2009 Volkswagen CC, 2009 Nissan Maxima, 2009 Mazda 6 - Midsize Sedan Comparison

Jim Fets

Once inside the Maxima, headroom is barely adequate for six-footers and knee clearance is good, but there is no foot room under the front seats. The Maxima's bench has seatbelts for three but is deeply sculpted for two; its fold-down center armrest includes optional audio and climate controls. The VW doesn't even make a pretense of a middle rider position; its rear seat has a storage console between the two seating positions. Again, headroom is barely adequate and knee space is good, but there's more foot room, and the CC rider sits a bit higher than the Maxima passenger. The Mazda easily has the most habitable back seat. It's the only one with a usable center position, space is good all around, and the view out is the best. Even in Grand Touring trim, however, you'll find no A/C vents or power points for the rear-seat riders.

Moving up to the front seat, the Mazda is nicely dressed in its top-spec duds, although its not-quite-faux-wood trim was somewhat odd, and its navigation system was our least favorite. The Mazda has good visibility and a narrow cowl, which make this car a bit easier to maneuver in tight spots. The Nissan's interior is pretty well done, and our test car - the most expensive here - was packed with features, including a power-adjustable steering column and a rearview camera. The Maxima's navigation controls (borrowed from Infiniti) are first-rate, and we love the feel of the small, fat-rimmed steering wheel. The CC borrows the Passat dash but dresses up its cabin with unique door panels and its own steering wheel. The seats are taken from the V-6-powered Passat and are very comfortable, and the leather (standard on the Luxury trim level) is soft and supple. Volkswagen at last has gone to a touch-screen navigation system but still doesn't offer Bluetooth. The quality of the CC's interior materials was the best of this bunch, beating the Maxima by dint of its consistency.

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