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2011 Nissan Maxima Review

The 2011 Nissan Maxima tries to meld performance and luxury, and it does so with some success. While the Maxima isn’t a true sport sedan or the most opulent car in its class, it is more upscale and fun to drive than a number of its rivals.

Pros & Cons

  • High-quality cabin
  • Comfortable seats
  • Powerful V6 engine
  • Not as luxurious as some rivals




Critics' Rating: 8.2
Performance: 8.4
Interior: 8.2
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.0
Safety: 8.9
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2011 Nissan Maxima Overview

When it was new, critics said that the 2011 Maxima demonstrated a strong attempt by Nissan to prove that family sedans don’t have to be bland. They noted that the Maxima has good handling, ample power and a handsome interior that wouldn’t look out of place in an Infiniti. While the Maxima is a strong contender in its class, it may not be good enough to win buyers over who are used to the luxury of a Lexus, or the sporty and upscale demeanor of an Acura. The Maxima’s safety scores also aren’t as strong as top competitors’ scores.

The Maxima is powered by a 290-horsepower V6 engine that’s paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Critics said the combination feels very peppy, but some reviewers noted that overall performance is hindered by its front-wheel drive configuration, saying that rear-wheel drive would have made the Maxima more competitive with sport sedans in the segment. An available Sport package upgrades suspension components for more athletic handling. The Maxima earns a fuel economy rating of 19/26 mpg city/highway, which is about average for the class. In its trunk, the Maxima can carry up to 14.2 cubic feet of cargo, which is fairly good among 2011 midsize cars.

Critics praised the Maxima’s upscale, high-quality cabin, as well as the comfortable and roomy seats in the front and rear. Base models are equipped with dual-zone climate control, a power sunroof, Bluetooth, push-button start, an auxiliary input jack and six-disc CD changer. The upper SV trim adds leather upholstery, a nine-speaker Bose stereo and satellite radio. Option packages add features like navigation, a backup camera, a dual-panel sunroof and a USB port.

See the full 2011 Nissan Maxima specs »

Other Cars to Consider

If you like the Maxima, you may like the 2011 Buick Regal as well. Critics said the Regal is a stylish 2011 midsize car with nimble and refined handling, although some critics noted that its engine could use more power. Critics also said it has a high-quality interior, and it gets a great safety score as well.

Critics said the 2011 Volvo S60 is reasonably entertaining to drive, and has a comfortable and upscale interior. The S60 is just as powerful and reliable as the Maxima, but it also offers standard all-wheel drive. Additionally, the S60 carries a great safety score and available crash avoidance systems that the Maxima can’t match.

Compare the Maxima to the Regal and S60 »

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