By on February 12, 2010

Fifteen years ago, Nissan’s Maxima was one of a handful of genuinely sporting four-doors that wouldn’t saddle you with German car payments or reliability. After a decade of letting dozens of overpowered family haulers whittle away at the Maxima’s individualism, Nissan upped the game for 2009.


Since we’re talking about what was once billed a four-door sports car, let’s dive right into performance.

Coming from a daily driver down by over a hundred horsepower, the Maxima’s engine is just tremendous. The car launches with a firm shove limited just a touch by traction control, but it’s the range from 25 MPH to 70 that really impresses. Flooring it yields the oddest sensation of controlling the speed of other drivers. Very quickly, they all start to move backwards. There is some torque steer, though nothing I couldn’t handle with a single firm hand.  This car lives for speeds between 70 and 100. It has significant passing urge even at 85, where most sub-250 HP cars I’ve driven require far more planning. Pity then that the highest limit in the U.S. is 5 MPH less.

Road noise at that speed is minimal. Wind noise is more pronounced, and I noticed a subtle whistling from behind me on my rental with thirty-thousand miles. Nissan has heavily damped engine noise from the outside, so most of the aural enjoyment comes with the windows closed. I’d heard that the 3.5L had lost some smoothness at the top end relative to VQs of lesser displacement, but if that’s so, it certainly wasn’t evident with this version. This VQ sounds like it could hold at redline all day without a care. I could stand to hear more of it by half both in and out.

Prior to the Maxima, I’d had no experience with Nissan’s variable CVT transmission in any form. I came away from this one impressed. In Drive mode, it feels like an automatic with no shift points. It has the same creep at slow speeds, and the subtle wheel vibration of a car in gear when stopped. Slow acceleration keeps the engine around 2000 RPM. It otherwise loafs at 1200 RPM, imitating the practiced boredom of a Corvette in high gear.

This yields terrific mileage. Another more moderate driver in the family reported 28 MPG in a mix of highway and around-town cruising.
Wood the gas and the engine will zing to 4500 RPM, slowly rising to near redline as the car accelerates. If you’re aggressive, the system will assume you want to play and will hold 2500 RPM for a few seconds until it thinks you’ve relaxed. The heightened revs persist if you shift into Sport mode by moving the stick to the left gate. Sport can also add predetermined shift points to the CVT, an affectation that does no favors for acceleration. Even so, shifts are very quick. Holding a low gear and letting off the gas slows the car as if restrained by a giant hand. The connection isn’t quite as direct as a true manual, but it’s an interesting gimmick and sharper than any automanual I’ve tried. I personally found Drive so effective that Sport was superfluous. If selecting pseudo-cogs has more appeal to you, order the Maxima SV with paddle shifters. It takes much more concentration to keep the car pointed in the right direction at full tilt when you’ve devoted a hand to the gear lever.

I was uncertain at first what to make of the brakes. The pedal is touchy at the top of the range, and it took me over an hour to consistently stop without lurching. My fifth-gen Malibu is positively wooden by comparison; the pedal pressure in that one is probably three times greater for the same effect. Ultimate braking power is very high, though the ABS engages only when you’re near the stops. I think the car would benefit from a less linear braking curve, with reduced initial bite, but much more rapid deceleration in the bottom half of the travel. It’s too easy to use less than the car’s full braking ability. The ABS action is far more refined and effective than the Malibu’s, though a Porsche Cayenne is smoother still. This is gentle criticism; on the whole, I was pleased with the strength and consistency of the Maxima’s braking performance.
Grip limits were beyond my purview in this test. The base Goodyear RS-As have more than the engine can use. On dry roads, it took full steering lock and the gas to the floor to get any obvious engagement from the traction control system, and that was only for a moment. Disabling Nissan’s VDC stability control (and TC by extension) gave slightly quicker acceleration off the line. Handling was unaffected because I couldn’t make myself drive in a way that would activate VDC. Anyone hooligan enough to be bothered by it should probably leave it on.  

Those accustomed to the hairy-chested steering of a genuine sports car might find the Maxima’s wheel too emasculated for comfort. The leaden heft of a sport-package BMW at slow speeds is nonexistent in this car. It’s no more difficult to maneuver in a parking lot than an old Buick. That persists until about 40 MPH, when the wheel quickly and noticeably firms to a level still a few notches below where I’d like it to be. This weighting lends the Maxima an unnatural eagerness to change direction in slow turns. Handling seems to improve as the lateral forces increase; the real fun is in long, high-speed sweepers that liven the steering and let the car take a set. Highway stability is exemplary. The Maxima never feels as agile or sporty as a G37, but this seems less a chassis limitation than a mental trick. The ample cockpit and vanishing hoodline impart a bigness that encourages methodical driving. Dynamics aside, there are more intimate partners for channeling your inner Andretti on the backroads.

Interior quality seems at least as good, if not better than a cira-2007 Infiniti FX35. It makes the G8′s feel low-rent for reasons obvious even in pictures. My Maxima had leather accents and cloth seats with a vaguely suede-like finish. No lumbar support that I could find, but I was just as fresh after an hour in the seat as I was before. Coming from someone with back issues, this is a major achievement. There’s no shame opting for cloth over leather, if you can stand the fetish it seems to have for lint.

Side bolstering in the front seats is significantly tighter than the G8. Where that seat felt cavernous, this one extends only an inch or two more than I’d like. Bonus points as well for a beltline low enough to rest an arm on the window sill, and a comfortable armrest for the other. The rear seat is suitable for large people. I’m just over six feet, and when I set the driver’s seat to my preference, I still have two inches of knee clearance in the rear and at least one to the headliner.

The Maxima S is well-equipped for a base vehicle. All S models have a sunroof, driver and passenger electronic seat adjustments, a folding rear seat, and an auxiliary stereo input. Much of the value of the Maxima is here; while the SV can be optioned with larger wheels and all manner of gadgets, none of it is essential to enjoying the car. With rear-wheel-drive competition prowling the market in the high thirties, the point of diminishing returns for an enthusiast approaches rapidly.

