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 Mack on Wednesday, April 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 258overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Dual sunroof, better fit and finish, ride, quiet,"
Cons: "better gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"this car might be out of style now but love the ride gives me anytime. It's comfortable in plenty of seat support it drives smooth having a quiet 290 engine in its class. I got the SV Premium got a perfect deal in financing and special rebate on my Maxima drove off the dealers lot in my shining new car. Maxima is fully loaded in a navigation system, the blue tooth hands free works absolutely best on crystal clear voice recognition and USB ports are great with audio system that is best with a custom-tuned Bose stereo. This vehicle handles well better than a 2005 Maxima SE I owned since brand new even love the options more a luxury car instead a plain bland interior my older had since no issues out the 2005 traded on a more upgraded model it was well taken care of with all fluids and scheduled oil changes on time by dealership now love my newer model even more because its a smoother cruiser on highways like the sport mode/paddle shifters very fun driving on a trip from Boston to Brooklyn NY this car was great on a quiet ride with all the options even navigation helped on roads and destination on the distance. LUV MY MAXIMA hope will last longer than my 2005 model traded on new model because it was reliable for 9 years getting money worth from it."
By New to Nissan on Thursday, March 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,155overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "cheaper, cooled and heated seats, controls,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I drove a Acura product for 18 years now they all have been greatest cars ever but decided it was time to narrow it down on another brand. Looked at luxury vehicles from Toyota Avalon, Lexus ES350 and Nissan Maxima. Chose the Nissan because was best in priced and cheaper in luxury with everything being great on a special rebate. The Maxima handles smooth its quiet for a midsize premium sedan. Overall what I like about this car is all the options that were best on a perfect price I paid on the Maxima has Bose stereo, blue tooth, navigation system, paddle shifters, cooled and heated dual power seats, 18'' wheels on Premium model includes rear spoiler and HID High Intensity xenon headlights all these features currently available wasn't bad on window sticker. Its very comfortable on excellent support in seats and performance is great in giving responsive ride to car. When giving more power to a 290 horsepower has the acceleration just effortless on a smooth throttle response have out my car. I never owned Nissan products before but now after driving Acura's for many years I'm pretty much pleased with this flagship sedan on everything without being pricey bought cars from $30,000-$40,000 they bit higher than Maxima but love the car on a great ride. I've checked on rebates and financing before bought this car after seeing was much cheaper decided try this vehicle on what kind of deal get from it but its the best vehicle yet."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By maxima owners on Wednesday, March 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,547overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Ride, comfortable, features, dual moon roof"
Cons: "CVT, no blind spot, better gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We have been a long time Maxima owner our first one was a 1996 it lasted at 250,452 miles that vehicle had been well taken cared of with religiously maintained and oil changes only things went wrong were just minor. Bought an more upgraded model, it rides like a luxury car very great handling, fast quiet engine under a 290hp best performance get out of it is perfectly terrific. Features are outstanding includes navigation system, Bose stereo, USB port, cooled and heated seats, dual moon roof, steering controls, Bluetooth, high intensity HID discharge headlights, rearview camera, push button engine with intelligent key and more. It is comfortable on a adequate ride gives us when took a trip from North Carolina to Pennsylvania the Maxima had a great ride liked never before it was so powerful commuting on interstates, freeways and toll booths also got paddle shifters using the car in sport mode for more shifting feeling this automobile held the highways very tight. CVT is the first vehicle, ever driven car is smooth with a great ride but under acceleration can feel some jerky guess just a thing with continuously variable transmissions otherwise our Maxima is overall the best car ever purchased. Before making a new car purchased we looked at other upscale sedans as BMW, Cadillac, Lexus, Ford, Mercedes and Maxima was our last on the list. When test drove it was fabulous on roads and interior materials were absolutely the perfect luxury automobile for us others was nice just didn't have that upscale performance like Maxima with SV premium its only 2 months old been literally driving a lot in this car only biggest concern gas mileage is not so great getting at least 20 mpg which requires couple fill ups from time to time in other model mpg was 28 but still love our newer model a steal! We are happy having another one in our driveway hope can last at 200K miles or more we're going to take care of this 2014 even more religiously keeping up the maintenance and oil changes on time as remanufactured guide recommends. It's quiet, seats are well best with headrest being best no issues on anything except gas mileage should be better."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Jackie on Wednesday, March 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 67,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Value price, have lot of great gadget for the $$$$"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I love my Nissan Maxima 2011 with Navigation Packages, but the inside quality is to many plastic instead of leather. When you pay over $40K, you expect to get very nice from inside and out quality. But still, I love it. I trade in a 2010 Audi A4 2.0T to get a Maxima."
