Nissan’s flagship sedan gets minor updates and loads of new safety and tech features

Nissan’s participation at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show included the introduction of the 2019 Nissan Maxima. An updated version of the eighth-generation A36 Maxima in L.A. for the 2019 model year with a subtle exterior refresh to go along with a suite of new safety technologies. Nissan hopes that the updates are enough to stem the tide of declining sales that has plagued not only the Maxima but the entire sedan market in the U.S. As Nissan’s longest-running nameplate — the Maxima has been around since 1981 — there’s a lot of pressure on the 2019 Maxima to live up to, or even exceed, the expectations that Nissan has for it. The 2019 model goes on sale in mid-December.

2019 Nissan Maxima Exterior

  • New LED headlamps
  • Larger V-Motion grille
  • New integrated quad exhaust tailpipes
  • Platinum Reserve Package is available on higher trim models
2019 Nissan Maxima
- image 807769

Modest upgrades are what’s in store for future customers of the 2019 Nissan Maxima. The overall profile of the sedan doesn’t change and don’t expect it to. This is just an update of an existing model — the eighth-generation A36 — that arrived in 2015.

If you’re looking for the exterior upgrades in the Maxima, you’re going to have to look a lot closer at the sedan.

Arguably the most significant upgrade is the lights package, specifically the headlights. LED headlamps are now available in the Maxima. You’ll notice the difference immediately as pearls of LED lights are arranged in rows inside the headlamp casing. The casing itself is also now surrounded by a longer boomerang-shaped LED strip that extends a bit further compared to what the current model has. The shape of the headlights is the same and still includes that sharp indentation at the top.

The other noticeable design upgrade is the V-shaped front grille. It’s much bigger now, extending through the black plastic bumper in a way the current grille does not. Triangular fog light housings flank the grille, and if you notice, the new Altima has less of a lip spoiler compared to what the current version has. Visually, it gives Nissan’s flagship sedan a more pronounced nose, though it does come at the cost of losing a bit of the sporty chin that’s considered one of the defining features of the current model.

2019 Nissan Maxima
- image 807770

The side profile of the Maxima doesn’t change.

The sloping body line remains in the 2019 model and it’s largely responsible for giving the sedan an aggressive-looking side angle.

The rear section carries its own aesthetic upgrades, none more pronounced than the redesigned tail lamps. I’m of the belief that the Maxima has one of the best-looking tail lamps in its segment, and even with the tweaks on the 2019 model, it’s still a visual stand-out, particularly the way it bleeds into the side of the sedan. The rest of the changes are found in the lower section of the fascia. The rear bumper sticks out a bit more, and it also gains a pair of thin brake lamps. The dual-pipe setup of the current model also gives way to integrated quad exhaust tips. Opt for the SR trim of the Maxima, and you’re going home with a sporty rear spoiler, too.

The Maxima’s standard wheels set remains, but future customers who opt for the Platinum trim can upgrade that to a set of 19-inch “Hyper Silver” wheels. This particular wheel-set is available only through the Platinum Reserve Package, which I’ll talk about more in the next section.

2019 Nissan Maxima
- image 807771

By and large, the 2019 Nissan Maxima’s exterior upgrades aren’t enough to completely change the appearance of the flagship sedan. But if you have curious eyes, it won’t be hard to spot the differences, too.

2019 Nissan Maxima Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase 109.3 Inches
Overall length 192.8 Inches
Overall width 73.2 Inches
Overall height 56.5 Inches

2019 Nissan Maxima Interior

  • Available with more premium finishes
  • 14 cubic feet of cargo space
  • Platinum Reserve Package adds plenty of high-quality materials
  • Nissan Safety Shield 360 comes standard on top-end trim
2019 Nissan Maxima
- image 807784

Nissan’s “Gliding Wing” layout remains in the 2019 Maxima. That’s a plus for the incoming model because the design language’s emphasis on horizontal movements and easy-to-reach controls is a boon for its future owners. It’s worth noting, too, that the configuration of the dashboard and instrument cluster trace their roots to the Sport Sedan Concept, which Nissan unveiled at the 2014 North American International Auto Show. It’s still heavy on the buttons and knobs, but it is arranged neatly so it’s not as confusing as it looks.

The 2019 Maxima benefits from more premium trim finishes and materials.

You’d have to get the upper tier models to get all those goodies, but there’s not that big of a gap in the price structure of the Maxima’s trim levels to keep you from getting the trim option you want. The Maxima SR, for example, comes with dark satin chrome finishes, orange-accent Alcantara appointments, and orange accent stitching, among other things.

2019 Nissan Maxima
- image 807252

The Maxima doesn’t come with a lot of packages, but you’re getting more than enough with what’s available. The aforementioned Platinum Reserve Package dresses up your cabin with satin bronze-finished surfaces, diamond quilted seating in “Rakuda Tan” semi-aniline leather, and steering wheel accents sporting the same color. It’s a visually pleasing look that infuses a premium feel to the Maxima’s interior.

