$27,180 - $33,842

2018 Nissan Maxima Performance Review


Performance: 8.4

The 2018 Nissan Maxima has a potent V6 engine and a smooth CVT to help it quickly get up to speed. The Maxima's gas mileage is good for the class. While the handling is not as athletic as a luxury-badged sports sedan, you can still confidently go through corners. The ride is comfortable.

  • "While it's fairly fun to drive, the Maxima is more of a pleasant family car than a sport sedan, and it sure isn't a 4-door sports car." -- Autotrader
  • While the '4-Door Sports Car' tagline may sound appealing, don't mistake the 2018 Nissan Maxima for a bargain-basement BMW substitute." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Maxima's standard V6 engine offers similarly strong acceleration as the most powerful midsize sedan engines, but its athletic handling capabilities and refined driving experience are more evocative of entry-level luxury sedans like the Acura TLX." -- Edmunds (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The 2018 Maxima has a 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which functions like an automatic. Compared to V6-powered rivals, the Maxima gets above-average fuel economy, earning 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. 

The V6 is very powerful and easily accelerates the Maxima for passing or merging. The engine feels refined too, so you won't have to worry about a lot of harsh vibration when pushing the gas pedal. The CVT helps the sedan earn its great gas mileage, and it features simulated gears so it feels more like a traditional automatic transmission than most CVTs.

  • "On the road, the V6 delivers as much punch as anything this side of a V8 or turbocharged V6. Nissan says zero to 60 miles per hour takes less than six seconds. From a stop and in the midrange, power is willing to provide passing punch, and the transmission does a good job of sidestepping the drawbacks that are common with CVTs; that's because it has seven preset gear ratios that kick in if the driver applies three-eighths throttle or more." -- Autotrader
  • "There's only one engine choice available for the Nissan Maxima, but it's a good one: a 300-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 connected to an Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). It manages decent fuel economy, all while delivering smooth and quiet power to the front wheels." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • The 3.5-liter V6 provides ready and willing power across the rev range, and it works well with the CVT, although torque steer (the feeling of the car pulling left or right as you accelerate) is noticeable during hard acceleration." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

The Maxima has solid handling overall, but it's not quite as sporty as Nissan would have you believe. Through most turns, this sedan keeps its grip and has little body roll, which is better than most large cars. Still, even the SR trim with its performance upgrades is prone to understeer and can lose its composure when cornering. The Maxima's power steering gives little feedback from the road, and more steering effort is required at low speeds than at high speeds. On the plus side, the ride is very smooth over harsh roads. Front-wheel drive is standard.

  • The Maxima's suspension delivers a comfortable ride and admirable cornering abilities, but the steering can feel vague at times, being somewhat numb in the feedback department." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • In our experience, the 2017 Maxima does feel rather sporty, with nicely controlled body motions and commendable grip around turns that equate to dynamic talents greater than the typical mid- or full-size sedan. However, the steering is oddly slow in parking lots and gets light as speeds rise (the opposite is true with most modern cars), and quick left-right transitions can flummox it." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • In SR trim, the suspension gets stiffened while the standard Drive Mode selector offers a Sport setting that firms-up the chassis even further. … Still, when pushed hard, the Maxima pushes back. The chassis grips the road well and the steering does a solid job, but ultimately, the SR wants to understeer in a big way." -- Automobile Magazine (2017)

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