Contrary to Nissan's "4DSC" marketing campaign, the Maxima is no four-door sports car in my eyes. It's definitely a sporty four-door, but it feels too heavy to be a true sports car. The 290-hp V-6 does make the front-wheel-drive Maxima quite peppy, but a consequence of this is that there's a fair amount of torque steer under hard acceleration. It doesn't help that a CVT (the only available transmission in this car) is the least sporty type of transmission out there. The CVT does its job pretty well, although the engine takes a while to wind out in "first gear" when you're shifting manually through the six simulated ratios of the CVT (selectable via the console shifter or the column-mounted paddles).
I was prepared to say that this, Nissan's sportiest version of its so-called Four-Door Sports Car Maxima, was pretty appealing. But then I saw the price: $38,660. Um, no thanks. For that dough, I can get into a BMW 1-series or even an Acura TSX, and at least I'll have a premium brand and presumably a higher-end dealership experience.
The Nissan Maxima hasn't changed with the times. Fifteen years go, the Maxima lived atop a heap of sporty, front-wheel-drive big sedans. Since then, many competitors have either gone rear-wheel-drive (Chrysler 300) or bitten the dust (Pontiac Bonneville, Grand Prix). Even if you've decided you want front-wheel-drive and all the torque-steering compromise it brings, there are better-executed options, including the Acura Joe DeMatio mentioned and even the Buick LaCrosse CXS. But Maxima's real problem, I suspect, is Infiniti. With the G and M sedans getting all the love from Nissan engineers, product planners probably think there's not much room for a third sports sedan. They may be right, but I can't help but wish for modernized, reinvigorated Maxima that could better battle the 300 and Hyundai Genesis.
- David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
Rather than the four-door sports car Nissan claims it is, the Maxima feels like a mainstream family sedan made to do battle with the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, and Chevy Malibu. Sure the suspension is a bit tauter and the power output a touch higher than your typical mid-size, but there's not enough here (aside from the more muscular styling) to make the Maxima truly stand out from its showroom peer, the Nissan Altima. Like Joe, I find this particular Maxima's price outrageous. Want a luxurious, sporty Japanese sedan for $39,000? An Infiniti G37 will do the job much better. The Nissan Maxima is nicely finished, behaves well, and has great lines, but to deliver on the name, Nissan needs to deliver a more focused mechanical package.
- Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
For years, the Maxima was a car to aspire to for those legions of young buyers whose early automotive experience was with basic but reliable Nissan (or, before that, Datsun) stalwarts like the Sentra and the 210. Plush, powerful, and roomy, the Maxima was a logical and luxurious step up. The formula started to get muddied when the Altima began to encroach on the Maxima's turf, and the Maxima resorted to somewhat garish styling and gimmicky features to set itself apart from its sibling.
2010 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV