SEE ALSO: Nissan Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 27,149 Price As Tested $ 30,456 Engine Type DOHC 24-valve 3.0 Liter V6 w/SMFI* Engine Size 182 cid/2988 cc Horsepower 227 @ 6400 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 217 @ 4000 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 108.3"/70.3"/190.5" Transmission Five-speed manual Curb Weight 3199 pounds Fuel Capacity 18.5 gallons Tires (F/R) P225/55R17 V-rated Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content n/a Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) n/a PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 21/27/24 0-60 MPH 7.0 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 16.0 seconds @ 93.0 mph Top-speed 130 mph * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
(Bob Hagin says when the Maxima was first introduced to our market, the manufacturer still went by the Datsun name. Matt Hagin says that by any other name, the Maxima would still be a pretty hot performer.)
BOB - There's a new feeling of energy at the Nissan North America headquarters in Southern California, Matt. When you talk to the car guys as opposed to the bean-counters, you get a sense of excitement and I can only attribute it to a change in the top-end management in Japan. Out-of-town money came into the company, along with some international managers and the new stuff that's coming out with the Nissan logo is really exciting and the products are getting marvelous promotion.
MATT - This 2001 Maxima is an example. The design was new last year and when we tried it out late in 1999, we found that its extra 200 pounds of weight wasn't a deterrent, since it was offset by more horsepower. And if anything, the extra couple of inches in its wheelbase tended to negate any choppiness that the older version exhibited over rough roads. And since this is the 20th anniversary of the Maxima, Nissan has brought out an anniversary model that has some interesting evolutionary changes. The SE Maxima is considered by Nissan to be the sporty version with tighter suspension settings and slightly larger anti-sway bars front and rear. It even has a viscous-type limited slip differential up front. All of the Maximas that we've been given to evaluate have been equipped with a smooth-shifting five-speed manual transmission, although a four-speed automatic is available. The 222 horsepower of the SE model is pretty good, coming from a V6 that only displaces 180 cubic inches. The Anniversary Edition, however, has been given an additional five horses. It also has P225/50 R Bridgestone Potenza performance tires mounted on 17-inch polished alloy wheels.
BOB - That V6 engine is a work of art, too. It's a twin-cammer, of course, with four valves per cylinder, but the variable valve-timing system has been refined. It's also had some simple refinements like micro-polishing and special plating of its internal parts that added more power. According to Nissan statics, it's the best-selling imported V6 in America. Underneath, though, the suspension systems front and rear are getting a bit long in the tooth, with simple MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link system in back. The ride is a bit stiff but since this 20th Anniversary Edition is more of a sportster than its brethren, we'd have to try either the entry-level GXE or the luxo GLE to see if their rides are softer and more compliant.
MATT - The interior is pretty posh although I know you're not a fan of leather upholstery, Dad. The instrument panel sports white-faced analog gauges which includes a tachometer, a handy item if the driver is going to use the power of the Maxima engine and its five-speed gearbox to engage in some "spirited" driving. The driver's seat is adjustable eight ways and in this 20th Anniversary Edition, the passenger's seat is likewise adjustable. Both of them are heated and the outside mirrors are heated as well for quick defrosting. The rear seat has a 60/40 fold-down feature that's lockable, so someone who gains access to the trunk can't easily crawl through into the cabin. And if someone gets locked in the trunk, there's now a release inside. I can't figure out how someone would "inadvertently" get locked in a trunk, but I guess it can happen. And although "drilling" structural pieces on a race car is done to reduce weight, I'm pretty sure that the metal removed by drilling the clutch and brake pedals on our Maxima won't reduce the rolling mass of this 3200-pound vehicle by much, but they look great.
BOB - The reliability record for all models of the Nissan Maxima has been outstanding for several years now and shoppers would do well to look into these types of independently compiled records before they sign on for car payments that are going to stretch out for several years.
MATT - Dad, I don't know if the average American car buyer is ready for that kind of heads-up comparative buying yet. Cosmetics is what sells cars today.