By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.6
Every car company needs a flagship car that represents the company's core values and true automotive heart and soul. For Nissan, that car is the 2012 Maxima Sport Sedan. While the GT-R may be the superstar of the Nissan lineup, it's not a car for the masses, nor is it very practical. The 2012 Maxima Sedan, on the other hand, has room for four adults, delivers Z-car-like performance and can be had for around $30,000. Going head-to-head with cars such as the Ford Taurus SHO, Chrysler 300 and the VW CC, the Maxima isn't alone in its quest for performance-oriented drivers. But, unlike the Taurus and 300, the Maxima retains a mid-size shell that feels more agile and easier to maneuver, more like a 4-door sports car than a large sedan with sporting intentions. We also think that in these tough economic times, those looking at much more expensive premium sport sedans might find the 2012 Nissan Maxima Sedan's combination of performance, luxury and price compelling.
If you're seeking a car that offers the style of a luxury sedan with the heart of a sporty coupe, the 2012 Nissan Maxima Sedan will tickle you pink. The Maxima's unique sheet metal stands out in a crowd, and its very reasonable mid-$30K price tag makes it as affordable as a loaded Honda Accord or Toyota Camry.
If you're of the opinion that a true sport sedan must offer a manual transmission, the 2012 Nissan Maxima Sedan won't be making your test-drive list. Those seeking a large back seat and spacious trunk might be happier in a Chrysler 300C or Ford Taurus SHO.
Nissan gives the 2012 Maxima Sport Sedan a mild makeover, with new front and rear fascias, new wheel designs and some interior trim and lighting enhancements. Also new for 2012 is the Limited Edition Package, which features such highlights as smoked front headlight lenses, 18-inch Dark Hyper Silver alloy wheels and dark metallic trim.
Driving Impressions Our test drive of the 2012 Nissan Maxima Sport Sedan took us on some very curvy mountain roads, as well as an extensive trip over long stretches of California highway....Our take on the Maxima is that it delivers on almost every promise, from the robust power of its snarling V6 engine, to the impressive cornering and firm but comfortable ride. If we felt let down in one area, it's the Maxima's CVT transmission. Although good, it just doesn't work for us in this car. Even with the paddle shifters, we yearned for the feel of a manual shifter like the one in the 370Z. The 3.5-liter V6 is a dream of an engine, providing instantaneous power for passing and merging, all while emitting a sweet, low growl. The Maxima Sedan handles curves like a champ, although not as adeptly as in the Volkswagen CC or BMW 3 Series. Overall, the Maxima does a great job in combining looks, power and practicality, but if it really wants to be dubbed "the 4-door sports car," Nissan might want to reconsider the car's transmission choices.
In the absence of a proper manual transmission, the available paddle shifters add to the Maxima's "4-door sports car" image and can be used at a moment's notice without needing to shift into a "sport" mode. This feature comes in handy when passing, descending a steep hill or just doing some spirited driving.
Better than a standard auxiliary input, and leaps and bounds beyond any form of standard radio, having complete control of an iPod through the car's audio system is much safer than driving with one hand while fumbling to control your iPod with the other.
Nissan says it wanted the Maxima Sedan's driver to feel as though he or she were sitting in a cockpit. We think they've achieved their intention, although we are pretty sure most pilots will tell you even the 787 Dreamliner's cockpit isn't as plush and inviting as the 2012 Maxima. From the premium leather sport seats to the thick-grip steering wheel with paddle shifters, the Maxima's interior screams "let's go driving!" Along the way, the Maxima's impressive array of electronics will aid in your journey. Rich-sounding music emanates from the Bose speakers, while Bluetooth connects you to the outside world. And for those times when you choose to lose the outside world, the Maxima's cool bird's-eye-view navigation will help you find your way back. For those along for the ride, there is adequate, but not great, head and legroom in the rear-seat area. Unfortunately, the 2012 Nissan Maxima's hollowed-out rear seatbacks don't offer the same firm lumbar support as the excellent front seats, and some of our taller testers found their head brushing against the Maxima's low headliner.Exterior
Defining the 2012 Maxima's styling as "liquid motion," Nissan engineers have found a way of incorporating coupelike elements into a mid-size sedan shell. You can definitely see traces of 370Z in the Maxima, especially in the headlight and taillight treatments. The liquid theme continues with a gentle wave connecting the aggressive hood with the bulging front fenders, and continuing rearward where the tapered roofline meets the elegantly sculpted rear end. A subtle spoiler and tasteful chrome accents on the door handles and door surround complete the design. The 2012 Maxima Sedan's short wheelbase and low, wide body contribute to its coupelike stance and are a significant reason for the Maxima's impressive handling. Among the Maxima Sport Sedan's more appealing options is a huge dual-panel moonroof. By allowing the front panel to slide over the fixed rear glass panel, the Maxima's moonroof can be opened without blocking the rear-seat occupants from the sun's rays.
