Nissan Maxima SE Review

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nissan maxima se review

The Nissan Maxima is the Madonna of mid-priced motors. It can perform wild and sensational stunts, come home, pop on the kettle and write heart-warming children's books. Not bad for a car whose roots stretch back to 1981, when it was a 120hp wagon called a Datsun 810. Those days, salesmen probably threw in a couple of lawn chairs and two tickets to Grease at the drive-in to move the metal. Now all they have to do is toss a potential customer the keys.

Or just let them study the car for a while. The Maxima's body looks the way the Cadillac CTS wishes it did, before its designer decided to run for Mayor of Polygon Town. It's a clean, fresh design that's deceptively attractive. At first glance, it's easy to mistake the Maxima for another Japanese blandmobile. But then, as you experience the car's perfect proportions and restrained detailing in various lights and settings, the design begins to work its magic. Before you know it, words like 'handsome' and 'Nissan' seem less like oxymorons, and more like an invitation to a VIP room.

Enter the enclave, and you encounter an interior that would make Elvis Presley's footwear proud. The Maxima's suede seats and doors are ridiculous in theory, elegant in practice. They add a welcome touch of glamor to a car previously known for its fundamental worthiness. The motorcycle-style guages and funky three-spoke wheel provide yet more proof that Nissan knows how to sex-up an automotive workplace.

Crank up the stereo and you'll know that Nissan has this interior fun thing fully wired. The Bose eight-speaker sound system puts out some serious tunage, in both volume and clarity. The in-dash six-disc CD player also offers mp3 and a tape-deck (in case you like that scratchy, hissing sound destroying your system). On the downside, Nissan's designers seem pathologically averse to multi-functionality; the centre console is a button pusher's paradise.

The Mohawk "skyview-roof' is also a feature too far. While I liked Mr. T as much as everyone else, this roof is about as useless as his hair cut. Even the A-team had enough sense not to turn their van into a greenhouse. The heavy glass allows in extra heat, and aggravates you every time you look at it and realize it doesn't actually open. On the positive side, ornithologists will enjoy the opportunity to analyse splattered droppings from our feathered friends. Nissan should not have SHIFTed thinking and installed a standard functional moonroof, or, better still, nothing at all.

The Maxima is powered by Nissan's versatile V6; the same 3.5-liter engine motivates vehicles ranging from the Quest minivan to the 350Z sports car. Nissan tweaked the Maxima's powerplant to deliver 265hp and 255ft.lbs. of torque. The test car came with a five-speed automatic gearbox, complete with tip-tronic. So equipped, the Maxima reaches 60mph in a blistering 6.3 seconds. Even better, the surfeit of free-flowing torque and silken gear changes mean you can order your Venti bold without extra room and not spill a drop.

Thanks to an extremely wide front track, wide low profile tires, and a relatively low body weight, the Maxima is a spry beast, as happy tackling the twisties as schlepping the groceries. If only Nissan had left the VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) at the lab. Understeer? Oversteer? Who knows? The moment your driving begins to get interesting, the handling Nanny closes the book. With this watchdog engaged, you might as well be driving the eighties version for all the raw excitement the Maxima delivers.

Luckily, you can turn off the VDC and experience the pleasures of a chassis designed by… kill joys. The Maxima's nose is genetically predisposed to washing wide during hard corners. While this makes the Maxima an entirely safe steer, where's the fun in that? Strange that Nissan provides us with a boisterous 265 ponies, but dismisses the superb handling offered in their rear wheel drive (or AWD for that matter) Infiniti.

Still, you've got to give Nissan credit for checking more boxes than the competition. It's got more interior and cargo space and more amenities (e.g. heated seats and Bose audio) than the Volvo S60, VW Passat GL, and Acura TSX. Moreover, the Maxima embarrasses its rivals in the raw power department. Its closest rival is the TSX, which falls short by 65hp and 89ft.lbs. of torque. For enthusiasts living in a material world, the Maxima is THE material girl.

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  • Jeff S I am not a fan of Tesla and they were niche vehicles but it seems that they have become more common. I doubt if I get an EV that it would be a Tesla. The electrical grid will have to be expanded because people over the long run are not going to accept the excuse of the grid can't handle people charging their EVs.
  • AMcA The '70 Continentals and Town Cars may have been cousins to the standard body Fords and Mercurys, they didn't have to be disguised, because they had unique, unbelievably huge bodies of their own. Looking at the new 1970 interior, I'd say it was also a cost savings in sewing the seat. Button tufted panels like the 1969 interior had require a lot of sewing and tufting work. The 1970 interior is mostly surface sewing on a single sheet of upholstery instead of laboriously assembled smaller pieces. FINALLY: do I remember correctly that the shag carpet shown under these cars was a Photoshop? They didn't really go so peak '70s as to photograph cars on shag carpets, did they?
  • Inside Looking Out Toyota makes mass market cars. Their statement means that EVs are not mass market yet. But then Tesla managed to make mass market car - Mode; 3. Where I live in CA there are more Tesla Model 3s on streets than Corollas.
  • Ltcmgm78 A lot of dirt must turn before there's an EV in every driveway. There must be a national infrastructure plan written by other than politicians chasing votes. There must be reliable batteries that hopefully aren't sourced from strategic rivals. There must be a way to charge a lot of EVs. Toyota is wisely holding their water. There is a danger in urging unplanned and hasty moves away from ICE vehicles. Do we want to listen to unending speeches every election cycle that we are closer than we have ever been to 100% electrification and that voting for certain folks will make it happen faster? Picture every car in your town suddenly becoming all electric and a third of them need a charge or the driver will be late for work. This will take a lot of time and money.
  • Kendahl One thing I've learned is that cars I buy for local errands tend to be taken on 1,000 mile trips, too. We have a 5-speed Focus SE that has gone on longer trips than I ever expected. It has served us well although, if I had it to do over again, I would have bought an ST. At the time of purchase, we didn't plan to move from 1,000 feet elevation to 6,500. The SE is still adequate but the ST's turbo and extra power would have been welcome.
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