Test Drive: 2007 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SE

2007 Nissan MaximaOne of the best parts about running a magazine is that you get hooked up! Everyone loves magazine folks, so we get all the hot new products to review, cool cars to test drive, and hip clothes to wear around…

…or, so I’ve heard.
2007 Nissan Maxima

I’d love to say that Nissan sent us a nice new Maxima 3.5 SE to fly around in for a week, but we’re not quite that cool yet. Maybe someday. The truth is that I had to rent a car for some business travel and ended up with a brand new, gorgeous Maxima 3.5 SE at my disposal for the trip.

I’ve never paid much attention to the Maxima before this, but I was pleasantly blown away by this car! By the end of the trip (after very comfortably cutting the normal four hour drive by 45 minutes), I decided that TheFatherLife.com needed to run a test drive of the Maxima!

DOES IT LIVE UP TO THE HYPE?

Nissan’s website hypes the Maxima as their “flagship sedan and 4-door sports car all in one.” After zipping around New York State for the day, I would agree. And that was also the sentiment of the many online consumer reviews I read through.

The Maxima is, indeed, Nissan’s flagship sedan, but, unlike most of its competitors, Nissan manages to deliver a luxurious sedan that still embodies the company’s racing experience. Whereas the Camry and Accord, for example, are great family sedans they’re not necessarily great sports cars. The Maxima is pretty successful at being both in a tradition typically reserved for the likes of BMW’s 5-Series. And, at a bit below $30K, you’re definitely getting more bang for your buck with the Maxima than most other cars in its class.

Personally, I was blown away by this car! At first, I was afraid it might just be because of the fact that I drive around an ’02 Civic. Given my ride, I’d probably have been impressed with anything that put twice the car and twice the engine at my disposal! And the Maxima is certainly getting serious competition from others in its class (like the VW Passat and Acura TSX), but all-in-all it’s a vehicle that more than holds its own. And, digging around online, I wasn’t the only one singing the Maxima’s praises.

I popped on over to Edmunds.com‘s consumer reviews and read, “having owned numerous performance (sports oriented) vehicles and luxury vehicles, I remain impressed with our new Maxima SE. The Maxima feels and looks luxurious while driving as a high performance sedan should. Very crisp handling in everyday driving. It compares favorably to the 5 series BMW we had. Its front wheel drive is an advantage in inclement weather. We also had a 2003 Town Car, and, by comparison, the Maxima has even more luxury and none of the wallowy ride and vague handling. Very good value for the money we spent compared to the Avalon, TL, CTS, etc. we considered.”

THE STATS

Nissan offers two versions of the Maxima: the sports version – Maxima 3.5 SE, and the luxury version – Maxima 3.5 LE. The MSRP for the car is $28,050 (and, obviously, options will punch your price up above the $30K level).

The Maxima’s 255 horsepower V-6 packs a good deal of quick, efficient power. And, new for the 2007 Maxima is the appearance of Nissan’s sport-tuned Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). Nissan claims that “the result is a ride that’s as smooth as it is responsive and efficient,” and I certainly agree. According to the editors at Edmunds.com, the CVT does away with “fixed gearing in the traditional sense and instead continually and automatically adjusts the transmission’s effective gear ratios for optimum acceleration and fuel economy.” The CVT does a superb job as an automatic transmission, although some may wish that a manual box was still available on the model (it’s not anymore).

As with any great vehicle, it’s often the little details that make the difference, and the Maxima is no different. The styling inside and out is definitely masculine with a lot of attention to detail and style. A feature I really liked was the Intelligent Key Technology. Just have the key near the car (like in your pocket) and you can just start up the car with the turn of a knob on the dash.

THE DRIVE

Overall, the Maxima is just impressive. But there are several aspects that really jumped out at me. I was particularly impressed with the car’s grip on the road. The Maxima wraps you in the comfort of a sedan while still retaining that sports car feel. It has a relatively low, aggressive stance, and in the driver’s seat, you feel like all the power is there just waiting for your command.

I was also very impressed with the Maxima’s smooth transmission and power. When you need to accelerate, there is no hesitation whatsoever; you get what you want right when you want it. With most sedans, once you hit a cruising speed of, say 65 mph, and you want to pass someone, the car has to dig a little deeper to pop up to that 75 or 80 mph mark. In the Maxima, there is no hesitation at all. Tap the gas and you’re there effortlessly. The transmission is incredibly smooth and responsive and the acceleration at higher speeds doesn’t miss a beat!

In terms of space, I was very impressed with how much room is packed into this car. It truly is huge inside! Both the interior room and trunk space are more than adequate for a family of three or four. The trunk is cavernous, and with split folding rear seats you can haul around most anything you need to.

THE VERDICT

Overall, the Maxima definitely goes the extra step that sets it apart from most of its competition. It’s a very nice sports sedan that is very roomy, has great styling, and all the right accessories coupled with a powerful engine, a silky smooth transmission, and great handling. Maybe by the time those ’08 Maximas rolls off the line, Nissan will send us the keys?

Links:

Nissan Maxima Website
Edmunds.com Editor’s Nissan Maxima Review
Edmunds.com Consumer Nissan Maxima Review

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