2012 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV (940)


This week we’re looking at the 2012 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV. If you had any question on the popularity of this segment of the market you can just look at the 24 competitors in the field below.

Not only is there a large field of competitors they are very similar in look because that’s what people want. Clean design, not controversial in styling and they all have pretty similar features. That’s what you want and that’s what manufacturers are delivering. This is a not a difficult decision and in fact this is a great time to venture out to a brand you may not have considered in the past. If you are a Ford or Chevy guy or gal or you lean to imports thinking they are better (which isn’t really true) you will want to seriously consider something different this time. I suspect most will likely stay with what they feel comfortable with. However this is a different time and a global manufacturing climate, so domestic cars have just as much chance of being built off shore as imports. And many imports are not imports at all as they may in fact be built in America.

What’s more, US made car companies are learning to compete with imports by employing less expensive labor in Mexico, or China and Korea. Thus they are more competitive in a dog eat dog world of car making. That is reflected in the close pricing you see below.

General Information:

It is assembled in Smyrna, TN. Classification is Midsize. Cars from Nissan: Altima, Altima Hybrid, Armada, Cube, Frontier, GT-R, JUKE, LEAF, Maxima, Murano,  Murano Cross Cabriolet, NV Cargo, NV Passenger, Pathfinder, Quest, Rogue, Sentra, Titan, Versa, Xterra and Z.

Handling & Performance:

For those who do not know what a Continuously Variable Transmission is, the simple explanation is that it does not have a fixed number of gear ratios like the older technology transmissions have. The noticeable difference is the absence of shifts that will be obvious when you drive it. CVT transmissions can change step-less-ly through an infinite number of effective gear ratios between maximum and minimum values. The flexibility of a CVT allows the drive shaft to maintain a constant angular velocity over a range of output velocities. That coupled with 290 horsepower makes this a smoothly powerful ride. Nice.

On another issue, steering is a little heavy for my liking, but better than too loose so it is a minor complaint.


Pretty, with sharp bold lines that I like a lot.

Fit and Finish:

Very good luxury car detail work in and out.


Nissan has always been competitive in price and this grouping is so close you should test drive as many as you can. This is the end of the model year and you are in the driver’s seat in buying as dealers want to clear inventory for the arriving 2013 models. Take advantage of that fact and don’t be afraid to bargain.

Conveniences and comfort:

Top notch entry-level luxury sedan. I particularly appreciate the Intelligent Key that you can leave in your pocket or purse for truly keyless everything….

Consumer Recommendation:

Looking at this market segment? You have a lot to choose from because it is such a popular class. . . right on the cusp of Luxury but at a price most of us can afford.

Recognized Competition:

Nissan Maxima $35,000, Acura TL $36,000, BMW 3-series $35,000, Buick LaCrosse $32,000, Buick Regal $32,000, Chevrolet Impala $26,000, Chevrolet Malibu $25,000, Chrysler 300 $28,000, Dodge Charger $27,000, Ford Fusion $25,000, Ford Taurus $25,000, Honda Accord $27,000, Hyundai Azera $32,000, Hyundai Sonata $24,000, Kia Optima $20,000, Lexus ES 350 $37,000, Lincoln MKS $43,000, Lincoln MKZ $35,000, Mazda 6 $30,000, Mercedes-Benz C-Class $35,000, Saab 9-3 $29,000, Subaru Legacy $26,000, Toyota Avalon $36,000, Volkswagen Passat $31,000, Volvo S60 $31,000.

 Good News:

Smooth, solid, well built, powerful, fair fuel economy for semi luxury class.

Bad News:

A little stiff steering.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 290 hp V6 engine, Continuously variable Transmission, 18” Alloy wheels, front, side and side curtain airbags, power ABS disc brakes with brake force distribution, traction control, vehicle dynamic control, tire pressure monitor, Latch child safety system, vehicle security system, 8-way power driver seat with lumbar and manual thigh support extension, 4-way power passenger seat, 60/40 split fold down rear bench seat, leather seats and steering wheel and shift knob, tilt and telescopic column, cruise control, wheel mounted controls, Bose Audio with 6-CD changer, MP3/ WMA CD playback with 9 speakers and XM satellite, Aux input audio jack, Bluetooth, trip computer, climate control, Intelligent Key with push button start/stop, power windows with one-touch up and down, power moon roof, auto headlights, visors with extensions power outside mirrors with turn signals and fog lights.

Gas Stats:

$4.03/ Gal avg. Sept. 18, 2012


For more information.

19 City and 26 Highway MPG


MSRP $34,450.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair

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