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By Jim Flammang
October 23, 2002
Vehicle Overview The Maxima GLE gains side-impact airbags, and a new Titanium Edition Package is available for the SE sedan. The Titanium group includes an in-dash six-CD changer, chrome wheels, doorsill places, a mirror-mounted compass and side-impact airbags.
Plenty of extra power went into the 2002 edition of Nissans top front-wheel-drive Maxima sedan, courtesy of its larger 3.5-liter V-6 engine. When Nissan redesigned its Altima for the 2002 model year, the sedan wound up being the same length as the Maxima. The Altima is still considered second in rank, but it has a longer wheelbase than the Maxima.
The Maxima comes in three trim levels: GXE, sporty SE and luxury GLE. The GXE and GLE are equipped with an automatic transmission, and the SE comes with a six-speed-manual gearbox.
Nissan describes the current Maxima as having aggressive styling with fluid forms sweeping front to rear. The taillights incorporate clear reflectors. High-intensity-discharge headlights and side sill spoilers help impart a sportier character. The Maximas aluminum wheels hold 17-inch tires on the SE and GLE models, and the lower-end GXE gets 16-inchers. A power moonroof is optional for the SE and GLE sedans.
The Maximas five-passenger seating consists of front buckets and a rear bench. The 60/40-split rear seatback folds down to add cargo space beyond the trunks regular 15.1-cubic-foot capacity. The seats may be upholstered in cloth or leather. An eight-way power drivers seat is standard.
The gauges are titanium-colored. The 200-watt seven-speaker Bose premium audio system in the GLE includes an in-dash six-CD changer, steering-wheel stereo controls, speed-sensitive volume and Radio Data System (RDS) technology. Nissans 3-D Birdview navigation system is optional in the SE and GLE sedans.
Under the Hood
Nissans 3.5-liter V-6 engine produces 255 horsepower. A four-speed-automatic transmission is standard on the GXE and GLE and comes as an option on the sporty SE sedan, which is offered with a standard close-ratio six-speed-manual gearbox.
Antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and Brake Assist are standard. Side-impact airbags for the front seats are optional. Traction control is an option on the GLE and SE models equipped with the automatic transmission.
The Maxima displays masterful control on demanding roads and responds rapidly to driver inputs at the steering wheel. It is surefooted on the pavement and precise in control. The sedan delivers a generally appealing ride, but its overall quality depends on the model. For gentle cruising, the GLE model may be the wisest choice. The SEs suspension isnt the most absorbent, so rough surfaces can stir the occupants at times. Serious bumps can produce quite a jolt, but the ride on smooth roads is fine.
The Maximas acceleration is energetic. The automatic-transmission shifts in the SE sedan can come a little too soon for full performance when starting off from a standstill, but the unit operates smoothly at other times.
The seats are inviting and satisfyingly supportive in an interior that is somewhat sedate. The gauges are distinctive, and the dashboards center panel is steeply angled. The latest Maxima is refined, civilized, sportier and more performance-focused than the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry.