2019 Nissan Maxima: The 4DSC drives well, but lacks standard safety tech [Retake]

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2019 Nissan Maxima (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

When I first drove the refreshed 2019 Nissan Maxima late last year, I probably had an hour or two behind the wheel.

While that’s plenty of time to get a good first impression, it doesn’t really tell you how it will stack up in everyday driving.

That’s where take two comes into the picture.

During this test drive, I spent 6 solid hours behind the wheel in one day, and during the entire test week, I drove more than 450 miles.

That was plenty of time for me to re-affirm a few things and discover a few more.

First with the affirmations.

I really love the 3.5-liter, 300-horsepower V-6 engine. It’s peppy and delivers a throaty growl when you punch it. More than once, the fast acceleration brought a smile to my face.

The Maxima’s handling is also more sporty than luxurious. The steering is quite stiff, and the overall effect is more on the fun-to-drive side of the spectrum.

The interior of the refreshed Maxima is also top notch. I had the Platinum trim with the diamond quilted leather seats in the rich Rakuda Tan color. I liked the pattern on the seats as well as the interior trim accents, and I especially liked the two-tone steering wheel that comes with the Reserve package.

The one thing that still stumps me is the up-level safety technology that’s only available on the top two trims. In a world where safety is becoming priority No. 1 and vehicles under $20K have things like lane keep assist and automatic emergency braking, Maxima is behind the times.

And that alone could be the potential downfall of a vehicle that otherwise looks great and handles amazingly well.

The other thing that struck me after a week and a really long road trip is that the standard Apple CarPlay is a bit glitchy.

I found that it didn’t always sync up the instant I plugged in my phone, and sometimes I had to unplug and re-plug my phone several times for the Apple CarPlay screen to display. Plus, I would have to turn the volume way up to listen to a podcast when wired in, and then I’d forget I’d done that. So, when I turned the car back on before wiring in my phone, the music would blare at ear-splitting levels.

I’m hoping this was just a hiccup in the system as Nissan is working out the kinks on the refresh.

Another thing I noticed during the test week: The Maxima is very long and the turning radius is just OK. That made it somewhat tricky to maneuver in tight urban situations, and pulling into my awkward garage space required some vehicular acrobatics and some serious consultation of the around-view monitor.

The final thing I'd like to point out is for petite drivers: The seat bottoms are just a tad to long for me, and because of my far-forward driving position, my legs get trapped between the seat bottom and underbelly of the dash.

For 2019 there will be five trims and just two package options. The breakdown is as follows:

  • S ($34,845): At this base level, you’ll get features such as automatic emergency braking, rear door alert, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, two front USB charge ports and intelligent automatic headlights.
  • SV ($36,855): This trim adds leather appointed seats and navigation.
  • SL ($39,335): At this level, you’ll add the dual-pane panoramic moonroof and Bose premium audio.
  • SR ($40,425): Dubbed the sporty trim, at this level you’ll get a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch gloss black alloy wheels, paddle shifters and a rear spoiler.
  • Platinum ($42,335): This top-tier trim adds premium Ascot leather seats, NissanConnect Services and Safety Shield 360.

The 2019 Maxima went on sale in December, and sales were up year over year after the refresh hit the streets, but overall sales of the Maxima have been down in 2019 year over year.

The Bottom Line:

The Maxima is a really nice car. It looks nice. It drives nice. It has a lot of nice available technology. And in a dwindling sedan market, it should look better than a lot of its competitors.

The sticking point is going to be safety tech. The Toyota Avalon and Acura TLX, for example, have similar price points with more standard safety features. That’s a problem.

For more information, be sure to check out our full first-look review.