The 2007 Nissan Maxima is a spacious, powerful sedan with an advanced drive train and lots of optional cabin tech including Bluetooth hands-free calling and GPS navigation. Despite its new continuously-variable transmission, however, Nissan's flagship is less efficient than it should be.
Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
At first sight, the cabin of the 2007 Maxima SE is a mundane place. Aside from the optional leather seats, cabin materials are bland and uninspiring, comprising a sea of black plastic set off by the occasional glimmer of silvery plastic trim, which does a poor job of imitating brushed aluminum.
Nissan's navigation system differentiates itself from the pack with its map configurations and POI database. Not only is the POI database stocked with extensive listings, it uses specifically designed landmark icons to illustrate prominent buildings and landmarks in major cities.
Nissan's optional Premium Audio System replaces the standard 8-speaker AM/FM/CD system with a Bose 8-speaker audio system complete with a 6-disc in-dash CD changer and the ability to play advanced digital audio. Navigating homemade discs is relatively straightforward, with large hard buttons allowing drivers to skip forward and back between folders and tracks.
Hands-free calling on the Nissan Maxima is about as good as a voice-only system can be. Once a phone is paired, the driver controls all functions of the system using either voice commands or one of two buttons on the left hand side of the steering wheel. When dialing numbers, the voice-recognition system worked flawlessly, understanding every number without a problem.
Nissan's all-purpose VQ35 engine is the motivation behind many of the carmaker's most popular models, including the Quest, the Maxima, and the 350Z. In the 2007 Maxima, it makes 255 horsepower, which is enough to give the car brisk pick-up from standing.
Technology upgrades on the Maxima for the 2007 model year include a new continuously variable transmission (CVT), an as-standard Intelligent Key, an auxiliary input jack, and an MP3-playing CD autochanger.
Optional active safety equipment on the Maxima SE includes a rear sonar system that provides audible distance guidance for reverse parking, and Nissan's vehicle dynamic control (VDC) system, which controls engine input and brake pressure to ensure that the car sticks to the direction in which it is steered. Both can be turned off with pushbutton switches to the left of the steering wheel.
The Maxima's navigation system relies on a fiddly pushable joystick control that has a propensity to tip over when you try to depress it to make a selection. This is a real pain when trying to enter destinations on the fly, and results in lots of time with the back button (which also has to be selected using the joystick) to erase mistakes.
We like the well-rendered split screen maps, especially the high-resolution diagrams that the system displays at freeway junctions--and the way that the system shepherds us through complex junctions, telling us to "Keep Right" or "Keep Left", and giving us advanced notice of upcoming turns. Also to our liking is the nav system's ability to call out individual road names when giving turn-by-turn directions.