2012 Nissan Maxima vs. Its Competition

2011 Nissan Maxima 4-door Sedan V6 CVT 3.5 S Angular Front Exterior View
Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor

It's best to forget the claims of the Maxima as a sports car or a sport sedan and rather think of it as a V-6 luxury sedan that's perkier and more stylish than most other offerings in this class.

Without hesitation, for luxury shoppers who are a little hotfooted, we'd recommend the Maxima over a top-of-the-line Honda Accord EX-L, and probably the Lexus ES350, even though you give up the Lexus dealership experience that's part of the price.

A Toyota Avalon would get you a lot more space for similar money, but bland styling inside and out limits its appeal.

Probably the most formidable rival to the Maxima is the Acura TL, which has sharp looks and, while a bit more conservative-looking in some respects, really delivers on its performance potential, especially in SH-AWD guise.

The Acura also offers a manual transmission.

The Buick LaCrosse and Ford Taurus are positioned and priced in the same range, but they're far more sedate in style.

In the opposite direction is the Dodge Charger, which in base form isn't a performance sedan, but it is rear-wheel drive and boldly styled.

For those on a budget, consider the base Volkswagen CC, a nice-looking, curvaceous sedan that might appeal to the same senses as the Maxima.

2011 Nissan Maxima 4-door Sedan V6 CVT 3.5 S Angular Front Exterior View2012 Nissan Maxima
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2012 Acura TL 4-door Sedan 2WD Advance Angular Front Exterior View2012 Acura TL
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2011 Buick LaCrosse 4-door Sedan CX Angular Front Exterior View2012 Buick Lacrosse
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2012 Dodge Charger 4-door Sedan RT Max RWD Angular Front Exterior View2012 Dodge Charger
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2012 Toyota Avalon2012 Toyota Avalon
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2012 Volkswagen CC 4-door Sedan Lux Angular Front Exterior View2012 Volkswagen CC
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Quick Specs
The 2012 Nissan Maxima is a great pick if you want a stylish, sporty, comfortable, and lavishly trimmed sedan; serious sport-sedan enthusiasts should look elsewhere, however.
The 2012 Acura TL is a surprisingly well-rounded luxury sedan, with a host of advanced tech features, and in top SH-AWD trim morphs into a complete and compelling sport sedan.
As a sophisticated, roomy, tech-savvy premium sedan—now with up to 36 mpg—the 2012 Buick LaCrosse hits the mark for a lot of shoppers who want luxury on a limited budget.
Cue the Springsteen: Blue-collar virtues get the hero treatment in the 2012 Dodge Charger.
A classy, comfortable near-luxury sedan, the 2012 Toyota Avalon has a more modern look but traditional big-car handling and smooth performance.
Value-minded sedan shoppers who are willing to sacrifice a little practicality in the name of style will find a lot to like in the 2012 Volkswagen CC.
MSRP From     
Gas Mileage     
19 MPG City / 26 MPG Hwy17 MPG City / 29 MPG Hwy16 MPG City / 36 MPG Hwy14 MPG City / 31 MPG Hwy19 MPG City / 28 MPG Hwy17 MPG City / 31 MPG Hwy
Gas V6Gas V6Gas/Electric I4Gas V6Gas V6Turbocharged Gas I4
EPA Class     
Mid-SizeMid-SizeMidsize CarsLarge CarLargeCompact
Style Name     
4-Door Sedan V6 CVT 3.5 S4-Door Sedan Automatic 2WD4-Door Sedan Base FWD4-Door Sedan SE RWD4-Door Sedan (GS)4-Door Sedan Manual Sport PZEV
Front Wheel DriveFront-Wheel DriveFront Wheel DriveRear Wheel DriveFront Wheel DriveFront Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity     
Passenger Doors     
Body Style     
4 Door Sedan4 Door SedanSedanSedan4 Door Sedan4 Door Sedan
Continuously VariableAutomaticAutomatic w/manual shiftAutomaticAutomaticManual
Detailed Spec Comparison
 2012 Nissan Maxima vs. 2012 Acura TL2012 Nissan Maxima vs. 2012 Buick Lacrosse2012 Nissan Maxima vs. 2012 Dodge Charger2012 Nissan Maxima vs. 2012 Toyota Avalon2012 Nissan Maxima vs. 2012 Volkswagen CC