2010 Nissan Maxima

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2010 Nissan Maxima. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    22 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    290-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 (premium)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    2-speed CVT w/OD and auto-manual
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Cabin materials
  • Ride quality
  • Handling with Sport Package
  • Brakes
  • Luxurious options
  • Well-equipped base model

The Bad

  • Responsive but ill-suited CVT
  • Steering without Sport Package
  • Trunk volume
  • Smallish cabin
  • Dated information in non-nav models
  • Requires premium fuel

Notable Features of the 2010 Nissan Maxima

  • 290-hp V-6
  • CVT
  • Standard stability system
  • Optional panoramic moonroof
  • Shares platform with Altima

2010 Nissan Maxima Road Test

David Thomas

The large sedan is making a comeback these days and the Nissan Maxima succeeds because it doesn’t equate lots of interior space to whalelike exterior dimensions, making it enjoyable to drive.

It has sporty ambitions, despite the fact that it's a front-wheel-drive car that packs a continuously variable automatic transmission. The Maxima is also comfortable and well-equipped, and some trims have extremely competitive pricing.

While 2011 versions of the full-size four-door are now hitting dealerships, we tested the virtually identical 2010 version.

Styling
There's nothing like a first glance to grab shoppers' interest, but the Maxima's looks are a bit strange. It has elegant curves all over, especially in the rear, that remind me of the most recent models from Infiniti, Nissan's premium brand. Then there's the grille.

It looks like the company took an ax to a stylish front end, affixed a chrome grille to the resulting vertical edge and moved on. It's an unfortunate look, but it's large and at least it  stands out.

Performance
If you're a car enthusiast, a car with a standard 290-horsepower V-6 engine probably sounds like a good thing. If you kept researching and learned that the power goes to the front wheels via a CVT, though, you might dismiss the car as a bloated beast that would be a handful to control, unable to hold a candle to a rear-wheel-drive equivalent.

That's too bad, though, because those are the Maxima&apos...

The large sedan is making a comeback these days and the Nissan Maxima succeeds because it doesn’t equate lots of interior space to whalelike exterior dimensions, making it enjoyable to drive.

It has sporty ambitions, despite the fact that it's a front-wheel-drive car that packs a continuously variable automatic transmission. The Maxima is also comfortable and well-equipped, and some trims have extremely competitive pricing.

While 2011 versions of the full-size four-door are now hitting dealerships, we tested the virtually identical 2010 version.

Styling
There's nothing like a first glance to grab shoppers' interest, but the Maxima's looks are a bit strange. It has elegant curves all over, especially in the rear, that remind me of the most recent models from Infiniti, Nissan's premium brand. Then there's the grille.

It looks like the company took an ax to a stylish front end, affixed a chrome grille to the resulting vertical edge and moved on. It's an unfortunate look, but it's large and at least it  stands out.

Performance
If you're a car enthusiast, a car with a standard 290-horsepower V-6 engine probably sounds like a good thing. If you kept researching and learned that the power goes to the front wheels via a CVT, though, you might dismiss the car as a bloated beast that would be a handful to control, unable to hold a candle to a rear-wheel-drive equivalent.

That's too bad, though, because those are the Maxima's specs, and this car completely outclasses its competitors in terms of driving dynamics and pure fun.

The engine itself has more power than the competition — besides the turbo V-6 in the more expensive Ford Taurus SHO or the Hemi V-8 in the Chrysler 300C and Dodge Charger — and gets decent gas mileage: an EPA-estimated 19/26 mpg city/highway, which is nearly identical to a non-turbo Taurus.

The CVT wasn't an issue for me. I own a four-cylinder Subaru Outback with a CVT, and other four-cylinder CVT cars with sporting intentions, like the Suzuki Kizashi, often exhibit an odd sensation  under hard acceleration. It's nothing most people will likely notice or complain about, but sport sedan drivers will turn up their noses at the sight of the letters C-V-T.

Without a traditional automatic's familiar shift points, the sensation of acceleration in these cars is quite different from what you're used to, and it can be unsettling. The Maxima transitions from a cruising speed to accelerating  instantaneously  when you hammer the gas pedal. There isn't the kickdown of a traditional automatic, just acceleration. You'd think this is exactly what driving enthusiasts would like about CVT technology.

What I loved most, though — besides the sound of the V-6 from the huge dual exhaust tips — was the Maxima's handling. At 190.6 inches long overall, it's more than a foot shorter than the Taurus and 7 inches shorter than the Toyota Avalon. This leads to a better-handling car. Never did the Maxima exhibit the body-lean issues those other two have on highway off-ramps. It felt downright nimble by comparison.

