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2012 Nissan Maxima

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2012 Nissan Maxima Review

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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.

You'll Like This Car If...

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.

You May Not Like This Car If...

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.

What's New for 2012

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 the Maxima
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.

Paddle Shift
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.

iPod Interface
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.

2012 Nissan Maxima Details
2012 Nissan Maxima photo Interior

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
2012 Nissan Maxima photo

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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

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).

Optional Equipment

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.

Under the Hood

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."

3.5-liter V6
290 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
261 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26

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2012 Nissan Maxima Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.7
Out of 10

Based on 296 Ratings for the 2009 - 2014 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.6/10
    Quality
    8.9/10
  • Reliability
    9.2/10
    Performance
    9.1/10
  • Comfort
    9.1/10
    Styling
    9.2/10

3 Maxima owner and couldnt be happier.

By on Saturday, April 16, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,590

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Performance, Style and Comfort"

Cons: "Price was high but I got over it after driving it."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I have owned 1994, 1997 and 2013 Maxima's. All 3 have been fun to drive, reliable & great looking! I have driven over 300000 miles in my Maxima's and have no complaints at all. I drive 100 miles a day to work and I enjoy every mile I drive."

2014 Maxima SV

By on Tuesday, April 05, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Great performance milage is great ride great"

Cons: "A little better luxury inside metttalic paint etc"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

January 2015

"I had this car for 14 months great power great features average gas is easy 26mpg I had as high as 32Mpg on interstate keeping it around 65 -68 Mph When i use 91 octane in spring or summer i usually get 28 Mpg Very Good Handling I do wish they would not have some cheap plastic inside could use some better luxury items but features are very good SX radio sound system looks plenty of power I'm glad i got this Maxima Good car Period Had a 96 Maxima 20 years ago had over 100 Thousand miles great service & still sold it for 6500$ 8 years later !"

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

January 2015

most fun and best vehicle ever

By on Friday, April 01, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,300

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "fun mobility, love the sunroof during spring"

Cons: "no navigational system but i got over it quick"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Since the day I purchased this vehicle it has been nothing but a thrill driven this car. The acceleration, maneuverability , the sound of the engine and the speakers, heated seats and steering wheel, air conditioner, and my favorite accessory the Maxima came with, the sunroof. It all has been a great experience. I never thought that these accessory actually made a difference in my life until owning this car. The only thing i didn't like about the car at first was the push start because it was my first time owning a car with new feature and I got use to it quick."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Doesn't hold value

By on Thursday, December 31, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000

10 2.0
overall rating 2 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
2/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
4/10
Performance
3/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "Comfortable to drive. Good gas milage"

Cons: "Doesn't hold value. Feels "heavy" to drive."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"Feels "heavy" to drive. Slow it accelerate. Comfortable to drive. Difficult to see out back if you are short. Doesn't hold value. Vehicle worth half of what I paid for it and its a 2014 with low miles."

6 people out of 17 found this review helpful

If preformance is your goal, this car impress's.

By on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6

"Overall, I like this car alot, but I have to admit for a luxuary sedan, It does skimp a bit in some respects. Cons - Heat and air are not as strong as they should be for a new car, but are workable. Defrost takes awhile... Does not handle well in the rain, much less the snow, despite the front wheel drive. Traction control does not help this issue. Seats could be more comfortable for longer commutes. Headlights are not very bright on low/ normal driving beams. Pros', this car is blazingly fast and preforms like no other sedan under 20,000 $. Handling on corners and curves is quite good.Stops on a dime. Gas millage isnt bad If you keep your foot out of It most of the time. A sedan/preformance car, yes. But you will need a four wheel drive in the winter months."

10 people out of 13 found this review helpful

We love our Max and have owned two of them.

By on Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "everything is first class on this car."

Cons: "I have none."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This type of car is a higher value one but worth the value and it keep it value. Gas mileage is between 19 and close to 30. There is nothing wrong with this vehicle."

13 people out of 18 found this review helpful

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