Nissan Maxima

The 2011 Nissan Maxima S and SV both come with a 290-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine and a continuously variable transmission with manual mode. Anti-lock brakes and electronic brake-force distribution are standard equipment, plus speed-sensitive power steering. The Maxima's sporty styling is evident in its dual mufflers with chrome-tipped finishers, LED taillights and power sliding moonroof. It's even got 18-inch alloy wheels, though 19-inchers are available with the Sport Package.

The Maxima isn't all about looks, though. All of its safety features are standard equipment, like traction control, tire pressure monitoring, an energy-absorbing steering column and the Nissan Advanced Air Bag System. Even with all these systems on board, the Maxima still manages a respectable 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

The interior has leather seats, shift knob and steering wheel. The 8-way power driver's seat has lumbar support, while the passenger has to make do with a 4-way power seat. The rear bucket seats fold down with a 60/40 split. Dual-zone climate control with air filter is standard, including rear-seat air conditioning controls. Everything in the Maxima is power, from the push-button start to the remote windows-down function.

The packaged options for the SV add quite a bit to the already-long list of features. The Monitor Package adds a 7-inch monitor with rear-view camera and a 2GB Music Box flash drive, and the Cold Package heats the mirrors, front seats and steering wheel.

The Sport package gives the Maxima SV a sportier feel with a tuned suspension and 19-inch wheels, smoked headlights, plus a rear spoiler, dark chrome grille and unique shiny gray interior stitching and metallic trim. The Premium Package plays to the more luxurious side of the Maxima, with a dual-panel moonroof, heated and cooled driver's seat and eucalyptus wood-tone interior trim. Both the Sport and Premium packages include the Monitor package, plus paddle shifters and HID xenon headlights.

Editors' Review

Today's family cars tend to be pretty sedate. Few of them break new ground when it comes to looks or performance, but Nissan wants you to think of its Maxima as something different, a large sedan with loads of soul. After testing a 2020 Platinum model, for the most part, I agree with this framing... mostly. 

Sporty looks inside and out

When the current-generation model launched five years ago, the automaker touted it as a "four-door sports car," a descriptor Nissan first used with the third-generation Maxima in 1989. Yes, this is a bit hyperbolic, but at least when parked next to a Toyota Avalon or Chrysler 300 the Maxima looks more interesting, with its aggressive grille, pumped-up fenders and quad exhaust outlets, things that imply it's a bit rowdier than average.   

The current-generation Maxima is no spring chicken, even after last year's refresh. Still, its interior, especially in Platinum trim with the Reserve package, has aged quite well. The overall design is attractive, with easy-to-use secondary controls and a relatively simple layout. The center stack is angled slightly toward the driver for a more cockpitlike feel.

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The Good ~ Decent infotainment tech ~ Smooth, potent V6 ~ Brisk acceleration

The Bad ~ Limited rear-seat headroom ~ Iffy leather quality ~ No ProPilot Assist

The Bottom Line The Maxima is like a small cup of espresso, enough to give you a jolt but it doesn't make your heart race.

Editors' Rating
  • Performance 7
  • Features 7.5
  • Design 8
  • Media 7

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