Buying Guide

2012 Nissan Maxima

Fair Market Price $14,005 3.5 S Sedan


19 City / 26 Hwy

Safety (NHTSA):


Horse Power:

290 @ 6400

Nissan touts the Maxima as a sport sedan, which explains the aggressive “Liquid Motion” styling, wide track, and large wheels with low-profile tires. A gutsy V-6 engine with 290 hp makes the Maxima reasonably quick, but its front-wheel-drive layout and lethargic CVT preclude us from deeming it a true sport sedan. The Maxima handles well for a full-size sedan, 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 continues the exterior’s near-luxury theme with a nicely trimmed dashboard, 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. Fuel economy is about average compared with that of similarly sized V-6 sedans. 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.

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

The 2012 Maxima receives a mild face-lift with a new front grille, new taillights, new aluminum wheels, white instrument-cluster illumination, a redesigned audio system display, and new audio and climate control knobs. The new limited edition package bundles dark-tinted xenon headlights, a rearview mirror compass, eighteen-inch dark hyper silver wheels, a rear spoiler, dark chrome trim, and metallic interior trim.

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

All: 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway

  • Powerful V-6 engine
  • Comfortable ride
  • Upscale interior
  • Somewhat tight back seat
  • Not very sporty
  • No manual transmission

An upscale sedan that is quick but not sporty.

  • Acura TL
  • Chrysler 300
  • Ford Taurus
  • Volvo S60

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