Nissan rolled out the newest generation of its Nissan Maxima sport sedan just two years ago, and now it returns for 2018 with a few enhancements.

Those include standard Android Auto connectivity (in addition to Apple CarPlay, added last year), new content for the Midnight Edition package, and a new exterior color, Carnelian Red ($395 extra), which was included on our test vehicle.

Prices for 2018 start at $33,270 (plus $885 freight) for the base S model. Other trim levels include the SV ($35,270); SL ($37,690); SR ($38,530); and the top-of-the-line Platinum ($40,940), which we tested for this report.

With the most recent redesign, the Maxima moved into its eighth generation as Nissan’s flagship sedan. With all of the changes and its stunning good looks, this is the best Maxima ever.

Nissan bills the Maxima as the “4-door Sports Car,” and it’s powered by the latest VQ-series 3.5-liter V-6 engine, cranking out 300 horsepower and 261 foot-pounds of torque.

The engine directs power to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission. With front-wheel drive, however, the Maxima might not qualify as a true sports car to some purists.

Nevertheless, the Maxima is fun to drive, with sporty roadhandling and precise, predictable steering and braking. With the redesign, the Maxima now rides on a lighter, more-rigid chassis, which gives it that sporty handling.

It has decent fuel economy, as well. EPA ratings for 2018 are 21 mpg city/30 highway/25 combined.

The Midnight Edition package ($1,195), available only on the SR grade, now includes the advanced Intelligent Driver Alertness 1 system previously available only on the Platinum version. It also adds a “sport” spoiler, rear diffuser and 19-inch gloss-black aluminum-alloy wheels with center caps.

This year’s Maxima also comes with the safety technology added late in the 2017 model year, including Intelligent Forward Collision Warning and Automatic Emergency Braking 2, standard on all models. Automatic Emergency Braking takes over when the system detects the possibility of rear-ending vehicles the Maxima is following.

Our Platinum model’s seats were covered with premium cashmere Ascot leather, and the dash, upper door panels, armrests, center console and steering wheel were Ascot leather, with diamond-quilted Alcantara inserts. The front seats were heated and cooled, and we had LED interior accent lighting, an eight-way power driver’s seat and a four-way power front passenger seat.

Also featured – borrowed from the Altima – are Nissan’s Zero Gravity front seats with sport bolstering. The seats are softer and more comfortable than before, thanks to a new three-layer foam design. There is power lumbar support for the driver’s seat, and a manual thigh-support extension for the driver as well.

The heated sport steering wheel has a flat bottom like that you’d find on many sports cars, wrapped in the same Ascot leather as the seats, with an Alcantara insert.

There is a 60/40 split fold-down design for the rear seat to allow for extension of the trunk’s capacity. The trunk has 14.3 cubic feet of cargo space.

The Platinum’s standard NissanConnect audio system with navigation has an eight-inch color display with touch control and voice recognition. The system also includes satellite radio and SiriusXM Travel Link, streaming audio via Bluetooth, hands-free text messaging, and two front illuminated USB connection ports for compatible devices.

Those ports are under a small door at the front of the center console for easy access – they’re not hidden in the storage bin as on many other vehicles.

The transmission shifted smoothly throughout the power band, and there was quite impressive acceleration from this drivetrain. It even came with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters to pace the car through a range of gears.

The CVT has a wider gear-ratio range for stronger acceleration from a standing start, and D-Step shifting logic that allows for rapid shifts at high throttle openings, Nissan says.

A Drive Mode Selector has Sport and Normal settings, which automatically adjust the throttle, transmission, steering and Active Sound Enhancement tuning.

In Sport mode, throttle response increases, the transmission alters its program for more-aggressive shifting, and more steering effort is required. The Active Sound Enhancement system sends more of the engine noise into the cabin.

When the new generation Maxima arrived, it came with the reworked VQ-series engine, which has more than 60 percent new parts compared with the previous generation. It also features some technology adapted from the Nissan GT-R supercar, such as sodium-filled valves.

The car also features the new “swipe to meter” feature, which allows the driver to swipe the navigation map from the center display to bring it up in the standard seven-inch driver-assist display in front of the driver in the middle of the instrument cluster.

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