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Is the Nissan Maxima AWD?

a car covered in mud on a snowy road

The Nissan Maxima has been a staple in the Canadian automotive market for decades, offering an enticing blend of sporty performance and upscale refinement. This sleek four-door sports sedan has earned a reputation for delivering an exhilarating driving experience, thanks to its powerful engine and agile handling. With its striking design, luxurious interior appointments, and cutting-edge technology, the Maxima has attracted a loyal following among Canadian drivers seeking an affordable yet premium driving experience.


However, one question that often arises among prospective buyers, particularly those living in regions with harsh winter conditions, is whether the Nissan Maxima is available with an all-wheel-drive (AWD) option in Canada. AWD systems provide enhanced traction and stability, making them highly desirable for navigating snowy and icy roads. While many automakers have embraced the trend of offering AWD variants across their lineups, the availability of an AWD Maxima remains a subject of curiosity and debate.

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Why No AWD Maxima for the Canadian Market

Despite the popularity of all-wheel drive vehicles in Canada, especially during the harsh winter months, Nissan has yet to offer an AWD variant of its iconic Maxima sports sedan. There are a few key reasons why the Maxima remains a rear-wheel drive model in the Canadian market.

Firstly, the Maxima is designed to be an affordable performance sedan, catering to buyers seeking an exhilarating driving experience without breaking the bank. Adding an all-wheel drive system would inevitably increase the vehicle’s cost and complexity, potentially pricing it out of the segment it aims to compete in.

Moreover, the Maxima’s core focus is on delivering a pure, engaging driving experience with a focus on sporty handling and performance. While all-wheel drive can enhance traction and stability, it also adds weight and complexity that could potentially dilute the Maxima’s sharp, athletic character.

Finally, sales volumes for the Maxima in Canada are relatively modest compared to the massive U.S. market. With limited demand for an AWD variant, the business case for engineering and producing a Canadian-specific AWD Maxima model may not be justifiable for Nissan.

 

Advantages of All-Wheel Drive

All-wheel drive (AWD) systems offer several key benefits that make them highly desirable, especially in regions with challenging weather conditions like Canada. One of the primary advantages is improved traction and handling in inclement weather such as snow, ice, or heavy rain. By distributing power to all four wheels, AWD vehicles can maintain better grip on slippery surfaces, reducing the risk of losing control or getting stuck.

In addition to enhanced traction, AWD also provides better stability and control on slippery surfaces. When driving on wet or icy roads, the added traction from AWD helps the vehicle remain planted and responsive, allowing the driver to maintain a higher level of confidence and control. This increased stability can be particularly valuable in emergency maneuvers or during sudden changes in road conditions.

Given the harsh winters and varying weather patterns experienced across many parts of Canada, the demand for AWD models has grown significantly among Canadian consumers. The added security and capability of AWD systems have made them a popular choice for those seeking a vehicle that can handle the challenges of Canadian driving conditions with ease. As a result, automakers have responded by offering a wider range of AWD options across various vehicle segments, catering to the preferences of the Canadian market.

 

AWD Performance Sedan Alternatives

While you can’t get AWD on the Maxima, plenty of other sporty sedans do offer all-wheel drive in Canada:

 

Subaru WRX – The iconic WRX needs no introduction for performance enthusiasts. Subaru’s turbocharged 4-door comes standard with a rally-bred AWD system and a potent 271 hp boxer engine. The WRX delivers thrilling dynamics and sure-footed traction in all weather conditions. It’s an affordable performance icon that has cultivated a devoted fanbase in Canada over decades.

Kia Stinger – Kia’s first foray into the performance sedan segment has been a smash hit. The Stinger offers head-turning style, a choice of turbocharged engines up to a brawny 368 hp twin-turbo V6, and optional AWD grip. With its liftback body style and value pricing, the Stinger is a fresh take on the sport sedan formula that has resonated with Canadian buyers.

Dodge Charger – When it comes to muscle car performance with all-weather capability, the Charger lineup is in a class of its own. From the tame V6 AWD model to the insane 707 hp Hellcat, the Charger brings outrageous power and quintessential muscle car attitude. Canadian drivers get to sample supercharged V8 fury with the security of an advanced AWD system.

