While the 2013 Maxima might not be an all-out sport sedan or sports car, it does perform smoothly and confidently, and the acceleration from its 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine has a strong, relaxed demeanor in ordinary driving, where it works well with the automatic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT)--provided you don't have high-performance expectations.
The CVT includes a manual sport mode and available steering-wheel paddle shifters to access a series of simulated gear ratios for high-performance driving (there's no manual available). There's very little of the drone on moderate or hard acceleration (or the rubber-band-like response) that's so typical with CVT arrangements; the only letdown is that this setup simply doesn't offer the same level of control as conventional transmissions. The available manual gearbox that used to be a Maxima talking point has been history, for years.
Overall, the Maxima has one of the sportiest calibrations of any front-drive sedan, and it's reasonably fun to drive, With its sport-tuned suspension, as well as steering and brakes that have been tuned for sportier driving, it has the makings of a solidly performing sporty sedan. Out of a tight corner, if you stomp on the accelerator, a fair amount of torque steer (tugging to the side) serve to remind you that this is a front-wheel drive sedan running a lot of torque through those wheels. That said, stabilizer bars are included front and back, and a Twin Orifice Steering System helps provide good feedback and control.