Review continues below
Gutsy engine, the
best GPS ever.
The snazzy Elite
interior option isn't too cheap.
Forget what you
know about four-door sports car--think luxury and CVT.
Nissan’s Maxima wasn’t
the first fast four-door, but it did help popularize the “four-door sports car”
concept back in the mid-late ’80s. At that time, large sedans were typically
doughy, ill-handling family-type cars of the Caprice/Taurus type with
overstuffed seats and underpowered engines. The Maxima’s powerful overhead cam
V-6, excellent suspension, driver-focused interior layout, and (perhaps most
important of all) available manual transmission presented an automotive oasis to
buyers who had to have the extra pair of doors for family or work reasons, but
didn’t want the middle-aged spread that tended to come with them.
Fast-forward to the present and the Maxima now has lots of company.
Sporty sedans with powerful engines, taut suspensions, and great brakes are now
the rule, not the exception. There are at least half a dozen excellent cars of
this type to choose from, including standouts like the VW Passat and Audi A4 and
the Mazda6 and Subaru Legacy GT.
To keep the Maxima near the front of
the ever-growing pack is the challenge; whether the changes Nissan’s made for
2007 help or hinder that is a call you’ll have to make.
The good news: Inside, you’ll
discover a revised interior layout that would not be out of place in the 350Z. A
central gauge cluster has big, easy-to-read gauges trimmed in brushed aluminum.
An interesting dash pad shape adds to the street-fighter ambiance, with two
convex speed humps on the driver and passenger side and a distinctive scalloped
section in the middle that seems like it might have been set aside for an
optional gunsight and .50 caliber cannon. The driver and front seat passenger
are each strapped in to their respective compartments like the side-by-side
pilot/bomber in an A6 Intruder.
Backseat riders can feel part of theMission, too, if you order the optional Elite
Package that swaps out the standard three-across bench-type back seats for a
pair of sport buckets with their own heaters and a center console with its own
power point. At $4700 the Elite Package isn’t cheap, but the two-across rear
seat layout is pretty unique and adds to the car’s sporting personality. Plus,
you get a lot of other stuff, too including a power rear sunshade,
top-of-the-line stereo (320 watts, six-disc CD changer, MP3 capability, RDS and
your choice of either XM or Sirius satellite radio capability), xenon
headlights, heated steering wheel, sonar rear park assist, Bluetooth hands-free
cellphone and, of course, leather trim.