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Avg. Price Paid:$10,301 - $11,293
Original MSRP: $28,630 - $30,880
MPG: 19 City / 25 Hwy
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2008 Nissan Maxima Interior

This interior review was written when the 2008 Nissan Maxima was new.

Most found the five-seat Maxima comfortable and roomy inside. According to USA Today, "Inside is a treat. Nissan has had subpar materials and textures until now. Maxima sheds most of that problem."

Likewise, the Chicago Sun-Times finds the interior generally upscale, "despite some hard surfaces. It looks best with the SE's metallic trim instead of the SL's rather bland woodgrain accents." Another plus is that the cabin is kid-friendly, according to U.S. News' Rick Newman, who says "The Maxima is a comfortable family car with all the requisite kid-friendly features: Accessible cup holders in the rear armrest, pass-through exterior door handles that are easy for small hands to open, various storage compartments."

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Seating

Reviewers generally agree that the Maxima's five-seat cabin offers ample space for five adults, or for four with an alluring optional seating configuration that replaces the rear bench with two bucket seats. "Any family sedan with more than 100 cubic feet of total interior passenger volume is fairly roomy, and the Maxima measures 103.6 cubic feet [without the moonroof]," says Automobile Magazine. By comparison, the reviewer notes that the smaller Nissan Altima boasts 102.8 cubic feet, the Honda Accord provides 102.7, and the Ford Five Hundred has 107.5.

Introduced in 2007 are large shoulder bolsters for the front seats. Consumer Guide says the front provides "Ample space for six-footers on supportive, well-shaped seats, though the feel is a bit cozy. Taller occupants may wish for more rearward seat travel, and more head clearance." BusinessWeek says "The driver and front seat passenger are each strapped in to their respective compartments like the side-by-side pilot/bomber in an A6 Intruder."

Consumer Guide feels "Two adults is the practical limit" with the rear bench seat. "Either way, the feel here is cozy, too; leg, head room good, but not grand." The Chicago Sun-Times sums up "Five tall occupants fit with the supportive front bucket seats and rear bench seat, and that's the 'family way' to go…"

Buyers who don't need family seating for five can opt for the Elite Package, which provides two rear bucket seats and a functional rear center console -- an option that is "unique among non-luxury cars," according to Automobile Magazine. Kelley Blue Book notes the rear bucket seats "offer a level of exclusivity not found on any competitor." Likewise, reviewers rave about the special seating configuration, with New Car Test Drive praising "Together, the rear bucket seats and Skyview roof make back-seat riders feel more like first-class passengers and less like coach-class cattle." The Elite Package also comes with heated rear seats, rear windows with one-touch auto-up/down, and a power rear sunshade with front and rear controls.

However, even with the Elite Package, the Detroit Free Press says "passengers found the legroom cramped after a relatively short ride." And "a sloping roofline and narrow rear door bottoms can make it a bit difficult for taller folks to slide in and out, no matter what seating arrangement," says the Chicago Sun-Times.

Interior Features

Redesigned in 2007, the Maxima's interior layout receives mixed reviews. The redesign included reducing the number of buttons on the main Human Machine Interface (HMI). But CNET thinks "the designer would have done well to keep on cutting, as the center of the dash is still adorned with 28 buttons and a four-way rocker push-button joystick."

Of the cockpit's sporty look, BusinessWeek praises it "would not be out of place in the 350Z. A central gauge cluster has big, easy-to-read gauges trimmed in brushed aluminum. An interesting dash pad shape adds to the street-fighter ambiance, with two convex speed humps on the driver and passenger side and a distinctive scalloped section in the middle that seems like it might have been set aside for an optional gunsight and .50 caliber cannon." But the San Francisco Chronicle finds the redesigned cockpit a bit too modern, noting "It feels a bit like wandering through an austere museum whose architect did not want you to linger long or feel warm during the lingering."

