Performance » 6
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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
brakes are strong and responsive, but the pedal can be touchy
As willing to play as the drivetrain is, the Maxima still doesn’t feel quite like a sports sedan
Car and Driver
Stomp the gas and this sucker just goes for it.
V-6 loafs at 1200 rpm with a casual muscularity, ready to spin up at the behest of the CVT to dispatch uppity SUV drivers at a mere prod of the pedal
still has that rubber-band-like uncertainty as you’re accelerating hard that many CVTs exhibit
The 2014 Maxima is marketed as a sport sedan, but we wouldn't quite call it one. However, its 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine is a smooth and confident performer, delivering strong, but relaxed power, especially through its automatic continuously-variable transmission (CVT). Just don't expect a race car–this one is more of a highway cruiser.
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.
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.
Performance is strong, but the Maxima may have reached the fun-to-drive limits a few years ago--before the CVT.