2013 Nissan Maxima

Change Year or Vehicle
$9,052–$18,568 Inventory Prices

Key Specs

of the 2013 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

  • Acceleration
  • Steering and handling
  • Reliability
  • Upscale options
  • Decent CVT operation

The Bad

  • Some aging cabin details
  • Recommends premium gas
  • Modest backseat room
  • Smallish trunk
  • Somewhat firm ride
2013 Nissan Maxima exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2013 Nissan Maxima

  • 290-hp V-6
  • CVT automatic, FWD
  • Optional panoramic moonroof
  • Slots above Altima

2013 Nissan Maxima Road Test

https://www.cstatic-images.com/stock/64x64/14/-74959434-1425053042814.jpg
Kelsey Mays

The aging Nissan Maxima needs a makeover, but Nissan would do well to preserve the car's driving fun — a strength that could lure a few shoppers to the current car even in its twilight years.

The seventh-generation Maxima has been in showrooms since mid-2008, slotting above the Altima as Nissan's flagship sedan. That's more of a reference to the car's premium amenities than to its size; it remains smaller than traditional full-size flagships like the Toyota Avalon and Chevrolet Impala. Therein lies the Maxima's chief limitation, and it's something the car's fun factor has never fully made up for.

We tested a Maxima 3.5 SV amid several full-size sedan competitors as part of Cars.com's $38,000 Full-Size Sedan Challenge. The 3.5 SV slots above the 3.5 S, and most options on the Maxima require starting with the SV. Click here to compare the Maxima's trims and here to compare the 2013 and 2012 Maxima. Besides a few reshuffled option packages, the Maxima carries over with minimal changes.

Driving Thrills
Bereft of Nissan's "next-gen" continuously variable automatic transmissions, which trade responsiveness for efficiency in the redesigned Altima sedan and Pathfinder SUV, the Maxima makes good use of Nissan's familiar (and potent) 3.5-liter V6. The 290-horsepower engine pushes the car with a ferocity that's rare in the full-size league (save perhaps the V-6 Avalon or Chrysler's V-8 sedans) thanks to the Maxima's light weight. Our tester was second-lightest to the Avalon among ...

The aging Nissan Maxima needs a makeover, but Nissan would do well to preserve the car's driving fun — a strength that could lure a few shoppers to the current car even in its twilight years.

The seventh-generation Maxima has been in showrooms since mid-2008, slotting above the Altima as Nissan's flagship sedan. That's more of a reference to the car's premium amenities than to its size; it remains smaller than traditional full-size flagships like the Toyota Avalon and Chevrolet Impala. Therein lies the Maxima's chief limitation, and it's something the car's fun factor has never fully made up for.

We tested a Maxima 3.5 SV amid several full-size sedan competitors as part of Cars.com's $38,000 Full-Size Sedan Challenge. The 3.5 SV slots above the 3.5 S, and most options on the Maxima require starting with the SV. Click here to compare the Maxima's trims and here to compare the 2013 and 2012 Maxima. Besides a few reshuffled option packages, the Maxima carries over with minimal changes.

Driving Thrills
Bereft of Nissan's "next-gen" continuously variable automatic transmissions, which trade responsiveness for efficiency in the redesigned Altima sedan and Pathfinder SUV, the Maxima makes good use of Nissan's familiar (and potent) 3.5-liter V6. The 290-horsepower engine pushes the car with a ferocity that's rare in the full-size league (save perhaps the V-6 Avalon or Chrysler's V-8 sedans) thanks to the Maxima's light weight. Our tester was second-lightest to the Avalon among seven large sedans, tipping the scales at less than 3,600 pounds. That's more than 400 pounds less than the Ford Taurus and the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger siblings. (Dodge is one of Chrysler's brands.)

It shows. Power comes on strong from a standing start — enough to send our tester's Bridgestone Eagle RS-A P245/45R18 all-season tires spinning for grip — and the CVT kicks up revs with little delay for easy highway passing. A "Ds" mode ("Drive Sport," Nissan calls it) simulates fixed gears and keeps revs up when cornering. The quickest way to 60 mph is still leaving the gearshift in Drive and standing on the gas, but Drive Sport replaces the engine drone you usually hear under sustained acceleration — familiar to anyone who's driven a CVT — with a more conventional revving sensation.

Punch it up an on-ramp, and the Maxima exhibits mild torque steer. That's the price to pay for sending 261 pounds-feet of torque to the front wheels, but the Maxima masks its driveline in handling maneuvers. Body roll is modest, and sweeping corners bring the tail into play with a degree of balance that evokes a rear-drive car. Steering feedback is good, with sharp inputs at any speed. Nissan appears to have quelled the car's power-steering progression, which suffered a binary transition from high-assist to low-assist in past Maxima sedans we drove. We observed no such issues this time around.

It all begs a question: Does the Nissan Maxima compete better against midsize entry-luxury sedans like the Acura TL, Lexus ES and Buick LaCrosse than traditional full-size sedans? That's up to you. The TL matches this sort of driving satisfaction, while the ES and LaCrosse fall short. EPA ratings for the Maxima are just 19/26/22 mpg city/highway/combined, which falls at the low end of both groups. What's more, the Nissan recommends premium fuel; most competitors in both groups run fine on regular.

