This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
Used Car Scores
A refined V6 with more power than much of the competition and capable handling characteristics make the 2011 Nissan Maxima a strong contender among upscale midsize cars. However, despite its above-average abilities within its class, most still do not endorse Nissan’s promotion of the Maxima as a “four-door sports car.”
"Overall, the Maxima does a great job in combining looks, power and practicality, but it might need a bit more power to really live up the ’four-door sports car’ claim." -- Kelley Blue Book
"Once pitched as a ‘4-Door Sports Car,’ the opulent Maxima still zooms harder and turns sharper than most cars in its sphere, especially the sleepy Toyota Avalon." -- Car and Driver
"Sporting nearly 300 horsepower, the Maxima can show its taillights to pricier, entry-level luxury cars while its well-developed chassis offers a nice balance between sporty handling and a nice ride." -- Edmunds
"One justification for the Maxima's pricey sticker is that lump of VQ goodness found under the hood. Heaping praise upon Nissan's wonderful V6 is like calling firefighters heroes -- you just do it, and only the crazy will argue." -- Autoblog
All 2011 Nissan Maximas come equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that puts out 290-horsepower. Power is routed to the front wheels through its continuously variable transmission. The CVT features a manual mode, which simulates gears that can be selected by the driver.
While power is ample in the Maxima, some reviewers do note that the front-wheel drive Maxima is prone to torque steer under acceleration. The EPA estimates that the Maxima will achieve 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
"It used to be that when we'd encounter a vehicle fitted with a CVT, we were filled with a combination of dread and loathing. But that's not the case with the 2011 Nissan Maxima, as its CVT is well-suited to the strong V6." -- Edmunds
"After a day of driving the 2011 Nissan Maxima on some curvy roads and some extensive time on the freeway, we can report that the Maxima's V6 engine delivers good low-end torque and smooth operation." -- Kelley Blue Book
"But in the 2010 Maxima, you really do notice all 290 ponies. The sensation is like holding onto a horse's reins. And torque-steer -- the engine's tendency to try and rip the wheel from your hands when you throttle out of a corner -- is an all day event." -- Autoblog
Reviewers generally like the 2011 Maxima’s handling, noting its cornering ability and precise steering. However, some test drivers would prefer a more compliant ride.
"The Maxima's steering is exceptionally nice, boasting light effort, plenty of communication and spot-on precision. For the money, though, we would forgo the optional Sport package, which stiffens the compliant ride without any appreciable performance gains." -- Edmunds
"Power for merging and passing is more than adequate, but overall the car feels somewhat heavier in the turns, especially when compared to some other sport sedans we've tested." -- Kelley Blue Book
"Should you choose to saunter through corners (instead of play Lewis Hamilton), the well-engineered chassis can carry plenty of speed around the bends. Just watch your right foot." -- Autoblog