Sunday, April 05, 2009

Nissan Maxima Test Drive.


-HOW IT LOOKS.

The new Maxima is definitely one of these cars that does look better in person.
It is a very impressive looking design, with plenty of personality.

It doesn't look like a "big Altima" anymore. The previous generation did.
I did notice something I haven't seen for a while though: a couple of misaligned body panels. Nothing really serious, but just unusual. Where the front fender meets the door, and the rear trunk. Both slightly off...


-HOW IT IS INSIDE.
The interior is basically a copy of an Infiniti interior. Not sure why they chose to do it this way, but that's pretty much what it looks like.
But unlike the real thing, the Nissan interior uses more cheaper hard plastic bits. It just looks very similar, but the Infiniti interiors do feel better.
The version I was driving was loaded, which made it even closer to an Infiniti. Same great iPod integration, rear view camera etc... Except the screen is smaller. And even the stereo was a Bose system, it didn't sound as good as the ones in Infiniti cars I drove in the past.
Another small annoyance was the fact that the key less start system couldn't tell I was carrying the key on me if it was in my back pocket. It kept reading "No Key". Weird...

-HOW IT DRIVES.
-Ride
- The one I had was the SV (Sport) model. But the ride was just a bit firm, always very comfortable.
Much more like a luxury car than a sports car. Or even a 4DSC (4 door sports car) like the stupid sticker on the side window says.

-Steering.

the steering is way to soft for a Sport version of any car. It is way over boosted, and has this annoying video game feel to it.
I did get used to it after a while. But it never felt remotely sporty. If they have 2 versions of the same car, you would think the one labeled sport would have a much better steering feel than this.
It is closer to a Lexus that anything "sporty".

-Engine
Well, again, the 3.5 Liter V6 from Nissan shines. Smooth and powerful. 290hp is more than enough for any situation.
It is rated at 19City and 26 HWY.
During my week, I struggled to average a bit over 16 in the city. But I did reach 27.7 MPG on the HWY.

-Transmission.
Just like in the Murano, the CVT works great. It immediately gives you an extra 1000 RPM as soon as you push it a bit. Reacting faster than most regular automatics . It is a great transmission for this engine.
Which makes the car actually a bit sportier and much quicker to react than the 7 speed auto in Infinitis.


-SO???

The new Maxima is a really nice car. It looks great, and is very roomy (My Maxima/G35 back seat comparison is coming up soon).
But the soft steering makes it a much better choice as a luxury car than a sports sedan. I think the non SV Sport version is a much better choice.
This shouldn't pretend to be a sport sedan.
At $37 400 my car is less than $2000 away from a similarly equipped G37.
That's not enough of a difference. The car is indeed roomier than the Infiniti, but not that much.
I do think the Maxima looks better though. Even more upscale than the G37.

So it's really a toss up. A matter of choice and priorities.
Just don't expect a sports car, even if it has 290hp...


26 comments:

Anonymous said...

In pictures, the Maxima looks horrible. In person, it looks bland. The G37 is RWD and looks better. The G wins.

Anonymous said...

Nissan is the best.
Never mind all the rest.

Anonymous said...

Vince ... I've been following your blog for at least a few years now, and I have to say - great work.
My only criticism is that you proofread a little more.

Anyway, on to more important matters, the Maxima wins. Bigger, cheaper, more upscale looking, and something else I'm sure.
The G to me looks overwrought, and a little bitt too ... convoluted. The Maxima has sinewy curves, bulk where it matters, and well, substance. The G to me screams "Nouveau Riche!!!!!!" while the Maxima seems to be a bit more muscular and understated.

Anonymous said...

I've only seen one new Maxima on the road since it was introduced. And I don't live in the sticks.

CVT? No thanks. said...

Vince, I completely agree with you on the build quality. It is really disappointing. If I spent nearly $38,000 on a NISSAN that had these issues I would be furious. Anyone who would buy this over a G37 is an absolute idiot. At least that is a true luxury sport vehicle.

If you need or want FWD, get the Acura TL, at least it is a true premium vehicle with premium materials to match. The newest Maxima is confused as to what it should really be.

Also, that CVT is absolute trash. I have known two people who have had theirs fail (Murano and Altima) and Nissan WOULD NOT foot the bill even though it was 5K-10K out of warranty. Not even a good will consideration. They both were stuck with a $6,000+ repair. One Nissan partially paid only after legal action was taken. Horrible customer service as well.

"Anonymous said...
Nissan is the best.
Never mind all the rest."

Hardly.

Maybe you should check Consumer Reports reliability data.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Nissan is the best.
Never mind all the rest.

April 5, 2009 9:01 PM


Does Nissan pay you for these comments?

Shift_ True said...

A real shift has happened over at Nissan. nice to see , as expected, the wordl's realising Nissan as the best value, quality product in the world. I just drove a New '09 Murano on a 6 hour road Trip, what a gem. The best vehicle I have ever driven and a good friend has a 1 year old lexus rx. Yes, the Murano is better.

Dimension 1 said...

Take a minute and ponder this . One company makes soooo many great wheels. Think about this; Nissan GTR, 370Z, Murano, Maxima, Altima,Infiniti G35, M35/45, etc... I think this is an astounding company.

Anonymous said...

hey vince..... why is that you only test drive nissans. give other oems a chance. we understand you like nissans already

Anonymous said...

hey vince..... why is that you only test drive nissans. give other oems a chance. we understand you like nissans already

April 6, 2009 9:16 AM

He probably gets paid well by them.

Anonymous said...

Drab interior. Does it come in any other color?

Vince Burlapp said...

So no one was reading when I was test driving Pontiacs, Fords or cars from VW, Chrysler, Mazda, Saturn, Mitsubishi, Buick, etc...
And no, nobody is paying me to drive anything.

If you don't like the site or think I drive too many cars you don't like, there are plenty of other places to spend your time on the internet.

Scoreboard. said...

I absolutely hate reading the comments when a Nissan is featured. The most ignorant, uninformed, child-like fanboys all come out to play.

It is incredibly annoying.

"Shift_ True said...
A real shift has happened over at Nissan. nice to see , as expected, the wordl's realising Nissan as the best value, quality product in the world. I just drove a New '09 Murano on a 6 hour road Trip, what a gem. The best vehicle I have ever driven and a good friend has a 1 year old lexus rx. Yes, the Murano is better."

If the rest of the world is realizing this then why are their sales STILL lagging behind Honda and Toyota???

Please.

I am also glad that a brand new model design performs better than one that hailed back from 2003 and probably began formal design stages back in 2000. I'd still rather have an RX and I HATE Lexus.

Anonymous said...

Good call vince.
Its hard to please everybody and you do a good job.
Some people whine on this site for the the hell of it, not for anything you have done, probably to air out their own problems.
Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

No thanks, really. I mean it, no thanks.

I had a 2005 Maxima and I will never again buy another Nissan. I am not joking when I tell you that it was more problematic than my last '99 A4.

If you are going to spend $38,000 you are better off waiting for the SHO. It will be better in every single aspect and not to mention it is going to be MUCH faster.

Soul2Stinger said...

Great review! I finally understand the differences (besides the obvious FWD/RWD) between this and the G. It's great that a company can build such a variety of vehicles and differ them just ever so slightly based on someone's personal preference instead of say Honda, who builds 10 different versions of the SAME Accord within any given year. Maxima and Altima - G and M, the each are able to have their own personalities and do it well. Honda should have made a vehicle above the Accord years ago instead of making it grow year by year, but they chose the "add a model under everything else" route instead.

Anonymous said...

"I had a 2005 Maxima and I will never again buy another Nissan. I am not joking when I tell you that it was more problematic than my last '99 A4."

That is BS. No Japanese car has been is or will be more problematic than an AUDI. I am talking from experience. The Maxima made in Japan used to be one of the most reliable cars in the market. Then, I think in 04, they moved its production here to the old USA and things started slippng a little. But nothing like an AUDI....Yikes!

Consumer Readers said...

I will tell you that these teenage minded people that write in and tell of a one off , supposedly "true" experience with a brand. Who cares?, My Nissan is Bullet Proof , just like the 4 previous ones that I have owned. The proof is in Consumer reports that has downgraded toyota camry and tacoma ratings and upgraded all Nissan ratings. The Altima is their #1 Midsize car in both v6 and 4cyl. iterations. Facts please, not fantasy, made up childish stories. Vince is right, you don't like it, get lost!

Anonymous said...

you have to admit though that you drive a lot of nissans and infinitis.... im going on the past couple months or so though. just same old story: cvt, sporty, good interior, firm yet comfortable. they're all the same car! love the site, just want some different flava!

Anonymous said...

If it has a CVT,
then there's no way it's for me.

Nissan will never get my business if they insist I want a CVT. I don't, and I never will.

Check your facts, buddy said...

"Consumer Readers said...
I will tell you that these teenage minded people that write in and tell of a one off , supposedly "true" experience with a brand. Who cares?, My Nissan is Bullet Proof , just like the 4 previous ones that I have owned. The proof is in Consumer reports that has downgraded toyota camry and tacoma ratings and upgraded all Nissan ratings. The Altima is their #1 Midsize car in both v6 and 4cyl. iterations. Facts please, not fantasy, made up childish stories. Vince is right, you don't like it, get lost!"

You might want to check the most recent Consumer Reports. Four cylinder Accord beat the four cylinder Altima, and the V6 Accord lost by ONE POINT to the Altima.

The Accord (V6 or four cylinder) is more reliable in the long run and has better resale value. I'd call that a win in my book, and so would the general public. The Accord also outsells the Altima at almost 2:1.

Horrible ownership experience said...

For everyone bitching about Nissan's customer service, reliability, etc.

See what they put their customers through who buy a R35. They void the warranty over ANYTHING. Go read Jalopnik to see the new 2010 exclusions. You can't even THINK about driving the vehicle over the speed limit or they will void the warranty.

That is a JOKE. A flagship vehicle that they don't back? Look at some of the other comments on this site regarding Nissans transmissions and reliability.

Again, aside from the awesome GTR (warranty excluded) and 370Z, Nissans lineup is a joke.

Anonymous said...

Consumer Readers said...
I will tell you that these teenage minded people that write in and tell of a one off , supposedly "true" experience with a brand. Who cares?, My Nissan is Bullet Proof , just like the 4 previous ones that I have owned. The proof is in Consumer reports that has downgraded toyota camry and tacoma ratings and upgraded all Nissan ratings. The Altima is their #1 Midsize car in both v6 and 4cyl. iterations. Facts please, not fantasy, made up childish stories. Vince is right, you don't like it, get lost!

April 7, 2009 7:42 AM

You are obviously not a consumer reader regarding the JD powers survey or completly ignorant to the fact that nissan is near the bottom, beaten by volvo even.
Please do some more research.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful exterior. But open the door and hop inside and OHHH what a disappointment! Went waaaaay overboard in trying not to upstage the M (which is at the opposite end of the spectrum as far as interior design is concerned). Such a cheap utilitarian interior. Unbelieveably boring! Quite a shock.

Anonymous said...

"Consumer Readers said...
I will tell you that these teenage minded people that write in and tell of a one off , supposedly "true" experience with a brand. Who cares?, My Nissan is Bullet Proof , just like the 4 previous ones that I have owned. The proof is in Consumer reports that has downgraded toyota camry and tacoma ratings and upgraded all Nissan ratings. The Altima is their #1 Midsize car in both v6 and 4cyl. iterations. Facts please, not fantasy, made up childish stories. Vince is right, you don't like it, get lost!"

Ummm, it isn't in both. Do you even read that magazine or are you just posting something that you read on a Nissan fanboy site???

Anonymous said...

I'd honestly rather have an Accord. This does absolutely nothing for me, and honestly, I too have heard horror stories about Nissan customer service and reliability.

If you want a vehicle from a Japanese manufacturer, stick to Honda and Toyota. You can't fool me with glitz and glitter, I don't give two shxts about push button start or HID lights if the vehicle it is applied to is junk.