2004 Maxima New Car Test Drive
The all-new 2004 Nissan Maxima is quick and stylish. With the Altima assuming the role of a bigger, more powerful car, the Maxima has moved up market to a pricier position. The latest Maxima is intended to dazzle its driver with refinement and available equipment, and it will likely sell to a fraction of the number of buyers who like the popular Altima.
So the Maxima makes no apologies for what it can't do: It's really no place for children, it looks weird from some angles, and it's not any quicker than the Altima.
That's just fine by us. We like the Maxima's unique, highly styled personality and we like its focus on performance. The sporty Maxima SE rides smoothly and quietly, while the more luxurious Maxima SL rides more softly. Cruising on the highway is effortless and Nissan's 265-horsepower V6 delivers responsive performance for quick passes. Maxima's interior is innovative and comfortable with seats that are supportive and luxurious. The interesting Skyview roof, a glass panel running lengthwise over the front and rear seats, is the sort of feature associated with futuristic concept cars. Also interesting are the available rear bucket seats. Together, these features make back-seat riders feel like full-fledged adult passengers.
Two models of Nissan Maxima are available: 3.5 SE and 3.5 SL. Maxima SE is aimed at the driving enthusiast, while Maxima SL is more luxurious.
SE ($26,950) comes with a choice of six-speed manual transmission or five-speed automatic (same price). SE comes standard with a firmer suspension and larger 18-inch wheels and tires, as well as the unique Skyview fixed roof window that stretches from between the front seat passengers to the rear seat area.
SL ($28,900) comes with a four-speed automatic. SL comes standard with leather heated seats and a stereo with more capability, as well as a softer ride on its 17-inch wheels and tires. SL also comes loaded with features that are options on the SE.
You can upgrade your SE to have the fancy stereo and all the luxury items that are standard on the SL, but you can't turn your SL into more of a driver's car with the bigger wheels and stiffer suspension. Maxima SE options packages: Sensory Package ($2350) includes the fancy stereo heated leather seats and a four-way power front-passenger seat (all standard on SL). SE Driver Preferred Package ($3550) adds the Sensory Package contents, plus rear spoiler, xenon headlights, driver memory system including steering wheel, outside mirrors and driver’s seat, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, electric folding mirrors, driver seat power lumbar support, power entry/exit seat (A/T only) and heated steering wheel. To the above, the SE Journey Package ($5550) adds DVD navigation system with 7-inch color center display to SE models with automatic transmissions. The SE Elite Package ($6400) adds two-passanger rear seating, rear center console, auto up/down rear windows, rear power sunshade with front and rear controls, heated rear seats and rear 12V power point to the above.
Similar packages are available for the Maxima SL at much lower prices.
Vehicle Dynamic Control ($900) is available for both models. A limited-slip front differential ($350) is available for the SE. A conventional sunroof ($900) is also available.