2005 Maxima New Car Test Drive
The Nissan Maxima is a quick and stylish premium mid-size sedan. It coddles its driver with refinement and dazzles with luxury gadgets.
Now that the Nissan Altima has assumed the role of a roomy mid-size sedan, the Maxima has moved up-market to a premium position. The Maxima has become a more specialized product and makes no apologies for what it can't do: It's not ideal for families, it looks weird from some angles, and it's not significantly quicker than the Altima. And 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. 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.
Safety has been enhanced for 2005. Front-seat passengers benefit from Nissan's Advanced Air Bag System as standard equipment. An advanced Traction Control System (TCS) is also standard.
The Maxima is a four-door sedan with a V6 engine and front-wheel drive. It comes in two distinct flavors: The 3.5 SE is aimed at the driving enthusiast, while the 3.5 SL is more luxuriously equipped.
SE ($27,200) comes with a choice of six-speed manual transmission or five-speed automatic (for the same price). SE comes with a sports suspension and 18-inch wheels and tires. It comes equipped with all the conveniences you'd expect in a near-luxury sedan, plus the unique Skyview roof, a narrow band of glass that stretches down the roof front to rear. Traction control comes standard.
SL ($29,450) comes standard with the five-speed automatic, a softer suspension and 17-inch wheels and tires. Leather upholstery, heated seats, xenon HID headlamps, a premium eight-speaker Bose stereo, and conveniences that are optional on the SE are all standard on the SL. SL also features the Skyview roof. Woodgrain trim replaces the SE's metallic interior accents.
Options include a DVD navigation system with seven-inch color LCD display ($2,000); XM or Sirius satellite radio ($400); Vehicle Dynamic Control ($600). A power glass sunroof ($900) replaces the Skyview roof with a conventional power-opening glass sunroof.
The Elite Package for the SE ($4,600) and SL ($1,750) replaces the rear bench seat into two heated bucket seats with the center console extending the full length of the interior; the package includes everything from the Driver Preferred Package, a power rear sunshade with front and rear controls, auto up/down rear windows, and an extra rear 12v power outlet.
SE can be upgraded to SL levels of equipment. SE options include the Premium Audio Package ($1,000) with the Bose system; a Sensory Package ($2,350) that includes the Premium Audio Package plus leather-appointed seats, a four-way power passenger seat, heated front seats and mirrors, and a compass; a Driver Preferred Package ($3,650) that combines the Sensory Package with a rear spoiler, memory driver's seat with power lumbar support, power tilt/telescopic heated steering wheel with memory, auto-dimming outside mirrors with memory, xenon HID headlights, and a feature that power-retracts the driver's seat all the way back to ease entry and exit.