2001 Maxima New Car Test Drive
With a free-revving V6 engine, the Nissan Maxima has always been the mid-size sedan of choice for those who place driving enjoyment high on their priority list.
The Maxima's credentials are impressive. All models come standard with a 222-horsepower V6 engine that is one of the best, if not the best, available today. A rigid chassis fitted with a sports suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, high-performance tires, and a five-speed manual gearbox give the Maxima a sporty demeanor, while sporty styling makes it look ready for action. The Maxima is practical as well, with roomier front seats and a bigger trunk than the Accord or the Camry.
Nissan is celebrating a birthday for the Maxima this year by offering an SE 20th Anniversary Edition with performance and visual upgrades. The Maxima was totally redesigned and re-engineered for the 2000 model year, so it gets few updates for 2001.
Nissan may never sell as many Maximas as Honda sells Accords or Toyota sells Camrys, but Nissan does sell more Maximas than the V6 versions of the Accord and Camry.
Four models are available: an unadorned GXE ($21,249), a sporty SE ($23,849), a luxurious GLE ($26,449), and the new SE 20th Anniversary Edition ($27,149). A four-speed automatic is a $1700 option on the base GXE, a $500 addition to the SE models, and standard on the GLE.
The GXE, GLE and SE come with the same 222-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 engine. Nissan officials say their twin-cam V6 is the best available and they may be right. By comparison, the Camry V6 offers 194 horsepower, the Accord V6 makes 200 and the Lexus ES 300 V6 delivers 210. The entire model lineup also shares a sporty suspension and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS. Front airbags are standard, side airbags are optional. Traction control is an option.
The GXE comes with an attractive price and a high level of standard equipment. The SE comes with a sporty cloth interior and titanium-faced gauges. It is distinguished by a rear spoiler, black trim around the grille and black trim around the taillights; the latter is most noticeable on lighter colored cars. (The spoiler and SE trim are not available for other models.) The SE is fitted with a unique set of sporty five-spoke 16-inch alloy wheels with 17-inchers available as an option. The automatic-equipped GLE comes with an attractive leather interior, an option on the SE.
The SE 20th Anniversary Edition benefits from a 5 horsepower increase, to 227, courtesy of a revised exhaust system with less back pressure. It also gets a limited-slip differential, 17-inch alloy wheels, plus visual cues such as a different engine cover, side sills and a rear under-spoiler, bronze-colored headlamps, drilled metal petals and metal-look interior trim.
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