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Review: 2012 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV



The 2012 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV markets itself as The 4-Door Sports Car. While that might have been a unique selling point back in the 80s, there are numerous 4-door sports sedans available today. So we were eager to get behind the wheel of Nissan’s latest Maxima and see what it was made of.

Maxima’s have always tried to toe that line between sports and luxury, and that’s still the case today. Our loaded Maxima 3.5 SV had every conceivable option imaginable – A dual panel moonroof, rear-window power sunshade, HID lights, heated/ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, paddle shifters, 7″ rear-view camera, navigation, push-button start, spoiler, etc.

But it’s also got the performance to go along with it. There’s plenty of power on tap, courtesy of it’s 290-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine which delivers power to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT). It’s a strange combination for a “sports sedan,” but it works.

If you haven’t driven a car with a CVT transmission before, it’s really an odd sensation that takes some getting used to, as you don’t feel the car shift between gears. It offers up better fuel economy than a traditional automatic transmission, which is why Nissan has replaced its conventional automatic transmission with CVTs in nearly all its front-wheel drive cars.

In a recent Motor Trend poll, readers really came down on CVTs. But like anything else, we’re sure these transmissions will continue to improve and eventually sway people’s minds.

Initially, I wasn’t sold on the CVT tranmission. But once I discovered the Maxima’s Sport Mode, I was a happy camper. The car might not actually be faster in Sport Mode, but it sure felt a lot faster.. And that’s all that mattered to me.

The 2012 Maxima finds a nice compromise between sports and luxury, and that’s exactly what some people are looking for. Want even more sportiness? Opt for the $2000 Sports Package, which adds a sports-tuned suspension, 19″ wheels, and some other features standard.

My only concern with the Maxima was over it’s price. Our loaded tester came in at a whopping $40,930! At that price point, there’s a LOT of competition from other car manufacturers. Sure, you can skimp on options and get the price down some, but you’d be surprised at how quickly you become accustomed to ventilated seats, especially on those hot 90-degree days!

On the flip side, the Maxima does offer the best resale value in its class, so you can probably recapture some of that money when you go to sell or trade it in down the line.

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Sujeet Patel is the founder of Guys Gab, the definitive men's lifestyle blog, and he's one of the biggest car enthusiast you'll ever meet. He's been fortunate enough to turn his passion for cars into a full-time job. Like they say, "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life."



  1. Doug Jenkins

    August 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    My first car was an ’87 Maxima, and I freaking loved that car!

    But you’re right, today’s Maxima is expensive. For that price, I could get an Infiniti G37X sedan. Or a Hyundai Genesis 3.8. Or an Acura TL. The list goes on and on.

  2. CJ

    August 31, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I test drove the Maxima a few months ago and was surprised at how good the steering felt, it wasn’t numb like most cars these days.

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