The SR Premium Package, on the other hand, opens up your roof with a dual-panel panoramic moonroof. The package also includes a smorgasbord of safety and tech features, including Nissan Safety Shield 360 and the Intelligent Around Monitor parking aid system.

2019 Nissan Maxima
- image 807249
In many ways, technology is the biggest addition in the 2019 Maxima.

The Nissan Safety Shield 360, for example, is available for the first time in the 2019 Maxima. We’ve seen Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 in a handful of other Nissan models, but the 2019 Maxima is the first Maxima to offer the suite of six safety-oriented systems. If you’re buying a 2019 Maxima, it’s always best to load up on the safety tech. The Safety Shield 360 offers automatic braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, headlight high beam assist, side blind spot warnings, rear cross traffic alert and rear automatic braking. In other words, you’re getting your money’s worth of safety features with the Safety Shield 360. It only comes standard on the Platinum trim of the sedan but lesser versions carry the system through the SR Premium Package.

The Maxima’s interior isn’t the most spacious in its class, but you’re not going to find interiors that are as well-appointed as this one. The materials are all first-rate, and some even match those that you normally see in more luxurious models. The front seats are comfortable, too, though it’s hard to say the same thing in the back. The Maxima has its flaws, and one of the most glaring shortcomings is the lack of headroom and legroom in the back. It’s not so bad for average-sized people, but tall passengers could have a hard time getting comfortable in the back.

2019 Nissan Maxima
- image 807786

Cargo space is another issue for the Maxima. It’s unclear if Nissan cleared up more space in the trunk of the 2019 model, but as it is, the Maxima only offers around 14 cubic feet of space, well behind some of its rivals, which can offer somewhere in the vicinity of 16 to 20 cubic feet of space.

2019 Nissan Maxima Interior Dimensions

Front Back
Head room without moonroof 39.4 36.7
Head room with moonroof 38.9 35.8
Leg room 45.0 34.2
Hip room 54.2 53.5
Shoulder room 56.7 55.7

2019 Nissan Maxima Drivetrain

  • 3.5-liter V-6 engine
  • 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque
  • CVT transmission
  • 5.7-second estimate 0-to-60-mph time
  • Fuel economy returns of 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway
2019 Nissan Maxima
- image 807796

As expected, the 2019 Nissan Maxima is powered by the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine that can be found under the hood of the current model.

The V-6 unit produces 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque, enough to outshine a competitor like the Kia Cadenza, which boasts a similar V-6 engine that produces 10 less horsepower than Nissan’s flagship sedan.

The Maxima V-6 engine is paired with a CVT transmission. The automaker hasn’t released performance times for the sedan, but separate tests have shown that the Maxima is capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 seconds in less than six seconds. That’s a pretty impressive time that compares favorably to a model like the Chevrolet Impala, which can hit the same 60-mph threshold in around six seconds, as well.

Aiding in the Maxima’s sportiness is a sports-tuned steering, new brakes, and arguably one of the best suspension setups in its segment, delivering a comfortable ride and engaged handling capabilities. You can feel it when you’re behind the wheel of the Maxima. That’s a credit to the sedan’s refined V-6 engine and pinpoint suspension specs. There’s also a refinement to the V-6 engine that bolsters the sedan’s acceleration. It’s a natural jump, and there’s not a lot of vibration when you’re foot is on the pedal. Combine all of that with the useful CVT transmission that sends power to the front wheels and you have a sedan that earns great mileage compared to the competition. As it is, the Maxima returns 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. That’s one of the best marks in its segment.

2019 Nissan Maxima
- image 807797

The 2019 Maxima’s V-6 engine is as good as it’s going to get in its class. The Maxima is prone to a bit of understeer in the handling department, particularly when it’s tackling corners. But the problems aren’t egregious enough to dissuade you from buying one. Overall, you’re getting your money’s worth with the Maxima’s power and performance capabilities.

2019 Nissan Maxima Specifications

Name VQ35DE
Cam design DOHC
Orientation Transverse
Cylinders / configuration V-6
Block / head composition Aluminum / Aluminum
Displacement (liters / cc) 3.5 / 3498cc
Displacement (cubic inches) 214.0
Horsepower 300 HP @ 6,400 RPM
Torque 261 LB-FT @ 4,400 RPM
Bore & stroke (mm) 95.5 x 81.4
Compression ratio (:1) 10.6
Spark plugs Double-tipped iridium
Maximum engine speed 6,600 rpm
Induction system Sequential multi-port electronic fuel injection
Engine mounts (6 mounts per vehicle) 2 vacuum liquid filled with membrane; 1 right side liquid filled; 1 left side solid; 2 solid w/anti-torque rod (upper/lower)
Recommended fuel Premium unleaded

2019 Nissan Maxima Pricing

2019 Nissan Maxima
- image 807777

Nissan has yet to identify a price point for the 2019 Maxima. We do know that it goes on sale sometime in the next few weeks. Five trim options will be offered, beginning with the base S trim, and going all the way up to the top-of-the-line Maxima Platinum. While we wait for the final prices to come out, we can go back to the prices of the 2018 Maxima and make educated guesses based on the current model’s prices.

