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2013 Nissan Maxima Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Nissan Maxima was new.


Performance: 8.0

A powerful V6 engine, precise steering and composed handling please reviewers who’ve driven the 2013 Nissan Maxima. However, some test drivers are also disappointed that the Maxima’s transmission doesn’t live up to the car’s sporting intentions.

  • "Quite pleasant overall. The V6 emits a throaty, sporty note at higher rpm." -- Consumer Guide 
  • The 2013 Maxima aims to be a ‘4-door sports car,’ and it mostly delivers on that goal except in one big instance - its transmission of choice." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Topping the Maxima's list of strong points is a very likable driving experience. The 290-horsepower V6 gives the Maxima enough acceleration to outsprint almost all competitors, while a well-tuned suspension manages to deliver a nice balance between athletic handling and a plush ride." -- Edmunds (2012)
  • "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 (2010)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Nissan Maxima comes with a 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine, which is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive. The CVT has a manual mode, which simulates gears that can be selected by the driver. The EPA reports that the 2013 Maxima gets 19/26 mpg city/highway, which is slightly less than cars like the Acura TL and Lexus ES 350.

While reviewers love the Maxima’s powerful engine, one critic notes that the Maxima is prone to torque steer under acceleration. The Maxima’s CVT also draws some criticism from the automotive press. One reviewer wishes for a manual transmission option, while another notes that a CVT doesn’t make much sense since Nissan markets the Maxima as a “four-door sports car.”

  • "The CVT strikes us as an odd choice, since it contradicts Maxima's ‘4-door sports car’ performance aspirations." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Our biggest gripe with the Maxima is its continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Although Nissan's CVT is well-respected, it just doesn't work for us in this car. Even with the optional paddle shifters, we yearned for the feel of a manual like the one used in the 370Z." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "The Maxima's powertrain is a good one, with strong acceleration from the 3.5-liter V6. Even the CVT is a positive -- something we can't say for a lot of CVTs we've driven -- with good performance in automatic mode and an entertaining manual shift feature that allows you to run up and down through six simulated ‘gear ratios’ for a sportier feel." -- Edmunds (2012)
  • 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 (2010)

Handling and Braking

Reviewers generally like the 2013 Maxima’s handling, noting its cornering ability, precise steering and comfortable ride. Still, one test driver says that while the Maxima is usually comfortable, large road imperfections could be damped better at highway speeds.

  • Generally comfortable, though Maxima has trouble coping with highway bumps and expansion joints." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The sedan's suspension, meanwhile, easily tackles corners yet also provides a comfortable ride on the open highway." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "It doesn't take a lot of time behind the steering wheel of the 2012 Nissan Maxima to realize this is a very competent sport sedan. In its standard form, precise steering and a well-tuned suspension make it a good bit of fun to drive." -- Edmunds (2012)
  • "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 (2010)

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