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The 2021 Nissan Maxima bridges the gap between traditional sedans and sports sedans by offering great power and a new 40th-anniversary edition.

What’s New for the 2021 Nissan Maxima?

The biggest update for the 2021 model year is a 40th-anniversary edition of the Nissan Maxima. This special edition option uses the Platinum trim as its base and adds special interior and exterior trim as well as a special two-tone black and grey paint job. It also sees total trim levels reduced from five to just three with the subtraction of the S and SL from last year.

2021 Nissan Maxima - usa.nissannews.com

2021 Nissan Maxima – usa.nissannews.com |  Shop 2021 Nissan Maxima on Carsforsale.com

Body Style

Starting Price

MSRP $38,065

Drivetrain

Drivetrain

FWD

Drivetrain

Fuel Economy

20 City / 30 Hwy (MPG)

Number of Seats

Seating

Seats 5

The Breakdown

Outstanding engine

Great styling

Above-average FWD handling

FWD still limits the Maxima

Subpar rear-seat space

Below average technology

We’d love a Maxima SE-R

2021 Maxima Specs

Trims & Pricing

SV - $38,065
SR - $43,225
Platinum - $43,295

2021 Nissan Maxima Powertrain

2021 Nissan Maxima 3.5L V6 - Raiti's Rides on YouTube.com
2021 Nissan Maxima 3.5L V6 - Raiti's Rides on YouTube.com

Under the hood of every 2021 Nissan Maxima is a 300 horsepower V6 mated to a continuously variable transmission that sends power to the front wheels only. Considering how daft most CVTs are and how unruly powerful front-wheel-drive cars can be, the Maxima might be in a league of its own. Firstly, it puts the power down without gobs of torque steer and tire chatter. Then, once it’s rolling, the transmission is good enough to trick casual car fans into thinking it has real cogs. The paddle shifters found on the SR model might sound pointless in a car with a CVT, but they actually feel like they’re doing something when they’re pulled.

Of all the sedans on the market that don’t feature power to the rear wheels, the Nissan Maxima is most impressive. It is well balanced even during hard corning exercises. Perhaps the most impressive part of the Maxima is how it can feel planted when just trundling along but sincerely graceful and quick when driving more quickly. The pedals and steering wheel all provide excellent feedback and some of the most linear modulation available at this price point.

2021 Nissan Maxima Fuel Economy & MPG

2021 Nissan Maxima - usa.nissannews.com
2021 Nissan Maxima - usa.nissannews.com

With only a single drivetrain, all 2021 Nissan Maxima’s will get similar fuel economy. The EPA has rated the Maxima at 20 mpg in the city, 30 on the highway, and that equates to a 24 mpg combined rating. Ultimately it falls short of rivals like the Mazda 6 and the Honda Accord.

Interior, Comfort, & Cargo Space

The 2021 Nissan Maxima features an outstanding interior regardless of trim level. All trims get leather upholstery and the cross-stitched premium seats are very impressive. Unlike other brands we’ve tested with subpar seat ventilation, the Maxima SR and Platinum can freeze you out if you’re not too careful. The buckets also prove to be an excellent blend between tight enough for more spirited driving while being compliant and supple enough for long road trips.

The layout is great too. Controls are all easy to reach, well thought out, and feel good on your fingertips. Panel gaps are tight and despite the use of some cheaper plastics in a few places, the overall feeling of the cabin is above average.

If there’s anything to complain about inside, it’s a lack of rear-seat head and legroom as well as dwindling trunk storage. Still, for those who won’t be transporting taller folks in the rear very often and those willing to lay those back seats down when they need more storage, the Nissan Maxima is a cut above the rest.

Entertainment & Technology

2021 Nissan Maxima - nissanusa.com
2021 Nissan Maxima - nissanusa.com

The only downside of the tech in the Maxima is that the touchscreen and its user interface feel old. No matter how much one spends on this sedan, the screen will never be bigger than 8-inches and there are no major benefits over the base model. The sound system also feels a bit dated and ill-equipped to handle most challengers. Still, it’s not all bad news bears in here.

The benefit of the infotainment system is that, unlike many rivals, there are quick physical buttons that give occupants immediate access to some settings that other brands bury in the touchscreen. We also love the parental controls that provide alerts when the vehicle is driven over a designated speed or outside of a designated boundary.

Safety Features

The IIHS only gave the 2021 Nissan Maxima a marginal score during its evaluation due to troublesome headlights, but this Nissan does well otherwise. It received a five-star crash test rating from the NHTSA and we love all the standard driver aids like forward-collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams.

2021 Nissan Maxima Trims & Pricing

2021 Nissan Maxima SV - carsforsale.com
2021 Nissan Maxima SV - carsforsale.com

SV – $38,065

At nearly $40,000 the base 2021 Nissan Maxima needs to be stacked to compete, and it certainly is. Buyers get LED headlights, leather upholstery with heated seats up front, an 8-inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and eight speakers. It also gets dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and Satellite radio. As for safety kit, it gets blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and frontal collision mitigation.

2021 Nissan Maxima SR - carsforsale.com
2021 Nissan Maxima SR - carsforsale.com

SR – $43,225

Step up to the SR and buyers get a sportier stiffer tuned suspension (only found on the SR), fog lights, paddle-shifters (also only found on the SR), ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a sunroof, and a premium 11-speaker Bose sound system. It also adds lane-keeping assist, parking sensors (front and rear), as well as a surround-view camera system.

2021 Nissan Maxima Platinum - carsforsale.com
2021 Nissan Maxima Platinum - carsforsale.com

Platinum – $43,295

At the Platinum level, buyers get special premium leather upholstery, automatic windshield wipers, and a rear-window sunshade. They can also take advantage of the special 40th Anniversary package which adds heated rear seats, a special premium interior, and special two-tone paint.

Warranties

The 2021 Nissan Maxima comes with 3 years or 36,000 miles of limited warranty and 5 years or 60,000 miles of powertrain coverage. That’s average across the market, but it does fall behind challengers like the Hyundai Sonata which carries a 10-year powertrain warranty.

What we think

2021 Nissan Maxima - usa.nissannews.com

2021 Nissan Maxima – usa.nissannews.com |  Shop 2021 Nissan Maxima on Carsforsale.com

The 2021 Nissan Maxima is one of the most attractively styled sedans in its range. While it’s not an overall winner in any one area, it’s well balanced enough that most will enjoy it. For those looking for a sedan that can do a bit of everything, the Nissan Maxima might be the best choice.

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Stephen Rivers

Stephen Rivers is a car enthusiast who loves all things built with passion, extending to nearly all car cultures. After obtaining an occupational studies degree in sports medicine, Stephen turned his attention to sports cars. He was employed as an auto shop manager, spent time in auto sales, and worked as a software developer for a racing company, but Stephen began writing about cars over 10 years ago. When he's not in front of a computer screen, he's racing his own Bugeye Subaru WRX in as many autocross and rallycross competitions as he can.

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