2012 Nissan Maxima Review
The 2012 Nissan Maxima may be touted as a “four-door sports car” by Nissan, but test drivers say the Maxima is actually a powerful family sedan that combines performance and luxury.
Critics love the 2012 Nissan Maxima’s powerful engine, comfortable interior and attractive exterior design, but say that the Maxima still lacks a true identity among upscale midsize cars. With its continuously variable transmission and front-wheel drive, the Maxima isn’t quite worthy of a sport sedan label, but that doesn’t mean it should be voted off the island. The Maxima is a competent performer that out-accelerates and out-handles many sedans at the same price point.
The Maxima is attractive as well. Car and Driver calls it, “the best-looking Maxima in a while,” but a high price of admission may make potential Maxima buyers wander to their Infiniti dealership. Although the Maxima borrows interior styling cues from its corporate cousin, shoppers looking for performance will probably be better served by Nissan’s luxury brand.
However, if you’re looking for a comfortable, front-wheel drive sedan with a hint of performance, the Maxima may suit your needs admirably. A potent V6 engine and finely-tuned suspension provide an enjoyable driving experience, just be aware that some reviewers say the front-wheel drive Maxima is prone to torque steer (a condition where engine power affects steering in front-wheel drive vehicles).
Still, the Maxima’s combination of power, bold exterior styling and near-luxury interior make it unique among midsize cars.
Other Cars to Consider
The Maxima occupies an unusual niche in the automotive food chain. If your needs can be met by the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry, but you’re looking for a more powerful front-wheel drive sedan with a stylish design, the 2012 Nissan Maxima might be the perfect fit. The Maxima’s additional performance and panache does come at a price, though. V6-equipped Camrys and Accords may be less powerful, but they’re also less expensive. And if you expect a driving experience that rivals sport sedans like the Audi A4 or BMW 3-Series, the Maxima will leave you wanting more.
Price also puts the Nissan Maxima in an interesting position, since a well-optioned model can be expensive. The Infiniti G37 bests the Maxima in many regards and isn’t much more expensive. At this price point, the BMW 3-Series is also worth a look. Both the G37 and the 3-Series offer rear- or all-wheel drive, as well as transmission choices that performance-minded buyers may prefer over the Maxima’s front-wheel drive and continuously variable transmission.
Details: 2012 Nissan Maxima
The 2012 Nissan Maxima comes in two models: the S and SV, which both feature a 3.5-liter V6 engine, continuously variable transmission and front-wheel drive. The Nissan Maxima rolls into 2012 largely unchanged, but gains a redesigned grille, taillights and wheels, as well as two new exterior colors. See the full list of 2012 Nissan Maxima specs.
- "Adding expensive option packages escalates the sticker price to the point where a comparable investment will get you an Infiniti G, which offers superior interior materials, warranty coverage, and customer service. It's also more entertaining to drive." -- Consumer Guide
- "The price of the Maxima may be its biggest drawback as it puts it into range of many of the more esteemed auto makers." -- Automobile Magazine
- "With pricing in the mid-$30,000 range for a fairly loaded example, the Maxima gets you a lot of car - in some cases, more than you'd get from luxury sedans costing thousands more." -- Edmunds