The new Maxima is littered with marketing jive in hopes new buyers will associate this vehicle with luxury and sport. The fortunate part here is almost all of the selling points actually add up to something. The style is decidedly Nissan and dare we say immediately recognizable. On the inside this is Nissan's best effort to date in terms of ergonomics, design and style. Everything works well and carries a premium feel except the horrid plastic wood trim. It cheapens the entire interior on our tester. It never arouses that question: "Is that real wood."
Luckily that's about the biggest complaint here and it's optional.
In terms of the driving dynamics, the Maxima is an excellent driving higher horsepower front wheel drive vehicle. With over 300HP enthusiast eyes will roll in fear of torque steer, understeer, numbsteer... Good thing is not only is this motor amazing it has minimal negative handling attributes for a street car. Not until driving 8/10ths do the nasty things appear.
The elephant in the room is the CVT. Nissan does not have a DI V6 implemented and to meet MPG numbers something has to give. And instead of 8+ speed TQ converter units or dual clutch we get a CVT. We said during the Murano review, it's not likely any serious driver will like a CVT. In the case of the Maxima, Nissan did about as good as a company can with the design and programming. It's actually fast to respond and even in manual mode programming is fast to respond to "down shifts." Speaking of which we found the programming of the CVT confusing on this Maxima. Sometimes it holds revs, other times it produces fake shift points to fool the anti-CVT crowd. In this case we wished for a way to disable fake shifts, as it was completely sloppy and unnecessary to drop the motor out of the power band. The V6 however is the car's best feature, sounds great, feels great and just has a high level of refinement.
Watch the video for more impressions