Pictures do the Maxima’s styling little justice. The exaggerated Coke-bottle shape of its side bulges is much more attractive in person, concealing the car’s mass like a European suit would a sprinter. While it doesn’t inspire the lust of a Mustang or an M3, it does look classy and upscale in a way that an Accord or equivalent can’t match. The gaping maw of this Maxima is a lesser styling faux pas than the whole of Acura’s product line. Neither that, nor the awkward rear detailing is enough to turn me off to the rest of the car. Visibility from the inside suffers from strong A and C pillars, though not so much that I found it an impairment. Vettish front wheel arches add a bit of subtle aggression from the driver’s seat.
Before I was given the choice between a Focus and a Maxima at a rental agency, the latter wasn’t even on my buying radar. It’s since found a permanent home in my driveway. This is partly because of the Maxima’s unique brand positioning. A variety of V6-equipped sedans, including Nissan’s own Altima, can match the premium feel of the Maxima S for a few thousand less. None, however, are quite as fast, stylish, or sporting.
Luxury brands afford incremental improvements in speed and sport, but only after you leap the no-man’s-land between $30,000 and $35,000. The most apt competitor is actually the front-wheel-drive Acura TL, but that car bests the Maxima only with toys; it’s otherwise slower, less attractive, more ponderous, and quite a lot more money. Save for the ugly, the same could be said for the Hyundai Genesis. If you want fun, space, and style for less than thirty large, the Maxima S is one of the only games in town.

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105 Comments on “Review: 2010 Nissan Maxima...”


  • avatar
    Brian E

    I hesitate to respond with what amounts to a “tl;dr”, but what happened to the old 800 word limit on reviews? The Maxima is no economy car, but a little economy of phrase in its review would go a long way.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeolan

      Actually, I think this is a pretty good TTAC review – one of the better ones. It’s more thorough than long winded, as I’ve often felt TTAC reviews only cover about 80% of what I want to know.

    • 0 avatar
      FromBrazil

      May I respectfully disagree? No way! I’ve always thought the 800 limit was way too limiting. I don’t mind if an article has 1500, 3000 or 10 000 word limit if the writing is entertaining. If I get bored I stop reading. Way to go TTAC! Don’t limit your writers, let them give us all the info they can. Afterall, I read this site because I want info. Lots of info on cars. No limits info.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      The 800 word limit left shortly before Farago.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      electrons are cheap, and as other have pointed out you dont to finish the article.

      800 is really too short anyhow

    • 0 avatar

      Im happy with this Maxima’s interior space, but I’d be happier if the car offered AWD and RWD as options rather than FWD.

      As far as styling goes – originaly I thought it was ugly, but the lighting fixtures help it look as upscale as any BMW or Lexus.

      It definitely passes “MY” Luxury test: would I drive up and down Broadway/times Square Manhattan in it cruising for chicks?

      YES!

      I wish ford would make a car like this.

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      Jeez I spend more time reading the 10000+ word comments that people leave more than the slightly bloated article. Quit whining.

    • 0 avatar
      Mirko Reinhardt

      …and what about the “Don’t review a car you own” rule? ;)

      If you want Faragoisms, read The Truth About Guns.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Sounds like a nice car, we’ll be replacing an 04 S Type in the fall and will have to test drive one provided an equitable lease exists. I like the styling and as stated in the review the car does look better in person than in picture.

  • avatar
    Aardvark

    Nissan is capable of building some of the most attractive and fun to drive cars not just in Japan, but in the world. I have owned 3 — an ’83 Sentra, a ’96 Max, and a 2000 Xterra. If I weren’t doing so much business with Honda that they expect to see me driving their product (which is terrific, just not as exciting as a Maxima) I would still be driving a Nissan. Compared with the Maxima and recent iterations of the Altima, the Camry is more boring than socks, the Avalon is the Buick of Asia, and the Accord needs some Wheaties. The Nissan engines are damned near bullet proof, and their trucks are indestructible. I got 130K out of a 1st gen Xterra and other than a defunct A/C (which is a must have in the South) it was still a great hauler.

  • avatar

    It’s nice looking in person, and Nissan is billing it as the 4DSC again, but anything with a CVT only transmission is by definition not a sports car in my book.

    I’d take the Genesis over the Maxima in a heartbeat, and if I didn’t need as much interior space the new Buick Regal with the stick and the turbo looks promising. It’s a strange world where a Regal is more desirable than a Maxima.

    No mention of ride quality? I’ve read the Maxima can be abusive over the rough stuff.

    • 0 avatar

      Ride quality without the sport package is more G37 than Camry. Lots of wheel feedback, more vibration than the Genesis. Larger bumps come across as distant thuds like they do in most luxury cars, though the Max is unusually stiff for a car this size. The sport package moves even further that way.

      The payback is in handling. It’s faster and more agile than the Genesis, despite the FWD. The Regal is down about 70 HP. I’d more likely compare that one to a Fusion Sport than the Max.

    • 0 avatar

      David,

      Thanks for the reply. True the Regal is down in power. I supposed the Taurus is the more legitimate American competitor.

    • 0 avatar
      samm

      Actually, this CVT is one of the best I’ve encountered; not best CVT, but best *transmissions*. Somehow, it minimizes the lurch at throttle tip-in, and the rubberband effect, and the monotonous drone – something the Altima still has a hard time with. Best of all – at 70 mph, it was ticking over at <1400 rpm and 30 mpg!
      Ride quality is firm – isn't harsh per se, but definitely less composed than I'd like on the bumps and expansion joints and not-quite-potholes that plague the state roads where i did my test drive.
      Still went with the Altima – can't stand the outside of the Maxima. Tried consoling myself that I'd be spending more time inside anyways, but one look at that maw and the lure of 6k less decided it.

      As an aside, my mechanic declared the '09 Maxima to be the worst design he's ever seen wrt an oil change, in terms of time and effort.

  • avatar
    dingram01

    Let me just correct you on one small score. This car is utterly hideous. Other than that, sounds like a nice enough car.

  • avatar
    Ernie

    I’d passed this over completely from the lack of M/T but that’s no surprise. People seem to like bolstering . . . I guess that’s for narrower people. “Sport” seats always made me feel claustrophobic.

    When you say “it feels like an automatic with no shift points” — that was what prevented me from enjoying a CVT that I previously had. There wasn’t so much a sweet spot where you could really punch it. Was that intended as a compliment or complaint?

