Last year, Nissan completely overhauled the Maxima, bringing it into premium territory. And it needed it. The 2004-2008 model held little over the Altima, and could even be confused for an Altima by someone not familiar with the Nissan product line. Now it’s a premium sports sedan so good that competitors should be running scared. If it weren’t for its price, that is.
They’re calling the new Maxima a “4DSC” (short for 4-Door Sports Car) – a tribute to the Maxima of late eighties. It certainly acts like it, too. A strong 290 hp 3.5-liter V6 engine in combination with a CVT provides quick and responsive throttle inputs without the harshness of a typical sports car. No, I’m still not a fan of the CVT, but I understand why they use it. Steering input is quick without feeling overly boosted, suspension is tight but not rough, and it provides a Sport mode with paddle shifters (not that they actually shift anything.) It’s smaller than last generation, which is a good move, and exterior design certainly hints at a more aggressive car. A proper sports car though? Not quite, but a highly capable sport sedan most definitely.
Interior quality is superb, with high-end materials used all around, and a driver-oriented cockpit with modern design that Nissan calls a “Super Cockpit” due to the high tech feel and design. 8-way power leather seats with heating and cooling, a good amount of bolstering, and driver thigh extension make long-distance and aggressive drives comfortable. Lots of features are standard – intelligent key with push-button start, cruise, dual-zone climate, power moonroof, bluetooth, and 8-speaker sound with available USB connectivity.
Check out the 2009 Nissan Maxima Review for more details and opinions. So what’s changed for 2010? They’ve simplified their option packaging a little bit (which we complained about last year) by offering a monitor package, giving you the 7-inch color monitor, rearview monitor, and 2GB music server without having to buy the technology package. Bluetooth is standard, and now there’s only one technology package instead of three, which could be confusing. Two new wheel finishes are available as well as two new colors, Crimson Black and Ocean Gray. Finally, they’ve changed their previous iPod connectivity to USB connectivity, allowing those who own something other than an Apple iPod to connect their MP3 player. Other car makers should follow suit.
I love the new Maxima – it’s a pleasure to drive either aggressively or complaisantly. It’s smooth, quiet, fast when you want it to be, and handles like a champ.
The problem the Maxima is going to have is its price. Not that it’s overpriced, but it’s priced into a premium category generally held by Nissan’s premium brand Infiniti. Personally, I’d rather have the Maxima than a G35 sedan, but I’m afraid buyers aren’t going to look at it like that or agree. The 2010 Maxima starts at $30,460, and $33,180 for the SV trim. Our test model, which includes the Sport Package, Sport Technology package, and Monitor package, comes in at a whopping $38,660 – a price point normally held by brands like Lexus, Cadillac, and BMW. Fuel economy comes in at an excellent 19 city / 26 hwy.
Before you Buy
Competitors include Toyota Avalon, Acura TL, Cadillac CTS, Hyundai Genesis, VW CC, Audi A4, and at the higher end, BMW’s 3-Series, and Nissan’s own Infiniti G37 Sedan, funny enough. If you’re looking at the higher end models within the Maxima’s price range, you’ll have to stick with the base models, which won’t include as many features as the Maxima but will have the brand prestige too many are looking for. Frankly, out of all the models listed, the Maxima will give you some of the best value in terms of features and fun-to-drive factor.
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