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2010 Nissan Maxima SV Review & Test Drive – The 4-door Sports Car Lives On

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The 2010 Nissan Maxima still stands tall as Nissan’s flagship sedan entering into the performance and luxury segment as the infamous 4-door sports car. A 290hp 3.5-liter VQ series  V6 engine delivering power to the front wheels through a CVT transmission does not make the new Maxima “soft” by any means. It is firmly planted and means business.

The new styling of the Maxima introduced in 2009 adds a boldness appeal that gets some design cues from its beastly brother, the Nissan GT-R. Nissan is known for solid drivetrains and the new Maxima does not sway from that tradition. Now with an improved exterior and interior to match, the Maxima is a worthy contender in its class.

When some people think of the Nissan Maxima nowadays they scream “polished Altima” or “over-priced Altima”. I find that rather humorous because with a Maxima you get much more than what the Altima has to offer.  You get the “Max” in terms of performance, luxury amenities and other optional equipment otherwise not available on the Altima despite being built off of the same platform.

The 2010 Maxima has a surprisingly stable ride reminiscent of European vehicles such as a BMW 5-Series. Don’t get me wrong, I am not comparing the Maxima to a BMW 5-Series, that simply would not be fair. The independent suspension setup on the Maxima handles the road very well giving you the impression that you are in a much lighter vehicle. Dampening is just right as it provides a firmness when you need it while avoiding the harsh ride when going over ruff terrain or bumpy roads.

Power delivered through the front two wheels via the CVT transmission is a well balanced harmony. Through new engineering, torque steer was drastically reduced from the out-going Maxima even with traction control (VSC) disabled. This is something many powerful front-wheel drive cars suffer from under heavy acceleration. If you were to accidentally let go of the steering wheel on a front-wheel-drive car as powerful as this one, under full throttle, you could be headed for a collision into oncoming traffic.

The new styling of the Maxima ushers in a coupe-like-look and a sporty appeal that has performance written all over it. Nissan’s D platform gives engineers a chance to live-up to the 4-door sports car moniker. Torsional rigidity was increased by 17% in our test vehicle with the added Sports package. Lower engine mounting, uses of aluminum suspension links and the Xtronic CVT transmission make the Maxima a competitor set off from other front-wheel drive applications.

At low speeds and even highway speeds, the Maxima has a sporty growl from the retuned exhaust. The revised VQ-series V6 powerplant features a modular engine design producing 290hp and 261 lb. ft. of torque. This is accomplished with micro-finished crank journals, and cam lobes, molybdenum coated lightweight pistons, a resin intake collector, digital knock control, six individual coils, continuously variable valve timing control system (CVTCS), a variable induction system, a silent timing chain electronic throttle control, and a cross-flow coolant pattern.

In the past, drivers have complained that CVT equipped vehicles did not have the performance of a traditional automatic. In the Maxima’s case this is not so. The Nissan CVT is one of the best I have operated in terms of performance and low-noise. A “Ds” mode is available for those wanting to get the MAX out of the Maxima making the optimal gear ratio available in a blink of an eye. The paddle shifters mounted on the steering column gives the driver a sports-car feel enabling you to select the best gear for varying situations. Even though the CVT transmission does not have separate selectable gears, the manual paddle-shift mode pre-selects a range of ratios putting the engine in a better power band for those times that you want to be reminded that this car is actually related to the GT-R.

All four 19 inch sport wheels of our Maxima SV test vehicle are wrapped in 245/40R 19 all-season rubber which comes as part of the SV Sport package. Other Maximas receive 18×8 inch aluminum alloys wrapped in 245/45R 18 all-season tires as standard equipment.

Interior room is excellent up front and in back providing enough space for tall adults without the risk of hitting year head upon entry and exit of the vehicle. The leather appointed seats are by far some of the sportiest available in this class of vehicle. The leather seats are lined with red stitching and have firm bolsters that do a good job in supporting your body under sprited driving.

The new Maxima’s power tilt/telescoping, three-spoke steering wheel is sport-oriented and its diameter has been reduced, compared to last year’s model, for improved feeling. Maxima Sport and Premium package models feature a unique ‘parallel’ pattern steering wheel stitching for enhanced grip.

Options on our test vehicle include 19in. wheels, rear spoiler, HID headlamps, heated outside mirrors, automatic entry/exit system with two-driver memory, heated front seats, Bluetooth hands free phone, XM satellite radio, premium leather seating surfaces, 7in. color information screen with back-up camera and a Bose Surround Sound Audio System with 9-speakers and two subwoofers.

Standard safety features include Nissan Advanced Airbag system with dual-stage front airbags, front seat-mounted side-impact airbags, roof-mounted side-impact airbags, front active head restraints, 3-point safety belts for all 5-seating positions, front belts with load limiters/pretensioners, Zone Body Construction with front/rear crumple zone, LATCH system for child seats and Tire Pressure Monitoring system.

The new 2010 Nissan Maxima is not a sports car in terms of what many automotive enthusiasts think of, but in the minds of a family guy (or woman) wanting reliable transportation, sporty looks, on-demand performance and luxury amenities, this 4-door sports car is the right choice. Base prices starting at $30,460 make this a good price point before stacking on the goodies such as in our test-cars case topping off at $38,810.

SPECIFICATIONS

Price: MSRP $30,460 As-Tested $38,810
Type: Midsize Sedan
Where Built: United States
EPA Class: Midsize Cars

Dimensions

Exterior
Length: 190.6 in.
Width: 73.2 in.
Height: 57.8 in.
Wheel Base: 109.3 in.
Curb Weight: 3565 lbs.
Gross Weight: 4698 lbs.
Interior
Front Head Room: 38.5 in.
Front Hip Room: 53.4 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 56.3 in.
Rear Head Room: 36.4 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 55.1 in.
Rear Hip Room: 53.9 in.
Front Leg Room: 43.8 in.
Rear Leg Room: 34.6 in.
Luggage Capacity: 14.2 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5

Performance Data

Base Number of Cylinders: 6
Base Engine Size: 3.5 liters
Base Engine Type: V6
Horsepower: 290 hp
Max Horsepower: 6400 rpm
Torque: 261 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 4400 rpm
Maximum Towing Capacity: 1000 lbs.
Drive Type: FWD
Turning Circle: 37.4 ft.
Braking Distance (60-0 mph): 128 feet
0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 20 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 19 mpg / 26 mpg / 22 mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 380 mi. / 520 mi. / 440 mi.

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