    Seems like a CVT would be more amenable with more HP behind it . . . (the things I’ve driven were NOT high HP for certain)

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      “Seems like a CVT would be more amenable with more HP behind it . . .”

      My neighbor just leased a loaded Maxima and, depsite my very un-tempered hatred of CVT’s, I have to admit it seems much better than previous one’s I’ve sampled (though I haven’t been on a challenging drive yet with it). Still, the feel of the transmission wasn’t good to me, it was just less offensive, about the same as a newer AT paired to a great engine. By no means would I consider it a honest competitor for a DSG or manual tranny.

      I think it’s beautiful (really), has a great interior and I don’t care in the slightest that it’s not bigger than an Altima. If I were buying I’d consider it’s closest competitor to be the Passat CC, Acura TL or Saab 9-5 (a top rank FWD mid-size then). Although b/c of the transmission I’d probably have a hard time trusting it reliability wise…compared to a Passat and Saab…and that’s really pretty bad.

      Note to Nissan…this car will not become a storied sports sedan without a clutch. It might be a commercial success, but not a brand builder with the enthusiasts and attendant free press. And really, a MT option can’t cost you that much in the bigger scheme of things. I think the car would be perfect for what it is with that one change.

    • 0 avatar
      Ernie

      The 2010 Altima’s not even a choice at this point — the Sedan dropped the M/T altogether. Guess they’re chasing the Accord :(

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      As long as it is so expensive and time-consuming to engineer cars for the US market, and as long as this is a separate process from the rest of the world, we will continue to see fewer manual-transmission cars available here.

      Not enough Americans are buying them.

      This being the case, manufacturers are understandably reluctant to engineer a manual-transmission car for US buyers if they don’t think it will provide sufficient payback for them.

      What are the chances that US market requirements can be made common with those of the rest of the world? I’d say slim to none. Those of us who see this as a problem aren’t concentrated enough, or rich enough, to make that change happen.

    • 0 avatar

      Whether it’s a compliment depends if you like automatics. I do when they’re executed well, but after driving this, I don’t see the point of gears.

      Automatics have a few problems. There’s a delay during gear changes when the engine is disengaged where you lose acceleration. You can reduce the lag, but that’ll give harsh shifts. Consistency is another issue; if you’re cruising in 7th and punch the gas, the lag to switch directly to second probably won’t be the same as moving from 3rd to 2nd. The predictive transmission programming that’s supposed to compensate for this isn’t psychic, so you’re liable to find yourself flatfooted sooner or later. All this, in addition to poor efficiency.

      With a CVT, ratio changes are almost instant and the engine stays engaged during the change, so you always have immediate and linear pedal response. It’s the closest you can get to an electric motor with IC. I’m not sure what you mean by sweet spot; in the early versions of the CVT, the engine was always in the sweet spot. The exact sweet spot at 6000 RPM. That’s why people hated it. Nissan’s programmed this one to use the range between 4500 RPM and redline instead, which is slightly less efficient, but keeps the ascending revs that people seem to like.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I’m not sure what you mean by sweet spot; in the early versions of the CVT, the engine was always in the sweet spot. The exact sweet spot at 6000 RPM.

      If I recall, most CVTs would park themselves at either ~6000rpm (for power) or somewhere lower for economy, but your general point (that they would sit there and just change ratio while the engine speed was constant, driving enthusiasts nuts) is right.

      I actually miss those early implementations because, from a technical standpoint they were more efficient and, honestly, faster. “Enthusiast”, though, too often means “a nice way of saying ‘Whiny Luddite’”

    • 0 avatar
      Mirko Reinhardt

      @tedward
      By no means would I consider it a honest competitor for a DSG or manual tranny.

      By no means a DSG could be considered a honest competitor for a manual tranny.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      “By no means a DSG could be considered a honest competitor for a manual tranny.”

      haha, I completely agree. That was only to throw a bone to those who don’t know how to drive stick, or were intimidated by their first try and have since declared them old fashioned or jerky.

      That being said. If my testicles/left leg/will to live well were lost I’d go with a DSG over the other auto trannies.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Coming from a daily driver down by over a hundred horsepower, the Maxima’s engine is just tremendous

    Part of that is Nissan’s insane, Pontiac-esque throttle tuning. The Maxima is the worst, but every one of their cars is just ridiculously easy to lay a patch in.

    I’d heard that the 3.5L had lost some smoothness at the top end relative to VQs of lesser displacement, but if that’s so, it certainly wasn’t evident with this version.

    You’ll notice it compared to the old VQ30 in of two Maximas ago. That engine was smooth without being quite as whiny as Honda’s equivalent, or as coarse as GM’s 3800. This one is stronger, but very coarse: Honda and Toyota’s engines are better.

    Prior to the Maxima, I’d had no experience with Nissan’s variable CVT transmission in any form. I came away from this one impressed. In Drive mode, it feels like an automatic with no shift points.

    It really is very good, isn’t it? About the only downside is it’s kind of bizzarre on snow and ice, but otherwise I love the smooth, uninterrupted acceleration.

    A variety of V6-equipped sedans, including Nissan’s own Altima, can match the premium feel of the Maxima S for a few thousand less. None, however, are quite as fast, stylish, or sporting.

    The car’s real competition is the Taurus SHO and the GM V8 W-Bodies, which are going away, or already have. All the rear-drivers in this price class are smaller inside, up to and including the Chryslers. The Avalon and the V6 Buicks chase a different buyer, and even the Camry SE doesn’t feel quite as “serious” despite being about as fast and a lot lighter on it’s feet. Pity VW doesn’t make a W8 Passat any more.

    The choice between this and the Ford comes down to style, really. I’d be hard-pressed to choose because they’re both well-executed, just very different.

    • 0 avatar

      Throttle tuning didn’t seem notable in either direction to me. There’s too much grip for the tires to lay a patch of anything in this car.

      This engine is not coarse. The 3.7L may well be, but not the 3.5L. Honda’s engines are soft on torque relative to the VQ.

      I differ as well with your choice of competition. The Taurus is enormous by comparison; the SHO is 700 lbs heavier, a full foot longer, and 3 inches wider. It’s also about $7000 more expensive. That car is in a class of its own. Likewise, save for the G8, I’ve yet to drive any sedan from GM that approaches the handling of the Maxima. I’ve no idea where the Camry comment came from; if that car is light on its feet, it’s only because the steering boost is cranked to the stops.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Glad the Maxima finally has its mojo back!

