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?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.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.
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
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