KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
The Maxima was the first Japanese import to encroach on the European sport sedan market. Viewed by many as a sporty alternative to the family-oriented Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, the Maxima set new standards in performance, luxury and reliability. Ironically, as the competition has reached parity with these standards, Nissan has repositioned the Maxima, with a greater emphasis on luxury and comfort. Gone is the wonderfully smooth manual transmission, replaced by a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with manual shift modehardly the transmission of choice for the enthusiast crowd. Still, for the consumer who needs a car to be the family sedan, a client hauler and a weekend escape pod, the Maxima is, as it has always been, an excellent choice.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a high-performance front-wheel-drive sedan offering a number of unique styling and comfort features, you'll love the Maxima.
You May Not Like This Car If...
The Maxima's unique exterior shape is a litmus test. Some love it; some don't care for it. Others (perhaps those who view themselves as more enthusiastic drivers) might prefer the steering feel of a car with rear-wheel drive.
What's Significant About This Car?
The Maxima receives a major makeover, with a new front and rear fascia, new interior and a new Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) as standard equipment on all trim levels.
No matter which trim you choose you'll find the same 3.5-liter V6 engine under the hood. This wonderful engine is absolutely power-happy, without a flat spot or weak point anywhere in the rpm band, and it runs and performs like a big gas-thirsty V8 while returning a respectable EPA highway fuel rating of 28 miles per gallon.
By utilizing both mechanical innovation and electronic science Nissan engineers have done a good job of giving the high-performing Maxima a level of steering feel that hides almost all traits that it is driven by its front wheels. The somewhat firm suspension and big tires provide great handling, but those who prefer pillowy comfort might like a softer ride.
The Maxima's unique glass roof allows natural light to fill the cabin.
The Elite Package's rear bucket seats offer a level of exclusivity not found on any competitor.
The instrument panel mimics the three-pod motif found in the Z-Car and Altima, a nice tie-in to the Nissan family line. The dash and door panels are very well arranged, with proper backlighting for all buttons and switchgear. Safety features include seat-belt pretensioners, built-in crumple zones, front side-impact airbags and full-length side-curtain airbags.
The sleek Maxima is a far cry from the boxy designs that defined previous generations of the well-known nameplate. A rounded greenhouse, sleek nose and big 18-inch alloy wheels practically place it on a par with the Infiniti line. Innovative features, such as the fixed glass panel running down the center of the roof, show Nissan's willingness to push the design envelope.
Notable Standard Equipment
The Maxima SE comes with a 255-horsepower V6, CVT automatic transmission with manual shift mode, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), Vehicle Dynamic Control stability system, traction control, fog lights, remote keyless entry, garage door opener, AM/FM stereo with CD, front side-impact airbags, front and rear head-curtain airbags, SkyView fixed glass-panel roof, eight-way power driver's seat, cruise control, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, trip computer and alloy wheels.
Notable Optional Equipment
Options include heated leather seats, Bose audio, quad bucket seats, power rear sunshade, DVD navigation, heated rear seat, power moonroof, heated steering wheel, xenon headlamps, Bluetooth hands-free phone and XM or SIRIUS Satellite Radio.
Under the Hood
Nissan's 24-valve, 3.5-liter V6 is without question one of the best V6 engines ever produced. With such sturdy and rarely-found features as an honest-to-goodness timing chain (as opposed to a rubber belt, which will eventually require replacement) and platinum-tipped spark plugs, the Maxima's powerplant is built to go the distance. Smooth as silk at idle and at high speeds, the 3.5-liter engine delivers abundant power throughout the rpm range yet sips fuel like a frugal four-cylinder.
255 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
252 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28
The Maxima SE has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $28,665, while the upscale SL is $30,915. A look at the Fair Purchase Price shows the typical transaction price being paid in your area, so be sure to equip yourself with this number before you start negotiations. The Maxima is projected to retain a slightly better-than-average residual value over a five-year period. Similar vehicles, such as the Volkswagen Passat and Acura TL, hold their values better than the Maxima, while the Chrysler 300 and Buick Lucerne lag behind in resale.