The 2011 Nissan Maxima is an appealing entry-level luxury sedan thanks to its capable performance handling, attractive and high quality cabin, long list of features, solid construction and excellent crash safety ratings.
With a powerful V6 engine able to produce almost 300 horsepower and a sophisticated chassis that offers a well-balanced combination of both sporty road manners and a refined ride, the Maxima can often outperform more expensive competitors. That said, and even though it can be outfitted with loads of high-tech luxury goodies, the Maxima may lack some of the brand prestige of this segment's leaders. But it also certainly makes an appealing choice for those who value substance over brand name pizzaz.
Priced in the mid-$30's, a fairly loaded new Maxima can offer more performance and gadgets than some luxury sedans that cost thousands of dollars more. Even with so much going for it, it's always a good idea to check out other choices to help make the most informed decision. Rivals such as the Acura TL, the Hyundai Genesis and the Volkswagen CC have very nice interiors and are in a similar price range, but they may lack some of the Maxima's engaging driving dynamics. Also in this price range would be base models of the Audi A4 and the BMW 3-Series which have plenty of performance to offer, but lack the Maxima's long feature list.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2011 Nissan Maxima is offered in two trims: S and SV.
Standard features on the base Maxima S include full power accessories, keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, 8-way driver and 4-way passenger power front seats, a sunroof, automatic headlamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, steering-wheel audio controls, Bluetooth, a tilt/telescoping steering column, 18-inch alloy wheels, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, a trip computer and an in-dash 6-disc CD-changer with an auxiliary audio jack.
Moving up to the Maxima SV adds leather upholstery, power lumbar support, a driver thigh-support extender, foglamps, integrated exterior-mirror turn signals and an upgraded 9-speaker Bose audio system with satellite radio.
Optional packages for the SV have lengthy lists of features. Both the Premium and Sport packages include heated front seats, driver memory settings, steering-wheel shift paddles, heated exterior mirrors, a driver-side auto-dimming outside mirror, xenon headlights, rear bucket seats, upgraded leather upholstery, a power tilt/telescoping steering column and a heated steering wheel.
The Premium package also adds a dual-panel sunroof, automatic up/down rear windows, a power rear sunshade, a 7-inch LCD screen, a ventilated driver seat, a rearview camera, wood trim accents, rear-seat audio and HVAC controls, a 2GB music server (instead of the 6-disc CD changer), an RCA auxiliary audio-video jack and and an iPod interface, while the Sport package also adds a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, a dark chrome grille, smoked headlights, a metallic-look interior trim and gray metallic stitching accents. In addition, high-performance summer tires can be optioned as part of the Sport package.
Other available options include the Technology package which adds voice-activated navigation with real-time traffic, a 7-inch LCD screen with DVD playback, a single in-dash CD player, 9.3GB of digital music storage and streaming Bluetooth audio. The Monitor package offers the color monitor, 2GB music server, a rearview camera, an auxiliary audio-video jack and a USB port. Lastly, the Cold package includes heated exterior mirrors, a heated steering wheel and heated front seats.
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
Under the hood of the front-wheel drive 2011 Nissan Maxima is a 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers a robust 290 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Some optional packages for the SV model also include steering-wheel shift paddles with six simulated gear ratios.
In performance tests, the SV has been timed from a standstill to 60 mph in a very competitive 6.3 seconds. And in terms of gas mileage performance, the 2011 Maxima has an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 19 mpg city and 26 mpg on the highway.
Standard safety features for all 2011 Maximas include traction control, stability control, antilock disc brakes (ABS), front-seat side airbags, front active head restraints and side curtain airbags. In addition, a rearview camera is an available option on the SV model.
In government crash testing, the 2011 Maxima was awarded the highest possible rating of five stars across the board for all front- and side-impact occupant protection categories.
The 2011 Maxima's cabin is attractive, soundly constructed with high-quality materials and user-friendly. And when outfitted with either the Premium or Sport packages, it's every bit as upscale as its more expensive Infiniti G37 relative.
Overall roominess is ample while the seating is comfortable and supportive both front and rear (the rear accommodates two adult passengers comfortably as the small center position isn't very usable). The standard 60/40-split rear seats are able to fold down for larger objects, while the optional rear bucket seats come with a center pass-through for handling longer items. The trunk's wide opening makes it easier to load large suitcases or golf clubs and has an overall cargo capacity of a decent 14.3 cubic feet.
While certainly not a sports car, the 2011 Maxima's engaging driving dynamics make it a very good sport sedan which will likely please most drivers who value a more athletic personality in a four-door. The CVT is well-integrated with the healthy V6 engine making for a smooth yet brisk experience, further enhanced with steering that is light, responsive and precise.
How To Get The Lowest Price:
Best Negotiating Tactic: Well, there's definitely a 'best way' when it comes to new car buying. If you want to get the best bottomline, out-the-door price you need to know exactly who to talk to at the dealership, how to make the contact and how to make this person eager to quickly drop prices as low as possible to get your sale.
Those of you in the market for a used car may want to check out this article about how to buy a used car at the lowest price. It details a super effective buying method, one that often beats down prices to wholesale levels.
And somewhat related to this, here's another excellent method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.
In addition, you can also try a Wholesale Auction in your own geographic area. While there can be a lot of junk vehicles at these auctions, there are often absolute gems sprinkled in as well. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them in your own area.
Prices: 2011 Nissan Maxima:
3.5 S: list price: $30,810, invoice price: $28,222
3.5 SV: list price: $33,530, invoice price: $30,709