Mak­ing a state­ment

Springfield Sun - - AUTOMOTIVE - By David Sch­midt Au­towrit­ersink

The third gen­er­a­tion of Nis­san’s mid-sized Max­ima has sold in record num­bers since be­ing in­tro­duced two years ago, and the styling, ca­pa­bil­i­ties and po­si­tion­ing of the car will no doubt con­tinue.

Nis­san has made some mod­i­fi­ca­tions to con­tent pack­ages and re­fined some of the tech­nol­ogy in the car, such as adding Ap­ple Carplay and ex­pand­ing their driver at­ten­tion alert­ing pro­gram to more models.

I re­ally like the way that the Max­ima looks. This is the halo ve­hi­cle for Nis­san and makes the kind of state­ment about its fel­low Nis­sans that it should. What­ever the rea­son, the Max­ima is well de­signed, in a way that makes a state­ment that this isn’t just an­other mid­sized, mid-priced sedan.

The fam­ily face and the new fins around the top of the rear quar­ter pan­els are dis­tinc­tive and are in­te­grated into both the de­sign and the phys­i­cal look of the car.

The edgy ex­te­rior de­sign gets re­flected in­side. The look is mod­ern and func­tional, with­out seem­ing mun­dane. The in­stru­ment panel, low cen­ter con­sole, Nis­san’s Zero Grav­ity front and out­board rear seat­ing fit in a cabin opened by large win­dows and its panoramic moon­roof.

Plus, this Max­ima re­calls the live­li­ness of the first gen­er­a­tion of Max­ima. The en­gine is a 3.5-liter V6 with dou­ble over­head camshafts pro­duc­ing 260 hp. and 240 lb.-ft. of peak torque. The Max­ima’s pow­er­train in un­usual for a car in this class in that it uses a con­tin­u­ously vari­able au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

This is a lot of power for a CVT, but Nis­san is tops in these trans­mis­sions. The dif­fi­culty is that you can only run so much power ef­fec­tively through a CVT. Nis­san has pushed that limit up over the last 10 years or so, mak­ing it clear they know what they are do­ing.

I do like that if you put the trans­mis­sion in Sport mode then it seems to have shift points, just like a geared trans­mis­sion. It also gives you a de­cent amount of straight-line ac­cel­er­a­tion.

The Max­ima is avail­able in front- or op­tional all-wheel drive. The model I tested was the all-wheel drive, and it was in­vis­i­ble to the driver, although the roads weren’t slip­pery while I was test­ing the car, ei­ther.

While this isn’t a hot rod, it does have a his­tory of be­ing a “run­ner.” Un­for­tu­nately, that was back in the days when this front-wheel drive of­fered a manual trans­mis­sion. While that only made it marginally faster than the au­to­matic, it sim­ply was con­sid­ered faster be­cause that speed was a func­tion of how well you shifted. It was also fun to drive and had quite a fol­low­ing.

Un­for­tu­nately -- and Nis­san ad­mits and apol­o­gizes for this -- it be­came a sort of model of the Al­tima, which in that gen­er­a­tion grew to also be a mid­sized car. So it lost its dis­tinc­tive looks, place in the mar­ket and per­for­mance. Frankly I’m sur­prised that the name­plate sur­vived.

But this gen­er­a­tion is very dif­fer­ent, and Nis­san of­fi­cials were up front about what a bad job the com­pany did. This gen­er­a­tion they’ve clearly tried to step up to the plate and bring back some of what’s special about a car named Max­ima.

Its look starts the process by be­ing quite dis­tinc­tive, while seem­ing quite el­e­gant for a mid-priced car. While it is a fam­ily car, it is a car that you ex­pect to see a guy driv­ing. Like a sports ute, both sexes are rea­son­ably well di­vided, but the Max­ima just looks like it wants to do some­thing de­signed to show off its qual­i­ties, but in a seem­ingly re­spon­si­ble man­ner. If that sounds like a con­tra­dic­tion, that’s be­cause it is.

The Max­ima’s place in the world is still in the mid-priced, mid-sized sedan seg­ment. But Nis­san has fo­cused it at the top of the seg­ment, with Al­tima tak­ing care of the rest of the it.

There are for trim lev­els for the Max­ima, all of which come in fwd or awd. They are the S, SV, SL and Plat­inum. Max­ima’s sold here are as­sem­bled in Can­ton, Miss. Prices for the base fwd Max­ima S start at $29,740 and top out in the Plat­inum AWD which has an MSRP of $40,780 If you have any ques­tions, com­ments or ideas, please send them to com­ment@ Au­towrit­

The eighth gen­er­a­tion Nis­san Max­ima, which was com­pletely re­vised for the 2016 model year, is en­hanced for 2017 with the ad­di­tion of stan­dard Ap­ple Carplay iphone con­nec­tiv­ity, be­com­ing the first Nis­san ve­hi­cle to add the in­dus­try stan­dard in smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity. In ad­di­tion, two new ac­ces­sory value pack­ages, the Medal­lion Pack­age and Dy­namic Pack­age, join the pre­vi­ous Mid­night Edi­tion in of­fer­ing buy­ers a con­ve­nient way to cus­tom­ize their Max­ima straight from the deal­er­ship.

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