What Next? The 2019 Nissan Maxima SL

Front 3/4 view of 2019 Nissan Maxima SL
The 2019 Nissan Maxima SL.
These are hard times, you may have heard, for the traditional three-box (hood, passenger compartment, trunk) sedan.  Harder still for the larger ones. Over the past decade, when faced with the choice of a large sedan or a crossover, American families have chosen the car-based SUV enough  times to send some nameplates to the great dealership in the sky (Ford Taurus) or put them on the endangered list (Chevy Impala, which was to have ended production by now, but has been given at least a one-year reprieve, likely at the request of rental fleets).

In the midst of this, the Nissan Maxima has just received a mid-cycle refresh for 2019.  That's a confidence-inspiring move.  But for 2020, Nissan is introducing an all-new Altima that's larger than the Maxima, and that makes the Maxima's future a bit more murky.

Rear 3/4 view of 2019 Nissan Maxima SL
2019 Nissan Maxima SL.
Let's just deal with the here and now---the 2019 Maxima gets standard LED headlights, a new front fascia and grille, a revised rear fasica with LED taillights and integrated quad-tip exhaust finishers, plus new wheel designs.  Whether any of that works for you is a matter of taste---the Maxima's styling is a subject of great debate.

Nissan Safety Shield is also newly available on the Maxima, and there are now ten airbags, including front row knee bags and rear seat side supplemental airbags. 

Interior view of 2019 Nissan Maxima SL
2019 Nissan Maxima SL interior.
Inside, a new interior treatment with availiable semi-aniline diamond-quilted Rakuda Tan leather appointed-seating, standard rear door alert, traffic sign recognition and two USB type C ports in addition to the familiar type A.

Engine in 2019 Nissan Maxima SL
2019 Nissan Maxima SL engine.
The engine is the same in all Maximas---a 3.5-liter 24-valve DOHC V6 making 300 horsepower.  Not only is it quick, it gets stellar gas mileage.  The Maxima is one of the few cars in which I've beaten the EPA estimate.  They say 20 city/30 highway---I saw 31 driving from Monterey to Folsom after Western Automotive Journalists' Media Day and the following six days of city street and urban freeway driving only knocked the overall average down to 28.

Our tester was the mid-range SL trim.  $38,440 base, with a long list of standard equipment:

  • Automatic emergency braking.
  • Blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.
  • Four-wheel anti-lock braking system.
  • Vehicle dynamic control and traction control system.
  • Electronic brake force distribution and brake assist.
  • Tire pressure monitoring system and easy-fill tire alert.
  • Vehicle immobilizer system.
  • Vehicle security system.
  • Heated outside mirrors with turn signal indicators.
  • Two front and two rear parking sensors.
  • LED intelligent automatic headlights.
  • LED signature daytime running lights.
  • Dual-panel panoramic moonroof.
  • LED interior accent lighting.
  • Leather-appointed seats.
  • Intelligent cruise control.
  • Nissan Door to Door navigation.
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
  • Eight-inch color display with multi-touch control.
  • Nissan Voice Recognition for navigation and audio.
  • SiriusXM Radio, Traffic and Travel Link.
  • Bluetooth hands-free phone system and streaming audio.
  • Bose 11-speaker sound system.
  • Active noise cancellation.
  • Seven-inch advanced drive assist display.
  • Dual-zone temperature control.
  • Rear view monitor.
  • Rear door alert.
  • Remote engine start with intelligent climate control.
  • Eight-way power driver's seat with power lumbar support. 
  • Six-way power front passenger's seat.
  • Zero gravity front seats.
  • 60/40 split folding rear seat.
  • Satin chrome faceted finishers.
  • Leather-wrapped "D"-shaped heated steering wheel.
  • Nissan Intelligent Key with push-button ignition.
  • HomeLink.
  • Intelligent driver alertness.

In fact, the only options on our tester was a set of floor mats, a trunk mat, a trunk net, first aid kit and bag hooks for $360---bringing the total as-tested price with $895 destination charges to $39,695.

That's a lot of value for the money and the fuel economy still seriously impresses me.  The Nissan Maxima's long-range future may be a bit murky, but there's a lot to be said for the present.