The Chicago Sun-Times says "Both the SE and SL are loaded with comfort and convenience equipment." On the SE base model, that includes an 8-way power driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, brushed aluminum trim accents, automatic temperature controls, remote keyless entry and trunk release, power windows and door locks, a tilt and telescoping steering column, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirrors, two 12-volt power outlets, and an AM/FM/CD audio system with eight speakers. Newsday particularly likes the Intelligent Key, which comes standard on both models. "Having the key fob allowed me to walk up with packages in hand and open the door just by touching the handle without shuffling around in my purse for the keys," the reviewer says.

The SL adds a four-way power front-passenger's seat, heated front seats, gathered leather-appointed seats, wood-tone trim accents, a digital compass in the rearview mirror, the Nissan Navigation System, a Digital Bose audio system with AM/FM/in-dash six-CD changer, MP3/ WMA CD playback capability, speed-sensitive volume control, and two subwoofers.

Stereo and Entertainment

The luxury SL model's upgraded audio system disappoints the gadget gurus at CNET. The upgraded system replaces the standard eight-speaker AM/FM/CD system with a Bose eight-speaker audio system that includes a six-disc in-dash CD changer, the ability to play advanced digital audio, and two subwoofers. "It may be that we have had our aural sensibilities coddled recently by the acoustic delights of such systems as the 19-speaker stereo in the 2007 Lexus LS 460, but the audio system in the Maxima sounded unrefined," the reviewers say.

The reviewers go on to note that the problem may not be the number of speakers, but their placement. "With half of the speakers situated down at ankle level in each door, the sound comes from low down in the cabin, and turning the volume up past halfway resulted in bass distortion and shrill highs," CNET adds.

Satellite Radio is optional and provided with three complimentary months of service.

Navigation

The Nissan Navigation System, optional on either the SE or SL, includes a GPS DVD-ROM atlas and a 7-inch color LCD monitor. BusinessWeek feels it's a very worthwhile option, noting it has "one of the best visual layouts currently available. Unlike most GPS displays, which look like electronic versions of standard road maps, this one projects your route in a way that lets you 'see' the road ahead as if you were flying in an airplane a couple hundred feet up." The reviewer concludes by saying "You see where you are, what's around you, and where you're headed. All GPS units should be designed this way."

Additional Features

A unique feature that almost every reviewer mentions is Maxima's standard SkyView glass roof, an elongated rectangular panel that stretches the entire length of the car's roof. It doesn't open, but includes two sliding shutter panels so front and back passengers can separately open or close off the view.

Automobile Magazine says the feature creates "an airy feeling inside the cabin without compromising the solidity of the roof structure." Likewise, Newsday says "SkyView delivers an open environment for the front and rear passengers." Plus, the quasi-sunroof doesn't compromise head room in the way that a traditional moon roof would. A power glass sunroof is available as an option, but Newsday notes "If buying this sedan, I would not have opted for this feature, but would have decided instead to retain the SkyView roof."

Cargo

The 2008 Nissan Maxima provides 15.5 cubic feet of cargo volume (without the optional spare tire). That capacity decreases to 13.7 with the optional tire. For longer cargo, the 60/40-split rear seatbacks fold down. Models equipped with the optional Elite Package (which includes two bucket seats instead of a rear bench) instead feature a trunk pass-through panel.

Overall, reviewers are not particularly impressed with the Maxima's cargo capacity. A frequent complaint is that the trunk's opening is too small for larger items. The liftover height is also a little too high for most, prompting the Detroit Free Press to classify the car as "a bad bet for older buyers." However, a plus is that "compact strut-type trunklid hinges don't steal space or endanger luggage," according to Consumer Guide.

Reviewers don't have much to say about cabin storage space, though the Chicago Sun-Times says that there are "a fair number of interior storage areas." Consumer Guide notes "ample cabin storage" -- especially with the Elite Package, which adds a roomy rear console bin that includes dual cup holders, storage and a 12-volt power outlet.

Review Last Updated: 2/4/09

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