Behind the Wheel

2020 Nissan Maxima Review: Good enough to fill the small void left by Buick, Chevrolet

Nissan refreshed the Maxima for the 2019 model year. For 2020, there's a few improvements and the model still retains its comfortable seats and spacious trunk.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In the words of Andre 3000 at the 1995 Source Awards, "the South got something to say." The mass market large car segment is nearing extinction, according to most of the headlines and statistics you'll read. Nissan, whose North American HQ is located squarely in the Southern U.S., has found itself in a strong position to pick up the slack left behind by General Motors.

The 2020 Nissan Maxima is relatively the same as the 2019 model, with a few differences. Nissan Safety Shield 360 is now standard on the car, adding automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and rear automatic braking to every Maxima model.

2020 Nissan Maxima The Nissan Maxima still features the updated exterior that was given to the car for the 2019 model year. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan has also added the Integrated Dynamics Control Module to every grade of the car (previously in SR only), which includes intelligent trace control, active ride control, and intelligent engine brake, to the car.

The enhancements make the Maxima, which is powered by a capable but not exhilarating 300-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine, a formidable choice for buyers who want a competent daily driver with a little more rear seat and trunk space than what is in the midsize Nissan Altima.

Nissan has done interiors quite well for years now and the Maxima is not an exception to that rule. For its $40,000-ish price tag when fully equipped, buyers get smooth surfaces with sleek accents. Despite cries from reviewers for Nissan to up its game here, a quick look at the market reveals that these materials are at least as nice as what you'll find in the Toyota Avalon, if not nicer.

2020 Nissan Maxima The car has a large center stack that doesn't give the feeling of roominess that makes cars like the Genesis G90 and Audi A8 so desirable. Still, it feels roomier than the Lexus LS.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Large car buyers want comfort and the Maxima delivers. Its seats are spacious and feature Nissan's Zero Gravity technology, which keeps tiredness at bay for hours at a time. The back seats are equally comfortable carrying adult occupants and in top trims, the leather on the seats, steering wheel, and shifter are supple.

The car's sore spots are predictable and common in aging Nissan vehicles like the Maxima and Murano. The car's 8-inch infotainment touch screen features outdated graphics that get crowded when using the audio function and don't know enough clear detail when using the navigation system. The A-pillar isn't the easiest to see around. It could stand to be more athletic and isn't terribly fuel efficient.

2020 Nissan Maxima The Nissan Maxima has comfortable seats, good forward visibility, and an available panoramic sunroof - all for around $40,000 fully loaded. That's a good price for a good car.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Still, the Maxima delivers a lot of what buyers are looking for. Sure, it's not as well-equipped or engaging as large cars by BMW, Audi, Genesis, and Mercedes-Benz, but it's literally half the price.

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The QX60 is all-new for 2022.

Infiniti

Infiniti has released detailed specs and features for its all-new QX60 SUV. The upscale family hauler will land later this year with a reasonable starting price, updated tech, a nicely appointed cabin, and plenty more. The automaker offers its new SUV in four trims, each of which is available with all-wheel drive: Pure, Luxe, Sensory, and Autograph.

The QX60 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 295 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available, and all models get a new nine-speed automatic transmission. Infiniti says that the gearbox has a low first gear that helps deliver better acceleration and power off the line, and taller upper gears for smoother cruising on the highway. The revised all-wheel drive system is more responsive and engages more quickly than the system in the previous model.


2022 Infiniti QX60 The QX60 gets leather and several luxury features as standard kit. Infiniti


An upgraded interior is in the cards for the new QX60, as all models now get leather, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel as standard equipment. Front passengers' backsides are treated to Infiniti's excellent zero-gravity seats and a stiffer second-row seat frame reduces vibration and noise in the cabin. Infiniti says that the cabin itself has more sound-deadening materials and thicker glass in the second row, which together yield a 7 percent improvement in noise on the highway.


2022 Infiniti QX60 A digital gauge cluster comes on all but the base model.Infiniti


A 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard that runs wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Six USB ports, nine speakers, HD Radio Bluetooth, voice commands, and SiriusXM radio are also standard. All but the base Pure trim level come with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and the top Autograph model gets a 10.8-inch full-color head-up display and a smart rearview mirror.

The new QX60 goes on sale this fall in the U.S. and Canada. Pricing starts at $47,875 for the base Pure model and tops out at $64,275 for the top Autograph AWD trim.

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Highway safety

U.S. roadway fatalities up in 2021

Ford, Microsoft team to use quantum-inspired technology to understand traffic congestion
Photo coursesy of Ford Motor Company

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just released its estimates on traffic fatalities for the first quarter of 2021 and the numbers aren't promising. In the first quarter of this year alone, 8,730 people died in motor vehicle crashes. Last year's cumulative numbers weren't much better, coming in higher than any year since 2007.


U.S. Roadways Traffic may be going up, but fuel fill ups are down according to the latest research automotivemap.com


The grim statistics represent a 10.5 percent increase from the same time period last year, a time when we were already marveling at the numbers. Further data reported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) indicate that the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) decreased by 2.1 percent, which makes the increase in fatalities all the more striking a statistic. Initial projections pegged the number of fatalities per 100 million VMT at 1.12, but it instead climbed to 1.26 fatalities per 100 million VMT.

Regionally, most areas in the United Statessaw an increase, though two did not. The Midwest region, which includes Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas did not change, while the mid-east coast states of North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and West Virginia actually saw a six percent decline in fatality counts.


Highway 1 big sur Highway 1 near Big Sur includes the Bixby Creek Bridge, a famous landmark. Photo by\u00a0Getty Images


What's behind all of this? Last year, the NHTSA reported that, with fewer people on the roads, those that were driving were engaging in risky behavior. What's more, Automotive News reports, that the number of deaths involving people not wearing seatbelts increased 15 percent last year and speeding deaths climbed 10 percent.

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