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2010 Nissan Maxima

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Nissan Maxima Review: Just by looking at the latest Nissan Maxima, you might assume it's a bigger version of Nissan's bread-and-butter family car, the Altima. Get behind the wheel and you'll quickly discover these two cars come from very different branches on the family tree.

While the Altima provides more mundane transportation, perhaps just a little more exciting than the Honda Accord, the Maxima really is in a completely different league. It's about a lot more than the size.

The Maxima feels more like a luxury car for starters. Nissan could have easily slapped an Infiniti badge on the hood and called it good, but the Nissan brand benefits from having a more upscale, performance-oriented sedan to fatten its lineup. After all, this is the same company that recently started selling an $80,000 sports car called the GT-R.

Although the Maxima is no GT-R, it is sensitively tuned to provide thrills for the driver. It comes with a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 290 horsepower, no small number, coupled with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that provides a good combination of fuel economy and outright speed.

If there's a weak link in this car it would have to be the CVT. It's a good transmission for driving around town, capable of moving you from place to place with absolute smoothness. But in a car that's otherwise tuned so sublimely for performance driving, the CVT just seems out of place.

Thankfully, Nissan offers a shift-it-yourself feature with the CVT. Paddle shifters behind the steering wheel let you select "gears" almost like you would with a more traditional automatic or manual transmission. It still doesn't offer the same tactile feedback as other gearboxes though.

Most of the 2010 Maxima is carried over from the 2009 model, but there are some improvements. A Bluetooth phone connection is now a standard feature, and there are some snazzy looking new wheel finishes.

The navigation system is also improved. It has a 7-inch screen now and a new graphical layout that makes it easier to operate. It also has new features like 2 gigabytes of music storage, DVD playback capability, Bluetooth audio streaming and data on traffic and weather conditions on the nav screen.

The overall feeling in the Maxima, especially when it comes with some of these high-end features, is that of a premium sedan. It really does feel like a big step above the Altima, both in terms of the interior ambiance and the sheer level of technology it comes packaged with.

It's a great looking car too, with a more aggressive body than the last generation Maxima. The style seems to have taken a more hard-nosed direction to match its renewed emphasis on sportiness.

Overall the Maxima is a great car with few comparisons, unless you want to look to the pure luxury brands. It's designed to compete with luxury-value brands like Acura, and with a starting price around $30,000 it's worth cross shopping with some of the more upscale nameplates.

What was tested? The 2010 Nissan Maxima SV with a base price of $33,180. Options on the test car: The monitor package for $700, floor and trunk mats for $180, a sport package for $2,030 and the sport technology package for $1,850. The total MSRP price as tested including the $720 destination charge comes to $38,660.

Why avoid it? The continuously variable transmission doesn't feel like a good fit in a car that's otherwise tuned for great driving feedback.

Why buy it? It's designed to compete with true luxury cars, and it succeeds. It has the style, performance and amenities that premium-car buyers are looking for. By Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

The Bottom Line: The 2010 Nissan Maxima's handsome body is an improvement over the previous generation. With aggressive styling, the car's looks now match its renewed emphasis on performance. The Maxima's cabin has a premium feel in terms of the materials chosen, to better blend the overall design together with the technological features it's packaged with. The bottom line is that it has great styling, with more standard features that last year, and the sporty performance is impressive.

Bottom Line Review provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net

“Tony the Car Guy” is an automotive writer, editor and publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you have a question or comment for Tony send it to or visit AutoWire.Net at

And remember: “ You Are what you Drive ”


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Column Name: Nissan Maxima moves upscale

Topic: The 2010 Nissan Maxima

Word Count: 787

Photo Caption: The 2010 Nissan Maxima

Photo Credits: Nissan Maxima Internet Media

Series #:  2010 - 07

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