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Nissan Maxima: a hidden gem among midsize sedans

Photo courtesy of Nissan

The Maxima is the top dog in Nissan's lineup of sedans, slotting above the Altima. 

Completely redesigned for 2016, the Maxima has been minimally modified in succeeding years. Its hallmarks are style and performance rather than roominess. Cases in point: Space in the backseat is adequate but not generous, and the Maxima's trunk is one of the smallest among midsize sedans. 

Swooping character lines and unusual design features distinguish the Maxima from boring sedans. The dramatic styling extends to its interior: Plush, supportive front seats are bisected by a substantial center console, and the controls and infotainment screen are oriented toward the driver in cockpit-like fashion. 

Nissan's powerful 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 is the only engine available. It's a sweetie, delivering forceful acceleration while being surprisingly thrifty with fuel. The only transmission is a CVT. Steering is accurate, if somewhat heavy. Overall, the Maxima feels solid and substantial, though not especially nimble. 

With a starting price in the low 30s for the base S trim level, Nissan's flagship not only offers exciting design and performance but is also a fine value, given that every version comes with navigation, satellite radio, dual automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus advanced safety features such as forward-collision warning and forward automatic emergency braking. AWD, unfortunately, is not available on any version. 

With the Auto Club's free Car Buying Service, members can enjoy a no-hassle experience when purchasing a new or used vehicle. Get estimated pricing and access to online inventory before visiting a AAA-recommended dealer near you. For details, go to AAA.com/auto or call 800-709-7222. 

Model years: 2016–2019
Vehicle layout tested: Midsize sedan, 3.5-liter V6 (300 hp), CVT, FWD 
MSRP: $34,315 (base), $42,000 (well-equipped) 
MPG, city/hwy/combined: 21/30/25 
Crash-test ratings: NHTSA: 5 stars overall. IIHS: good (all ratings). Top Safety Pick. 
Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Spare tire: Temporary spare
Final assembly: United States

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