The 2018 Maxima S starts at around $33,070. That price goes up as trim level goes up. The Maxima SV, for example, sells for little over $35,000 while the Maxima SL can be yours for a little under $38,000. The SR trim costs over $38,000 while the top-of-the-line Maxima Platinum is priced at a little over $40,000.

2019 Nissan Maxima Competition

Toyota Avalon

2019 Toyota Avalon Exterior
- image 778155
2019 Toyota Avalon

The Toyota Avalon is regarded as one of the most direct rivals of the Nissan Maxima. Like the Maxima, the 2019 Avalon comes with a fresh redesign that has helped it become one of the most well-rounded sedans in its segment. It’s also powered by a similar V-6 engine that produces 301 horsepower. The Avalon has solid driving and handling characteristics, and it returns around 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. It’s one of the few large sedans that posts a better fuel economy rating than the Maxima. That’s a huge win for the Avalon. In terms of space, the Avalon has the Maxima beat, and it’s not particularly close, either. Not only does the Avalon have more interior space available, but it also has a bigger cargo area with 16 cubic feet of space. The Toyota sedan also comes with more standard and available features than the Maxima, so while the Nissan’s base price is lower by $2,000 compared to the Toyota’s, you know where all that extra amount is for. The 2019 Toyota Avalon starts at $35,500 with the base Avalon XLE. The Avalon XSE costs over $38,000 while the Avalon Limited starts at $41,800. The range-topping Avalon Touring will set you back $42,200.

Read our full review on the 2019 Toyota Avalon

Kia Cadenza

2017 Kia Cadenza High Resolution Exterior
- image 670464

Picking between the Nissan Maxima and the Kia Cadenza is largely a matter of choice and preference. The Cadenza is regarded as one of the best sedans in its class, owing greatly to its combination of space and driver assistance features. Like most sedans in its segment, the Cadenza is powered by a potent V-6 engine that produces 290 horsepower. It’s less than what the Maxima’s own V-6 unit is capable of producing — 300 horsepower — but the difference is negligible if you’re not so much into power and performance. Fortunately, the Cadenza makes up for it in other ways, beginning with what is arguably the best interior cabin in its class. The Maxima has a great cabin, but the Cadenza has it better. You’re not starved for space in the Kia, either. Cargo space, in particular, amounts to 16 cubic feet, which is one of the best out there. In terms of efficiency, the Maxima is marginally more efficient with its fuel economy, though the Cadenza isn’t far behind with returns of 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Pricing for the Kia Cadenza starts at $32,290 for the base Premium trim. That figure goes up to $39,290 for the Cadenza Technology and an eye-popping $44,690 for the top-of-the-line Cadenza Limited.

Read our full review on the 2019 Kia Cadenza.

Final Thoughts

2019 Nissan Maxima
- image 807771

It’s hard not to like the 2019 Nissan Maxima. As Nissan’s flagship sedan, you’d expect it to come with enough upgrades to justify its status. The Maxima does well in that regard. There are enough positive changes in the makeup of the sedan that’ll make it easier to spend more than $30,000 on. I wish that Nissan added more to the equation, but I’m happy with what it was able to add, specifically all the new safety and tech features that are now standard on some versions of the Maxima. The finished product is worth considering if you’re in the market for a large sedan, but even that is entirely up to a customer base that’s become increasingly infatuated with light trucks compared to passenger cars. It’s no secret that the sedan market is losing a lot of sales ground these days, and Nissan’s longest-running nameplate hasn’t been immune to that. Hopefully, the 2019 Maxima can stem the tide in that regard. It has the chops to do it; the only question is whether buyers are willing to look at what it has to offer before their attentions are diverted to the SUVs and pickups in the showroom.

  • Leave it
    • Cargo space is lacking
    • A little bit on the expensive side of the segment
    • Could’ve used more upgrades

Further Reading

2018 Nissan Maxima - Driven
- image 768523

Read our full driven review on the 2018 Nissan Maxima.

2016 - 2017 Nissan Maxima
- image 625157

Read our full review on the 2018 Nissan Maxima.

2019 Nissan Altima Exterior
- image 775568

Read our full review on the 2019 Nissan Altima.

Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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With its captivating performance stance, 19-inch diamond-cut wheels, boomerang signature LED lighting framing the enlarged V-motion grille, the new 2019 Nissan Maxima made an impressive debut today at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The new Maxima also offers available Nissan Safety Shield 360, a suite of advanced driver-assist systems that supports the Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision to redefine how cars are driven, powered and integrated into society.

"As our flagship sedan, Maxima is an important contributor to the Nissan brand," said Dan Mohnke, senior vice president, Sales & Marketing and Operations, Nissan Division U.S., Nissan North America, Inc. "Maxima is our longest running nameplate, having thrilled owners for four decades with style, performance and quality."

In the 2018 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, Maxima was ranked number one in the Large Car segment and was the second highest ranked model among all vehicles in the study. The 2019 Maxima also continues its reputation as an exciting near-luxury sports sedan with its standard 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine and sport-tuned steering, braking and suspension.

"Maxima checks all the boxes for sports sedan enthusiasts, and now, with the refreshed appearance, refined interior and enhanced safety and security technology, there are even more reasons that Maxima stands out from every other mid-size sedan on the market today," added Mohnke.

Nissan Intelligent Mobility and Nissan Safety Shield 360
The new 2019 Maxima embraces the visionary Nissan Intelligent Mobility philosophy – which provides technology in a way that moves people to a better world. For Maxima, this includes the availability of Nissan Safety Shield 360, a suite of six advanced active safety and driver-assist technologies designed to help provide 360 degrees of active driver assistance, crash avoidance and pedestrian detection.

Safety Shield 360 includes Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and Rear Automatic Braking. For the 2019, it comes standard on Maxima Platinum and as part of the SR Premium Package.

Nissan Safety Shield 360 is also available on the 2019 Altima, Rogue, Rogue Sport and Murano. It will be offered as standard equipment on one million new Nissan vehicles sold annually in the U.S. by 2021.

In addition to Safety Shield 360, the 2019 Maxima also expands the availability of Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC), High Beam Assist (HBA) and Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR). Maxima’s innovation Intelligent Driver Alertness (I-DA) is now standard on all grade levels.

Refreshed exterior and interior
Maxima’s aggressive, updated exterior appearance was created by Nissan Design America in La Jolla, Calif. and features a more voluminous front grille with a deeper V-motion flow that carries into the hood and down the body to the redesigned rear tail lamps and rear fascia. The standard jewel-like LED headlights and Nissan Signature Daytime Running Lights add to the Maxima’s premium, high performance appearance, along with the new, deep fascia design.

The new rear fascia includes integrated quad-tip exhaust finishers, while a new sport rear spoiler is also added to the Maxima SR grade. New wheel designs have been developed for all five Maxima grade levels – capped off by the new 19-inch Hyper Silver Platinum Reserve Package wheels. In addition, a new premium exterior paint color, Sunset Drift, has been added to the Maxima color palette.

Inside, the dramatic Maxima body is a driver-oriented cockpit and comfortable seating for all five occupants. Enhancing the Maxima’s already high level of quality and premium luxury appointments is a new seat insert pattern and charcoal headliner and pillars for SR and Platinum Reserve Package grades. The Platinum Reserve Package features special Rakuda Tan semi-aniline leather appointments, similar to that available on the Nissan GT-R Premium Interior Package.

The interior retains the Maxima’s "Gliding Wing" interior layout that emphasizes the horizontal movement and easy access to all controls, but offers updated trim finishers and materials. Depending on grade level, the instrument panel, door panels, steering wheel insert, stitching, seat materials, headliner, pillars and A-pillar speaker grilles have been upgraded, providing a more premium look and feel.

"There’s crafted precision to the Maxima interior that has been enhanced for the 2019 model year. For example, the Maxima SR features new orange accent stitching, ’Dynamic Diamond’ quilting, orange-accented Alcantara appointments and Dark Satin chrome finishers," said Mohnke.

The new Platinum Reserve Package interior offers Satin Bronze faceted interior finishers, diamond quilted Rakuda Tan semi-aniline leather appointments, Rakuda Tan steering wheel insert for a two-tone appearance and heated rear seats.

Other interior enhancements include standard Rear Door Alert (RDA) for all grade levels, revised SiriusXM® Satellite Radio with Advanced Auto Features (SiriusXM® subscription required, sold separately) and revised Nissan Door to Door Navigation system, which is standard on all grades except S.

Five grade levels, on sale in December
The refreshed 2019 Nissan Maxima goes on sale at Nissan dealerships nationwide beginning in mid-December 2018. It will be offered in five well-equipped grade levels: S, SV, SL, the sporty SR and the top of the lineup Platinum.

Just two options are available. The SR Premium Package includes Dual Panel Panoramic Moonroof, Safety Shield 360 technology, Intelligent Around View® Monitor and more. The Platinum Reserve Package features exclusive 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, heated rear seats and the Rakuda Tan semi-aniline interior treatment.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release

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