‘Ho-hum’ To ‘Have mercy!’ Maxima's Mood Can Match The Driver’s
2013 Nissan Maxima Review:
The 2013 Nissan Maxima can reflect its owner’s attitude better than a mood ring.
Depending on the driver’s disposition, this one can be a perfunctory daily driver, a sporty family sedan or a visceral driving machine.Incredibly, credit for this multi-tasking capability goes to the car’s continuously variable (CVT) automatic transmission, a gear box that, in my experience, usually saps power and drains engine enthusiasm, resulting in blame rather than credit. But Nissan, which puts a CVT into everything but the chili in the corporate café, has no peers when it comes to producing these belt-and-pulley transmissions.
Consequently, the front-drive Maxima, available in S and the SV trim we drove, has multiple personalities.
It’s a comfy grocery getter with the CVT in Drive, shifting seamlessly and inviting no emotional connection with the driver.
Slap the floor stick left to engage the Sport mode, however, and the car under hard acceleration shifts gears as if it were managed by a traditional automatic, sequentially engaging pre-selected ratios as speed increases and providing a sportier experience (albeit at the cost of some fuel economy).
Finally, wrap that floor stick in your fist and the transmission bends itself to your will, resulting in the liveliest driving experience.That experience doubtlessly would be enhanced further with SV’s optional Sport Package, which adds paddle shifters, a tuned suspension and 19-inch wheels – all upgrades, alas, not featured on our car, which was shod with 18-inch rims.
Offered with only one powertrain, Nissan’s flagship sedan features a 3.5-liter V-6 rated at a robust 290 hp and 261 lb.-ft. of torque. It mates exclusively to the aforementioned CVT, creating a combo that has you greeting 60 mph in about 6 seconds.
True, it does it on a pricey diet of premium gas, but the pain is ameliorated somewhat by decent fuel economy – 19 city/26 hwy/22 combined. For the record, in 240 miles, the majority of which – but not all – were highway, we registered 23.
From a styling standpoint, the Coke bottle-shaped Maxima wears a blunt nose that, to me, is an acquired taste; techy, amoebic headlights; a wavy, shovel-head hood; bulging fenders; and a rear end whose flaring hips provide a formidable road presence to the guy behind you.Up front, room is great. In back, head room is only OK, but leg room is good. Just be sure to duck your head upon entering the back seat to avoid bonkin’ the ol’ melon on that sloping C-pillar.
Maxima’s technology — navigation, boffo audio, climate control and cell phone and iPod connectivity — are easily accessed. The display is a touch screen, while the center stack and steering wheel provide redundant hard buttons. In addition, voice command is available for many functions, so pick your favorite control style.
Maxima has been around in its current form since 2009, but it’s aging with grace.
Prices start at $33,560.
Dan Wiese is a freelance automotive writer living in St. Louis. He also is a regular automotive contributor to Fox 2 KTVI-TV St. Louis. You can e-mail him at: email@example.com