The 2013 Nissan Maxima is like an aging football quarterback. He’s a little bigger than he used to be, but he’s still got great moves. The problem is that there is a whole generation of flashier youngsters. Even his younger brother and his cousin are trying to show him up.
Long before Infiniti showed up, the Maxima was the leader of the pack. It set the standard for large Japanese cars that could challenge American sedans. It’s held that position for more than three decades. It’s still a great car, the Maxima just needs to get your attention long enough to convince you that it still has what it takes.
Nissan calls it the four door sports car. That’s a bit of a stretch, but it does a great job of making you feel comfortable on any road. It starts with the engine. The Maxima has a 3.5 liter V6 mated to a continuously variable transmission. Pumping out 290 horsepower, I felt the engine was right on the sweet spot. It doesn’t overwhelm you with power you don’t need. It also doesn’t leave you wanting when you stomp on the gas to move around someone on the freeway. Mileage comes in at 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. During my week with the test car, the dash readout showed I was averaging 22 mpg which is reasonable for this sized car.
The Maxima has Vehicle Speed Sensitive Steering. It adapts to the speed of the car. It lightens steering input when the car is moving slowly and changes to a firmer touch when you’re at speed.
Inside, the car is nice. Unfortunately, I wish it was a littler better than nice. It’s the flagship of the Nissan line so it needs to lead the way. Unfortunately, its cousin, Infiniti, is the real luxury car in the family. Maybe Nissan feels that it doesn’t want the Maxima to infringe into luxury territory. The problem is that the Infiniti G Sedan’s base price is only about $4,000 more than the Maxima which might leave some people thinking it’s better to bump up to the next level.
The front seats were properly comfortable. I hauled some friends one weekend and they said the back seat was just right as well.
The Maxima’s technology center sits right under the reasonably sized display. Unfortunately, just the week before I’d driven the Lexus with its Remote Touch system. It gives you access to everything while your arm is resting on the center console. The Maxima’s touch panel, like most cars, is on the dashboard and requires you to reach and read at the same time. It all worked well, but again, I was left wanting just a little more.
On the outside, I like the looks of the Maxima. I like the way the fenders flare out over the wheels. It gives the Maxima a stronger look. I also like the curves across the hood and squared grill. It’s not bold styling, but it’s hard to stand out in this segment right now. Fortunately, back in 2009 Nissan introduced new styling that made it look like more than just an oversized Altima. Now it looks more like its Infiniti cousin, and that’s a good thing.
Base price for the Maxima 3.5S is about $34,000. The 3.5SV with the Premium Package will come in around $40,000. Start adding options and it goes up from there.
The problem isn’t the Maxima, it’s the competition. Just look at it’s smaller brother, the Altima. Purchase the top of the line Altima 3.5SL and you get 270 horsepower (in a car that weights 400 pounds less) plus you actually get more front head and rear leg room. All that for a base price that’s $3,000 less. And I haven’t even mentioned the Kia Optima or the Hyundai Genesis.
But just as Curt Warner proved that an aging quarterback can take a team to the Super Bowl (2009, Arizona Cardinals), the Maxima can still deliver. If that narrow niche between the Altima and the Infiniti is right where you live then the Maxima may do the job. It’s got great moves and solid footwork. What more could you ask for in a quarterback?