If only in philosophy and not execution, the Maxima has always attempted to convey a performance-first attitude. However, if there was a time when the idea of a “four door sports car” was unique, now would not be it. And not because things like the Porsche Panamera are roaming about either. In fact, nearly every automaker has something in their garage that they offer up as their take on the sporty family sedan. The reality is that it has been awhile, too long in fact, that Nissan offered a truly competitive sports sedan. Perhaps they were distracted by the GT-R or Z. Or maybe they saved the best they had for their Infiniti brand. So it is with more than a little skepticism that we examine the 2010 Maxima, which according to Nissan is the best thing with four doors.
Available as a base 3.5S or 3.5 SV model the Maxima is at a distinct disadvantage among the sport sedan crowd if only because its front-wheel-drive configuration can only go so far against the likes of BMW and Audi. To their credit, Nissan has eliminated nearly all torque steer which plagues FWD cars and the Maxima is not exactly without its share of power. The 3.5-liter V6 engine that Nissan implements in the Maxima is the same used by big brother Infiniti, and turns out 290 horsepower that can propel the Maxima to 0-60 mph times in the 6 second range. Although a manual is disappointingly absent, Nissan seems to have solved the CVT riddle as well as anyone, and shifting is surprisingly solid, smooth, and pleasing to drive, especially in “sport” mode. For 2010, Nissan has revamped the Maxima’s suspension, steering and braking to deliver almost unanimously positive reviews from testers. A sport package, with tighter suspension settings, and a luxury-oriented Premium package are also available on SV models. Unfortunately, while the Maxima is not anemic by any means, the marketing of it as some sort of sports car or even sports sedan alternative are not accurate. Think sporty more than sports.
Fuel economy is unremarkable, which is to say that it is not a major detractor with EPA estimates of 19 and 26 mpg in city and highway driving.
Redisigned last year, the 2010 Maxima finally returns after several fugly years to a handsome design that while distinctly different from the competition, does not resort to odd sunroofs or styling to grab attention. Like other Nissan offerings including the Z, the Maxima carries a wide stance, prominent fender bulges and flared headlights that as a whole make it positively aggressive compared to other family sedans. We can’t imagine many RideLust readers would disagree with this assessment, though we would agree that the styling of the Maxima is definitely not for everyone.
Interior and Amenties
Inside, the Maxima borrows liberally from Nissan’s luxury Infiniti brand, and with good results. In fact, complaints in this area are that the Maxima does not more widely adopt the higher-end materials from Infiniti. In their defense, logic would seem to dictate that Nissan create a reasonable distance and differetiation between the two brands, otherwise what is the point. In any case, we are of the opinion that quality and fit of the interior is on par for this segment. In terms of the overall interior concept, Nissan makes use of a dual cockpit configuration that, among other things, features a shifter that is moved closer to the driver’s seat. Speaking of seating, because of the Maxima’s appeal to more spirited driving, both the front and rear seats are firmly bolstered and snug, which may or may not fit into everyone’s expectations for this car. Particularly if they are of any sort of increased girth. The driver’s seat comes with eight-way power adjustability, along with a very welcome manually adjustable thigh support. The manually adjustable steering wheel can be upgraded to a power tilt-and-telescoping version, something many testers felt was worth the cost. Opting for the premium package ($3,450) gains a pair of rear bucket seats, which also reduces occupant capacity from five to four. Prominently displayed in the center of the dash is the Maxima’s “infotainment interface” that like much of the interior, is used in models from Infiniti. Though these sorts of systems often confuse more than assist, (we are looking at you BMW), the big knob studded with directional buttons that is situated below the navigation LCD is mostly a pleasure to use.
Those looking for value in their next sedan purchase will likely be pleased witht the long list of standard features on the 2010 Maxima. The base model S comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, cruise control, a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt/telescoping steering column, eight-way driver and four-way passenger power front seats, a 60/40-split rear seat, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a trip computer, an auto-dimming inside mirror and an in-dash six-CD changer with an auxiliary audio jack. The Maxima SV adds foglamps, a driver seat manual thigh-support extender and power lumbar support, leather upholstery, a compass, a Homelink universal garage remote and a nine-speaker Bose stereo upgrade. The SV can be equipped with either the Premium or Sport packages, which offer much of the same equipment but differ in key areas. Both add transmission paddle shifters, xenon headlights, a driver-side auto-dimming outside mirror, heated front seats, driver memory functions with automatic entry/exit, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, a heated steering wheel, rear bucket seats with a center trunk pass-through (60/40-split feature deleted), upgraded leather upholstery and trim, Bluetooth (available as a stand-alone option) and satellite radio.
The Premium Package is differentiated by a dual-panel sunroof, a rearview camera, a seven-inch LCD screen, a cooled driver seat, rear-seat audio and HVAC controls, automatic up/down rear windows, a power rear window shade, wood trim, an audio-visual auxiliary audio jack and a dedicated iPod interface. The Sport Package features a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, a rear spoiler and metallic-look interior trim. High-performance summer tires are an added option with the Sport Package. The Technology Package available on the Maxima SV adds a voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic, a rearview camera, an auxiliary audio-video jack, a dedicated iPod interface, satellite radio, a single in-dash CD player (which replaces the six-disc version) and 9.3GB of digital music storage. This package is cheaper when combined with the Premium Package, since several features overlap. The heated front seats, steering wheel and outside mirrors can also be had in the Cold Package.
Cargo capacity is slightly less than the previous version with 14.2 cubic feet of available space. Additionally opting for the premium package also negates the 60/40 split folding rear seats, leaving only a pass-through for long but thin items.
Pricing for the 2010 Maxima is still appropriate for this class, but just barely with a roughly $30,000 price tag for the base model. The SV version comes in at $33,180 with the Sport and Premium packages adding around two and three thousand bucks more. Any higher and the Maxima seriously enters into entry-level luxury territory. Though quite honestly, it has many luxury inspired features and is just attractive in some respects. In fact, if the Infiniti G37 did not exist, the Maxima would be the clear choice of the Nissan stable.