    Good news about the CVT functioning well, though I would be mucho concerned about long-term reliability. Most feel and sound more like a motor scooter or snowmobile transmission than an automobile.

    CVTs are unrepairable. Replacement in Canada is a $10,000 hit! Nissan recently increased the CVT warranty to the earliest of 10-years or 200,000 km, but I wonder about the hoops an owner would have to jump through for a warranty repair on a broken 9-year old CVT?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Any automnatic transmission, even if you repair it, is going to cost your average owner thousands. Nissan’s CVTs have been pretty reliable, many automatics have not been and DSGs look to be nasty.

      The reason the transmission is unrepairable is because there’s so little that can go wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      Regardless of reliability, a vehicle has to be repairable when it does (inevitably) fail. As the owner of a car with a CVT, I’ve seen nothing to tell me that a vehicle with an out-of-warranty CVT failure (regardless of age, original price, or mileage) is economically repairable.

      The only exception being the crapshoot of being lucky enough to find a low-mileage wreck and someone willing to take a chance on installing the CVT from it.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      I rented a cheapie Sentra with a CVT and liked it. I would think with the right software it could be the best transmission choice – the perfect rpm required for every condition. That’s the whole point, right? The harder you push on the throttle the more power that you summon up.

      I understand that there’s more delay than we would all like, but then when I suddenly need to downshift my 6-speed manual there’s plenty of delay. I don’t have any experience with modern slush-boxes, but they probably don’t downshift any faster than a good CVT.

      Maybe I’m just positively biased by my fun experiences ion snowmobiles, but I think that if people let go of their need to hear tradition rev response and gear changing they would learn to appreciate the logic and efficiency of CVTs. (And if more CVTs sold, more development could go into making them perform even better for those of us who care about performance.)

  • avatar

    I recall being impressed with the Maxima’s handling, but might have come to it with low expectations. The styling is overwrought to my eye, just way too much going on, and the various bits don’t meld well.

    TrueDelta will have it’s first full reliability stat for the 2009 Maxima next week. So far owners have reported few repairs.

    About the Car Reliability Survey:

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    educatordan

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmm guess I’m going to be pretty seriously shopping used Maximas. It seems like they’ve all been pretty decent cars and this one hits the 4DSC thing on the head even with the CVT. 28mpg and all this too! Where do I sign up?

  • avatar
    bmoredlj

    Yet another car whose wheelhouse speed is illegal, but people will cruise at 80-100 anyway. These speeds are dangerous when people who barely know how to drive are attaining them. A 55mph speed limit is pretty ridiculous considering even my sub-100mph Civic prefers to cruise 10-15 mph faster. But sharing the road with new, overpowered family sedans and wagons that cruise comfortably at 85 is becoming untenable. The talent, skill, and patience of most drivers just doesn’t match their cars’ performance anymore. Worse still, they think it does.

    The logic of making RAV4s that can sprint to 60 in 6.4 seconds totally escapes me (no pun intended.) Do automakers seriously believe that just because they make a new model faster, that customers suddenly become better at driving at high speeds?

    The Maxima is a great car, but most people who buy it aren’t great drivers. Automakers need to wake up and start realizing that faster new cars will only encourage more dangerous driving habits by drivers who mistakenly believe they’re God’s gift to motoring just because they have a big motor.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Maxima cut you off on the freeway this morning? Or was it a G8 GXP?

    • 0 avatar

      G8 GXP…yum.

      I seriously doubt that all this extra horsepower is going to corrupt most drivers. I think it’s the teens who are first learning to drive that might take Mommy’s V6 RAV-4 and Daddie’s Maxima a lot faster than the chassis and the driver can handle. ESC will prevent some major messes for sure, but I think that Ford’s Smart Key is a good idea at reining in the extra power that young hooligans don’t need.

      I certainly made good use of the 130 HP my Escort had on tap. ;)

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      Spot on mate. Drivers with little experience, and even less sense, being handed keys to current cars that can outperform race cars of a generation ago, on roads designed and built 2 generations ago, is not a recipe designed to take the quease out of my gullet….

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      I made a 92hp 1982 Chevy Celebrity fly back in 1994 when dad handed me the keys. The landing was so soft it was amazing. It must have come 6inches off the ground when I crested that hill with the pedal floored and the mighty 151ci Iron Duke howling its head off.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      Oh come on now, I’ve driven dozens of cars from the mid-fifties on that would cruise all day at 80 mph, and on at least some of them it didn’t really feel any different than at 50 mph. Drivers’ skill may not be any better than it was then, but it isn’t worse either; and most cars nowadays handle better at those speeds, and at any speed.

    • 0 avatar

      > The talent, skill, and patience of most drivers just doesn’t match their cars’ performance anymore. Worse still, they think it does.

      I’d take the opposite tack, actually. Older cars have all variety of egregious handling faults. New ones tend to be better-sorted and more forgiving of mistakes. Pity the person who has to avoid an obstacle in his big-block from forty years ago.

      Anyway, we’re all subject to the same speed limits. Just because it’ll cruise at 85 doesn’t mean we’ll wind it up that high.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I drove this car a few months ago and came away with very mixed feelings. I liked the interior space and layout, the handling and high quality feel of the car in general. I think it looks great, too.

    Unfortunately, even though the engine is strong, it doesn’t sound good doing what it does. It sounds… cheap. The nail in the coffin, though, was the CVT. That car needs a stick pronto, or at least a DSG. As is, it’s just a bit too weird of a drivetrain combo.

    Think of it as a poor man’s A6 without anywhere near the sophistication or the upscale interior. It’s a nice car, but it’s definitely not a 4DSC.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeolan

      Volkswagen’s DSG is honestly not that great of a transmission on a daily driver. It’s buttery-smooth if you’re driving in a manner it expects, but when it’s not happy it can lag to downshift, and at city speeds it can be downright harsh and unrefined.

