2001 Nissan Maxima
This 2001 review is representative of model years 1995 to 2003.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The 2001 Nissan Maxima is one of those above-average cars that is overlooked a lot.
So what's wrong here? After all, the front-drive Maxima has been around long enough to let Nissan introduce a 20th anniversary model for the 2001 model year. And the Maxima has been the best-selling imported V6 sedan since it got a V6 in 1984.
But, even though more than 1.8 million Maximas have been bought in this country, sales of this sedan have lagged far behind the top-selling midsize Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, which mostly are bought with 4-cylinder engines.
The Maxima drew more attention for the 2000 model year, when it was made bigger, roomier, smoother, quieter and faster. While it also was given more-aggressive styling for a family car market that favors bland styling, Maxima styling remains conservative except for a controversial-looking rear end.
And some folks haven't stopped to figure out that Maxima prices are a few thousand dollars higher than those of rivals because this car is loaded with standard items that cost extra on other sedans. Maybe an "entry level" model with less equipment for under $20,000 might help.
Very Well Equipped
But things are looking up for the Maxima—and Nissan in general. The automaker's popular new Xterra sport-utility vehicle and Frontier Crew Cab pickup are drawing a lot more people to Nissan showrooms, where Maximas sit itching for test drives.
While all Maximas are sporty, the sportiest model is the midrange $23,849 SE. It has a stiffer suspension, wider tires on alloy wheels, rear spoiler, titanium-colored gauges, leather-wrapped steering wheel, premium sound system with a cassette player, and fog lights.
The top-line GLE lists at $26,449 with such things as a leather—and simulated leather—interior.
New Anniversary Model
Anyway, the anniversary model also has a bunch of other stuff, including a power sunroof, 8-way power driver's seat, simulated brushed-metal interior trim, drilled metal pedals, anniversary badging, brushed metal-look shift knob, bronze-colored headlight lenses, and 17-inch wheels.
That special model also provides a body spoiler package and viscous limited-slip differential. Buyers get perforated leather if they order the Maxima's optional leather trim package. And unique, highly chromatic Dark Blue paint is available. You even get a special large engine cover with the Nissan logo.
Solid Family Car
There is good room for four big, tall adults, although the center of the rear seat is too stiff for comfort, even on short trips. And the rear center armrest doesn't sit flat enough. Front seats are highly supportive, instruments can be read quickly, cupholders are sturdy, and the nicely placed controls work smoothly.
The sound system controls are large enough for a driver to safely use once underway—and are a welcome relief from the generally tiny controls in too many cars.
There's a conveniently low opening for the big trunk, although the opening could be larger. Manual trunk-lid hinges eat into cargo space, and the pass-through area from the trunk should be larger.
Fun to Drive
The fact that Nissan is working especially hard to change its image in this country should allow the Maxima to be discovered by more people. What's wrong with a family sedan that has a sporty edge?