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Nissan Maxima

An upscale sedan that is quick but not sporty.

Nissan advertises its Maxima as a sport sedan, a description embodied by aggressive “Liquid Motion” styling, a wide track, and large wheels with low-profile tires. Despite a gutsy V-6 engine with 290 hp, the Maxima’s front-wheel-drive layout and continuously variable transmission preclude us from deeming it a true sport sedan. The Maxima handles well, but it is ultimately too large and too heavy for back-road thrills. Whereas early Maximas were genuinely exciting and even offered manual transmissions, today’s Maxima is an upscale sedan that offers a mix of luxury and comfort for a reasonable price. In that respect, the Maxima succeeds admirably. The ride is well damped and comfortable. The large exterior surrounds a cabin with adequate — but not generous — space for six-foot passengers in the back seat. The interior has a nicely trimmed dashboard, an attractive control layout, and generous seats finished in supple leather (base models have cloth seats). The wide-ranging list of features includes navigation with real-time traffic information, an audio system with a 9.3-gigabyte hard drive, heated and cooled seats, a backup camera, and a dual-pane sunroof. The Maxima is a good choice in the near-luxury sedan segment, as long as you keep in mind that it’s not as sporting as advertised.

COMPETITORS

Acura TL

Chrysler 300

Ford Taurus

Volvo S60

new for 2013

After a mild face-lift for 2012, the Maxima receives only minor changes this year. A new SV Value Package bundles a Bose sound system, heated front seats, heated mirrors, and a heated steering wheel. The new Bose Audio Package features a nine-speaker Bose audio system with satellite radio. The Sport Package adds a backup camera, a cooled driver’s seat, and “dark hyper silver” nineteen-inch wheels.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Front, side, and side curtain air bags are standard, as are stability and traction control, ABS with brake assist, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. A backup camera is optional.

MPG

CITY 19

HWY 26

PRO

Powerful V-6 engine

Comfortable ride

Upscale interior

CON

Somewhat tight back seat

Not very sporty

No manual transmission

Base Price Range: $33,560–$35,860

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: Front-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: S, SV

BODY STYLE: Sedan, 5-passenger

ENGINE: 3.5L V-6, 290 hp, 261 lb-ft

TRANSMISSION: Continuously variable

PASSENGER VOLUME: 95.8 cu ft

CARGO SPACE: 14.2 cu ft

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