2019 Nissan Maxima SR: Perfectly polarizing

Our Opinion: The Nissan Maxima is almost criminally underrated. If you’re looking for a front-wheel-drive plus-size “midsize” sedan, that’s a narrow scope. Now, add into the mix that you also want at least 300 hp and you’re looking at an army of one. Following the design language of Nissan’s top-dog GT-R, the gaping-mouth grille and sharp lines might be polarizing aesthetically, but that’s part of the Maxima’s charm to me.
The love-it-or-hate-it features don’t end with the styling: Nissan equipped the Maxima with an aging VQ-series V6 engine that’s mated to a CVT. While I can’t speak for durability, I can talk about hilariously fun performance. Combined with the 300 hp from the naturally aspirated six, the CVT works to move the Maxima along quickly and effortlessly with no shifting. Since the CVT is holding the VQ35 at its peak power, the feeling is akin to bringing a turbocharged engine up to its peak boost level and staying there until you hit a speed. The V6 doesn’t have a turbocharger, but the feeling of constant peak power does feel similar. The CVT experience is not as fun as rowing your own gears, but it’s a refreshing change from a sometimes-boring torque-converter automatics. I’m sure most of this is because the engine delivers enough horsepower and torque to make the CVT fun. Oh yeah, and expect torque steer: This is a 300-hp front-wheel-drive car, after all.