2017 Nissan Maxima
What we like:
— Menacing exterior design
— Torquey and free revving motor
— Hard pressed to tell it’s a CVT
What we don’t like:
— Ever present road noise
— Stiff ride
— Still a CVT
— Holy torque steer!
Full Disclosure: My dad had a 1986 Nissan Maxima he kept lovingly for close to 30 years. She was a member of the family so to say we have a special place in our hearts for the Maxima line tends to be an understatement.
For decades the Maxima line has been defined with a simple acronym…4DSC. For the uninitiated 4DSC stands for 4 Door Sport Car and that moniker was part of the Maxima DNA. Why wouldn’t it be? Every Maxima has a Z derived engine, some even came with a manual transmission and always a sporty driving experience. And throughout the 80s and straight through to the early 2000s the 4DSC term wasn’t a stretch. Then unfortunately that shifted in 2007 with the dropping of the manual transmission and the introduction of the CVT as the sole option. Afterwards the 4DSC moniker was pretty much a distant memory.
Skip forward a few years and we have the 8th generation Maxima. This model Maxima was redesigned last year and with it the 4DSC motif is back. To be honest I wasn’t really hopeful of it’s sporting pretenses but after only 200 feet my mind was changed. The steering is direct with fantastic turn in response, the seats are nothing short of excellent and there is a growl from the VQ motor each time you press the gas. Yes it still has a CVT but unless you are being absurdly anal (like me) you would never know. The programming of the CVT almost perfectly imitates a traditional automatic. Our SR model comes with a stiffer suspension and the blacked out trim with adds a very Vader-esque aesthetic to this car.
Unfortunately it is not perfect. Road noise, wind noise and tire noise envelopes you at any given speed and doesn’t relent, the ride is a little too stiff and the torque steer is rather scary. Floor it from a stop and the steering goes left, then goes right and then goes left. Also whereas the CVT does an admirable job imitating a traditional automatic…it’s still a CVT. In other words if you stand on the gas…there is the dreaded ‘rubber band’ effect.
So how does the 2017 Nissan Maxima stack up against Avalon, Impala and Taurus? All of it’s competitors look rather boring, drive rather boring (albeit smooth and comfy) and were designed for boring people doing boring things. The Maxima on the other hand is the opposite. There is just something fun about it that no other car in its segment has or comes close to.