Weekly Auto features page in Adobe InDesign and PDF formats.
This page has a half-page space across the bottom for advertising.

Entry price: $34,050

Price as tested: $45,225

Likes: Refreshed design, outstanding cabin, CVT improvement, 300-horsepower

Dislikes: Rear-seat legroom, no AWD models, CVTs and Sports Cars don’t mix well

This week, we’re driving the 2019 Nissan Maxima featuring an exterior refresh to augment its already stout aerodynamic stance. Consumers will also find an improved interior and very attractive entry price. Most notable is an improved CVT automatic transmission, an area where many automotive journalists give low marks.

Built in Smyrna, Tennessee, Maxima is now three years into its eighth generation and rides on a 2.2-inch longer wheelbase, weighs about 100-pounds less, sits near 1.4-inches lower and comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 engine developing 300 horsepower and 261 lb. ft. of torque. It continues its reign as Nissan’s flagship sedan and gets as close to Infiniti in opulence and performance as Nissan allows.

The more powerful and revamped V6 engine connects to the above mentioned  CVT Xtronic automatic, with CVT standing for continuously variable transmission. Nissan has improved its CVT to a point where it mimics quite well a four-speed automatic under full throttle acceleration runs. Featuring wider ratios for better fuel mileage and “gear changes” through an adaptive shift controller, the result is a CVT transmission that feels way better than it has in the past. Back then, when you went full throttle the RPMs would peg immediately at 6,000 and you waited for the car to “catch up” to the engine revs.

With the ’19 Maxima, full acceleration runs are exciting. From screeching the tires from a dead stop and zooming to 60 mph in just 5.9-seconds with simulated gear change blips, you’ll most likely be impressed. However, it’s the low speed city driving where the CVT fumbles around while searching for acceleration. And, although much improved, utilizing a CVT in a sports oriented performance car like Maxima eliminates a more serious, engaging experience from those 300 Nissan horses. All in all, the fuel mileage is decent for a large car with 20 city and 30 highway, but I’d like to see Nissan move to a dual-clutch style six-speed automatic or better, which will result in an improved sports car experience. (Still, kudos to Nissan on these CVT improvements).  

A “Drive Mode” selector offers both Normal and Sport driving modes, the latter which does sharpen throttle response and deliver a heavier, more precise steering feel. We did our acceleration runs in both Sport and Normal, with little difference in times.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at greg@gregzyla.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.


Auto Bits

Automakers turn to five-figure discounts for EVs

After years of rapid growth in America and other markets such as China, Electric vehicles did an unusual thing this summer: They slowed their sales. In fact, the sales were lower by comparison not just to recent months, but also to last July. Look closely and you will see that the iconic Nissan Leaf is now selling at just a third the rate it did a few years ago and that the Chevy Bolt is off its peak sales by half. Even the hot Tesla Model 3’s U.S. sales dropped by double digits in recent months. This slowdown is largely being ignored by the electric vehicle advocacy media. But not by the folks who make and sell EVs.

Right now, in EV target states such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island, new electric vehicles are being discounted by as much as five-figure sums. You read that right. Take the Chevy Bolt. Dealers are now offering over $13,000 in discounts. And please note, these are not to be confused with the federal tax deduction and local and state incentives. These are discounts before government incentives are factored in. The net result is updated EV models that launched within the past few years are now being heavily discounted and can end up costing buyers under $20K when all discounts and incentives are combined.

John Goreham/BestRide.com


Did You Know

According to Statista.com, in 2019, there have been 293 car models offered for sale in the U.S.