2010 Nissan Maxima

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$30,690

starting MSRP

Key specs

Base trim shown

Sedan

Body style

22

Combined MPG

5

Seating capacity

190.6” x 57.8”

Dimensions

Front-wheel drive

Drivetrain

Overview

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

2 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

  • S

    $30,690

  • SV

    $33,410

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2010 Nissan Maxima trim comparison will help you decide.

See also: Find the best Sedans for 2024

Notable features

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

2010 Nissan Maxima review: Our expert's take

By 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’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  
Photo of David Thomas
Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.7
  • Interior 4.7
  • Performance 4.8
  • Value 4.7
  • Exterior 4.8
  • Reliability 4.7
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Most recent consumer reviews

5.0

Nissan rocks!

Doing fine at 175k miles this car is a dream. I've been approached for offers to buy it. This car saved our lives in a near head on crash. As a sports car sedan it has lived up to its name. A few fixes, nothing major thus far. I'll be riding in this reliable gem hopefully for years to come.

3.0

Discount towards Nissan.

Had this since 2010. Dealership takes me into coolant flush, 2 months later blown head gasket leaking coolant. Then I was talked into transmission fluid flush, 1 month later whining sound during acceleration, dealer found air bubbles in fluid, tried fluid flush again save result, was told transmission was blown and needed new trans, both were blamed on me and poor Nissan engineering. Now need a water pump, dealer says they have to pull engine out looking at $2 K. I blame dealership for my misfortune and discount for the Nissan brand.

5.0

Love this Nissan Maxima 2010

This is like my fourth car I had in life this 2010 Nissan Maxima I have had it for 6 months now it is very reliable it's a luxury car very very nice for me to be 53 I am comfortable with the car I am driving but now the other than that I love love this car thank you Nissan Maxima for making his car❤❤❤❤💘

See all 70 consumer reviews

Safety

Based on the 2010 Nissan Maxima base trim.
Frontal driver
5
Frontal passenger
5
Nhtsa rollover rating
5
Side driver
5
Side rear passenger
5

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Nissan Certified Select
New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
36 months/36,000 miles
Corrosion
60 months/unlimited distance
Powertrain
60 months/60,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
Nissan and non-Nissan vehicles less than 10 years old and less than 100,000 miles. (Nissan vehicles less than 6 years from original new car in-service date must have more than 60,000 to qualify for Certified Select.)
Powertrain
6 months/6,000 miles from date of sale
Dealer certification required
84-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

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