After spending some time in the Maxima's cockpit, I can really give you my impressions of the interior. First of all, the interior is different from most cars in its class. From a design perspective, there is certainly more interest here than many of the Maxima's competitors. I do have issues with it, but I'll get to that later.
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Let?s talk about the details. There are some touches that really make you take notice. Some are small details, others are simply nice features. The first thing that you notice when you step into the car is the dash. The dash slopes down from the windshield and almost appears to float there. The gauge cluster comes out of the dash instead of being in the dash. The door panel covering is carried from the doors and wraps around the back of the dash, adding to the sensation that the dash is floating in front of you. There are some nice design elements throughout the interior of the car. The doors themselves have nicely designed armrests, and even the control stalks on the steering column seem to have been designed with an artful touch.
The car also features an AM/FM/CD/Cassette. Having an actual cassette in dash is becoming a rarity in this day and age. It?s not really a necessity for everyone, but it may appeal to some people. The Maxima also has the usual features, but the one-touch up and down windows are nice to have on both front windows. Also, the driver?s power seat was able to handle a variety of drivers, and the cockpit design is friendly to both tall and more vertically challenged drivers. Many other cars in the Maxima?s class put the driver in an enveloping cockpit that may be difficult for shorter drivers to get a good view of the road. I found the Maxima to provide a flexible, comfortable cockpit. I got mixed reviews on the backseat, however. Some passengers found it to be a comfortable and inviting place, others did not.
Well, that was the good impressions. Now, I?ve got issues with a couple things. The steering wheel controls do not light up at night, so it takes a minute to figure out which button does what in the dark. Once you memorize the controls, it is not an issue, but I feel it is an oversight that could?ve been easily corrected. At first I was pretty impressed with the interior overall, but then I peeked into a 2005 Altima and was not so impressed anymore. There is a lot of component sharing, and the quality is about the same. Nissan interiors have never really impressed me from a materials standpoint. The first time I sat in the new Altima, I thought to myself how cheap it felt. The Maxima is a little better, but still it is not the best out there. I also wonder how durable the fake aluminum trim will be. The same concerns could be applied to the door handles. How long will it be before the finish wears off? Also, the SkyView roof did not offer much of a sky view. From my perspective, it simply provided some natural light into the cabin, but little else. It is too narrow. It does not open either, so it?s merely a conversation piece in my book. I would spend the coin and get a real sunroof.
As far as the driving impressions are concerned, well this car is no slouch. There is a reason why the Nissan V6 wins so many awards. It is such a flexible, powerful, engine. The transmission also seems very intelligent and does not take long to figure out. I?ll get into a more detailed driving impression later. I do have one thing to say; even if it is FWD it still goes like stink. Only when I turned the traction control off and goosed it from a stop did I really have to wrestle with it during acceleration. Once you?re rolling, the V6 provides plenty of power. Even in the handling department, the car doesn?t really disappoint. Once I take the car through some serious back roads, I?ll have a better idea on the handling front.