2006 Maxima New Car Test Drive
Nissan Maxima offers distinctive styling, a sophisticated personality, and above-par performance. Straddling the line between mid-size sedan and a near-luxury sport sedan, it's a car designed for auto aficionados who appreciate something different. Something other than a Camry or Accord, for example. The Maxima is a more specialized product than the Altima midsize sedan with a daring design that looks weird from some angles, but we like its quirky looks and innovative design, as well as its focus on performance.
Buyers can choose between the more responsive SE and the softer SL. Either way, cruising on the highway is effortless with Nissan's 265-horsepower V6.
Both models are stuffed with luxury features. The refined cabin is innovative and comfortable with supportive, luxurious seats. The interesting Skyview roof, a standard 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, another feature seen primarily on futuristic concept cars. Together, the bucket seats and Skyview roof make back-seat riders feel more like first-class passengers and less like coach-class cattle. Granted, the Maxima is not as family-friendly as the Altima, particularly with the optional four-bucket-seat interior, but that's not a problem for people who don't have children.
Safety features include a sophisticated traction control system that comes standard. The navigation system interface has been improved for 2006, and Bluetooth and satellite radio are now available.
The Nissan Maxima is a four-door sedan with a V6 engine and front-wheel drive. The 2006 edition comes in two distinct flavors: the sporty 3.5 SE and the more luxuriously equipped 3.5 SL.
SE ($27,750) comes with a sports suspension, traction control, and 18-inch wheels and tires. It offers the choice of six-speed manual transmission or five-speed automatic (for the same price). It comes standard with cloth upholstery and metallic interior accents. Otherwise, it comes standard with all the conveniences you'd expect in a top-end mid-size sedan.
SL ($30,000) comes with the five-speed automatic, a softer suspension and 17-inch wheels and tires. Leather upholstery, woodgrain trim, 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.
The Skyview roof comes standard on both SE and SL. A conventional power glass sunroof ($900) is also available.
Options let buyers upgrade an SE to SL-level luxury. SE options include the Bose Premium Audio Package ($1,000); a Sensory Package ($2,350) that combines the Bose audio with leather-appointed heated seats, a four-way power passenger seat, heated 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 when you open the door to ease entry and exit.
The Elite Package, available for both the SE ($4,600) and SL ($1,750), replaces the rear bench seat with two heated bucket seats and a center console extending the full length of the interior. This option also includes everything from the Driver Preferred Package, plus a power rear sunshade with front and rear controls, auto up/down rear windows, and an extra rear 12-volt power outlet.
Options for both SE and SL include a DVD navigation system with seven-inch color LCD display ($1,800); XM or Sirius satellite radio ($350); Vehicle Dynamic Control ($600). New for 2006 is a Bluetooth hands-free phone system ($300).