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What Did They Change Anyway? Nissan Maxima vs. Nissan Sport Sedan Concept

It’s common knowledge that automakers change everything when they send a concept car to the production line. So when Nissan sent its Sports Sedan Concept into production as the 2016 Maxima, what did they have to change? How about let’s find out.


If you’ve already forgotten about the Nissan Sports Sedan Concept, don’t sweat it. After all, it is a concept car. And that means it spent a total of maybe five minutes in the consciousness of the general public after the 2014 Detroit Auto Show wrapped up and trite, swag-nabbing car bloggers were finished snarking about it.

If you’re having trouble remembering that Nissan has a new Maxima hitting showrooms this summer, don’t worry about that either. Nissan made the mistake of first revealing the Maxima with a grating minute-and-a-half dose of Harry Chapin during the Superbowl in February. And there are few things more hateful than “Cats in the Motherfucking Cradle” being blasted in high-def Dolby surround sound. It’s likely you were too busy trying to scoop your eardrums out with a silver spoon and an ice pick to notice when the Maxima had its five seconds of airtime on the small screen.


Anyway, now that we’re all brought up to speed, let’s play around with some image sliders. The 2016 Nissan Maxima is on the left. The 2014 Nissan Sport Sedan Concept is on the right. We have the two main exterior views we need, as well as an interior shot.

Front three-quarter view:


Rear three-quarter view:




Now, let’s take a deeper dive and start taking inventory of what changed and what didn’t. Also, warning: I’m likely going to use some concept car PR jargon during all of this. That means using words like “sleek” and “dynamic.” Maybe even “expressive.”


... Yeah. There’s a touch of sick in my mouth right now, too.

What Changed?

  • The entire front fascia. While the front of the 2016 Maxima looks like it’s been copied from the Sport Sedan Concept, nothing is actually the same between the two. Not even that ridiculous septum piercing that Nissan calls a grille. Everything on the front of the Maxima is more squished versus the Sport Sedan Concept.
  • Headlights. Think these are the same? Nope. The Sport Sedan Concept’s headlights are more dynamic than the 2016 Maxima’s, with the boomerang lighting elements appearing more upswept and prominent.
  • Door glass. The concept has frameless door glass for a sleeker, cleaner appearance. The Maxima has framed door glass because we live in the real world where words like “sleek” and “clean” take a back seat to words like “safety” and “inexpensive manufacturing.”
  • Door mirrors. These always change because a concept car’s door mirrors are only fit for use by mice. I’m surprised concept cars even bother with door mirrors in the first place.
  • Door handles. The Sport Sedan Concept has electronic door handles that pop out of the bodywork, I’m sure. The 2016 Maxima has parts bin handles probably borrowed from the 2015 Murano crossover.
  • Lower side sculpting. This one falls in a sort of grey area. While it is largely the same between the two cars, it’s also pretty different. On the Sport Sedan Concept, the lower side sculpting is deeper and more pronounced. On the Maxima, it’s shallower.
  • Rocker panels. The Sport Sedan Concept has grey trim that flanks the lower half of the car underneath the doors to highlight the body sculpting and take some of the chunk of the the design. This didn’t carry over to the 2016 Maxima, but it really isn’t any worse for not having it.
  • Decklid and rear fascia. On the Sport Sedan Concept, the decklid has a sculpted spot in its center that frames and highlights the Nissan logo. It’s a rather clever touch. On the Maxima? Gone and replaced with cost-effective flatness. Also, the rear bumpers are different because concept cars and all that.
  • Taillights. The Sport Sedan Concept has highly sculpted taillights that are about as production friendly as a cobra-filled woven basket coated in lead paint. The Maxima has taillights that recall the concept car’s minus the sculpting.
  • Wheels and tires. This is a rather confusing change because the Sport Sedan Concept’s wheels look production feasible. Regardless, the 2016 Maxima gets a different design which look, well, pretty average by today’s standards.
  • About 99.9 percent of the interior. The Sport Sedan Concept is full of translucent plastic and futuristic displays. The 2016 Maxima has none of that.

What Didn’t?

  • That damned floating roof. This is a new signature Nissan design cue. The first Nissan to feature it was the nifty 2013 IDx Concept. We’re not getting the IDx, though, and I’m told that really sucks. I guess Nissan thinks putting the IDx’s roof on all of its production cars, including the Murano, is an appropriate concession. Sadly, it isn’t. And FYI, the roof doesn’t actually float. It just looks like its held up by magic thanks to some cheap-ass black plastic.
  • The upper body character lines. No changes here. It still looks like a Nissan GT-R puked all over a Mazda 6.
  • About 0.01 percent of the interior. Holy Spirit of Saab! I see one thing that didn’t change inside! The starter button is located in the center console! I mean, it’s been moved wayyyy over to the left but WOW! Much concept car. Very advanced. So future.

So, just about everything changed except for a handful of major styling cues. Which is par the course for just about every concept car that’s been approved for road-going duty. Which is what I totally expected. How about you?

Hi! I’m Blake Noble and I think writing about myself in the third person is awkward. So instead, I’ll just depreciate myself in the first person. I am a writer studying journalism, and I once spent half a year blogging confused nonsense. I also wrote an article once that pissed off the entire Chrysler 2.2 fanclub. I drive a Dodge Dart because I was told its really an Alfa Romeo. You can follow me on Twitter here.


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