The Maxima brings personality and a distinct design flair to a price category dominated by well-engineered yet bland sedans. It offers "sport" as defined by a rev-happy, powerful engine, a smooth-shifting transmission, and big, sticky tires, yet plays second fiddle to more dedicated performance sedans in handling prowess. The Maxima has plenty of available luxury features to satisfy nearly everyone this side of a Lexus or Mercedes driver. Contrary to trends seen on other vehicles, IntelliChoice data show the best ownership cost value is the top SL trim, earning a Better than Average rating. The Maxima's reliability should be very good, as the platform and engine have been in production longer than this generation Maxima. The three-year/36,000-mile overall warranty is supplemented by five-year/60,000-mile powertrain coverage, which is usually the province of luxury brands.
Maxima brings power, prestige, and space in an alternative to both the mainstream, midsize sedans and the premium-brand near-luxury cars.
The Maxima essentially is the same car it was two years ago, when it launched, but improvements for 2005 included smart airbags, which detect the size and presence of seat occupants and deploy accordingly; black-tone brake calipers; titanium-tinted interior trim; chrome interior door handles; and traction control as a standard feature.
The Elite package, which replaces the standard rear bench seat with two bucket seats flanking a handy center console, is an intriguing way to create a luxury sedan for far less than a luxury-sedan price.
Nissan traditionally has equipped the Maxima with an audio system whose performance rivals that venerable VQ V-6. An eight-speaker, 240-watt stereo with redundant steering wheel controls is standard on the SE, while an eight-speaker, 320-watt Bose audio system with a six-disc CD changer and even a cassette player is optional on the SE and standard on the SL. Satellite radio is available with either stereo. Nissan's excellent navigation system, with a crisp, seven-inch color display screen and a "bird's-eye view" of topography and roads, is also optional.