$8,976 - $9,739

2011 Nissan Maxima Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Nissan Maxima was new.


Performance: 8.4

A refined V6 with more power than much of the competition and capable handling characteristics make the 2011 Nissan Maxima a strong contender among upscale midsize cars. However, despite its above-average abilities within its class, most still do not endorse Nissan’s promotion of the Maxima as a “four-door sports car.”

  • "Overall, the Maxima does a great job in combining looks, power and practicality, but it might need a bit more power to really live up the ’four-door sports car’ claim." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Once pitched as a ‘4-Door Sports Car,’ the opulent Maxima still zooms harder and turns sharper than most cars in its sphere, especially the sleepy Toyota Avalon." -- Car and Driver
  • "Sporting nearly 300 horsepower, the Maxima can show its taillights to pricier, entry-level luxury cars while its well-developed chassis offers a nice balance between sporty handling and a nice ride." -- Edmunds 
  • "One justification for the Maxima's pricey sticker is that lump of VQ goodness found under the hood. Heaping praise upon Nissan's wonderful V6 is like calling firefighters heroes -- you just do it, and only the crazy will argue." -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

All 2011 Nissan Maximas come equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that puts out 290-horsepower. Power is routed to the front wheels through its continuously variable transmission. The CVT features a manual mode, which simulates gears that can be selected by the driver.

While power is ample in the Maxima, some reviewers do note that the front-wheel drive Maxima is prone to torque steer under acceleration. The EPA estimates that the Maxima will achieve 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

  • "It used to be that when we'd encounter a vehicle fitted with a CVT, we were filled with a combination of dread and loathing. But that's not the case with the 2011 Nissan Maxima, as its CVT is well-suited to the strong V6." -- Edmunds 
  • "After a day of driving the 2011 Nissan Maxima on some curvy roads and some extensive time on the freeway, we can report that the Maxima's V6 engine delivers good low-end torque and smooth operation." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "But in the 2010 Maxima, you really do notice all 290 ponies. The sensation is like holding onto a horse's reins. And torque-steer -- the engine's tendency to try and rip the wheel from your hands when you throttle out of a corner -- is an all day event." -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

Reviewers generally like the 2011 Maxima’s handling, noting its cornering ability and precise steering. However, some test drivers would prefer a more compliant ride.

  • "The Maxima's steering is exceptionally nice, boasting light effort, plenty of communication and spot-on precision. For the money, though, we would forgo the optional Sport package, which stiffens the compliant ride without any appreciable performance gains." -- Edmunds 
  • "Power for merging and passing is more than adequate, but overall the car feels somewhat heavier in the turns, especially when compared to some other sport sedans we've tested." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Should you choose to saunter through corners (instead of play Lewis Hamilton), the well-engineered chassis can carry plenty of speed around the bends. Just watch your right foot." -- Autoblog

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