2010 Nissan Maxima

The Good:
– Attractive exterior styling
– Upscale cabin ambience
– Solid engine performance
The Bad:
– Average handling dynamics
– Faux CVT sport mode
– Steering feel of a camel

Two decades ago, choices for sports sedans were limited to either expensive German models or unreliable Aussie-American ones. There was a huge gap in the market for an inexpensive dependable four-door that could hang with sports cars, even if largely in a straight line. And as far as we could remember, only the Nissan Maxima managed to fill that gap, even if it wasn’t much more than a typical family car with a strong engine. By the time other manufacturers caught up, the Maxima name had already established some notoriety.

Promoted back in the day as a “Four Door Sports Car” complete with “FDSC” stickers, Nissan has revived that moniker for the new-generation Maxima, even in the face of strong competition. The fact that it is wrong-wheel-drive and CVT-driven makes matters more cloudy, but maybe it could surprise everyone. It certainly looks the part, with bulging front and rear fenders, angry headlights, rear lip spoiler, dual exhaust tips and big 19-inch wheels.

The interior immediately gives off an upscale vibe, thanks to adequate use of soft-touch materials and creamy leather surfaces, alongside bits of fake metal and wood trim. It also helps that there was a big LCD computer in the middle of our tester’s dash, lifted straight out of the Infiniti parts bin. It can easily take on the Lexus ES in ambience.

Based on the same platform as the Altima, the American-built Maxima therefore has exactly the same wheelbase as its cheaper cousin. This also means rear legroom is the same, which is wholly adequate but not as much as in midsizers like the Accord or Camry. However, thanks to its beefier styling, it has more rear headroom than the Altima. The power-adjustable front chairs look thick, but have almost no bottom side-bolstering. The rear bench is shaped for two, but can fit three. Luggage trunk space is expectedly immense, with a full-size spare wheel underneath and a split-folding rear seat with pass-through feature to carry long items. At least four covered cup-holders and a few storage cubbies are spread about the cabin.

There is enough tech in the top model to pass of the Maxima as an entry-level luxury car. The LCD touchscreen includes button controls as well as a rotary selector, and it controls the navigation, stereo, a/c, Bluetooth and other settings. The strong dual-zone automatic a/c does have its own separate buttons up front, with simple vents in the back. The stereo, which also has the main functions as separate buttons, performs rather decently and also offers USB connectivity. The DVD changer is in the boot. All the usual accessories are there, including a sunroof, HID headlights, LED tails, rear camera, powered rear sunshade, cruise control and a multitude of airbags. Only the driver’s seat has ventilation fans and an extendable thigh support in the top version.

The Maxima’s crowing glory is the 3.5-litre V6, as seen in the host of other Nissan models. Tuned for 290 hp at 6400 rpm here, it offers 350 Nm of torque at 4400 rpm, channelled to the front wheels via a gearless CVT transmission. Pounding on the throttle pedal results in the revs hitting redline and staying there until you let off, although there are two big paddle-shifter to “shift” gears with if you’re really bored. Leaving the shifter in “Drive” resulted in a 0-100 kph time of 7.5 seconds during our April tests, with no wheelspin due to the revs being limited to 2000 rpm on idle. Ironically, slipping the shifter into “Drive-Sport” mode resulted in half-a-second longer times because the computer throws in fake “shifts” to simulate the shocks between gear changes. Our tested fuel-economy average of 13.2 litres per 100 km is on par with most Vee-sixers.

But the Maxima actually feels like a fast car thanks to solid mid-range power, which is what really matters. When already cruising at 80 kph, jumping up to 140 kph offers a satisfying surge under full throttle. It also rides comfortably, with a mild firmness that keeps Toyota-like floatiness at bay over dips and bumps. Road and wind noise aren’t class-leadingly subdued, but the cabin is reasonably quiet at 120 kph. And parking is made easy with sensors, rear camera with guiding lines on the screen, and light steering. It really is a rather decent luxury car.

And that really is the problem with this car. It should be marketed as a luxury car, not a sports sedan. It does fine around corners, but only compared to other midsize family cars. There is limited, but noticeable body roll, and it is eliminated immediately after leaving the turn and straightening the wheel. Understeer also makes the front tyres squeal when pushed hard on tight curves, but grip levels are rather good from the 245/40 tyres, so it can hold on longer than many other cars in this segment. The power steering is slightly more weighted compared to the regular Altima, but still on the light side and with very little feel. The ABS-assisted disc brakes do fine in any situation, with good pedal feel and stability-control nannies keeping the car straight. The parking brake is a foot-operated affair.

That said, we actually came to like this car. In traffic, it felt like driving an Infiniti. On the highway, it is comfortable and powerful, which is usually the only criteria for segment buyers in this region. Nissan is really pushing the boundaries on its upper-level cars, fitting them out to be a luxury range unto itself. Between the new Murano and the new Patrol, the new Maxima rounds out a trio of cars that could’ve simply been badged as Infiniti, and none would’ve been the wiser.

12 comments to 2010 Nissan Maxima

  • Sunil

    Only negative otherwise to a sportier car is CVT.

  • Rizwal

    Hello Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury, i really enjoy reading your reviews.. I wanted to know one thing about this vehicle, when u set the cruise control speed, does the speed show up on the vehicle information center? i am really curious about this and i cant make up my mind between altima and maxima.. what do u suggest?

    • Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury

      Not sure. Probably not, but why would you need that anyway? The speedometer needle stops at the cruise control speed.

  • Rizwal

    vehicle information center where the average fuel and other warnings are displayed..

  • Bobby

    he means digital speedometer?

  • Muhammad Jasim

    Heads up, the 2014 model has arrived in the showrooms and the prices have been increased. Bad news though, there is no mid-option (SV) Maxima in the UAE. Theres basic (S) priced at 112600 AED and the top range model (SR) priced at 139400 AED. Good news though, if you buy the basic, you can opt in for the nplus trim which is a tech trim of sorts. What it adds is navigation, rear view camera, LED day time running lights, leather seats, bluetooth, remote engine starter, sun shade and a badge that says nplus on your car . The price for this is, surprisingly, 7500 AED.

    You can see where Nissan went with this. You are making your mid level nissan by adding the n-plus trim and making the final cost of car 120100 AED.

    • saad

      well just before you plan on getting the Nplus package (Tech Pack) be sure to find out if they are using the local market accessories or the original which come from the Nissan factory.

  • Tim

    I’ve had one for over a year now the top spec one with all the goodies thinking it was a sports sedan, Completely agree what I really bought was nice entry luxury car and it’s very good at that. Enough performance for the UAE but very comfortable and lots of toys. I have also grown to like it despite thinking it was a bit anonymous to start with.

  • mohammed

    Hi mashfique..one question…do we get paddle shifters in the SV trim or its only available in SR?

  • khalid

    whay nissan maxima top speed is 211 but toyota auriyon is 230

  • santhosh

    Hey, I am really confused between the new 2015 maxima base one which is now available for 87K, with 5years warranty during this Eid, or to go with 2 years used Infiniti G25 made around 50K in the clock, for the same price from Nissan certified cars. any suggestion please. i am not very much into power, but its better to have. Mostly will be used for highway cruising and what about the resale value. Any experience with the fuel economy.
    thanks

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