2011 Maxima New Car Test Drive
The Nissan Maxima occupies a unique place in Nissan's lineup. It's a midsize sedan like the Altima, but it costs more, comes with more equipment, and is sportier. It's close to the price of the rear-wheel-drive Infiniti G37, but the Maxima has front-wheel drive instead of rear-wheel drive so it isn't as sporty as the G37.
The Maxima is engineered, built, tuned and aimed at drivers who prefer sporty handling and a firmer ride as opposed to the softer, more luxurious rides associated with many cars in this class.
The 2011 Nissan Maxima competes with the Acura TL, Infiniti G, Cadillac CTS, and Toyota Avalon, as well as deluxe versions of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
The Nissan Maxima features a notably wide track, which helps the chassis handle the corners on its wide tires. Maxima's underpinnings are shared with other Nissan front-wheel-drive models, including the Murano and Altima. Sized close to the Altima, the Maxima's platform is measurably stiffer.
Maxima Sport and Premium models benefit from a large steel panel behind the rear seat to connect the floor, walls and package shelf into a single unit that, according to Nissan, is up to 17 percent stiffer than the base model, all aimed at sharper handling. Sport versions also add a brace across the front suspension towers for greater stiffness and steering precision. We think that's a vote in favor of the Premium and Sport packages, though it means giving up the cargo benefits of a folding rear seat. Upgrading to these packages is more than the sum of their feature lists.
Changes for the 2011 model year are minor. They involve mostly minor appearance tweaks for cars equipped with the Sport package. This package now includes smoked headlights, a dark chrome grille, and shiny gray interior stitching. All 2011 Nissan Maxima models also get rolled edge tailpipe finishers and two new exterior colors.
The 2011 Nissan Maxima is offered in two models, S and SV.
All 2011 Nissan Maxima models are motivated by a 290-horsepower 3.5-liter dohc V6 engine and come with Nissan's Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT), which works like an automatic.
Nissan Maxima S ($31,400) comes standard with cloth upholstery, eight-way power driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, four-way power front passenger seat, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, interior air filter, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, trip computer, power moonroof, cruise control, intelligent key and starter button, eight-speaker AM/FM/MP3 sound system with six-disc CD changer, auxiliary input jack, Bluetooth wireless cell phone link, tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic headlights, theft-deterrent system, and P245/45VR18 tires on alloy wheels.
Nissan Maxima SV ($34,100) upgrades with leather upholstery, nine-speaker Bose sound system with speed-sensitive volume control, driver's seat with a thigh extension and power lumbar, compass, fog lights, HomeLink universal garage door opener, turn signal repeaters in the mirrors, and XM Satellite Radio.
Options for the SV: The Sport package ($2,100) features a sport-tuned suspension, P245/40VR19 tires, rear spoiler, HID xenon headlights, upgraded leather upholstery, heated front seats, heated leather steering wheel, power tilt/telescoping steering column, paddle shifters, automatic entry/exit system (with two-driver memory), driver-side memory (driver's seat, outside mirrors, steering wheel), rear bucket seats, rear-seat trunk pass-through, large rear-seat fold-down center armrest, heated outside mirrors with reverse tilt-down feature and auto-dimming on the driver's side, and metallic-link trim.
The Premium package ($3,300) features rear air conditioning controls, premium leather upholstery, heated/cooled driver's seat, heated passenger seat, power tilt/telescoping heated steering wheel, paddle shifters, memory system (driver's seat, mirrors, steering wheel), rear bucket seats, trunk pass-through, Eucalyptus woodgrain interior trim, heated mirrors with driver's side auto-dimming and tilt-down back-up aid, dual-panel moonroof, seven-inch color monitor, rearview camera, USB port, 9.3-gigabyte Music Box hard drive, power rear sunshade, xenon headlights.
The Technology package ($1,850) adds the hard drive Navigation system with voice recognition and XM NavTraffic and XM NavWeather, 9.3-gigabyte Music Box hard drive, and seven-inch touch-screen color monitor. A Monitor package ($700) comes with the seven-inch color monitor, rearview camera, USB port, and a two-gigabyte hard drive.
Stand-alone options include the Cold package ($400) with heated front seats, outside mirrors and steering wheel; HID headlights ($400); and a rear spoiler ($375).
Safety features on all models include dual-stage frontal, side-impact and side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes with brake assist; Vehicle Dynamic Control (electronic stability control); Traction Control; tire-pressure monitoring; and active front head restraints.
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