The Nissan Maxima has long been marketed as a performance sedan, and while that moniker might still apply today, the 2008 Nissan Maxima is not the standout that its predecessors were.
The 2008 Nissan Maxima offers just one available engine, which Edmunds says is "a carry-over from the previous year's model," though that's not such a bad thing considering that the engine is "Nissan's award-winning VQ-series V6" that produces "a maximum of 255 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com praise the engine, with Car and Driver describing it as "powerful and sonorous," and most other reviewers agree. Reviewers at AutoWeek also write that they "can't find fault with the engine," claiming that it's "still one of the most refined mills on the road." ConsumerGuide offers some driving impressions of the engine on this 2008 Nissan, finding "acceleration is strong on takeoff and from midrange speeds."
Teamed up with the praise-winning powerplant on the 2008 Nissan Maxima is one available transmission, Nissan's "Xtronic” CVT (continuously variable transmission), according to Edmunds. Much like the engine, the CVT receives generous reviews, with ConsumerGuide claiming that the Nissan "Maxima's CVT seamlessly moves engine rpm to the right range and keeps it there to supply ample power at any speed." AutoWeek testers are similarly impressed, and they say that the transmission "feels hard-wired to the engine's sweet spots." For 2008, Nissan has done away with a manual transmission option, but for those who like to shift for themselves, Edmunds says "the CVT offers pseudo ratios for use when additional control is desired."
One of the benefits of a CVT is that, aside from maintaining optimum rpm levels, it "helps the Maxima achieve slightly better highway gas mileage," according to Cars.com. As far as expected fuel economy is concerned, Edmunds proclaims that "2008 EPA estimates rate the Maxima at 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway," respectable numbers for a sedan of the Maxima's caliber.
Despite the praise heaped upon the engine and transmission in the Nissan Maxima, handling performance simply doesn't match the underhood capabilities. Edmunds reviewers report "the suspension is tuned more for comfort than spirited road exercises, and steering feel is merely good under normal driving conditions." AutoWeek testers add that "there's little in the way of sport left" as far as handling goes on the 2008 Nissan Maxima. Furthermore, the turning radius is so large that "it can make wheeling the car in tight parking spaces a multiple shift-and-turn operation." Criticisms continue from Cars.com, which observes that "in faster corners, the chassis tends toward mild understeer and moderate body roll, and pavement grooves can quickly send the wheels skittering sideways -- evidence that no matter what it used to be, today's Maxima is no sport sedan." One area that benefits from the decreased performance is ride quality, where ConsumerGuide finds that "the suspension copes well with most bumps and ruts." Braking is "strong and stable" on the 2008 Nissan Maxima, proclaims ConsumerGuide.