      In most circumstances Nissan’s CVT initiates the shift faster and is a lot more forgiving. I don’t know why anyone would chose a DSG over it. Also funny you mention the Audi A6′s CVT which is notably worse…

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      “It’s buttery-smooth if you’re driving in a manner it expects, but when it’s not happy it can lag to downshift, and at city speeds it can be downright harsh and unrefined.”

      I’d say you’re right, but then you are missing the criticism of the CVT. The CVT is fine on the highway, and fine poking between stop signs, but an utter failure when it comes to giving you the ratio control and throttle sensitivity required to put a series of turns together (the Maxima is the best yet IMO, and I would never choose it for this purpose). The DSG isn’t quite as good as a regular auto or CVT in town, and all transmissions are effectively fine in highway operation, but when you holding gears and using throttle to adjust weight distribution, it is second choice only to a real manual.
      I see a lot of pooh-poohing of the enthusiast criticism of these transmissions, and yet I don’t know anyone who would prefer a CVT for actual back road driving. I haven’t seen anyone really defend the charge that the cars are incompetent in that venue, instead I’m seeing comments defending it’s uninterrupted power delivery and quick ratio changes, as if that was an important metric in any pursuit other than racing (where a CVT would melt) or lazy loafing (where the CVT actually excels). Even the review above stated that “The connection isn’t quite as direct as a true manual, but it’s an interesting gimmick and sharper than any automanual I’ve tried.” and in case anyone’s paying attention here, “sharper than any automanual” should be considered decidedly faint praise.

      I think what we’re seeing is auto enthusiasts who simply aren’t driving enthusiasts, or at least have lost the motivation to regularly seek out and use good driver’s roads (“just leave it in D” indeed), defending a technology from a criticism that they would never encounter in their own use. That point of view might be more salient if we were talking CVT’s in S-class sized vehicles, or any other lazy barge, but a vehicle the size of the Altima, Sentra or Maxima has no excuse for giving up a competency that many competitors embrace.

    • 0 avatar
      Mirko Reinhardt

      @tedward
      as if that was an important metric in any pursuit other than racing (where a CVT would melt)

      Hey, we all remember the DAF CVT racers. They won a few Formula 3 races with CVT-equipped cars in the 1960s. Actually those cars were winning lots of races. As were DAF’s rally cars.

      In 1993 Williams made a CVT prototype Formula 1 car. (FW15C) This apparently worked quite well – FIA banned CVTs from F1 in 1994.

      I still want a stick and three pedals.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      mirko

      I’m going to guess any CVT used in F1 was built from unobtanium (like most F1 parts). The bigger issue is that they still don’t have the materials knowledge to make a civilian version that doesn’t total the car when it breaks, or one that you could race in.

      The worst part is, they do break, just like torque converter autos.

  • avatar
    Audi-Inni

    Drive one and you’ll understand. The Maxima’s CVT is the equivalent, if not better than, a traditional automatic. I drove one for 2 weeks (traded in an Avalon rental for one — or as my son called it, the “Avapuke”) and for life of me can’t understand why this car doesn’t do better. I outshines any other V6 powered sedan from Japan. A prime example of a really bad CVT is the one in the Audi A4 – truly awful, especially how it works so hard to keep the revs low and kill off any potential for driving joy from the engine.

  • avatar
    wsn

    I think the 2010 Legacy 3.6 is a more direct competitor. Similar displacement and emphasis on handling. Both sell relatively few units and from Japan.

  • avatar
    photog02

    Great review. I really need to drive one of these. Everything about it (save the FWD/CVT aspect) is appealing. I sat in one for a while as I was waiting in a dealership. It felt wonderful, like a car you could easily cross the country in. I just hope it drives that way as well.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    In person the car’s proportions are not nearly as unusual as photos suggest, but it’s still a bit weird looking; definitely not what I consider to be an attractive sedan. The size of an Altima for more money, I’m not sure where the car really fits into the Nissan family portrait. Certainly not bad, but is it good? Seems more of an answer to a question not many people are asking. If the Avalon exists as a Japanese Buick, the Maxima is, I guess, the equivalent of a Pontiac GTO.

  • avatar
    tgriffith

    Maybe it’s time Nissan had a car in a Hollywood movie chase. Has that ever happened?
    Might be fun to put the Maxima up against Audi or something. Except for that whole FWD thing.
    http://www.cargurus.com/blog/2010/02/12/the-10-best-movie-car-chases-ever

  • avatar
    Aardvark

    Those of you who bemoan the absence of a manual, remember that manufacturers have little incentive to offer them, even in the most sporty of vehicles.

    1. Only a small percent of buyers in this country put a manual as a “must have” on their shopping list, so why offer something that could sit on the lot weeks longer than its siblings and

    2. Manuals almost always are a couple of MPG behind A/Ts on their EPA estimates, so every unit sold effects the manufacturer’s ability to meet the CAFE burden.

    There are those silly paddles and manual selectors offered on everything down to Kia SUVs but, really folks, don’t you just put the damned thing in D most of the time anyway and go about your business?

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Yeah, and when it’s just put in “D” your no longer driving the car. You’re steering it, or worse, aiming with the wheel. We had a Mazda3 with the automatic, and that’s the only thing that I disliked about the car. Actually, I loathed that part of the car, and when you put it in manu-shift mode, you still got a couple of seconds of delay before the transmission did what you wanted.

      No. I prefer three pedals. I prefer to actually have to think about driving the car, keeping my mind on what I’m doing.

      Complete Neanderthal that I am, I also prefer a car without cup holders. Cars are for driving, not lunch.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Actually, there is an incentive to offer manuals… as a special order. There is little sense in having them sit on dealer lots, true. Selling to only the small number of enthusiasts would in all reality cost quite little in CAFE numbers and they’d be able to sell more cars. 10 more Maximas with sticks is better for Nissan than the same buyer buying a used BMW because Nissan didn’t offer a stick.

      The rest of the world buys sticks. At least give us enthusiasts the choice, and watch a few more Maximas find new homes.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      Yeah, and when it’s just put in “D” your no longer driving the car. You’re steering it, or worse, aiming with the wheel. We had a Mazda3 with the automatic, and that’s the only thing that I disliked about the car. Actually, I loathed that part of the car, and when you put it in manu-shift mode, you still got a couple of seconds of delay before the transmission did what you wanted.