Our car lacked the 3.5 SV's Sport Package, which adds 19-inch alloy wheels and P245/40R19 all-season or summer high-performance tires and a sport-tuned suspension. No doubt the summer tires would improve grip off the line, but the sport-tuned suspension might be a bridge too far: The base suspension and 18-inch wheels make for a firm, if controlled, ride. If you want a car that masks expansion joints and manhole covers, the Chrysler/Dodge siblings or Chevrolet's redesigned Impala are better choices. So, generally, are those entry-luxury models. Bumps elicit some discord in the Maxima, but it's a controlled, high-quality sort. The whole experience is less choppy than the discordant Avalon or the too-firm Hyundai Azera.

Bring the Kids, Not the In-Laws
The other shoe drops on comfort and trunk room, which compete well with those luxury cars but underwhelm if you're shopping full-size sedans. Given the Maxima's modest cabin volume — 95.8 cubic feet, less than the 100-plus cubic feet in the other large sedans we evaluated — the front and rear seats have reasonable space. But adults who want to stretch out will find more room in the Azera, Avalon and Kia Cadenza. Even the Taurus, whose backseat left us underwhelmed (see the review) has a bench that sits higher off the floor to improve thigh support for adults.

That Taurus also has a trunk that's 42 percent larger than the Maxima's. Granted, at 20.1 cubic feet the Taurus has the largest trunk of any sedan, but the Maxima's 14.2 cubic feet falls below the Impala (18.8 cubic feet), Charger (16.5), 300 and Azera (both 16.3), and Avalon (16.0). The Nissan compares better against the TL, LaCrosse and ES, but the Acura and Buick have embarrassingly small trunks.

Nissan made credible strides toward entry-luxury territory with the Maxima, whose premium touches — fabric window pillars, rich dashboard materials, cushy armrests — spelled luxury back in 2009. But the competition has caught up, and today's Maxima seems a bit tired. Our tester's navigation system had plenty of convenient shortcut keys but outdated graphics. The window switches are from yesteryear; from Park to Drive, the gearshift has the aimless shuffle of a kid who just got cut from the basketball team.

Safety, Features & Pricing
The current-generation Nissan Maxima earned the top score, Good, from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for front and side-impact crashes. The sedan earned an Acceptable score — one rung down from Good — in roof-strength scores, but it also scored Acceptable in IIHS' challenging new small-overlap frontal test, which many new cars fail. (Read more about the small-overlap frontal test here.)

Standard safety features include six airbags and the required antilock brakes and electronic stability system, but lane departure, blind spot and forward-collision warning systems — which are fast becoming available among the Maxima's competition — are still MIA. Click here for a full list of safety features. Reliability in the Maxima's four years on the market has been above average. That's on par with the TL and it's far better than the Buick LaCrosse or Chrysler's full-size sedans. But many competitors, from the Avalon and ES to the Impala, were redesigned for 2013 or 2014, which leaves no reliability trail for them just yet.

The Nissan Maxima 3.5 S base price starts around $32,000 and comes with dual power seats, a moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless access with push-button start and Bluetooth phone operation. Options include leather, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, a ventilated driver's seat, a panoramic moonroof, a navigation system, Bose audio and a backup camera. Curiously, USB/iPod compatibility and Bluetooth audio streaming, which many competitors include standard, remain among the Maxima's options.

Check all the factory options, and a loaded Maxima 3.5 SV ends up around $39,000 — enough to compete with modestly equipped versions of the TL, LaCrosse and ES 350, but all three of those top out past $45,000.

Maxima in the Market
The Nissan Maxima has fallen from its sales peak in 2010, when sales crested 60,500, to an underwhelming 23,675 through the first half of 2013, which falls below most full-size competitors. The car always felt smaller versus traditional full-sizers, and it placed last in the group in Cars.com's Full-Size Sedan Challenge. What's more, premium sedans have leapfrogged Nissan on cabin quality — an area where the Maxima once built a compelling case for budget luxury. But the car still has one trump card: driving fun. A redesign is all but assured in the next few years, and Nissan would do well to keep this strength for the next generation.

Send Kelsey an email  

 


2013 Maxima Video

The Nissan Maxima’s 5-year-old seventh generation is well-served by its relative lengthiness of tooth says Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays.

Latest 2013 Maxima Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.8)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.7)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

Latest Reviews

(4.0)

Very luxury.

by Sandman69 from Kansas city, mo on April 23, 2018

Meets all my expectations. And fully loaded. Its a pimp mobile. It picks up the ladies. And for the price its the best car out there. Read full review

(5.0)

A Car With Zip and Excellent Handling

by James B. from Cazenovia, NY on March 2, 2018

I've been buying Nissans for over 36 years. Call me a more or less satisfied customer. The 2013 Maxima handles nimbly with plenty of zip. I've always felt Nissan's fit & finish is better than most ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2013 Nissan Maxima currently has 0 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2013 Nissan Maxima has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Nissan

Program Benefits

24 Hour Emergency Roadside Assistance, Towing Assistance, Trip Interruption Benefits, 3-month free subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio on properly equipped vehicles, Complimentary CARFAX® Vehicle History Report™ and 3-Year CARFAX® Buy Back Guarantee

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty from original in-service date; $50 deductible
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 167 point inspection and reconditioning.

Change Year or Vehicle

0 / 0 0 Photos
0 / 0

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.*

Third-row access

N/A

Infant seat

A

Booster

(second row)

B

Booster

(third row)

N/A

Latch or Latch system

A

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

N/A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

A
* 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