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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2013 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV

      The Four-Door Sports Car Gets Put To The Test

    William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    December 16, 2013

    Author's Note: With 2013 coming to a close in a couple of weeks, we've decided to clear out the remaining 2013 vehicle reviews this week. Everyday a new review will appear on the front page. If you miss one day, don't worry, we'll have links to the previous reviews just below. -WM

    Tuesday: Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD

    Wednesday: Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD

    Thursday: Toyota Land Cruiser

    Friday: Lexus LS 600h L

    During the life of the third-generation Nissan Maxima, the automaker created a new SE model that featured a 160 horsepower V6 engine (up to 190 later in its life), five-speed manual, stiffer suspension setup, and other changes to differentiate it from the standard model. Nissan dubbed it the four-door sports car and placed a sticker on the rear window denoting its status.

    Jump ahead to 2009 and the introduction of the seventh-generation Maxima, Nissan resurrected the four-door sports car moniker. With sleek styling, a 290 horsepower V6 under its hood, and sport tuned suspension, is the Maxima worthy of the 'four-door sports car' moniker? More importantly, where does the Maxima stack up in the full-size sedan class?

    2013 Nissan Maxima SV 2

    Even though the current Maxima is going on five years, it still looks very fresh on the outside. The front is very familiar to the Infiniti M Hybrid I drove last year with a long front end and grille. You also have a flowing hood shape and distinguishing headlights. The back is reminiscent of the last-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class and there is a set of dual exhaust pipes peeking out from the bumper.

    Stepping inside, you can tell very much the Maxima is not aging very well. The design is very minimal with a lot of black plastic, leather, and dark wood trim on the center stack and console. The only contrast inside is the silver trim around the vents and on the steering wheel. I have to give Nissan credit for making that black dash soft-touch and padded. You'll also find soft-touch materials along the door panels and center armrest.

    2013 Nissan Maxima SV 11

    Despite the claims that the Maxima is a full-size sedan, it really doesn't feel like it inside. You only have 95 Cubic Feet of Passenger space, much smaller than Toyota Avalon (103.6 Cubic Feet of Passenger space), Chevrolet Impala (105 Cubic Feet of Passenger space), and Kia Cadenza (106.8 Cubic Feet of Passenger space). This means the Maxima really doesn't have space for someone stretch out in the back seat. Yes, there is plenty of headroom and a decent amount of legroom. But sitting in the Maxima's back seat, I felt like I was sitting in a mid-size, not full-size sedan.

    My test Maxima came equipped with the optional nine-speaker Bose audio system and Nissan's infotainment system with a hard-drive based navigation system. The Bose system did an excellent job of pumping out sound from XM or my iPod. As for the infotainment system, the graphics are starting look relatively dated when compared to competitors. Blame the color choices and somewhat low-res screen. Performance-wise, Nissan's infotainment system is up there with Kia's UVO system by moving from one function to another in a second or so. Pairing my phone with the Maxima was easy since there was an option in the infotainment system to pair it, not the clumsy voice-command system from the Pathfinder.

    For powertrain and ride impressions, see page two.

    Powering the Maxima is a 3.5L VQ V6 with 290 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with Nissan's Xtronic CVT. The V6 has the same ferocity in its power delivery as you'll see in some V8 engines when you floor the go pedal. You'll also notice a fair bit of torque steer through the steering wheel as well. But when you decide to calm down, you'll find the V6 has a strong pull at the low end. NVH for the 3.5 is excellent. The Xtronic CVT is still one of the best CVTs on the marketplace with its ability to not exhibit the common traits of CVTs. In the Maxima, the Xtronic CVT has a special Ds mode which mimics a six-speed automatic. It's very a clever solution since it can trick anyone thinking you have a standard automatic and not a CVT. Fuel economy wise, the EPA rates the 2013 Maxima 3.5 SV at 19 City/26 Highway/22 Combined. My week saw an average of 23.2 MPG on premium gas.

    2013 Nissan Maxima SV 8

    The Maxima's trump card in the full-size sedan class is how much fun it is to drive. The suspension is setup in a way that where it minimizes body roll and keeps you planted, without sacrificing a lot of the ride comfort. Steering provides very good feel and is quick to your inputs. As for ride comfort, the Maxima smoothed over bumps and imperfections with no problem. What is disappointing is the amount of road and wind noise that comes into the cabin. Out of all the full-size sedans I have driven, I can safely say the Maxima was the noisiest.

    2013 Nissan Maxima SV 6

    On one hand, the Maxima is a really fun full-size sedan. A smart suspension setup and excellent steering make it very much worthy of the 'four-door sports car' moniker. But, the Maxima has been leap-frogged by everyone in the full-size sedan class. They have nicer interiors, more space, and quieter cabins.

    The 2013 Nissan Maxima is a very special car, but it's time for this 'four-door sports car' to take its final curtain call and have a new model ready in the wings.


    Disclaimer: Nissan Provided the Maxima, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2013

    Make: Nissan

    Model: Maxima

    Trim: 3.5 SV

    Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve V6

    Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT

    Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,400

    Torque @ RPM: 261 @ 4,400

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/26/22

    Curb Weight: 3,568 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Smyrna, Tennessee

    Base Price: $35,080

    As Tested Price: $40,385 (Includes $780.00 Destination Charge)


    SV Technology Package - $1,850.00

    SV Value Package - $1,000.00

    Monitor Package - $700.00

    HID Xenon Headlights - $400.00

    Rear Spoiler - $380.00

    Floor Mats & Trunk Mat - $195.00

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at [email protected]or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    Nice write up, always enjoyed the Maxima, but based on the pictures, it is time for a new model that is modern and competitive. Does not look like it would stand up to a 6'6" tall person driving with room for another behind. These cars need much more space.

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