      So, by your line of logic, are you not eating if you use a fork? Are you not sleeping if you use a bed? An automatic, just like a fork or a bed, is only a tool that helps you to achieve a goal.

      As for your experience, the problem is with the Mazda3 being underpowered and not with the automatic. I did test drove Mazda3 and obviously the 140~ish hp just isn’t enough. The I4s of the midsize pack typically gives 170~190hp and feels much better.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeolan

      @Syke : Actually, you’re still gassing and braking. The beauty of Nissan’s CVT is the shifts are about instant- faster than most ‘manumatics.’ You’re also able to steer with greater precision having two hands on the wheel and pay attention to things like the road surface, grip limit, etc.

      And you can have your car without cup holders- such vehicles are fun to drive for about 20 minutes, but I wouldn’t want to pilot one for hours.

      @JKoss22 : Selling 10 Maximas manual transmissions would cause Nissan to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars for the R&D / engineering / testing / warranty support just for that configuration.

      Quite honestly, although I enjoy a good manual, Nissan’s CVT is a significantly better transmission than their manual offering.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Aardvark: “Manuals almost always are a couple of MPG behind A/Ts on their EPA estimates, so every unit sold effects the manufacturer’s ability to meet the CAFE burden.”

      I just checked 25 different cars. 15 had better fuel economy with the manual, compared to 7 for the auto. 3 were equal.

    • 0 avatar

      Modern CVTs will usually beat manuals on the EPA cycle, but conventional automatics don’t necessarily. The CVT has a big advantage in EPA testing.

      The bigger issue is that automakers usually have to do EPA durability certification with each powertrain combination, which is both expensive and time consuming. If there’s little demand, it doesn’t make a lot of economic sense even as a special order.

    • 0 avatar
      Mirko Reinhardt

      @Syke
      We had a Mazda3 with the automatic, and that’s the only thing that I disliked about the car. Actually, I loathed that part of the car
      An automatic, no matter if it’s a torque converter + planetary gearset, a dual clutch transmission or a CVT, can go a long way towards ruining a car’s fun potential.

      After a weekend in a rental 911 with the dreaded PDK, I was actually looking forward towards driving my humble diesel hatchback. A “fun” car with two pedals? Bizarre. Like beer without alcohol, Coca-Cola without sugar, hamburgers without fat or rock music without guitars.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Quote from the original article text:

    “Fifteen years ago, Nissan’s Maxima was one of a handful of genuinely sporting four-doors that wouldn’t saddle you with German car payments or reliability.”

    Oh yeah, I’d hate to be saddled with reliability…

    I must have read that wrong?

  • avatar
    Jaeger

    The heck with an 800 word limit – this was a really good review. Tell the story that needs to be told and don’t worry about the attention-challenged X-Box generation.

    ^^ZoomZoom – he means German car payments and German reliability.

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    I don’t understand why enthusiasts hate CVT’s. There are wretched examples of them (Found in Audis and Dodge Calibers) , but there are wretched examples of the standard manual transmission as well, not to mention the standard automatic (looking at you, Subaru.) I call BS on anyone who claims they’d rather drive the 6 Manual found in the last gen Maxima (till 05) over the current gen’s CVT.

    Unlike traditional autos or DSG’s, CVT’s offer bona-fide advantages over the average stick by allowing the engine to always be at the peak of power / efficiency . There are bad examples out there, but on a car that’s meant to double as a daily driver I don’t buy the argument that the lack of a stick makes it any less ‘sport.’ (Especially if VW’s DSG gets a pass.)

    The only complaint is that under full throttle from a stop it sounds like the engine is droning. Ok, slap the lever over to the left and the problem is solved. Slap it over to the right and you’re back to fuel efficient and highway passing heaven.

    Even the manumatic shift-between-ratios mode I’ve experienced on the current-gen Maxima and Altima work incredibly well. I don’t know about other manufacturers but Nissan appears to do it by percentage so as vehicle speed increases so do the shift points.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Well, here’s an acceleration comparison:

      Nissan Altima 2.5 CVT (manual mode)

      Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart (dual-clutch)

      Audi A3 TDI DSG

      Audi A4 2.0T (6-spd auto)

      I personally loved the transmission on the Ralliart. Don’t think I’ve ever driven a Nissan CVT vehicle.

  • avatar
    Jaeger

    I don’t hate CVTs – if I had to choose something other than a mnaual transmission, I might well choose that. But I don’t WANT to choose something other than a manual – and I sure wish I could have the Maxima so equipped. The way things are going, I’m likely to be saddled with German car payments and German reliability for my next car, because the Japanese are abandoning the stick wholesale on anything other than a base econohatch or a full on sports car. Yes, you can still get a stick on premium versions of the TL and G37, but it’s all but gone from anything midrange.

  • avatar
    segar925

    Automatics are more popular in this country because of women, dito the cup holders. Every vehicle I’ve owned in the last 37 years has been a standard, except for two minivans. This car would be great with a stick, but the CVT is the next best alternative.

  • avatar
    werewolf34

    I would wait for the depreciation stick to beat the snot out of the Maxima and then get one

  • avatar
    segar925

    I would think Nissan could use the same 6MT they use in the Altima. I know the 3.5 Altima was once offered with a 6MT, I looked at one just over a year ago. This will definitely be my next new car, but I’m hoping for a 6MT & a new front end in ’11.

  • avatar
    TAP

    As devoted as I was to a stick, here in the Balto./DC corridor the constant backups take the fun away.

  • avatar
    Jaeger

    carguy622

    The Lexus IS and the TSX force you to opt for the normally aspirated 4-banger to get the stick. The V6s are granny trannny only.

    The Altima 3.5SE 6MT is a great choice. I drive one :-) But in Canada at least, it no longer exists. To get the V6 and a stick, you have to opt for the Altima Coupe. No way that is going to receive spousal approval.

    The Passat CC is the current front-runner to replace my Altima – unless I bite the bullet and decide to take a big step up to a G37. The rumored upcoming G25 might be an option. But a 6MT Maxima would be an easy choice.