By Nissan man24 on Monday, March 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 365overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Cooled and heated seats, navigation, controls,"
Cons: "tight rear headroom"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love driving my maxmobile as a everyday vehicle its super fast and unique with lots of features. Car was bought having 3.5sv premium package with got bit more luxury to car. Love how it drives so well all the features and options were the best ever at a great price for Maxima. Bose stereo is best beats other factory stereos out of other cars includes USB port and 6 dash changer with iPod interface and Sirius satellite while get tired of my radio collection either switch to XM or hook my iPod through the device. Bluetooth and Navigation systems are very optional on how get crystal clear voice commands programming my iPhone its great as can listen to playlist of music using the USB port for it. The Maxima is an excellent performance automobile, faster and quieter the interior is firmed in great seating support even available with cooled and heated seats for summer or winter any choice can be more comfortable having a nice quieter ride driving anywhere. I love the intelligent key, xenon headlights, dual moon roof, wood trim dash around the controls and near console center. It rides more like a Cadillac with most responsive handling doesn't feel clumsy or goes off to right has perfect light steering feel every time I drive car its the best ever. Its a really beautiful luxury vehicle besides with cars as Chevy Impala, Dodge Charger, Volkswagen CC, Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Azera, Chrysler 300 and Kia Cadenza. Overall it gives sport or luxury feel to it getting either sport or premium packages anywhere would have a great ride I believe just pay little extra for the SV premium because has more top of the line features as sport package would give a sporty ride something like a Infiniti or BMW but I recommend buying the Maxima with both packages these cars are affordable and much better in reliability from other previous models that suffered trouble spots. The styling looks top of the line with LED lights, bulged up front fenders, refreshed grill, headlights, taillight lenses, 18 or 19'' wheels to sport or premium packages. Got 18'' wheels which make car have an much supple ride gives me on the highways even paddle shifters are neat too."
By Ken on Sunday, March 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Cons: "All the above"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"2012 Maxima SV, Premium (Mine), 2011 Nissan Versa (fiancé's).Worst new car purchases ever made. Nashville dealers are a joke. We have both dealt with all 3 on the north side of town, and left just equally aggravated as the other. We have had nothing but issues, both with car and the dealerships. The overall quality of the cars have plummeted. I have 37,000 miles on mine, fiancée has 32,000 on hers. Squeeks and rattles are common in and around the windshields, door pillars, and door panels. Definitely not OCD friendly. The climate control has quit working. The drivers seat has play in the drive mechanism, every time I brake or accelerate the seat goes moves on its track about an 1/8" and goes thunk. Impressive when you have execs with you on a business lunch. The impeccably maintained Maxima mileage has dropped to a best of 24.3, and that's on premium fuel. The dealerships act like your a criminal when you bring them back for service, questioning your intellect with every issue. Problem is, I owned a service center for quite a number of years, Have been deeply entrenched in Motorsports all my life, and have been a mechanical engineer for a tier one supplier for many years. I guess I kinda know what I'm talking about. Lesson learned and I will never grace the presence of a new Nissan again. Hey Nissan.....remember the reputation of the Datsun years?"