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Luxurious Sport Sedan: 2012 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV

It is Nissan’s flagship sedan. It gets the family to all its social obligations in style, and with extra elbow and legroom, writes our automotive editor Sally Miller Wyatt.

(Above): Exterior view of the 2012 Nissan Maxima.

Sport utility vehicles may be a great vehicular choice for adventurous families, but they’re not best in all circumstances; especially if you rarely get out on muddy, rutted and sloppy roads. Some adventurous families spend all their leisure time driving from venue to venue – basketball games, cheerleading practice, band camp, school, daycare and swim lessons – and never leave town. Sedans are a viable option and their gas mileage is an attractive selling point.

Nissan’s flagship sedan, Maxima, certainly gets the family to all its educational and social obligations in style, and with the extra elbow and legroom usually found on larger sedans. That is certainly important for families with growing teens.

For 2012, the Nissan Maxima gets a refreshed exterior that has a sports-car look, new audio upgrades and a re-tooled dashboard, as well as a new Limited Edition package that includes even more upscale features.

What has not changed for 2012 is that the Nissan Maxima is still available in two models: the Maxima 3.5 S and the Maxima 3.5 SV, a sporty alternative. Either one offers drivers a good, solid sedan, dressed up with lots of extras.

(Above): Exterior view of the 2012 Nissan Maxima.

Some other highlights of what is new for 2012 include a revamped front grille design, as well as new rear tail lights that include 12-LED L-shaped lights, a new look for either the 18-inch or 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, and a couple of new exterior paint colors. You can also upgrade to smoked headlight covers, a rear spoiler and dual exhaust with a chrome finish, among other 2012 offerings.

The Nissan Maxima is equipped with a choice of engines: a 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 engine, or an Xtronic CVT with manual and “Ds” or “drive sport” modes and paddle shifters.

The Bose audio system is standard and includes AM/FM radio with an in-dash CD changer and MP3/WMA CD playback capability and nine speakers. A Bluetooth hands-free phone system, as well as XM Satellite Radio are also standard.

Safety features include an advanced Air Bag System, Brake Assist and Anti-lock brakes, Traction Control and Electronic Brake Force Distribution, and Vehicle Dynamic Control, all top of the line features.

Our test car had an optional Sports package, that was priced at an additional $2,100 and included a sport-tuned suspension, leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, paddle shifters, driver’s side memory seats, heated outside mirrors with tilt-down feature when the car is put in reverse, rear bucket seats, a rear seat trunk pass-through, rear spoiler and a dark sport front grille.

(Above): Interior view of the 2012 Nissan Maxima.

The test car also had a $1,850 Sport Technology package that included a navigation system with voice recognition and a 7-inch color touch screen monitor, a compass in the rear view mirror and Streaming audio via Bluetooth.

Behind the wheel, you’ll find good visibility and comfortable seating. Acceleration is smooth and efficient, and once up to highway speed you’ll note the stiff ride that comes with a Sport-tuned suspension. Road noise is discernable.

The rear seat offers good leg and hip room, especially for the outboard positions. But, the rear middle seat position loses hip room because of the bolsters that come with sport seating. It’s also elevated a bit, so comes up short on headroom. It might not be the most popular seat.

The trunk is very generous and is easily accessed from a wide opening.

Our test car offered 19 mpg for city driving, and 26 for highway driving.

Overall, the 2012 Nissan Maxima SV was sporty looking and certainly had that sporty pep out on the road. Families looking for a sporty, roomy sedan may want to check out the 2012 Maxima.

Sally Miller Wyatt is a freelance writer who writes family-oriented auto reviews for newspapers, magazines and the Web.


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