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2010 Nissan Maxima ReviewThe Good
The 2010 Nissan Maxima offers handling that leans toward sport without imparting an overly harsh ride and new styling that seems to impress.The Bad
A lack of low-end grunt and a slightly cheap interior leave many scratching their heads with the 2010 Maxima.
The CarGurus View
The 2010 Nissan Maxima is an interesting compromise, with luxury pretentions and sport aspirations that both seem to have come out of the oven prematurely. This isn’t necessarily bad, as long as you don’t expect real wood-grain accents or race-car handling. The Maxima is the perfect example of commuter compromise, but lacks the personality of either extreme.
At a Glance
Starting its American life in 1976 as the Datsun 810, the Nissan Maxima has been in continuous production since in one form or another, going through many changes along the way. Today, the Maxima is a four-door, front-wheel-drive sedan, offered in 3.5 S and 3.5 SV trims, both equipped with the same engine and transmission. No changes will be seen in 2010, following a redesign for 2009.
A 3.5-liter V6 engine powers both Maxima trims, with 290 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque. That torque doesn’t seem to help much, despite coming in at 4,400 rpm, as the Maxima is a bit of a dog at the line, taking its time to spool up and display all its power. Once moving, the Maxima is not short on power at all, with plenty in reserve for climbing, passing, and the like. The CVT is a new animal that some will have trouble adjusting to, with its continual power delivery, although the optional paddle shifters are available to ease the transition for some. The Maxima manages 19/26 mpg according to EPA estimates, but requires premium gasoline.
Ride & Handling
For what is marketed as a four-door sports car, the Maxima fails to impress on several levels. It’s certainly no dog, it’s just not very sporty. Rough roads jar and jerk, passing every inconsistency through the wheels and chassis right to occupants. Corners are negotiated, but with a bit of drama. The optional Sport Package adds a sport suspension and 19-inch wheels, among other options, and does show an improvement in handling. Perhaps more impressive is the seeming lack of penalty from upgrading here, with neither the suspension nor the larger wheels increasing the harshness of the ride.
Cabin & Comfort
Maxima seats have a nice blend of comfort and support, with the SV trim offering additional reinforcement through thigh extensions. Either trim has expansive space for anyone 6 feet tall and under, and even many of those passing the 6-foot mark will find adequate room for head and legs. The rear seat is less spacious, with headroom compromised by the sloping roofline, legroom hindered by the front seats, and a middle seat that is unusable for all but small children.
Controls and gauges are well-placed and intuitive, although the display screen remains in place even in cars not equipped with the navigation system, a seemingly superfluous feature. Wind and tire noise seem to permeate the cabin slightly, although the Sport Package adds additional sound insulation, strangely. Interior materials could also stand an upgrade, with many complaints being heard from owners and reviewers alike.
The 2010 Nissan Maxima has a five-star rating in each category of the NHTSA’s tests. Safety features include six standard airbags, four-wheel antilock disc brakes with brake assist, an anti-skid system, and a tire pressure monitor.
What Owners Think
Maxima owners lament its lack of low-rpm acceleration and moderate fuel mileage, especially considering the requirement of premium gasoline. An interior that seems to have sourced most of its materials from the discount rack is additionally frustrating, but overall the Maxima remains a success, with fresh styling and overall impressive performance.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.
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Nissan Maxima Questions
Strong, Paint Thinner-like Smell Coming From Car
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