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2020 Nissan Maxima Review

The 2020 Nissan Maxima ranks in the middle of the large car class. It has ample engine power and lots of features, but it suffers from dull handling and a shortage of interior space.

Pros & Cons

  • Long list of features
  • Powerful V6 engine
  • Great safety score
  • Above-average predicted reliability rating
  • Dull handling
  • Mixed interior quality
  • Short on headroom
  • Small trunk for class

New for 2020

  • Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite now standard
  • Enhanced suspension and chassis
  • Panoramic moonroof and surround-view parking camera system now standard in SR model

Rankings & Research

The 2020 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 35 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 7.9
Performance: 7.0
Interior: 6.4
Safety: 9.9
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Nissan Maxima?

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Is the Nissan Maxima a Good Car?

The Nissan Maxima is a good large car, but it does little to stand out in such a competitive class. The Maxima features a powerful V6 engine, but so do most rivals. It also boasts a solid list of active safety features and a user-friendly infotainment system, but both of those positives are becoming the rule and not the exception within this class. Perhaps the Maxima's most notable positive is that it has the highest safety score and ties for the best predicted reliability rating in the segment.  

Nissan brands the Maxima as a sports sedan, but its handling is fairly snooze-worthy. The Maxima also disappoints when it comes to space, especially given its market segment. You'll get less trunk space and rear-seat room than you do with rivals. Additionally, some cabin materials are not up to snuff.

Should I Buy the Nissan Maxima?

The Maxima is a good car, but it has one of the highest starting prices in the class, which makes it difficult to recommend. If you’re set on shopping in this segment, the Toyota Avalon is an all-around better car. The midsize Nissan Altima may be a more appealing family car. It doesn't match the Maxima's horsepower, but it has a larger trunk and more rear-seat space.

Compare the Maxima, Avalon, and Altima »

Should I Buy a New or Used Nissan Maxima?

The 2020 Nissan Maxima is part of a generation that began with a full redesign for the 2016 model year. For 2020, Ford makes the Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of driver assistance features standard. This bundle includes blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, automatic high-beam headlights, pedestrian detection, and forward and reverse automatic emergency braking. Also, every Maxima now boasts the Integrated Dynamics Control Module that was previously standard only in the SR trim. This feature enhances chassis management for a smoother ride.

If these changes aren’t important to you, consider a very similar 2019 Maxima, which may have many of the added safety features and will likely cost thousands of dollars less than a new model. The 2019 model also received an exterior refresh and some additional convenience amenities.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Maxima and 2019 Maxima reviews to help make your decision. You can also check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Maxima »

We Did the Research for You: 35 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 35 Nissan Maxima reviews – along with reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2020 Maxima is the right new car for you. This 2020 Nissan Maxima review incorporates applicable research for all vehicles in this generation, which includes the 2016 through 2020 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain objective, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team manages the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Nissan Maxima Cost?

The 2020 Nissan Maxima starts at $34,250, which is one of the highest base prices in the large car class. Some higher trims retail for around $41,500, with the top-of-the-line Maxima Platinum Reserve coming in at $42,680. All models come with a V6 engine, a continuously variable automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive.

The Toyota Avalon is the only class rival with a higher starting price than the Maxima, at $35,800. Meanwhile, the smaller Nissan Altima is much less expensive, with a starting price of $24,100.

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

Nissan Maxima Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Nissan Maxima or Toyota Avalon?

The Toyota Avalon and Maxima have similar base prices, infotainment features, and driver assistance tech. However, the Avalon bests the Maxima in most ways. The Toyota has a higher-quality interior, more trunk space, and a roomier second row than the Nissan. Both cars boast powerful V6 engines, but the Toyota doesn’t suffer from blasé handling like the Nissan does.

Which Is Better: Nissan Maxima or Nissan Altima?

