– Great acceleration
– Spacious interior
– Handsome looks
– Somewhat hard seats
– V6 not the most fuel-efiicient
– Control under full throttle
The last all-new Maxima arrived in the Middle East during the summer of 1999, wearing a new body and powered by a stronger V6 engine. The front-wheel-drive Maxima is a very popular model among the Middle East population, and appeals to both young and old alike.
This year’s changes include a redesigned power seat and interior lamp switches, new seat-belt buckles and door handles, assist grips, a high-deck boot, and standard remote keyless entry. The Maxima has all the refinements expected of a luxury sedan, with the top GV model having fully automatic air-conditioning, UV-blocking and heat-insulating window glass, automatic cruise control, electrically-power driver’s seat, and high-end audio system with six-stack in-dash CD changer.
Compared to the old pre-2000 model, the longer wheelbase pays off in a larger interior, and the extra space is most noticeable in the rear seat, which has ample legroom and adequate headroom for tall people in the outboard positions. The cloth-covered seats were firm but still comfortable. Leather is an option. The center position in the rear seat is hard and cramped. A split rear seatback that folds for additional cargo space is a new standard feature. Controls on the dashboard for the climate and stereo systems are large and well marked. The power front windows have a one-touch up and down operation. The design of the controls are convenient to understand and operate. The only downside is the controls at the top of the center stack are angled forward, away from the driver. Because of this, changing the stereo is a little difficult.
The trunk is huge and can fit two large suitcases easily. A cargo net prevents smaller items from sliding around.
A feature found in the Maxima, but rarely found in other Japanese mid-size cars, are the powerful Xenon headlamps with manual leveling system that give twice the intensity of conventional halogen headlamps. White-light illumination provides superior night-time visibility, while CSR (complex surface reflector) halogen headlamps outperform conventional halogen headlamps.
The main attraction of the Maxima is its engine. Nissan’s 3.0-litre V6 gets a massive 227 hp. This double-overhead-cam 24-valve V6 is a real player, with tons of power delivered in a refined and smooth fashion. There is more than enough torque, at 288 Nm. Power is accessed through a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. It is worth noting that Maxima models sold elsewhere already have the more powerful 3.5-litre V6 found in the Altima. Shoppers would probably like to check out the V6 Altima as well during their visit to the Nissan showroom.
The Maxima could be considered as somewhat of a sports sedan. It has a very firm ride, almost a little too harsh, but it still keels over in corners a bit too easily. So it ends being neither a proper sports sedan like the Lumina SS, nor is it a pure luxury cruiser like the Camry Grande.
Nissan prefers to use a beam rear axle in this car, which they claim helps handling. Most drivers won’t notice the difference, but the old-style beam axle is less costly to manufacture than the more precise independent rear suspension, which is a must for a sports sedan.
Another issue is its tendency to move side to side under full acceleration from a stop. This is known as torque steer, and the driver has to hold on to the steering wheel tightly to keep control. It is a tendency of every powerful front-wheel-drive car so it is not an issue unique to the Maxima. This will not be a problem for most conservative drivers, but drag racers take note.
Stopping power was good, thanks to standard four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock. Traction control is an available option, and may be a good choice when buying to handle all that torque.
While not exceptionally good-looking on the outside, Nissan’s Maxima still gets looks from bystanders sometimes and has a lot going for it that makes this a nicely done sedan.