The 2012 Nissan Maxima Sedan has a 3.5-liter V6 engine, Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), power windows, power door locks, power moonroof, automatic halogen headlights, 18-inch aluminum wheels, 8-way power driver's seat, 4-way power front passenger's seat and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Other standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless start and entry, AM/FM/6-CD/MP3 audio system with eight speakers, Bluetooth, dual front and side-curtain airbags, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Traction Control System (TCS).
Many options for the 2012 Nissan Maxima Sedan come standard with the higher SV trim, which includes leather-appointed seats, 9-speaker Bose audio system, HomeLink Universal Transceiver, foglights and manual thigh support on the driver's seat. Other options can be found bundled in packages, including a dual-panel moonroof, a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, premium leather seating, paddle shifters, heated steering wheel and seats, Nissan Hard Drive Navigation with voice recognition, iPod interface system, RearView monitor, metallic trim, and a power rear-window sunshade.
Nissan's latest iteration of its already-brilliant 3.5-liter V6 engine turns out an impressive 290 horsepower and 261 lb-ft of torque. Improvements included maximizing the air intake and exhaust flow to not only gain power and enhance performance, but also to create a sporty engine sound to evoke what Nissan calls an "exhilaration feeling."
290 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
261 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26
By oldguy on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "good MPG, decent ride"
Cons: "Worst transmission I've ever owned"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I have owned 8 new Nissan vehicles including this one all with manual transmissions except the 2010 Maxima. The transmission provides no engine braking when going down hill and over-revs the engine when accelerating. reminds me of an old Buick Dynaflow the way it tries to manage torque and power. On top or the other faults the transmission requires service ever 30000 miles or the warranty is void (read this as the 300$ added operating cost.) The traction control is so aggressive that the car will get stuck since you can not get the tires to even spin enough to dig itself out."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By Robert on Monday, August 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 87,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Value of car, and performance ."
Cons: "Front wheel drive , takes a little away ."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"2nd maxima I have owned, last one had 180,000 miles and kept driving like New !! Interior , exterior , comfort , and ride are Great !! Hate to mention this but only thing I would change on this Maxima is to make it a Rear Wheel a Drive!! Engine has great punch and would be better managed by rear wheel drive. Other than that , car is amazing !"
By Jerry Oz on Saturday, August 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"You get a lot of car for the money. There really isn't anything about the Maxima that I don't like. It's a great everyday driver."
8 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Kingdaddy on Saturday, July 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 73,800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Quite possibly the best car I have ever owned. Fun to drive, powerful, nice looking. The interior is very classy. Exterior has great lines.."
5 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By CJ on Sunday, July 06, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great looking, classy, fun to drive"
Cons: "no day running lights, placement of mirror control"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This is a terrific car in appearance and performance. Great to drive. The amenities are super. My only complaint is low city mileage, no day running lights and the placement of the side mirror controls. Otherwise it's wonderful."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By baj on Thursday, July 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "no value for the money"
Cons: "'extremely no value for the money"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This car is one of the best vehicles that I've ever driven!! It handles very well! It is one of the most exciting vehicles that I've ever driven and owned. The sad news is that it doesn't hold it's value at all!!!!! Don't buy one11111"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful