Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good The all new Maxima arrived in Australia in June 2009 and uses a new global Nissan platform (which includes the Murano, Nissan’s similar sized but more expensive SUV). Improvements include: a significantly stiffer chassis, which should translate to better handling, and increased noise insulation, insulating out an impressive amount of engine and road noise.
Not so good Whilst the Maxima is entirely modern (but arguably still a conservative design), the Large class as a whole is doing it tough - fighting against fashionable SUV’s with sometimes more functional interiors, and against other buyers who are happy to downsize to Smaller family hatches.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good Comfortable and full of features! Very comfortable front seats. A modern centre console with buttons that are large and logically laid out. The entry level 250 ST-L grade comes very highly specified for the price: leather seats (front two are electrically adjustable), dual zone climate control, six disc CD audio system (compatible with iPod & MP3), trip computer, 17-inch alloy wheels and Xenon headlights. The range topping 350 Ti take it a step further with standard features such as a DVD player, satellite navigation, BOSE audio system and sunroof?! Rear seat space is more than sufficient and the boot is especially large.
Not so good The dash still has some less-than-premium hard-to-the-touch plastics. Steering wheel offers tilt adjustability but not reach. The Maxima could offer more storage compartments; rear seats don’t fold down (however, the ski-port in the rear centre armrest is of use when carrying longer objects). Rear visibility is less than perfect due to the thick rear pillars.
Performance

Performance

Good The smaller 2.5L V6 engine is a smooth engine, and it's handy to have 6 cylinders when compared to its 4-cylinder competitors such as the Ford Mondeo, Mazda 6, Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord VTi; the CVT transmission is also a good match. The larger 3.5L V6 was an award-winning engine and the latest version is still impressive.
Not so good The Maxima isn’t the lightest of cars (not surprising considering the size and high levels of features) so the 250 ST-L is by no means fast. 3.5L V6 power and torque figures are behind the Large class' best.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good The firmer suspension than on previous models still keeps the ride refined whilst handling is significantly improved (the larger 17" alloy wheels with lower profile tyres no doubt play a part with the improved handling). An all 'round safe handler that's now more inspired at highway speeds.
Not so good Whilst the Maxima shares it’s engine with the brand's previous 350Z sports car (ST-S & Ti grades), it’s front-wheel drive layout is far more prone to understeer. The smaller 2.5L V6 is also a little too noisy; however when driven more sedately the Maxima is a relaxed, comfortable tourer. The speed assisted power steering is not the most natural feeling of units.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good The entry level 250 ST-L grade really is fantastic value for money; it doesn’t skimp on the safety front with six airbags and stability control standard on all grades. The full size spare wheel is more suitable for touring ability than the fast-becoming-standard 'space saver'.
Not so good The smaller 2.5L V6 engine in the 250 ST-L grade's fuel economy is a little worse than its four-cylinder competitors. However, the larger 3.5L engine uses only marginally more fuel and is by no means thirsty against its direct 6-cylinder competitors.