KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
Flagship of its current sedan fleet, the mid-size Maxima is Nissan's answer to established European sport/luxury competitors, as well as an alternative to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. This roomy, front-drive four-door mixes expressive style with impressive performance and loads of features. The enthusiast-oriented SE and more opulently appointed SL variants both use the same potent V6 engine backed by the Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Minor functional upgrades add even greater charm for 2008 and keep the Maxima solidly on the list of candidates for any buyer who needs a single vehicle with a genuinely multifaceted personality.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a front-wheel drive sedan with genuine sporting character, unique style and loads of outstanding features, the Maxima could well feel right at home in your garage.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Traditionalists may find the Maxima's exterior styling a bit too avant garde for their tastes. Those who favor a more compliant ride -- or a hybrid alternative -- might prefer a Toyota Camry, while enthusiasts might be happier with a rear-wheel-drive offering, such as the pricier BMW 3 Series or Cadillac CTS.
What's New for 2008
Sole changes of note for 2008 are the elimination of the four-seat Elite Package and the addition of a new Platinum Edition Package. Offered on both trim levels, it includes bi-xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps, multi-function memory features, Bluetooth wireless connectivity and numerous other comfort and convenience items.
There's a definite sporting flavor to the well-sorted suspension of both the SL and SE. While neither feels harsh, the larger wheel and tire fitment on the latter does sacrifice a bit of ride compliance for slightly quicker steering response and improved overall grip. Standard traction control helps curtail wheelspin, although the engine has more than enough power and torque to make the optional Vehicle Dynamics Control stability system worth serious consideration, particularly if you live in an area where rain or snow are common. Stopping power of the anti-lock brakes is impressive and consistent, regardless of surface or weather conditions.
Standard SkyView Roof
This unique fixed-glass insert that runs longitudinally down the center of the Maxima's roof allows natural light to fill the cabin and includes manually-adjustable shades to prevent excess glare.
Premium Edition Package
Pairing two of the Maxima's prime option groups at a significant pricing discount, this stellar upgrade adds HID headlamps, Bluetooth, rear sonar warning system, enhanced power seat and mirror functions, a power tilt and telescoping steering column, heated steering wheel and more.
The Maxima's roomy cabin reflects the contemporary flair of its exterior, with a well-integrated mix of angles and contours. Passenger space is generous up front, even with the optional power moonroof, and the rear is adult-friendly, if a bit close on headroom. The SL matches leather and faux-wood accents and the SE features a cloth and brushed-aluminum motif. Common touches include legible main instruments, logically arrayed supplemental controls and, for the radio, dual-zone automatic air conditioner controls and trip computer functions, yellow LCD display readouts that, unfortunately, can fade to illegibility in bright sunlight. Firm but supportive front buckets are paired with a 60/40 split-folding rear bench that enables increasing the usable cargo capacity.
A far cry from the boxy designs of its predecessors, the sixth-generation Maxima was restyled for 2007 using Infiniti-inspired cues that have now become part of the body language of its Altima and Sentra kin, as well. Crisply-tailored lines punctuated by an expressive C-pillar and short decklid are complemented by a standard SkyView glass-panel roof insert. On the SL, the Maxima's pronounced fender bulges house 225/55 H-rated tires on 17-inch aluminum wheels, while the SE is fitted with 255/45 V-rated performance tires on 18-inch alloy rims and a tasteful decklid spoiler.
Notable Standard Equipment
Mechanically, the SL and SE share the same 255-horsepower V6 engine, Continuously Variable Transmission, traction control and anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), plus front, front-side and side-curtain airbags. Both include numerous power assists as well as keyless entry and start, steering-wheel mounted audio and cruise control switchgear, dual 12-volt powerpoints and Homelink. From there, the SL standard equipment is skewed more toward luxury, with an upgraded Bose premium audio system with six-disc changer, leather upholstery and heated front seats, while the SE offers more enthusiastic handling with bigger 18-inch wheels and wider, lower-profile performance tires.
Notable Optional Equipment
A major addition to the extras list for 2008 is the Platinum Edition Package, with bi-xenon HID headlights, rear sonar backup warning, power tilt and telescoping steering column, supplemental driver-side seat-memory functions, folding mirrors, Bluetooth wireless connectivity and heated steering wheel. Other stand-alone options include Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), power moonroof and a Navigation system. The Bose premium audio package and leather upholstery that is standard on the SL are optionally available on the SE, while larger, 18-inch wheels are available for the SL.
Under the Hood
Winner of numerous awards, the Maxima's potent 24-valve 3.5-liter V6 is used throughout both the Nissan and Infiniti lineups. In the Maxima it makes 255 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque and drives the front wheels through Nissan's Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission. This stepless CVT also incorporates a sport-shift mode with six "virtual" ratios for those who want the added control of manual-style gear changing. Either Maxima model will sprint from zero to 60 miles per hour in about 6.5 seconds and has EPA fuel economy numbers of 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
255 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
252 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on a Maxima SE starts at just under $29,000, while an SL is just over $31,000. Even a loaded SL Platinum Edition Package with navigation should come in below the $35,000 mark. Those numbers are somewhat higher than a comparably equipped (and new-for-2008) V6-powered Chevrolet Malibu or Honda Accord -- and also exceed the MSRP of the Toyota Camry. Although the residual value of a Maxima is projected to be slightly above average, it still falls significantly below both the Honda and Toyota.