San Francisco: Every
brand needs a flagship, a leader, the vehicle that represents what the
company stands for. Since 1981, that has been the Maximaís job at
Nissan. For 2007, this iconic ride gets significant tweaks to make it
even more appealing.
The overall shape
remains the same, with a wedgy nose, grand sweep of near fastback
roofline terminating in flying pillars and high, short trunk section,
and one of the few sets of taillights that does not share one side with
the trunk opening. The rear door window line is laid back into the thick
C pillar, cutting rakishly down into the rear wheel well for a wide-open
For 2007, Nissan redid
the grille, hood, front and rear bumpers, and headlights. The side sills
are more pronounced while the rear spoiler, when itís present, sticks up
more. If you see little circles on the rear bumper, it is for the Rear
Sonar System, which is a handy option. There are new wheels, too,
17-inch alloys or 18-inchers, depending on the model.
Inside, the sports car
feel includes a cockpit feeling with a bold center instrument stack,
revised for 2007. Nissan has cleaned up the buttons a bit and fussed
over the materials to create a sense of higher quality and greater
luxury. The dash still floats below the rounded cowl, which sweeps
around from door to door in an unbroken arc.
You get the intelligent
key standard. This little oval doesnít slip into a slot, you can keep it
in your pocket as you walk up to the car and get in. Then, turn the
start switch to get the car going. You have to lock the car manually as
you leave it, however.
Nissan is proud of its
SkyView glass panel roof, which is quite long but not very wide. My
Precision Gray tester did without, it had a power glass sunroof at the
extra price of $900.
Maximas are all
four-door sedans and come in two models only, the sporty SE and the more
luxury-oriented SL. The SE gets bigger wheels., 18s, but the SL gets the
fancy leather seats standard. The SE has aluminum interior trim while
the SL gets ďwoodgrain.Ē
That doesnít mean you
canít option the heck out of either car. My SE tester had splash guards,
vehicle dynamic control, a navigation system, and the expensive Driver
Preferred Package. This setup includes many things that are standard in
the SL, such as leather seating, but also includes features like the
Bluetooth hands-free phone system and a heated steering wheel, great
during those 33 degree mornings this last December. The super Bose audio
system was immensely entertaining.
Part of the charm of
Maximas has always been power. All 2007 Maximas get a 255-horsepower
3.5-liter V6 that shoots you along on the open road. It uses many
high-tech and upscale features, such as microfinished crank journals and
cam lobes as well as individual coils for each spark plug. The
cumulative effect is a family sedan rocket ship.
Donít expect to get a
clutch in your Maxima. The only shifting choice is a standard Xtronic
continuously variable transmission that is more than up to the job.
Continuously variable transmissions, as youíve surely read here before,
use belts instead of gears to create an infinite number of ratios. The
carís computer determines which one is best for the given moment. The
sound is not what youíre used to hearing, but I sensed no strangeness
during my week-long Maxima jaunt.
Fuel mileage ratings
are 21 City, 28 Highway, but I earned 20.2 mpg over my test week. Thatís
still better than a significant number of the cars that Iíve tested.
In the 2007 Green
Vehicle Guide published by the EPA, the Maxima scores well. The top car
received scores of 10 for its Air Pollution score and 10 for its
Greenhouse Gas (CO2) score, and the Maxima scored 7 and 6 respectively,
enough to qualify it for a Yes on the Smartway Score. Thatís pretty good
for a powerful, sporty midsize sedan. I will speak more about the EPAís
Green Car program in upcoming stories.
Every Maxima comes with
the kind of features that midsize buyers want, from power windows,
locks, and mirrors to cruise control, four-way-disc brakes and an airbag
system for safety, dual-zone automatic temperature control, illuminated
steering wheel controls, and much more. The SE gets you most of the
items starting at $28,050. The SL gets a few extra goodies for $30,300.
And with all the options of my SE test car, the sticker price jumped up
to $36,015 on the bottom line.
The automotive market
is a complicated place, and itís sometimes hard to know where to look
for what you want. But the Nissan Maxima has a quarter century of
consistent sportiness, blended in with sedan virtues. And thatís a very
fine thing in a flagship car, donít you think?
By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San
Nissan Home Page
Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
The Maxima is Nissanís Flagship car
The 2007 Nissan Maxima
The 2007 Nissan Maxima
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