The 2021 Nissan Maxima Can’t Quite Make Up Its Mind but That’s OK

When it comes to the 2021 Nissan Maxima, there’s more there than meets the eye. Is the Maxima a luxury sedan designed to take you and your family back and forth each day in style and comfort? Or is it a performance car that you can take for your on-road adventures?

The folks at Autotrader took a look at the new Maxima and decided it can’t make up its mind. Is it a luxury sedan or a performance car? We have all the details.

The Nissan Maxima as a luxury sedan

According to Autotrader, the 2021 Nissan Maxima can only go so far in being either a performance machine or a luxury sedan. It does have a nice interior with leather upholstery and great tech features. Is it a strong competitor for BMW or Audi? No.

The exterior design of the Nissan Maxima is bold and edgy. Inside, the cabin is nice with soft, quality materials, nicely bolstered seats, and little extra touches that make it feel like a luxury car. The ride is comfortable.

In 2021, the Maxima has three trim levels. It now includes more standard features with the base model which is a real bonus. Other features were redistributed across its lineup in a way fans will appreciate. The Platinum trim has a 40th Anniversary package you can get to celebrate Maxima’s four decades in the U.S.

The 2021 Nissan Maxima may not be able to keep up with all its luxury peers but it definitely makes an effort.

How is the Nissan Maxima as a performance car

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The Maxima is fast thanks to its 3.5-liter V6 engine. It sounds good when it’s pushed and it’s paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Car and Driver suggested that the CVT takes away from Maxima’s performance. The Autotrader suggested that a dual-clutch automated transmission that could send 300 hp to the rear wheels or all four wheels would improve its performance.

Still, the Autotrader team found the transmission does a decent job of avoiding the normal problems with CVTs. It features seven gear ratios that provide stepped acceleration that’s similar to that of an automatic transmission. It eliminates the rubber-band feel when driving on rough roads that you usually get with CVTs.

The 2021 Nissan Maxima is only available in front-wheel drive. Autotrader doesn’t believe we’ll get it either in the current eighth generation of the Maxima.

They also liked the Intelligent Trace Control that subtly applies the brakes to individual wheels when needed for negotiating corners. Another feature, Intelligent Ride Control, not only adjusts the brakes for you but also modifies the engine’s power to smooth out the ride on uneven roads and surfaces.

While it has a lot going for it, including the good acceleration of the V6 that can get up to 60 mph in less than six seconds, it’s not quite a competitor for true performance cars. It does have enough oomph to pass and move on the highway as needed.

Other cars you might also like

If you’re in the market for a full-size sedan there are some other options on the market you might also consider.

The 2021 Nissan Altima was all-new in 2019 and the new generation outshines the aging Maxima when it comes to refinement and equipment. It has more cargo space, more rear legroom, and you can get all-wheel drive as an option.

The 2021 Genesis G70 can hold its own with Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series. It’s starting price of $36,000 makes it an offer that’s hard to refuse. It’s very well-equipped and has plenty of room too.

The Acura TLX is all-new in 2021 and can match the Maxima in horsepower. It gets more torque. The TLX model also gets the Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system which is a real bonus.

The 2021 Nissan Maxima is a good car. It’s not quite a luxury sedan or a performance model though it offers features from both camps. The Autotrader team points out the big price jump between the base model SV and the SR trim. For those looking for a sport-tuned suspension at an affordable price, that might be a deal-breaker for Maxima.