The Nissan Altima is a midsize car that has a larger trunk and better back-seat accommodations than its Maxima sibling. The Altima also has a much lower base price ($24,100, compared to the Maxima’s $34,250). You won’t get as many standard safety features with the Altima, but you can equip it comparably to a base Maxima for less money. The Altima has two capable engine options, including a peppy turbocharged variant, and while it’s not particularly sporty for its class, it does drive better than the Maxima. You can also get the Altima with all-wheel drive, which is not available in the Maxima. For what you’d pay for a Maxima, you’re probably better off with a higher-trim Altima.

Compare the Maxima, Avalon, and Altima »

Maxima Interior

How Many People Does the Maxima Seat?

The Nissan Maxima sedan seats five people. There's sufficient bolstering for the front seats, and support is good in both rows. However, headroom is tight in both rows because of the sloping roofline. Rear-seat legroom is fine but doesn’t stand out in the large car class.

The standard power adjustments for both front seats make it fairly easy to find an ideal seating position. The Maxima is available with plenty of seating upgrades, including heated and ventilated front seats, driver’s seat power lumbar adjustments, driver’s seat memory settings, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and heated rear seats.

Maxima and Child Car Seats

The Maxima has two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors for the rear outboard seats, as well as an additional upper tether anchor for the rear middle seat. The lower anchors are clearly accessible, and it's easy to attach the car-seat straps.

Maxima Interior Quality

In general, the Maxima has a pleasing interior with soft-touch surfaces and quality materials. However, like with many vehicles, quality can vary by trim level. The nicest accoutrements are reserved for higher-end models, which offer quilted leather upholstery or Alcantara (faux suede) seat inserts.

Though it was redesigned for 2016, some critics note that the car's overall cabin design is starting to look stale.

Maxima Cargo Space

Trunk space is not one of the Maxima’s strengths. It offers 14.3 cubic feet, which is less room than nearly every other large car offers. The Toyota Avalon has about 16 cubic feet of space, and even the midsize Nissan Altima beats out the Maxima with 15.4 cubic feet.

On the plus side, the trunk opening is wide, the cargo hold has a squared-off utilitarian shape, and the back seats fold flat with the trunk floor.

Maxima Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Maxima's standard infotainment system is intuitive and features an 8-inch touch screen and smartphone integration via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The menu structure is straightforward. In addition to controlling the system through the touch screen, you can also use a physical rotary knob on the center console. That ergonomic alternative is reminiscent of controllers found in upscale brands. The Maxima has clearly marked buttons and dials surrounding the infotainment screen for quick adjustments to audio settings, and large knobs make it easy to change climate controls as well.

Read more about interior »

Maxima Performance

Maxima Engine: This Isn't Sparta, but It Is 300

The Nissan Maxima is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 300 horsepower. Most large cars have standard V6 engines with around the same output. The Maxima’s engine has plenty of muscle and gets this sedan going with little effort, whether you're accelerating from a stop or giving it more gas at higher speeds.

A point of contention is the standard continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). You'll want to test it out to see if you like it. Some critics say that the Maxima's CVT is efficient and pairs well with the engine, while others note that it hampers sportiness and driver engagement.

Maxima Gas Mileage: Middle of the Road

The 2020 Maxima gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Those numbers are about average for the large car class and are on par with the V6 engines found in rivals.

Maxima Ride and Handling: Soft not Sporty

The Maxima delivers a comfortable and forgiving ride, traveling with poise over bumps in the road. Some of that is because of a new-for-2020 standard electronic chassis management system. That composure also makes the Maxima feel more at home as a cruiser than a corner-carver. There's little feedback from the road, and the handling is dull, so while the car stays planted around turns, it's far from athletic.

Read more about performance »

Maxima Reliability

Is the Nissan Maxima Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2020 Nissan Maxima a good predicted reliability rating of four out of five.

Nissan Maxima Warranty

Nissan covers the Maxima 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 2020 Nissan Maxima five out of five stars in the rollover test. Many cars are evaluated more comprehensively by the NHTSA.

At the time of writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the 2020 Maxima. The similar 2019 Maxima received the highest rating of Good in all six crash tests.

