The Maxima was redesigned last year, getting larger dimensions and a new American-designed appearance. For 2001, it marks its 20th anniversary in the United States with a special edition of the sporty SE model, which will have five more horses than the other models. The anniversary model will have a 227-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 engine, 17-inch wheels and tires, and an aerodynamic spoiler package.
The front-drive Maxima shares its basic design with the Infiniti I30, a luxury sedan with more features and higher prices.
The wheelbase on the Maxima is 108 inches, and the overall length is 190.5 inches a little longer than the Toyota Camry. The previous Maxima and I30 shared much of their styling, but the roof is the only body panel they share now.
The Maximas styling was done at Nissans California design studio, while the I30 was designed in Japan.
The Maximas roomy interior provides space for taller folks in both the front buckets and the rear bench, which has ample legroom and adequate headroom in the outboard positions. However, the center position is hard and cramped. The split rear seatback folds to expand the trunks 15-cubic-foot capacity.
Dashboard controls for the climate and stereo systems are large and well marked, and the power front windows have new one-touch up and down operation.
Under the Hood
All Maximas come with a 222-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 engine, except the special-edition SE, which gets a 227-hp version of this engine. The base GXE and sporty SE models come with a standard five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic is standard on the GLE and optional on the others. Antilock brakes are standard, and side-impact airbags for the front seats are optional.
The Maxima delivers the same spirited acceleration and adept road manners as the more-expensive I30, though it lacks the attentive customer service and more comprehensive warranty that comes with the Infiniti brand. The Maxima is a more performance-oriented sedan than midsize rivals such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, offering sportier handling and a firmer ride.