2014 Nissan Maxima SV Review
Written by James Hamel
A long time ago when the Grunge movement was reaching its zenith in the early 1990’s, Nissan not only launched a luxury brand in Infiniti that would soon become the Japanese BMW but they were also mad enough to still keep building a true four door family sports car in the form of the Maxima. Sure, it was front wheel drive but for the time it was not only fierce looking but fast and fleet on its feet. Or tires, we should say.
Back then Nissan referred to the Maxima as the 4DSC or for those not in the know—the 4 door sports car. So when Nissan resurrected the name for the latest Maxima iteration recently, the ears of driving enthusiasts perked up. But wait, this is the same Maxima that may boast a 3.5 liter 290 horsepower/261 lb. feet of torque V6 once used by the mythical Z coupe but unfortunately it comes mated to Nissan’s quite hit or miss CVT automatic. Honestly, we would love to see the Maxima sold instead with the 370Z’s terrifically sporty 7-speed automatic that pops off downshifts like Mario Andretti on a straightaway. But as it stands, the CVT in our tester wasn’t very noisy and it didn’t seem to dampen the Maxima’s eager spirits all that much when time came to light up the front tires.
Having driven some of those classic, earlier Maxima sedans with perfectly functional and conventional automatics, it was easy to see that the CVT did blunt a bit of the epic rev hungry thrust that is part and parcel of this reliably bulletproof 3.5 liter V6. One side benefit of a CVT is good fuel economy with our Maxima boasting EPA estimates of 19 city/26 highway on regular gas. We averaged 22.6 over our week and given the fact that this roomy sedan has a 20 gallon gas tank we can safely say this is a perfect road trip car. The trunk’s also big at 14.2 cubic feet which is important when traveling with others and their stuff.
Although the Maxima has suffered from a few odd styling turns over the years, we can happily report that the 2014 3.5 SV variant we tested looked sporty, menacing and fast all at the same time thanks to attractive detailing in the lights and quarter panels. The interior of the SV models comes with very heavily bolstered leather sport seats that eat up rear legroom but will never leave you slipping and sliding during spirited driving. Build quality in the interior is definitely up to Infiniti standards but refined with a simple and more straight forward dashboard control design. While most of the dials, buttons and switches are from the Nissan part bin, the Maxima still manages to evoke a suitably premium air from the cockpit.
Driving the 2014 Nissan Maxima is Still Fun but Pricey!
The Maxima 3.5 SV, when pushed, will corner much like its forebears and give driver’s an engagingly entertaining experience while communicating with the road via its sporty three spoke steering wheel. And yes, being that this is still a luxury family car the same steering wheel also is leather wrapped with a multitude of secondary audio, cruise and phone controls at your fingertips. Sometimes in life, there are trade-offs and with age comes a bit more of a need for comfort and in that regard the Maxima is right on target.
We think that if you are cross shopping a Hyundai Genesis, Ford Taurus SHO, a Dodge Charger then you should definitely check out the 2014 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV. Sure, it’s more of a large family sedan than an Accord V6 or Mazda6 both of which “feel” sportier to drive but at its heart lies the power of the Z and much of its handling finesse as well is still remarkable.
Maxima traditionalists will of course only want the 3.5 SV model as it is aimed at enthusiasts although a nearly $39.000 sticker price like the one on our fully loaded tester can bring upon sticker shock related heart palpitations. But then you have to remember this includes the Tech and Premium packages which insure in-dash navigation, a DVD playback system, dual paned glass moonroof, ventilated driver’s seat, leather covering for all of the seats, upscale looking Atlantic Cherrywood trim, dual zone climate control, a smart key, Bluetooth, USB/ipod integration, heated power front seats, and an excellent Bose audio system with 9 speakers and two subwoofers. There’s also a back-up camera, 19-inch alloy wheels, a sport tuned suspension and High Intensity Discharge headlamps.
Why This Ride?
* The 2014 Nissan Maxima V6 engine is an enjoyably sporty sounding engine that always offers plenty of power
* The exterior styling finally looks much more normal than the last two generations
* The interior quality is right up there with Infiniti
* As is the interior layout and design only the Maxima felt roomier to us than a rear drive Q50
* The CVT automatic, for a change, operates without calling attention to itself or being noisy