Maxima Safety Features

New for 2020, every Maxima comes standard with the Nissan Safety Shield 360 bundle of driver assistance features. This package includes blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, automatic high-beam headlights, pedestrian detection, and forward and reverse automatic emergency braking.

Other standard safety tech includes forward collision warning, driver attention monitoring, and a rearview camera. Optional features include adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view parking camera system, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Read more about safety »

Maxima Dimensions and Weight

The Nissan Maxima is about 16.1 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,559 to 3,678 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Nissan Maxima Built?

Nissan builds the 2020 Maxima in Tennessee.

Which Nissan Maxima Model Is Right for Me?

The 2020 Nissan Maxima is available in five trims: S, SV, SL, SR, and Platinum. All models come standard with a V6 engine, a continuously variable automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive.

The base Maxima is well-equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, two USB ports, and satellite radio. It also features a long list of standard driver assistance features, including automatic high-beam headlights, blind spot monitoring, pedestrian detection, forward and reverse automatic emergency braking, and driver attention monitoring.

It’s worth stepping up at least one trim level to the Maxima SV to get leather upholstery, heated front seats, navigation, and adaptive cruise control.

Nissan Maxima S

The base 2020 Nissan Maxima S starts at $34,250. Standard features include cloth upholstery, 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, a 7-inch digital instrument cluster display, proximity keyless entry, and LED headlights and taillights.

The standard infotainment system features an 8-inch touch screen, an eight-speaker stereo, satellite radio, Bluetooth, voice recognition, two USB ports, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay.

Standard driver assistance technologies include automatic high-beam headlights, a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, forward and reverse automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and driver attention monitoring.

Nissan Maxima SV

Starting at $36,300, the Maxima SV gains leather upholstery, heated front seats, driver’s seat power lumbar adjustments, heated outside mirrors, HD Radio, navigation, adaptive cruise control, and traffic sign recognition.

Nissan Maxima SL

The Maxima SL retails for $38,640. Additional features in this trim include a six-way power-adjustable passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, a dual-pane panoramic moonroof, two rear USB ports, an 11-speaker Bose premium stereo, a universal garage door opener, and front and rear parking sensors.

Nissan Maxima SR

The Maxima SR costs $41,450 and gains ventilated front seats, driver’s seat memory settings, and a surround-view parking camera system. Features found only in the SR include paddle shifters, a sport-tuned suspension, premium Ascot leather and Alcantara upholstery, and aluminum sport pedals.

Nissan Maxima Platinum

The Maxima Platinum has a price tag of $41,540. Standard features include full premium Ascot quilted leather upholstery, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a power rear-window sunshade, and the NissanConnect infotainment system.

The Reserve package costs $1,140 and adds heated rear seats, unique interior trim and upholstery, painted wheels, and a charcoal headliner.

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 2020 Nissan Maxima specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Nissan Maxima has a powerful engine and lots of features, but that’s not enough to set it apart from rivals with similar attributes. Many of these rivals also have larger trunks and more passenger room.

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

  • "Now in its eighth generation, the Nissan Maxima is more of a luxury car than it's ever been. It features a truly impressive cabin, ready and willing power, and a bold new design that gives the model some of the cache that the brand can't." -- Autotrader
  • "Overall, the Maxima is a stylish, luxurious and comfortable large sedan. Style in particular is its strong suit, since primary competitors such as the Impala and Avalon are pretty drab and/or strange looking. But if you're looking for a real 4-Door Sports Car, you'll want to look elsewhere." -- Autoblog (2019)
  • "One can lament the loss of the Maxima’s sporty character all day long, and we suspect that many folks still do, but those days are clearly over, and perhaps the model’s days as a design diva are ascendant. There’s more than a whiff of Infiniti about the Maxima, and with prices starting around $35,000 and topping out in the mid-$40k range, it also strikes as somewhat of a value." -- Automobile Magazine (2019)
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2020 Nissan Maxima

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