Audi A4 Quattro – For those seeking a premium compact sport sedan, the A4 with Quattro AWD ticks all the boxes. Audi’s legendary all-wheel drive system provides tenacious grip, while the A4’s precise handling and upscale cabin deliver a true luxury experience. Under the hood, a potent 261 hp turbocharged four-cylinder provides ample motivation. The A4 Quattro blends performance, quality, and all-season capability in one compelling package for Canadian drivers.

 

Could an AWD Maxima Come to Canada?

While the Maxima has remained a rear-wheel-drive sports sedan for the Canadian market, there are glimmers of hope that Nissan may someday offer an all-wheel-drive variant. The Japanese automaker has demonstrated a willingness to adapt to changing consumer demands and market trends.

One promising development is Nissan’s recent patent filing for a hybrid all-wheel-drive system. This innovative technology could potentially find its way into future Nissan models, including the Maxima. By combining an electric motor to power the rear wheels and a gasoline engine driving the front wheels, this setup could provide superior traction and handling while maintaining impressive fuel efficiency.

Additionally, Nissan’s decision to offer an optional all-wheel-drive version of the new 2023 Z sports car in markets like Canada is a telling sign. The Z has long been a rear-wheel-drive performance icon, yet Nissan recognized the demand for improved all-weather capability in certain regions. If the company is willing to equip its flagship sports car with AWD, it could potentially extend the same treatment to the Maxima in the future.

As consumer preferences continue to shift towards vehicles with enhanced traction and year-round versatility, the demand for an AWD Maxima may grow stronger. Canadians, in particular, have embraced all-wheel-drive vehicles for their ability to handle the country’s often harsh winter conditions. Should Nissan perceive sufficient market interest, the company could leverage its existing AWD technologies to bring an all-wheel-drive Maxima to the Canadian market, appealing to driving enthusiasts seeking both performance and practicality.

 

Maxima: An Affordable RWD Sports Sedan

The Nissan Maxima has carved out a unique niche in the Canadian market as an affordable rear-wheel drive sports sedan. While all-wheel drive provides enhanced traction and control, the Maxima stays true to its performance roots by delivering an engaging and dynamic driving experience through its rear-driven layout.

Positioning itself as a more budget-friendly alternative to premium European sports sedans, the Maxima offers driving enthusiasts an exhilarating rear-wheel drive experience without breaking the bank. Its powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine, paired with a finely-tuned suspension and responsive steering, creates a connection between driver and machine that is often lost in all-wheel drive setups.

For those who crave the thrill of a traditional sports sedan driving experience, the Maxima’s rear-wheel drive dynamics provide a level of engagement and feedback that all-wheel drive systems can struggle to match. The ability to easily induce oversteer and execute controlled drifts appeals to driving purists seeking a more visceral and involving experience behind the wheel.

While all-wheel drive undoubtedly offers advantages in terms of traction and inclement weather performance, the Maxima’s rear-wheel drive layout allows it to maintain a more lightweight and agile character. This translates to sharper handling, quicker acceleration, and an overall more responsive driving experience that resonates with driving enthusiasts seeking an affordable performance thrill.

 

Maxima Sales and Popularity in Canada

While the Nissan Maxima enjoys a strong following in the United States, its popularity in the Canadian market has been relatively modest. Sales figures reveal a clear disparity between the two countries, with the Maxima finding far fewer buyers north of the border.

In 2022, Nissan sold around 16,500 Maximas in the US market. However, Canadian sales for the same year were just over 1,200 units, according to industry data. This pattern of significantly lower demand in Canada compared to the US has persisted for several years.

Part of the reason for this sales gap lies in the Maxima’s positioning and target market. In the US, the Maxima appeals to buyers seeking an affordable, sporty alternative to luxury performance sedans. However, in Canada, competition in this segment is fierce, with offerings from domestic brands like the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 holding considerable sway.

Additionally, the harsh Canadian winters may deter some buyers from opting for the Maxima’s rear-wheel-drive layout. While the Maxima excels in dry performance driving, its lack of all-wheel-drive capability could be seen as a drawback in regions with frequent snow and ice conditions.

Nonetheless, the Maxima maintains a dedicated following among driving enthusiasts in Canada who appreciate its striking styling, powerful V6 engine, and engaging driving dynamics. However, its sales volumes pale in comparison to more mainstream family sedans like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, which offer AWD variants better suited to Canadian climates.

