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The Nissan Maxima occupies a unique place in Nissan's lineup. It's a midsize sedan like the Altima, but it costs more, comes with more equipment, and is sportier. It's close to the price of the rear-wheel-drive Infiniti G37, but the Maxima has front-wheel drive instead of rear-wheel drive so it isn't as sporty as the G37.
The Maxima is engineered, built, tuned and aimed at drivers who prefer sporty handling and a firmer ride as opposed to the softer, more luxurious rides associated with many cars in this class.
The 2011 Nissan Maxima competes with the Acura TL, Infiniti G, Cadillac CTS, and Toyota Avalon, as well as deluxe versions of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
The Nissan Maxima features a notably wide track, which helps the chassis handle the corners on its wide tires. Maxima's underpinnings are shared with other Nissan front-wheel-drive models, including the Murano and Altima. Sized close to the Altima, the Maxima's platform is measurably stiffer.
Maxima Sport and Premium models benefit from a large steel panel behind the rear seat to connect the floor, walls and package shelf into a single unit that, according to Nissan, is up to 17 percent stiffer than the base model, all aimed at sharper handling. Sport versions also add a brace across the front suspension towers for greater stiffness and steering precision. We think that's a vote in favor of the Premium and Sport packages, though it means giving up the cargo benefits of a folding rear seat. Upgrading to these packages is more than the sum of their feature lists.
Changes for the 2011 model year are minor. They involve mostly minor appearance tweaks for cars equipped with the Sport package. This package now includes smoked headlights, a dark chrome grille, and shiny gray interior stitching. All 2011 Nissan Maxima models also get rolled edge tailpipe finishers and two new exterior colors.
The 2011 Nissan Maxima is offered in two models, S and SV.
All 2011 Nissan Maxima models are motivated by a 290-horsepower 3.5-liter dohc V6 engine and come with Nissan's Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT), which works like an automatic.