Driven: 2010 Nissan Maxima

March 17, 2010
Sometimes preconceived notions get you in trouble. That might the case—at least to some shoppers—with the 2010 Nissan Maxima; but with a little more time chances are you're going to love this sedan for what it is.

And that might not be a four-door sports car, exactly.

Nissan sets the bar high in calling the Maxima that in nearly all advertising and marketing. It comes adorned with '4DSC' window decals. Even the window sticker proclaims, "The 4-Door Sports Car."

To some, that notion implies a lot of packaging sacrifices in the name of performance, and probably rear-wheel drive—in a car like the 2010 Mazda RX-8, for instance. But at least dressed up the way we tested one—a 2010 Nissan Maxima SV Premium Package model—it's very solidly a luxury car in all but marque, with a sporting edge that doesn't infringe on passenger comfort.

Ready to rumble on the outside, plush inside

The interior appointments—with premium leather, matte-metallic brightwork, and "Eucalyptus Wood-Tone" trim—are absolutely beautiful, and feel like they'd be at home in one of Nissan's Infiniti luxury-brand products. And from the outside the Maxima appears curvy and flamboyant, with just-right proportions and a low-but-upright grille, flanked by headlights that streak back to two points, with fenders that flare upward slightly, in a look that a friend described as "ready to rumble." To top it off, the Maxima comes with flared wheelwells and low-profile tires mounted on eye-catching alloys.

But those low-profile, V-rated performance tires somehow don't spell disaster for ride quality, as they often do. The Maxima has an excellent ride that nearly everyone but the geriatric set will like; it's excellent—quiet, on the firm side but very well-damped.

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