Entry price: $34,050 Price as tested: $45,225 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. Our tester arrived in top class Platinum trim finished in Carnelian Red ($395 more) and featuring everything that’s great about Maxima. Notable is good handling, performance oriented suspension and Goodyear Eagle Touring tires as standard fare. The ride is firm yet comfortable as a front strut setup couples with a rear multi-link design in delivering overall adhesion. All Maximas feature lots of standard high-tech driving aids, including Nissan’s exclusive Integrated Dynamics-Control Module. Included are intelligent trace control, intelligent engine brake, and active ride control, all of which your dealer will explain in detail. The end result is a Maxima that will raise “sports car awareness” in consumers who demand a mid to larger size four door sedan … without breaking the bank. Remember that each and every Maxima, from entry S to SV, SL, SR and ultimate Platinum and Platinum Reserve, all feature identical drivetrain mechanicals and excellent road worthiness. Inside, the Platinum features both opulence and sporty features. Nissan designers can take a bow as the Platinum’s two-tone interior, wood tone faceted accents and comfortable seating are most inviting. Standard are Apple and Android compatibility, SiriusXM satellite, Bluetooth, a 7-inch drive assist and 8-inch infotainment display that share info and entertainment duties. From door-to-door navigation with active voice, traffic sign recognition, intelligent driver alert, numerous engine and operating info, and even rear door alert, your Maxima is built with modern day technology a high priority. The power front seats offer lumbar and thigh support, and the heated and cooled seats are also noteworthy. There’s more than enough rear headroom, but legroom could be a bit tight for taller adults, especially if the driver is 6-foot-2 or more. Sounds? A standard 11-speaker Bose Stereo system with Nissan Active Noise Cancellation is standard. Add more standard fare like dual panoramic sunroof, power trunk, aluminum sport pedals, intelligent 360-degree all-around view monitor, zero gravity front seats, intelligent key with push button start, several USB charge ports front and aft, tilt and telescopic steering, rain detecting wipers, intelligent cruise and even a nice little Nissan First Aid kit in the trunk lets you know you’re riding in a very special Nissan. Our Platinum tester came with an $1,140 Reserve option that adds 19-inch dark hyper silver aluminum-alloy wheels, heated rear seats, semi-aniline leather-appointed seats with dynamic diamond-quilted leather inserts, leather-wrapped steering wheel with contrast insert, “Satin Bronze” faceted interior trim and a charcoal headliner. Other options on our Maxima were a sport floor and trunk mat kit for $360 (not necessary), splash guards $205, and the above mentioned premium paint for $395 (very nice). An optional performance rear spoiler (not necessary) adds $415 while $895 delivery brings the final retail to $45,225 from a Platinum base of $41,440. Remember, the entry S starts at just $34,050 so there’s a lot of leeway between models. Standard safety items include forward collision warning and automatic emergency breaking (across the board) and our Platinum’s rear emergency braking, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitors and even passenger knee airbags assure driver and passengers that top-tier automobile protection is a Nissan precedence. Nissan has never been one to take a back seat to novel design, and this 2019 Maxima refresh is a great example. Especially good looking is the new front-end layout featuring aggressive boomerang LED headlights and a slippery hood, which all leads to a quad exhaust layout protruding from its racy rear deck motif. Important numbers include a wheelbase of 109.3-inches, 3,676-lb. curb weight, 38.1-ft. turn circle, 14.3 cu. ft. of cargo space and an 18-gallon fuel tank. In summary, Nissan makes note in its marketing chatter that Maxima is a sports car with four-doors. It promotes that big V6, sporty suspension, excellent ABS disc brakes and innovative “floating roof” that camouflages the side pillars by blacking them out. It really is a unique design worthy of note. So, with leftover incentives now in play, along with usual dealer enticement on trade-ins and leases, now could be the best time of the year to step into a ’19 Nissan Maxima as the 2020s are identical. Likes: Refreshed design, outstanding cabin, CVT improvement, 300-horsepower. Dislikes: Rear-seat legroom, no AWD models, CVTs and Sports Cars don’t mix well. Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at email@example.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.