Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nissan Maxima - Maximum Nissan

A Nissan Maxima has served me well over the last week as a commuter, family hauler and bass schlepper. Nissan's flagship, dubbed the "four door sports car," has the style and the muscle to justify that slogan.

The Maxima has been around awhile, originating as the Datsun 810 before becoming the Maxima as Nissan shed the Datsun name in the early 1980s. It's been Nissan's flagship ever since and is now in its seventh generation. The one I drove is actually built in Smyrna, Tennessee.

This latest Maxima is a large vehicle, with a dramatically sweeping treatment of the sides and a surprising ridged edge to the rippled hood. You can see this from the driver's seat, and it makes you more aware of road presence of the car from the inside--a nice trick today.

The interior fittings are much like the upscale Infiniti division, with a "floating" dash and well-equipped console. The whole experience is luxury without excess and nothing amiss. After a week driving it I can hardly remember the car--I just know it's very pleasant to drive.

There's plenty of power from the 3.5-liter V6--290 horsepower and 261 lb.-ft. of torque do the job admirably. The automatic is a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), showing that Nissan is putting this kind of "gearbox" into practically everything it builds now. I couldn't hear the transmission much, but on acceleration sometimes the engine rpms would climb more than they would in a standard, geared automatic. It all added up to 20.4 mpg average. The EPA says 19 City, 26 Highway (22 average). That's pretty close, I guess.

My car came to $40,055, including shipping and the Sport and Sport Technology packages. These significantly upgraded the car's looks and feel, but that price is really encroaching on luxury car territory.

Funny, but the XM NavWeather feature in the Sport Technology package kept warning me that it was freezing someplace within five miles of the car. I finally figured out that it must be five miles directly above in the atmosphere.

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