Lots of Tech, but More Space Needed

Maxima Cargo Space

The Maxima has 14.3 cubic feet of trunk space, which is small for a large car. Still, it's easy to load cargo into the wide and deep trunk, and folding the rear seats flat allows you to stow longer items.

How Many People Does the Maxima Seat?

Five people can fit inside the Maxima's cabin. The front seats are comfortable, supportive, and roomy. However, the rear-seat accommodations are smaller, meaning only two adults can fit comfortably. Headroom in the back is also pretty tight.

Maxima and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and a tether anchor for the rear middle seat. This setup is easy to use.

Maxima Interior Quality

The Maxima has soft-touch, upscale materials in all three trims; even the base model comes with leather upholstery. The Platinum trim also has wood accents.

Maxima Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Maxima comes standard with a NissanConnect infotainment system. The touch screen menus are straightforward, and there are redundant audio and climate buttons on the center stack.

  • Standard infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an eight-speaker stereo, satellite radio, navigation, voice recognition, Bluetooth, two front USB ports, and a Wi-Fi hot spot
  • Available infotainment features: an 11-speaker Bose premium audio system and two rear USB ports
  • Additional standard features: dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, and push-button start
  • Other available features: a dual-panel panoramic moonroof and a power rear-window sunshade

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Maxima Performance: Strong Engine, but Ride Isn’t Very Engaging

Maxima Engine

The Maxima comes with a 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine, which gets the car up to speed quickly and is on par with what most class rivals offer. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is standard. Most critics find that the CVT pairs well with the engine and does a good job mimicking the gear shifts of a traditional automatic transmission.

Maxima Gas Mileage

The Maxima delivers an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, which is average for a large car

Maxima Ride and Handling

The Maxima has composed handling and delivers a comfortable ride, even over rough pavement. However, critics note that it has numb steering. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is not available.

Read more about performance »

Maxima Reliability

Is the Nissan Maxima Reliable?

The 2021 Nissan Maxima has a good predicted reliability rating of four out of five.

Nissan Maxima Warranty

The Maxima comes with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Maxima Safety

Maxima Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Maxima five stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests. The NHTSA has not yet assigned the Maxima a side crash test or an overall safety rating.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not evaluated the 2021 Maxima. However, the IIHS gave the similar 2020 Maxima the highest rating of Good in all six crash safety tests.

Maxima Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Rearview camera
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Forward collision warning
  • Forward and reverse automatic emergency braking
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Lane departure warning
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Driver attention monitoring
  • Rear Door Alert (reminds you to check the back seat before exiting the car)

Available advanced safety features:

  • Surround-view parking camera system
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers

Read more about safety »

Maxima Dimensions and Weight

The Maxima is about 16 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,612 to 3,736 pounds, and its gross vehicle weight rating is 4,685 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Nissan Maxima Built?

Nissan builds the 2021 Maxima in Tennessee.

Which Nissan Maxima Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Nissan Maxima comes in three trims: SV, SR, and Platinum. All models are powered by a 300-horsepower V6 engine that's paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Front-wheel drive is standard.

We recommend the base SV trim for most shoppers. It’s packed with features such as leather upholstery, navigation, and adaptive cruise control. The two higher trims add more luxurious touches like Alcantara leather upholstery and safety features like a surround-view parking camera system.

Nissan Maxima SV

The SV trim starts at $36,900. It comes standard with a NissanConnect infotainment system that includes an 8-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an eight-speaker stereo, satellite radio, navigation, voice recognition, Bluetooth, two front USB ports, and a Wi-Fi hot spot.  

Other standard features include leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a four-way power-adjustable passenger seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, and push-button start.

A variety of safety features are also standard, including automatic high-beam headlights, a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, forward and reverse automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, driver attention monitoring, and Nissan's Rear Door Alert.

Nissan Maxima SR

The SR trim (MSRP: $42,150) includes all of the base trim's features, as well as Alcantara upholstery, a six-way power-adjustable passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, paddle shifters, a sport-tuned suspension system, LED fog lights, a dual-panel panoramic moonroof, an 11-speaker Bose premium audio system, a surround-view parking camera system, front and rear parking sensors, and two rear USB ports.

Nissan Maxima Platinum

Starting at $42,220, the Platinum trim comes with most of the SR trim's features and adds rain-sensing windshield wipers and a power rear-window sunshade. A limited-production 40th Anniversary Edition package is offered exclusively for this trim, and that bumps up the price to $44,345. It comes with black and grey exterior accents, a 40th Anniversary badge, and red leather seats with 40th Anniversary stitching.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Nissan dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Nissan deals page.

See 2021 Nissan Maxima specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Nissan Maxima is a solid vehicle, but it doesn't stand out in the large car class. It has a lengthy standard features list, a strong V6 engine, and an above-average predicted reliability rating. However, the rear seats are a bit cramped, and the trunk is on the small side.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "It’s just that while it’s been in existence, newer rivals have emerged with more compelling features. For example, the latest Nissan Altima has an extra inch of rear legroom, a larger trunk (15.4 cubic feet, compared with 14.3) and the option of all-wheel drive." -- Autotrader
  • "The Maxima manages to capture a sense of luxury and sportiness in an accessible package, even if it doesn't quite excel at either. It's a car designed to make the driver feel good. Largely it succeeds, even if it's far from the best value." -- Edmunds (2020)
  • "As Nissan’s flagship sedan, the 2020 Maxima showcases the company’s best technology, performance and luxury features at a price costing thousands less than the best European performance sedans. With standard V6 power, the Maxima bucks the trend toward small-displacement turbos, and its exotic exterior will never be mistaken for a stately VW Passat or Ford Fusion. However, with newer competitors like the Kia Stinger offering more power and the option of all-wheel drive, the front-drive Maxima isn’t the best choice for die-hard enthusiasts. The Maxima also isn’t big on rear-seat legroom or trunk space, so if these are important, you’ll need to shop a Dodge Charger, VW Passat or perhaps even a Genesis G70." -- Kelley Blue Book (2020)
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