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Drew Dowdell

Road Masters: 2012 Nissan Maxima

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July 2, 2012

Drew Dowdell - Managing Editor, CheersandGears.com

When most people think of stalwart Japanese cars, the first names that come to mind are typically the Accord and Camry. However, Nissan's had a name in the game for just as long with the Maxima. The Maxima was the first of the Japanese mid-size cars to go big, growing to 188 inches in 1988 while the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry remained decidedly more compact for a few more years. This gave the Maxima a leg up in being considered more of a luxury car than your otherwise typical Japanese sedan. The 1988 Maxima was also called a 4 Door Sports Car by Nissan in a nod to the powerful-for-time 160 horsepower V6 and a more sport tuned independent suspension. Over time, the Maxima has gained horsepower and luxury while giving up its status to the Altima as Nissan's mainstream sedan

So is Nissan's luxury sedan a master of the road?

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Great review, thank you for writting this one up. I am a bit sad to see the current status of the Maxima. This was an amazing sports sedan that actually stood out IMO to the rest of the crowd in the early days as the body style and interior made a mark.

Now this just reminds me of the bland Infinity line. I can see it in the Jelly Bean Nose, the rear end is nice but they have lost their Language Mojo.

Thanks again for the write up, glad to see the Maxima getting a bit more coverage.

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The pictures are very nice and appear as professional as what one would see on, say, Autoblog.

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Great review, thank you for writting this one up. I am a bit sad to see the current status of the Maxima. This was an amazing sports sedan that actually stood out IMO to the rest of the crowd in the early days as the body style and interior made a mark.

Now this just reminds me of the bland Infinity line. I can see it in the Jelly Bean Nose, the rear end is nice but they have lost their Language Mojo.

Thanks again for the write up, glad to see the Maxima getting a bit more coverage.

A very good response, and I really agree with you here.

The photo galler is nice, but IMHO this is one of the weakest products in terms of new cars available in the US currently.

Would you actually buy this over a Regal, a 300, an Accord, or such...

I know I wouldn't.

Nice, well worded and well written review, and thanks for the great photographs.

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The only reason the Maxima is weak is price. While the Passat may not be the most exciting car in the segment visually, you can get a similarly equipped V6 Passat for almost $7k less and it is every bit as fast and about the same in the corners as the Maxima. If you don't care much about 0-60, you can get an absolutely loaded Passat TDI with leather, heated seats, sunroof, Navi for $1k less than a base Maxima and then get 40+mpg highway.

The Maxima is a fine car and with a great power train... it is simply $7k too expensive compared to its competition.

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Overall, I kind of agree, but just find the Passat, Regal, et al to be much better cars in terms of the small details.

for some reason the Maxima has never been very appealing to me, and yes, I know that's subjective, and yes, I know its a fine car.

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Why does everything on these new Datsuns have to be so pointy, though?

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Good review.

Picture quality is good. Composition and processing can be improved. :P

here's the link to help improve it :neenerneener:

It is not the gear, it is the photographer that will fix those two problems. Even a person with Hasselblad can have those problems. :P

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I like the current Maxima a lot, save for one thing... yep, you guessed it, the CVT. Still couldn't make myself like the non-shifting feel during a one-hour test drive. That aside, it was a much better all-around drive for me -- comfort plus responsiveness -- than the Altima. As it always has been to me.

Given that Nissan markets the Maxima as a full-size sedan, however, I think that works against them. They didn't grow this generation enough, and so the Altima is actually slightly bigger than this car on the outside. Because of that, I had hoped that Nissan would make this generation a true full-sizer, but they didn't. Instead, we get a car sized like the Malibu, Fusion, Camry, Sonata, Passat, and Accord but marketed against the Impala, Taurus, Avalon, and Azera (no VW or Honda full-size offerings currently). No idea what will happen for MY '15... maybe they'll stretch it out finally.

But enough of my rambling. Good, honest review, Drew.

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I would definitely put the Passat into the full size class by today's standards and the Maxima is much closer to the Passat in size than the '13 Malibu.

I really enjoyed the CVT. I found it very responsive and a great mate to the VQ.

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Passat, then, is in the same boat as Accord... bigger than its competition, while still priced and equipped against it.

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It still seems to be a popular car, at least in the NYC metro area. I get quite a few of them when working valet at the local catering halls. The CVT I guess is just something I'd have to get used to. It doesnt seem to work as well paired up with the 4-cyl in the Altima. Why have paddle shifters either?? Esp annoying ones mounted to the column that get in the way. (Yes, I'm aware that's the way they're "supposed" to be) That being said, I do like the wide and low-slung feel that you get from behind the wheel and some of the higher optioned models feel much nicer inside but then you're talking $40k plus which isn't much value for the money.

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To me, the previous 04+ body style Maxima was the looker. It was style. Except it had junk interiors.

The new Maxima does nothing for me, despite it's mechanical highlights.

I suppose it leases well. If someone thinks the Altima is bland, just upsell and switch.

Give Nissan credit, they still move buttloads of them.

This car, despite how nice it may be would be near the bottom of my desirability list.

CVT's are still improving, give Nissan credit for keeping them at the top.

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I drove a 2013 Altima briefly on the weekend, 4 cylinder SL model.

I came away quite impressed. The interior quality is much improved, nice seats, it handles very well for its class (much better than my wife's 09 Accord), and is priced well. The CVT would take some getting used to but at under 3200lbs and well under 2000rpm on the highway I can see how it gets very good fuel economy.

Edited by frogger

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Altima to me lacks some of the awkwardness that the Maxima has. I actually like the current 2013 Altima better than the flagship Maxima...by a pretty fair margin.

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