  • avatar
    vexner

    It never ceases to amaze me in these auto forums the amount of opinions that get posted as facts.

    psarhjinian said…”The car’s real competition is the Taurus SHO and the GM V8 W-Bodies, which are going away, or already have. All the rear-drivers in this price class are smaller inside, up to and including the Chryslers. The Avalon and the V6 Buicks chase a different buyer, and even the Camry SE doesn’t feel quite as “serious” despite being about as fast and a lot lighter on it’s feet. Pity VW doesn’t make a W8 Passat any more.”

    Fact is, the Chrysler 300 has 107 cubic feet of interior room compared to the Maxima at 96. Also, the 300 has 15.6 cubic feet interior cargo room compared to 14.2 for the Maxima.

    Even the Chrysler Sebring has more interior room than the Maxima…102 cubic feet vs the 96 for the Maxima.

    It’s easy to go to a manufacturer’s website and do vehicle comparisons…try it sometimes.

    http://www-hostc-origin.chrysler.com/Compare/comparetool/Compare.html#resultsAvailableview_subNav=resultsview_acodes=USC00CRC141A0,USC00FOC072C0,USC00CRC064A0,USC00NIC051B0

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    It never ceases to amaze me in these auto forums the amount of opinions that get posted as facts.

    Raw cubes have nothing to do with actual passenger comfort for the same reason that calorie content has nothing to do with flavour.

    Between the cramped door entry, gun-slit greenhouse, short seat cushions, transmission tunnel and huge steering wheel, the 300 really isn’t that roomy inside and certainly not that comfortable.

    • 0 avatar
      vexner

      You posted an opinion. I proved you wrong. If you SUBJECTIVELY “feel” the interior of the Chrysler 300 is smaller, then you should have said so.

      However, the interior of the Chrysler 300 is OBJECTIVELY considerably larger than the Maxima. The 300′s rear seat room has been described as “limo like”. Show me where such a comment has been made about the Maxima.

      Again, you posted your opinion, not facts, and your opinion was wrong. Not only does the 300 have more interior room than the Maxima, so does the FWD Sebring sedan.

      Just admit your opinion was wrong and save face.

    • 0 avatar
      Mirko Reinhardt

      Interior volume means nothing, except if I want to fill the car’s interior with liquid. I prefer transporting people, so what matters is:
      -seat dimensions
      -seating height (for the back seats
      -headroom
      -legroom

      If I want to compare, I compare those, not interior volume. Seriously.

  • avatar
    roadracer

    Great review, sounds like a nice car. The styling doesn’t work for me, nor does the lack of a manual transmission.

  • avatar
    segar925

    According to NissanUSA.com, the 3.5 Altima is no longer available with a 6MT. The emasculation of U.S. vehicles continues….

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    I’m surprised Mr. Indech would make a statement like, “save for the G8, I’ve yet to drive any sedan from GM that approaches the handling of the Maxima.” Perhaps he hasn’t driven a CTS. I have an ’08 CTS with the summer suspension and recently drove a friend’s new Maxima. I was sorely disappointed in the ride and not much impressed with the handling. The floaty ride was accompanied by crash-boom at intersection gutters, and the steering seemed loose on the curves. When I read this review, I wanted to say it feels like a “puff-piece” for Nissan. But so many seem to like this thing, that I’ll let it go, keep my comments to myself about my friend’s car and continue to enjoy my Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t driven the CTS. I should have qualified that line with “in the Maxima’s price and performance class.” I personally ruled out the CTS because, in base 270 HP trim, it’s $4500 more then the Max and at least 1.5 seconds slower to 60. The DI engine starts at $42K, and it’s still down by as much as a half-second with the automatic.

      I’ve no doubt that the CTS is a step beyond in handling, but I prefer the value and pace of the Maxima. I do wonder how your opinion would change if the Maxima were equipped with the Cadillac’s PS2 tires.

  • avatar
    Jaeger

    ^^^ I would have thought the “in the Maxima’s price range” would have been an obviously inferred qualifier. Not obvious to some, I guess. If you want to compare the CTS, stack it up against a G37 Sport and watch it get slaughtered.

    • 0 avatar
      alexndr333

      “In the Maxima’s price range” shouldn’t be inferred if it’s not stated; Mr. Indech agreed as much. I’m not sure that tires would cure all the weaknesses that I experienced in driving the Maxima. They may well have sharpened the steering, but they would have likely made the ride unbearable over tar strips and other road blemishes. As for comparing the G37 to the CTS, I don’t doubt that the G37 would beat the CTS in many respects; but “slaughtered”? I don’t think so. I find the Cadillac wins points on style and content to more than make up for the marginal difference in at-limit handling or jack-rabbit starts. And it runs on regular.

  • avatar
    Zombo

    Yawn ! More granny trannies in cars that are there probably because the buying demographic for them is old people , or people in urban areas who refuse to take the train . Seriously , if Nissan can’t come up with a smooth shifting six speed for the Altimama and Maximama , maybe they should hire the people away from Honda who know how to build those slick shifting 6 speed transmissions !

  • avatar
    segar925

    The granny trannies are there because that’s what most women in the U.S. want and everybody knows men in the U.S. don’t have a voice anymore.

  • avatar
    segar925

    Real men with D!*k$ drive cars with sticks. Girls and wimps drive automatics. I wouldn’t even consider an automatic if the vehicle in question was available with a standard transmission.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    With an average commute speed going into Boston of 25 mph, I dont want to be rowing and pedaling back and forth to work every day, thank you fairly much. I listen to Books on CDs and try not to get hit by my fellow multi-taskers. I drove sticks for 30 yrs. The only time I miss a manual is in snow.

  • avatar
    CV

    “Real men with D!*k$ drive cars with sticks. Girls and wimps drive automatics.”

    Gee, isn’t it distracting to drive with it in your hand?

  • avatar
    Zombo

    Or maybe those men never learned how to shift in the first place ! I know a few young men in their 20s who haven’t a clue of how to shift and also one guy in his 40s . The old days of learning to shift on a three on the tree (I took my drivers test on one) are long gone and manual shifting is becoming a lost art . Only enthusiasts who want total control over their vehicle’s power band keep the manual tranny around . And yes that includes women too , I also know a few lead footed women who wouldn’t have it any other way !

  • avatar
    segar925

    For me, most automatic transmissions have an intollerable disconnect between the gas pedal and the drive wheels, the Nissan CVT is a rare exception and a huge improvement over a typical automatic.