You don't give up ride comfort, either. Hit a road imperfection and you'll feel it through the tight suspension a bit more than you would in a Taurus — and definitely more than you would in an Avalon — but the Maxima is composed when cruising on smooth surfaces.

Interior
When a car gets to be a few years old it usually looks dated next to competitors that have been more recently redesigned. At roughly three model years of age, the Maxima's cabin  still seems up-to-date compared with the newer Taurus. I think the Avalon is a bit more upscale, but it's also more expensive.

The dash and cockpit design is more sports carlike than those two as well, and that's Nissan's aim. I liked my test car's  leather seats, too; the base version has cloth seats. The leather ones are extremely comfortable but still offer lots of support and thick bolstering.

The dashboard and controls are well-laid-out, with Nissan's usual high-quality materials providing both pleasant tactile interactions and sturdy feedback when using buttons and knobs.

In a large sedan like this, the backseat is extremely important. While not as big on paper as the Taurus, I found the rear accommodations airier than the Ford. There's plenty of headroom and legroom in the two outboard seats for full-size adults, and my kids' child-safety seats fit more easily in the Nissan than they did in the Ford.

Due to the car's relatively short length, there isn't much trunk space, totaling 14.2 cubic feet. The Taurus offers a massive 20.1 cubic feet, and even Nissan's midsize sedan, the Altima, has a bigger, 15.3-cubic-foot boot. The Avalon's trunk is similarly small, at 14.4 cubic feet.

Features & Pricing
Starting at $30,690 for a 2010 Maxima and increasing to $30,810 for a 2011, the Maxima falls right between the Taurus ($25,170 to start, similarly equipped for $27,370) and Avalon ($32,445 to start) and comes well-equipped in the base version, with 18-inch alloy wheels, a moonroof, push-button ignition, Bluetooth, dual-zone automatic climate control and power front seats.

I tested a $33,410 Maxima SV (it's $33,530 for 2011), which stands for Special Value. It adds the leather seats, a Bose stereo and a few other creature comforts.

There's a Sport Package for an additional $2,030, adding 19-inch wheels, a spoiler, paddle shifters, xenon headlights and a dark chrome grille.

Getting the top-of-the-line Premium Package, which raises the Maxima's price to  $36,640, adds a dual-panel moonroof, a power sunshade for the rear window, a 7-inch display screen, USB connectivity and a backup camera.

My test car had the $700 Monitor Package, which adds the screen and tech features from the Premium Package. It also had a $400 Cold Package that not only added heated front seats but also a heated steering wheel, which is unusual for a car in this price range.

I didn't have the navigation system, but it's available as part of a $1,850 Technology Package.

Safety
The Maxima is equipped with six airbags, including seat-mounted side-impact airbags for the first row and side curtain airbags for both rows. It received the highest overall score of Good in front and side-impact crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but was rated Acceptable for roof strength and Marginal for rear-impact whiplash protection.

The Maxima also earned five-star ratings from the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in front, side and rollover tests using 2010 testing guidelines. The government has since revised its testing to take into account more variables during crashes, but the Maxima hasn't been put through these new tests yet. You can read about the new testing system here.

Maxima in the Market
Even with a few years under its belt, the Maxima remains an alluring choice in the large-sedan market. It's aimed at driving enthusiasts looking for a roomy sedan, and it delivers for them. The slight dings against it in the safety  and cargo departments shouldn't be enough to stop you from buying one if your test drive wins you over.

Send David an email  



2010 Maxima Video

Cars.com's Dave Thomas takes a look at the 2010 Nissan Maxima. It competes with the Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon.

Latest 2010 Maxima Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.8)
Interior Design
(4.8)
Comfort
(4.7)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.8)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Luxury options & performance - economy price

by Myvipguy from Las Vegas on September 20, 2018

So fun to drive I put 80k miles on it in 3.5 years. Comfortable, smooth, powerful, & fun! The sound system is unreal & it looks mean sitting on 19 in alloys. Love, love, LOVE my Maxima! Read full review

(5.0)

Great car it performs very well after 8 years

by luna from Irving on August 27, 2018

Great space for a sport car, pretty fast and great looks if your looking for a vehicle that would last you forever you should consider a Nissan Maxima SV. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2010 Nissan Maxima currently has 1 recall

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2010 Nissan Maxima 3.5 S

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
marginal
Overall Rear
marginal
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
acceptable
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
acceptable

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranties

Backed by Nissan
New Car Program Benefits
  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits
  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    6 years/less than 80,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    84 months/100,000 miles from original new-car in-service date

  • Powertrain warranty

    84 months/100,000 miles (includes LEAF electric vehicle system and powertrain)

  • Dealer Certification Required

    167-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All Program Details

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Maxima received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker