It's best to forget the claims of the Maxima as a sports car or a sport sedan and rather think of it as a V-6 luxury sedan that's perkier and more stylish than most other offerings in this class.
Without hesitation, for luxury shoppers who are a little hotfooted, we'd recommend the Maxima over a top-of-the-line Honda Accord EX-L, and probably the Lexus ES350, even though you give up the Lexus dealership experience that's part of the price.
A Toyota Avalon would get you a lot more space for similar money, but bland styling inside and out limits its appeal.
Probably the most formidable rival to the Maxima is the Acura TL, which has sharp looks and, while a bit more conservative-looking in some respects, really delivers on its performance potential, especially in SH-AWD guise.
The Acura also offers a manual transmission.
The Buick LaCrosse and Ford Taurus are positioned and priced in the same range, but they're far more sedate in style.
In the opposite direction is the Dodge Charger, which in base form isn't a performance sedan, but it is rear-wheel drive and boldly styled.
For those on a budget, consider the base Volkswagen CC, a nice-looking, curvaceous sedan that might appeal to the same senses as the Maxima.
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|2012 Nissan MaximaBrowse Used Listings||2012 Acura TLBrowse Used Listings||2012 Buick LacrosseBrowse Used Listings||2012 Dodge ChargerBrowse Used Listings||2012 Toyota AvalonBrowse Used Listings||2012 Volkswagen CCBrowse Used Listings|
|19 MPG City / 26 MPG Hwy||17 MPG City / 29 MPG Hwy||16 MPG City / 36 MPG Hwy||14 MPG City / 31 MPG Hwy||19 MPG City / 28 MPG Hwy||17 MPG City / 31 MPG Hwy|
|Gas V6||Gas V6||Gas/Electric I4||Gas V6||Gas V6||Turbocharged Gas I4|
|Mid-Size||Mid-Size||Midsize Cars||Large Car||Large||Compact|
|4-Door Sedan V6 CVT 3.5 S||4-Door Sedan Automatic 2WD||4-Door Sedan Base FWD||4-Door Sedan SE RWD||4-Door Sedan (GS)||4-Door Sedan Manual Sport|
|Front Wheel Drive||Front-Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||Rear Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive|
|4 Door Sedan||4 Door Sedan||Sedan||Sedan||4 Door Sedan||4 Door Sedan|
|Continuously Variable||Automatic||Automatic w/manual shift||Automatic||Automatic||Manual|
|Detailed Spec Comparison|
|2012 Nissan Maxima vs. 2012 Acura TL||2012 Nissan Maxima vs. 2012 Buick Lacrosse||2012 Nissan Maxima vs. 2012 Dodge Charger||2012 Nissan Maxima vs. 2012 Toyota Avalon||2012 Nissan Maxima vs. 2012 Volkswagen CC|