  • avatar
    Jaeger

    Re.”In the Maxima’s price range” shouldn’t be inferred if it’s not stated…”

    Riiight. So next you’ll be pointing out how much better the BMW M5 and Audi S4 are, right? Because logic doesn’t compel you to infer that price is a significant and relevant factor in any comparison, right?

    And yes, the Caddy would get slaughtered by the G.

    Re.”With an average commute speed going into Boston of 25 mph, I dont want to be rowing and pedaling back and forth to work every day, thank you fairly much.”

    Don’t get your point at all. Nobody is suggesting this vehicle should be manual only, just that it should be offered as an option. You want an auto / CVT – great – you can buy one. Some enthusiasts want a manual – and we can’t buy one on this car. Is there something about the mere existence of a manual option that you find bothersome?

  • avatar
    200k-min

    IMHO this new Maxima still isn’t the 4DSC that the Maxi of the early 90′s was. I’ve always had a fondness for that Maxima like many have for the same gen Camcords. Additionally, a close friend has a Maxima from the early 2000′s model range that has been anything but reliable with mechanical and electrical gremlins that have left most Nissan techs baffled, and leaving me leary of the brand after Nissans very poor handling of the situations with that vehicle.

    As for styling I’d call the latest version mediocre at best. Better than the current crop of Camcords but are they really competitiors? That’s where the Maxima confuses me. Is it to compete against the likes of Buick and the Avalon? If so why make it “sporty?” You mention the Acura TL. Ok, but cloth seats don’t sound like luxury. And as for ride/handling/power does it even compare to the likes of a Lexus GS350 or 5 series or Audi A6, etc? I’ve driven the previous gen Maxima and it’s not even close to that category of vehicle.

    All that said, the Maxima is a nameplate with history. Make it what it originally was – a direct competitor to the Camry and Accord. Fight it out with Mazda over the “sporty” niche.

    • 0 avatar

      The Maxima’s role as a 4DSC has been supplanted by the Altima 3.5 SR, a stiffer and lighter car. Consumer Reports accurately calls it an upscale sedan above the Accord and Altima, but below Lexus and the like. The S trim I reviewed comprises a small portion of Maxima sales. Most are the SV-trim, which complements the Infiniti styling with an Infiniti interior.

      I haven’t driven the cars you mention. Straight-line performance is better than some and worse than others. Cost is not comparable. All of the RWD cars will have better balance when pushed past 7/10. The current Maxima is not kin to the old versions; I can only suggest that you try one and see if you like it.

      Other comment responses:

      Mirko Reinhardt:

      The first draft of this review was for a 2009 Maxima S rental car. I bought a 2010 model soon after and emended the text for model year changes.

      tedward:

      While I’d like to review the Maxima as a driving enthusiast, I simply don’t have the capacity. This car is easily capable of doubling the speed limit, at all times, everywhere. The compromises of the FWD platform don’t become apparent on public roads until you’ve transcended the law and common decency. If you want something to track, the Maxima is not your huckleberry. For everyone else, it’ll be a fine daily-driver with enough sport to keep the ride home from dulling into a haze.

      Updates:

      The CVT does not blip the throttle on manual downshifts in Ds mode. Upshifts are almost instant, and downshifts, a bit lazy. This may change if you prod the transmission hard enough.

      My car developed an interior rattle soon after I brought it home. It appears intermittently around 1300 RPM and has been difficult to pin down. I suspect a back-seat trim piece.

      Mileage has been 21.5 MPG with 93-octane and 20.5 MPG with 89 over a combination of fast highway driving and short trips. The car has about 800 miles on the clock. Mid-grade seems to have little, if any performance drop from premium.

      Contrary to the article text, the S model does have manual lumbar support.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    Just tell me where is my 6 speed manual? Huh? Huh? Huh?

  • avatar
    Junebug

    I guess companies make more automatics because of the demand, makes business sense. My Dad, who was born in 1909 and learned to drive on a Model T, and also drove trucks carrying fresh produce from Florida to New York, use to cuss manual cars. I guess he had his fill of gear changing. He use to say that the GM 3 speed (turbo 350/400) was the best transmission made. My first car was a 1972 Chevy Z-28 with a 4 speed, he had to teach me to drive it. I guess  former Marine Corp sargents make great teachers, cause I learned, and I also learned that ol Dad was right about the gears. I found I’d rather be holding on to my girl friend than rowing a hurst 4 speed. I sold that Z and got a fat Monte Carlo and got laid for the first time – case closed!

  • avatar
    smtp4me

    I am considering a Maxima for my next purchase.  I’ve done my homework and have test driven a 2010 SV.  Although I was impressed I still have reservations:
    The Maxima is positioned as Nissan’s flagship car, with a price tag in the mid-thirties ($35k) for the SV model.  In this market, and with its price tag, it is being compared to low-end Infiniti, Lexus, Acura, and even BMW or Mercedes.  But it just doesn’t measure up to these cars.
    With the 3.5SR Altima offering a 270hp V6 and Premium/Sport packages, for ~$4k less, what is the incentive to buy a Maxima?  If I’m going to spend $35k shouldn’t I consider one of the other brands mentioned above and get more for my money?

  • avatar
    DCLawyer68

    This is a great review and right on in my experience.

    I replaced my 1998 Maxima with a loaded 2009 (essentially the same as the 2010) and everything you’ve said good and bad is right in my view. First, fully loaded, I think you’ll find its still thousands less expensive than a loaded BWM 3 class, Mercedes C, etc (perhaps not a base one, but that’s not comparing apples to apples).

    I’d recommend trying an Altima as well to see if they price difference is worth it to you. That’s a judgment call.

    “A fine daily-driver with enough sport to keep the ride home from dulling into a haze” is a very nice summary David. Two years later I still love driving it.

  • avatar
    340-4

    Wonderful review. I don’t know how many times I’ve read it over the last year as I shopped for a new vehicle.

    And this last Friday I bought a ’12 Maxima S with the Limited Edition package. $5k off, even.

    So far so good; waiting for good weather and some long highway cruises.

    The only things I don’t like: no remote start (!) and a somewhat mediocre base stereo.

    But ah, the cloth seats, the headroom, and the smooth CVT!


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