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#16

in Upscale Midsize Cars

MSRP: $31,290 - $34,380
Invoice: $28,988 - $31,845
MPG: 19 City / 26 Hwy
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Nissan Maxima Performance

With its powerful V6 engine and sporty handling, critics think the 2014 Nissan Maxima is a pretty entertaining car to drive. However, some test drivers are disappointed that the Maxima’s transmission doesn’t live up to the car’s sporting intentions.

  • "Aside from lacking a manual transmission, the 2014 Nissan Maxima is as robust and exhilarating as any well-regarded sport sedan." -- AutoTrader
  • "The Maxima has always been touted as the ‘4-door sports car,’ and for all intents and purposes the 2014 Nissan Maxima delivers on this promise." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Considering that it's a midsize-to-large front-wheel-drive sedan with a CVT, the 2014 Nissan Maxima is remarkably enjoyable to drive." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 Nissan Maxima comes with a 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine, which is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The CVT has a manual mode, which simulates gears that can be selected by the driver. The EPA reports that the 2014 Maxima gets 19/26 mpg city/highway, which is below average for an upscale midsize car.

While test drivers love the Maxima’s powerful engine, one reviewer notes that the Maxima is prone to torque steer, which is a common problem in powerful front-wheel drive cars that can make it difficult to maintain a straight line during hard acceleration. Although they say that the Maxima’s CVT is one of the best available, many critics wish a manual transmission was offered. Still, a few reviewers think the manual shift mode adds some fun to the mix.

  • "The Maxima is strong off the line and very confident in mid-sprint. It's effortless at highway passing and does so with an aggressive snarl." -- AutoTrader
  • "Although Nissan's CVT automatic is arguably one of the best CVTs in the industry, it just doesn't work for us in this car. Even with the optional paddle shifters, we yearned for the feel of a manual like the one used in the 370Z." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 3.5-liter V6 engine is strong, and the Maxima accelerates with real authority on the freeway. Although CVTs usually aren't that satisfying from a performance standpoint, we appreciate the fact that the Maxima includes a manual mode that simulates a conventional six-speed automatic transmission with six fixed ratios that you can select manually." -- Edmunds
  • "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 (2010)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers agree that the 2014 Nissan Maxima has sporty handling and responsive, accurate steering. They say the Maxima also has a smooth ride, although some critics caution comfort-minded buyers to avoid the Sport package, which has a firmer ride.

  • "Furthermore, handling is impressive with steering that's both quick and precise, allowing the Maxima to corner with the agility and nimbleness of a smaller sports car. The tires offer plenty of grip, and the car remains virtually flat through sharp turn-ins." -- AutoTrader
  • "Steering is precise, the suspension is firm and communicative, and highway cruising is rock-steady. The Sport package brings a particularly firm ride quality thanks to its big wheels and low-profile tires, so if a forgiving ride is what you're looking for, skip this package." -- Edmunds
  • "Nissan has done a masterful job with the Maxima's suspension, tuning it to be responsive in tight turns, yet still compliant over surface streets and highway pavement." -- 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." -- Autoblog (2010)
Review Last Updated: 5/14/14

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