2011 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV

December 10, 2010
I know the continuously variable in the CVT acronym refers to the mechanism within this infinite-ratio gearbox, but it also seems apt for describing the personality of the Maxima's CVT. Nissan tuned the gearbox to almost function as three different designs. In its default setting, the transaxle functions like a standard CVT, allowing the engine speed to rise to a certain point and remain there while velocity increases. In sport mode, however, it's stepped like a conventional automatic, and is tuned to hold onto revs before switching to a new drive ratio. If that isn't enough variety, a pair of column-mounted shift paddles allows the driver to trigger pseudo-shifts at his or her whim.
- Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
2011 Nissan Maxima 3 5 SV Front View Static
There's a lot to like in the Maxima, including the accessible power, the curvaceous body, and the driver-oriented cockpit. But the engine noise? Wow. I sure hope that Nissan has a vast team of engineers working on ways to develop a V-6 that isn't so noisy and coarse. This VQ-series V-6 engine family is outclassed in refinement by just about everyone now.
- Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
2011 Nissan Maxima 3 5 SV Front Three Quarters Static
The Maxima isn't the four-door sports car that Nissan claims, but it's definitely a SPORTY four-door that's reasonably fun to drive. The engine's performance is particularly satisfying, and its CVT partner does its job admirably.
2011 Nissan Maxima 3 5 SV Rear Three Quarters Static
The optional heated steering wheel and seats came in very handy on a cold autumn morning. Speaking of seats, I noticed a terrible rattle originating from the front passenger's seatback. Another seat complaint, one that's not so fixable, is that the center position on the back bench is not suited for a child seat.
- Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
Before Infiniti existed, the Maxima in effect served as Nissan's flagship sedan. I know people who happily traded in Cadillacs for the Four Door Sports Car in the 1980s. Now, of course, Infiniti not only exists, but has blossomed into a full-line brand with very serious offerings starting as low as $31,000 (for a G25). This puts the Maxima in a very awkward spot. Our particular test car costs as much as a very well equipped G35 sedan, but is closer mechanically to an Altima. And though it certainly doesn't drive badly, nothing about it, except for the voluptuous sheetmetal, says "sports car."
2011 Nissan Maxima 3 5 SV Hood
I'd like to see the Maxima restored to its former glory. If Nissan can justify selling an $90,000 supercar, surely it can make room in its model hierarchy for a true sport sedan along the lines of a Chrysler 300C. To my mind, that means rear-wheel drive and a better transmission -- as in the G35's seven-speed automatic. Would such a car steal a few sales from Infiniti? Perhaps. But it would also bring some luster and prestige to the Nissan showroom and reclaim one of the company's oldest and most important nameplates.
- David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
2011 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV
2011 Nissan Maxima 3 5 SV Rear Three Quarters Static Ground
Base price (with destination): $34,280
Price as tested: $39,090
Standard Equipment:
3.5-liter V-6 engine
CVT automatic transmission
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
18-inch alloy wheels
Traction control system
Vehicle dynamic control
Tire pressure monitoring system
Electronic brake force distribution
Leather-appointed seats
Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
Manual tilt/telescoping steering column
Cruise control
Bose audio system
AM/FM in-dash 6-CD changer & MP3/WMA playback capability
9 speakers with 2 subwoofers
XM satellite radio
Auxiliary audio input jack
Bluetooth connectivity
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Nissan intelligent key with push button start
Power windows/locks
Power sliding moonroof
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
Fog lights
Options on this vehicle:
Sport package -- $2080
Sport-tuned suspension
19-inch aluminum wheels
Smoked HID Xenon headlights
Heated front seats
Heated steering wheel
Power tilt/telescoping steering column
Shift paddles
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
Sport technology package -- $1850
Nissan hard drive navigation system
7-inch color VGA touch-screen monitor
9.3GB music box
Voice recognition
DVD playback capability
Streaming audio via Bluetooth
Monitor package -- $700
7-inch monitor with rearview camera
Auxiliary input jack
USB/iPod connectivity
Floor mats & truck mat -- $180
Key options not on vehicle:
Premium package -- $1150
Dual panel moonroof
Rear-window power sunshade
Heated and cool driver's seat
Fuel economy: 19/26/22 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 3.5L DOHC 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 290 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 261 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Drive: Front-wheel
Transmission: Continuously variable automatic
Curb weight: 3565 lb
Wheels/tires: 19 x 8.0-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, 245/40R19 Goodyear Eagle RS-A all-season tires
Competitors: Volvo S60, Volkswagen Passat, Hyundai Azera, Toyota Avalon


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2011 Nissan Maxima

S FWD 4-Dr Sedan V6
starting at (MSRP)
3.5L V6
Fuel Economy
19 City 26 Hwy
2011 Nissan Maxima