2008 Nissan Maxima Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 22, 2008

The 2008 Nissan Maxima is a bit more aesthetically appealing than a top-of-the-line Altima or Accord, but it doesn’t perform any better.

As the experts at the TheCarConnection.com put together this review covering the 2008 Nissan Maxima, they incorporated opinions from a number of reviews and their differing viewpoints. And to make this especially useful, TheCarConnection’s editors included their own experience driving the Maxima.

The flagship sedan of the line, the 2008 Nissan Maxima, carries over with few changes after a major update for the 2007 model year. In that update, the Maxima received a new front end and grille, new headlights, a restyled rear end, and a freshened interior layout with a new design center stack.

The 2008 Nissan Maxima is powered by the 255-horsepower, 3.5-liter 24-valve V-6 engine, which ranks as one of the smoothest and most responsive engines its size. All Maxima models now have a "gearless" CVT automatic, with a manual gearbox no longer offered. The CVT works very well with the V-6, with plenty of power on command, and it has a manual mode with simulated gears, but the omission makes the Maxima feel like less of a sport sedan. Otherwise, the Maxima handles crisply and is quite entertaining to drive on a curvy road, while the ride is firm yet supple.

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Inside is where the 2008 Nissan Maxima proves that it's a premium sedan, versus just a gussied-up Altima. The front seats are quite aggressively contoured to help hold you in place in corners, and the instrument panel and dash follow an aggressive styling theme. Trim and materials are a step up from the norm, and the interior is as hushed and refined as many luxury-brand sedans. There's a so-called Elite Package that commands dual heated sport bucket seats in back instead of the standard bench--along with a rear sunshade, upgraded sound system, heated steering wheel, xenon headlamps, and other goodies.

Nissan's panoramic SkyView glass sunroof is a standout feature of the 2008 Nissan Maxima. Though it doesn't open like a sunroof, it replaces a huge section of roof with open-to-the-sky glass, like a skylight.

There are two basic trim lines on the 2008 Nissan Maxima: the SE and the more luxury-oriented SL. The two models have different suspension calibrations, with the SL being more comfort-oriented. DVD-based navigation is available, as is Bluetooth wireless communication capability and an upgraded stereo with MP3 player.

For 2008, Nissan will offer a Platinum Edition Package on both trim levels. It features a memory function for the outside mirrors, the steering wheel, and the driver seat; lumbar support for the driver seat; xenon headlamps; auto-dimming rearview mirror; rear parking assist; a heated steering wheel; and Bluetooth connectivity. Both XM and Sirius Satellite Radio are also on the options list.

The 2008 Nissan Maxima has an unimpressive set of safety features and below-average crash-test results for its class of vehicles, which tend to do quite well. In the federal government's tests, the Maxima got four- and five-star results, but it got four stars in side impact, and in the more demanding IIHS tests, it only received "marginal" ratings for side-impact and rear tests. Front side airbags, side-curtain bags, active front headrests, and anti-lock brakes are standard on the 2008 Nissan Maxima, but stability control remains optional for '08.

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