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2012 Nissan Maxima SV Quick Spin

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Filed under Automotive, Nissan, Test Drives

The 2012 Nissan Maxima, now in its 4th year for the current generation, receives only minor updates and a Limited Edition package adding some of the top SV trim features and sporty styling to the base S model. For 2012 and the upcoming 2013 model, the Maxima receives restyled tail lights and a new selection of wheel styles.

The 2012 Nissan Maxima still serves its purpose as Nissan’s flagship sedan continually grasping at its traditional 4-door-sport-car moniker ported through sporty handling and performance attributes all wrapped up in a V6-powered front-wheel-drive sedan package.

To put it lightly, the 2012 Nissan Maxima feels a bit dated when you consider its higher price point when pitted next to the newly redesigned 2013 Altima. The Maxima has always offered a higher level of features and luxury amenities that gave the Maxima a perception of being placed on a pedestal above any other sedan offered by Nissan. Still, the 2012 Maxima gives drivers an enjoyable and quite exciting driving experience when compared to much of its competition. Not to mention, the 290 horsepower V6 engine combined with an aggressively mapped CVT transmission gives the Maxima excellent acceleration, 0-60 mph in just 6.2 seconds. The CVT unit in the Nissan Maxima is by far one of the best the automotive market has to offer. CVTs, including this one, are not exactly known for being all that sporty in the first place. The paddle shifters, as part of an optional Premium Package, adds a bit of peculiarities to the drive by offering simulated shifting points out of the quick ratio-bending CVT.

The only part of the Maxima truly being a 4-door-sports-car is its mid-sized agility. Departing from the drivetrain and somewhat fun-sapping CVT, the Maxima remains to be a civil mid-sized entry-level luxury sedan. The Maxima serves up a competitiveness amongst luxury branded vehicles through its comparative short base price tag and tall order of available features, some of which really matter to conservative-spending consumers. Over-all, the 2012 Nissan Maxima retains its expected sporty driving dynamics. They are about as sporty as you can get from a front-wheel-drive mid-sized sedan.

Power from Nissan’s long-touted VQ-series V6 engine is eager to break the front wheels loose even during mid-throttle launches. Torque steer is fortunately kept to a minimum but still requires the driver have full attention when laying into the gas pedal. The Maxima’s balance appears to be the best in its class and has a well-dampened suspension system that gives the Maxima a sporty yet smoothly adapted ride quality.

My 2012 Nissan Maxima SV test vehicle was fully loaded with a premium package, premium technology package and rear spoiler. All together, these packages combined many sought-after luxury options such as HID Xenon headlights, premium leather seats, heated leather steering wheel, climate controlled driver’s seat, dual-panel moonroof w/ power sunshades, rear power sunshade and a 7-inch color touch-LCD screen for the hard-drive based GPS navigation, 6-cd changer /w Bluetooth streaming audio system, backup camera monitor, a/c and vehicle control settings. My 2012 Maxima rolled on 18-inch alloy wheels. Buyers may opt for larger 19-inch wheels as part of a Sport Package.

The 2012 Nissan Maxima is still set-apart from its closely related Altima family member. Many standard features on the Maxima are either not offered on the Altima or require a high trim level, such as power tilt and telescoping steering wheels, 8-way power driver’s seat w/ 4-way power passenger’s seat, LED tail lights and a more-powerful 290 horsepower V6 engine. Though, when it comes to efficiency the Maxima has some catching up to do with its mediocre 19 mpg city and 26 mpg EPA estimates.

The 2012 Nissan Maxima still lacks proper brand recognition within the luxury segment but manages to hold its own sleeper status without a ridiculous price. Considering its starting price point of $32,420, and my loaded SV trimmed Maxima topping out at $40,930, buyers literally have a long list of options to consider on this vehicle and its competition.


  • Price: Base Maxima 3.5S $32,420 As-Tested Maxima SV $40,930
  • Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V6 290 horsepower @ 6400 rpm / 261 ft-lbs. torque @ 4400 rpm
  • Drive: Front-Wheel-Drive
  • Wheelbase: 109.3in.
  • Total length: 190.6in.
  • Total width: 23.2in.
  • Total height: 57.8in.
  • Fuel tank: 20 gallons
  • Headroom: f/r-38.5/36.4in.
  • Shoulder room: f/r-56.3/55.1in.
  • Curb weight: 3,565lbs.
  • 0-60mph: 6.2 seconds
  • EPA mileage: 19mpg/city, 26mpg/highway

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