 

The Future of the Maxima Nameplate

While the current lack of an AWD Maxima model may disappoint some Canadian buyers, Nissan appears committed to the future of this iconic sports sedan nameplate. The Maxima has been a staple in Nissan’s lineup for over four decades, evolving from a humble compact offering into a premium, performance-oriented four-door.

Looking ahead, industry insiders expect Nissan to continue updating the Maxima with fresh redesigns and powertrain enhancements to keep it competitive in the sports sedan segment. Potential areas of focus could include more powerful turbocharged engine options, an available hybrid variant for improved fuel efficiency, and a revamped interior with the latest tech and luxury amenities.

Some rumors even point to Nissan potentially spinning off the Maxima into a separate premium brand or sub-brand, similar to how Toyota positions its Lexus luxury division. This would allow Nissan to further differentiate the Maxima from more mainstream offerings like the Altima while elevating its brand cachet.

Regardless of what the next generation Maxima brings, Nissan seems intent on retaining a flagship performance sedan to showcase its engineering prowess and excite driving enthusiasts. The company recognizes the importance of having a “halo” model that generates brand excitement and interest from buyers. An AWD variant could certainly be in the cards if market demands shift in that direction.

For the time being, Nissan’s sports sedan strategy appears focused on the rear-wheel drive Maxima maintaining an affordable price point and balanced performance capabilities. But the future remains wide open for this iconic nameplate to embrace new powertrain technologies and all-wheel traction as Nissan adapts to evolving market trends.

 

Conclusion: Finding the Right AWD Performance Fit

While the Nissan Maxima may not currently offer an all-wheel drive variant in Canada, there are still plenty of compelling options for drivers seeking AWD performance and capability. The Subaru WRX, Kia Stinger, Dodge Charger, and Audi A4 Quattro each bring their own unique strengths to the table, from rally-bred heritage to muscle car thrills to premium luxury appointments.

For Canadian buyers prioritizing all-weather traction and sporty driving dynamics, cross-shopping these AWD alternatives is highly recommended. Assess your needs, budget, and priorities to find the ideal fit. Do you want a turbocharged pocket rocket, a value-packed sports sedan, or a premium badge with cutting-edge AWD tech?

As for the Maxima’s future, there are glimmers of hope that Nissan may eventually introduce an AWD model to satiate demand, especially given their recent moves with the new Z sports car. However, nothing is set in stone. The Maxima remains an appealing and affordable rear-wheel drive sports sedan option for now. Canadian driving enthusiasts craving AWD grip will need to look elsewhere, but they have a healthy variety of exciting choices to explore.

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Questions About Nissan Maxima AWD

Unfortunately, Nissan Maximas are not currently available with AWD in Canada. All Maximas sold in Canada only come with front-wheel drive. Nissan has not offered an AWD option on the Maxima in the Canadian market.

The Nissan Maxima is available in three trim levels in Canada: S, SV, and Platinum. The base S trim comes decently equipped with features like dual-zone climate control, an 8-way power driver’s seat, and NissanConnect infotainment. The SV adds extras like leather upholstery, a power moonroof, and more. Top Platinum models add luxury features like diamond-quilted leather seats, upgraded Bose audio, and 360-degree cameras. Packages like the Premium Package with navigation and heated rear seats can be added onto SV and Platinum models.

All Canadian-spec Nissan Maximas are powered by a 3.5L V6 engine producing 300 horsepower and 261 lb-ft of torque, paired to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). This engine provides strong acceleration and passing power.

The 2023 Nissan Maxima has fuel economy ratings of 11.7L/100km city and 7.9L/100km highway. These numbers are average for the large sedan class. Premium fuel is recommended to achieve the advertised horsepower and torque figures.

Canadian Maximas come well-equipped with tech and infotainment features. All models get an 8-inch touchscreen with NissanConnect featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Higher trims add extras like navigation, satellite radio, traffic sign recognition, NissanConnect Services, WiFi hotspot, and a premium 11-speaker Bose audio system.

The Maxima offers the latest in Nissan Intelligent Mobility safety tech. This includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and more. Upgraded systems like predictive forward collision warning, traffic sign recognition, and rear automatic braking are offered on higher trims.

