Review: Maxima maximizes comfort

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Fri., Aug. 26, 2011
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

There are certain cars that strike your fancy for purely aesthetic reasons. They have the kind of styling that really pulls you in, and if it turns out that the driving experience lives up to the rest of the car’s allure, then you can have a very satisfactory relationship. Then, there are other attractive qualities that may lead you to a car, such as its performance numbers or fuel economy ratings, and these features, too, may be just the thing to spark your interest.

When it comes to the Nissan Maxima, I find the car incredibly appealing, but the thing that won me over about this roomy, performance-oriented sedan was something quite unexpected, and certainly not found in its attractive styling or excellent performance numbers (or even it’s tight, well-mannered chassis). The attribute that put the car in my desirable autos list was something much more elemental, and yet critical to any car’s success. But I’ll get this detail in a moment.

Since its inception in 1981, Nissan has liked to refer to the Maxima as its “four-door sports car.”

Nissan’s Al Castignetti describes the latest edition thusly: “In Maxima, elegance has an edge. From its crisp body lines to its razor-sharp performance, Maxima stands out against a field of vanilla-flavored mid-size sedans. As the flagship of our sedan lineup, Maxima continues to exemplify the Nissan brand, with its unmatched combination of style, performance, comfort, technology and value.”

These are lofty claims, but our front-drive Maxima 3.5 SE tester definitely had the goods. Powered by a 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower and an Xtronic Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT), acceleration is quite crisp, with 60 mph arriving in just over six seconds. The optional Sport Package on our tester included a sport-tuned suspension that kept cornering flat and gobbled up road irregularities with little fuss. Steering is very responsive, thanks to a steering system with the quickest steering ratio of any Nissan sedan. The brakes are as powerful as the drivetrain, and hauled the substantial car down from 60 mph in an average of 119 feet. All these excellent performance enhancements are accompanied by an equal measure of refinement, making for a very appealing sport/luxury personality.

Now to the feature that really made this Maxima such a great traveling companion for me: the seats. The Sport Package includes heated premium leather appointed seats, and the driver’s perch is easily one of the most agreeable I’ve ever experienced. It’s a great combination of suppleness and support, and if I was a traveling salesman, I could see myself logging many painless miles with such a comfortable driver’s station.

So what the Maxima is to me is an unusually good driver’s seat, surrounded by a really satisfying (and sporty) automobile that is as refined as it is competent at straightening out a curvy road. The 2011 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV is EPA-rated 19 MPG city/26 highway and has a base price of $33,530. With options, our MSRP came to $39,090. www.nissanusa.com.


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