Nissan says the grille, hood, bumper and headlights on the 2007 Maxima are new — in short, nearly everything in front of the A-pillars. The new sheet metal makes the car look much more menacing than last year's model, but its bark is worse than its bite.
The Maxima's six-speed manual transmission, which long made it one of the only three-pedaled cars in its class, is gone for 2007, replaced by Nissan's continuously variable transmission. Most buyers likely won't care, as the overwhelming majority preferred the automatic transmission in previous models. Nissan dealers can send disappointed purists to the 2007 Altima, the Maxima's smaller sibling with more power and a stick shift.
The 2007 Maxima will go on sale in summer 2006. As before, it's available in sporty 3.5 SE or premium 3.5 SL trim levels, both packing a standard 3.5-liter V-6. Competitors include premium midsize or full-size sedans such as the Chrysler 300, Toyota Avalon and Volkswagen Passat.
The 2007 Maxima is the third model to sport Nissan's T-shaped grille, which adds a subtle indentation below the logo. The grille sits above a chunky air dam flanked by fog lights, each set in their own compartment. The headlights stretch farther back than before and include redesigned bezels. Side and rear details remain mostly unchanged.
At 194.4 inches long, the new Maxima is 0.9 inches longer than the previous version. It's portlier, too: Thanks to an 86-pound gain in the 3.5 SL and a 109-pound gain in the 3.5 SE, both models now top 3,500 pounds. Aerodynamics also suffer; the new Maxima's 0.30 coefficient of drag is nominally worse than the outgoing model's 0.28.
The 3.5 SL gets 17-inch wheels and xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights. Xenon lights are optional on the 3.5 SE, which includes standard 18-inch wheels and a rear spoiler.
A revised dashboard incorporates rotary climate controls and a conventional domed instrument panel. Standard equipment includes dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver's seat and Nissan's SkyView roof, which incorporates a fixed glass pane running down the center of the cabin. The 3.5 SL adds a power passenger seat, leather upholstery and heated front seats. Options include a navigation system, heated rear seats and a conventional moonroof.
With 103.6 cubic feet of volume, passenger compartment space on the Maxima ranks between the Passat (96.2) and the 300 (106.6). The Avalon beats all three, with 106.9 cubic feet of cabin volume.
Under the Hood
Nissan's 3.5-liter V-6 makes 255 horsepower and 252 pounds-feet of torque. Last year's engine made 265 hp, but the 2007 engine is rated by tougher standards set by the Society of Automotive Engineers.
A CVT drives all models. Nissan says the CVT, which includes a sequential-shifting mode, is calibrated for quicker response than the five-speed automatic it replaces. A six-speed manual, previously offered on the Maxima 3.5 SE, is no longer available.
Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are standard. Active front head restraints that reduce whiplash during rear impacts are also standard, as are side impact and side curtain-type airbags. An electronic stability system is optional.