In recent years, the Maxima has proven to be a fairly reliable large sedan according to various industry studies. Issues are infrequent, but common problems include faulty oxygen sensors, oil leaks, premature brake wear, and electrical glitches. Overall predicted reliability is about average for the segment.

The Maxima offers sportier handling and styling compared to the Avalon and Cadenza, along with strong V6 power. However, rivals tend to offer things like available AWD, more rear seat space, and lower pricing on base models. The Maxima differentiates itself as a more athletic, driver-focused large sedan.

Earlier CVT transmissions had some well-publicized issues, but current Maxima CVTs have proven reliable with proper fluid changes. There are no widespread mechanical issues reported. Some owners report a “rubber band” feeling under hard acceleration which is common among CVTs. Overall though, the modern Maxima CVT performs well under normal driving.



It’s very straightforward to connect devices with Bluetooth wireless technology and the two fast charging USB ports in Maximas. The interface makes it simple to pair phones to utilize hands-free calling, text messaging, and streaming audio. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility provides an easy way to mirror apps and navigate music libraries.

For a large sedan, rear accommodations are a bit tighter than expected in the Maxima, with only 35.8 inches of legroom. This can limit comfort for taller passengers. Headroom is also reduced due to the sloped roofline. While the Maxima advertises itself as a four-door sports sedan, rear passenger space is clearly not the priority.

Maximas offer 14.3 cubic feet of trunk space, which is about average for a mid-size sedan. The trunk features a wide opening and deep well for easily fitting luggage and gear. The 60/40 folding rear seatbacks extend space for hauling longer items when needed. Overall cargo room is sufficient for most needs but trails some rivals.

The 19-inch alloy wheels common on higher Maxima trims make installing winter tires more difficult and expensive. Due to the large wheels, winter tire options are limited and often need to be special ordered. Additionally, separate dedicated wheels are recommended to mount winter tires because of potential clearance issues. Overall, the upgrade to 19-inch wheels causes some winter tire installation headaches.

The Maxima is reasonably well-suited for dealing with freezing Canadian winters. All-season tires provide decent snow traction, while the powerful V6 delivers confident acceleration even on snowy roads. The available heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, and dual-zone automatic climate control all help keep things comfortable in extreme cold. Remote start also makes it simple to warm the Maxima up from a distance before driving.



Yes, Nissan Canada frequently offers customer cash rebates and special financing rates to help make the Maxima more affordable. Current national offers include 0% financing for up to 84 months plus $500 in bonus cash. Regional incentives can include additional discounts, so check with your local Nissan dealer to maximize potential savings off MSRP.

Definitely – with a refined 300hp V6 engine, performance-tuned suspension, and dynamic styling, the Maxima delivers a much sportier driving experience than the cushy, sedate Toyota Avalon. Light steering, nimble handling, and strong acceleration make the Maxima feel responsive and engaging in corners. The interior also has a cockpit-like feel. So drivers looking for fun will prefer the Maxima over the Avalon.

No major changes are expected for the 2024 Maxima. It will likely carry over with minimal updates. Rumors suggest the possibility of some minor styling tweaks, additional standard safety tech features, and potentially a new higher-end Platinum Reserve trim. But Nissan has been quiet about official 2024 Maxima plans so far. More details should emerge later in 2023.

Manual transmissions were last available on the Maxima in Canada for the 1995 model year. Since the 1996 redesign, all Canadian-spec Nissans have used automatic transmissions whether traditional automatics or CVTs. So it has been over 25 years now since stick shifts were offered on new Maximas sold in Canada.

Overall ownership costs are reasonable for the segment. Fuel costs are higher due to premium gasoline requirements. Insurance rates are also on the pricier side since this is considered a luxury sports sedan by some providers. Maintenance and repairs are affordable, with oil changes around $50-75 and typical visits at $150-300. Costs are generally cheaper than German rivals but higher than mainstream brands.

There is no definitive timeline for a hybrid or electric Maxima from Nissan yet. The company has focused EV efforts on models like the Leaf and upcoming Ariya crossover. However, the new Z sports car features advanced electrification technology hinting at future applications. Industry experts speculate an electrified Maxima could arrive around 2025. But Nissan has not confirmed official plans to add hybrid or electric power to this nameplate.

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