Back in the 80's there was a short lived TV show called ""Max Headroom"". The concept was not quite as successful as other quirky shows of the era, like "Mork and Mindy" or "Alf," but even so I have the main character permanently etched in my brain. The concept of the show was completely weird and the idea of its 3D digital character was far out in 1987. What does this have to do with the Nissan Maxima, you ask? Well, ever since that show was on, I have permanently associated the Nissan Maxima with the Max Headroom character. This divergent connection may have something to do with the fact that Nissan introduced the Maxima nameplate around this time and it was a speedy little number that had lots of buzz (especially around my car-crazy teenage friends). The association between Max and Maxima is a good thing, a little different, yet still good.

First impressions are important, obviously my original impression of the 1987 Maxima was positive, and I am equally impressed by the 2007 version. From the exterior design standpoint, this body style is nothing new for Nissan, but I like it. It is a nice looking, decently sized sedan. Size is an important consideration now that I've evolved beyond an awkward 80's teenager (thank the stars), into a modern mom of a family of five. The Maxima delivers.

The rear seat is comfortable for my younger kids and their booster seats. They can buckle themselves in as well as see out the windows easily. When I add my "Max Headroom" sized 14 year-old to the rear seat mix, I really come to appreciate the size of the Maxima. My son, who now towers above me with his nearly 5'10" frame and size 13 shoes, almost always has issues (he is a teenager, after all), especially when I ask him to sit in the back seat of test cars. On this test drive, I don't hear any complaints. The Maxima provides plenty of room for his long legs and a decent foot-well for his gi-normous feet. His comfort might also have something to do with the MP3 jack on the dash. Even if he is squished, he's not complaining because he can crank the tunes. He just plugs in his iPod and we are set.

In addition to the MP3 jack, the Maxima has built-in Bluetooth that supports my phone and gives me the voice dialing features that are usually found in cars that retail for much more than 30k dollars. Another feature that is so timely for this test drive is the heated steering wheel. This winter has been brutal for me. Lots of snow, below-freezing temperatures, all the things that I usually associate with the outer banks of Alaska. But I am a happy camper with the heated steering wheel that warms up just enough to make holding it comfortable. The heated seats make my rear-end as happy as my hands, and definitely makes driving the Maxima a little less like sitting in a sub-zero commercial-grade food freezer.

Of course, other luxury features abound as well: power folding side mirrors, auto entry and exit seat adjustment, leather seats, auto-dimming mirror and even an in-cabin micro-filter that puts my germ-phobic OCD mind at ease. Another of my all-time favorites is the "Intelligent" key that allows me to leave my key in my purse and still open doors and start the engine. No one ever has to know how often I lose car keys in the abyss at the bottom of my purse.

Lest I sound too glowing, let me just take down my praise a notch. For such detail and unexpected luxury, Nissan could put some more effort into interior design and materials. The dash and instrumentation looks and feels very plastic-y (that's the Mother Proof technical term). It is obvious that this is the area that's sacrificed to keep the price down, but for me it is a crucial oversight. The cheap materials are a constant reminder that this is not the luxury car that it appears to be.

I am sure Max Headroom would say something cheeky about my snootiness regarding the interior. He would remind me that reality is only what I make of it, and that in reality the Nissan Maxima is great mix of luxury features, comfort and exterior styling that is a true value for families in the market for a solid sedan.

*For more information on the Nissan Maxima and its safety features visit