2011 Nissan Maxima Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2011 Nissan Maxima Sedan

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Nissan Maxima Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.5 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission CVT Automatic
  • Horse Power 290 hp @ 6400 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/26 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2011 Nissan Maxima

  • The 2011 Nissan Maxima serves as an appealing alternative to many entry-level luxury sedans thanks to its engaging driving dynamics and high-quality construction.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Precise steering; strong V6; high-quality interior with high-tech features; excellent iPod integration.

  • Cons

    Lacks the brand cachet its price tag implies; optional equipment stuffed into expensive packages.

  • What's New for 2011

    For 2011, the Nissan Maxima sees only a handful of minor changes. Among them, the exhaust tips are different and the available Sport package gets smoked headlights, a dark chrome grille and gray stitching for the upholstery.

Full 2011 Nissan Maxima Review

What's New for 2011

For 2011, the Nissan Maxima sees only a handful of minor changes. Among them, the exhaust tips are different and the available Sport package gets smoked headlights, a dark chrome grille and gray stitching for the upholstery.


The 2011 Nissan Maxima has a difficult task, as it's meant to be a premium luxury sedan at the same time that it offers affordable family-sedan utility. It's no wonder that this car is a good-news, not-much-bad-news proposition.

First the good news. This is a very nice car with powerful, refined performance, a well-trimmed cabin and plenty of high-tech luxury features. Sporting nearly 300 horsepower, the Maxima can show its taillights to pricier, entry-level luxury cars while its well-developed chassis offers a nice balance between sporty handling and a nice ride.

Within the cabin, you'll find a well-designed interior with excellent materials. The optional, easily mastered navigation system is virtually identical to what you'll find within various models offered by Nissan's upscale Infiniti division, and the iPod integration is one of the best ones out there. With pricing in the mid-$30,000 range for a fairly loaded example, the Maxima gets you a lot of car -- in some cases, more than you'd get from luxury sedans costing thousands more.

The semi-bad news? You're not going to get the prestige that some people want when they're spending $30-40K on a car, even if it's just a base model of a premium brand nameplate. Other choices you might want to consider include the 2011 Acura TSX and TL, 2011 Hyundai Genesis and 2011 Volkswagen CC, which are all in the Maxima's price range. Like the Maxima, they have nice interiors and a good value proposition, yet they mostly lack the Maxima's fun-to-drive nature. And of course you could also look at base versions of models like the 2011 Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G37 and 2011 Lexus IS 350. They deliver the performance and prestige expected, yet lack the Maxima's long list of features.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 Nissan Maxima is a midsize entry-level luxury sedan available in S and SV trim levels.

The base model S comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlamps, cruise control, a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control and a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, along with eight-way driver and four-way passenger power front seats. Also standard in the S are a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a trip computer, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth and an in-dash six-disc CD-changer with an auxiliary audio jack.

The Maxima SV adds integrated turn signals located in the exterior mirrors, foglamps, a driver-seat manual thigh-support extender, power lumbar support, leather upholstery and a nine-speaker Bose stereo upgrade with satellite radio.

The SV can be optioned with either the Premium or Sport packages -- both of which add shift paddles on the steering wheel, xenon headlights, a driver-side auto-dimming outside mirror, heated front seats, heated outside mirrors, driver memory functions and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column. These packages also include a heated steering wheel, upgraded leather upholstery and rear bucket seats with a center trunk pass-through in lieu of the 60/40-split seats.

The Premium package differs by adding a dual-panel sunroof, a rearview camera, a 7-inch LCD screen, a ventilated driver seat, rear-seat audio and HVAC controls, automatic up/down rear windows, a power rear sunshade, wood trim, an RCA auxiliary audio-video jack, a 2GB music server (replacing the six-disc CD changer) and an iPod interface. The Sport package features a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, smoked headlights, dark chrome grille, gray metallic stitching accents, a rear spoiler and metallic-look interior trim. High-performance summer tires are an added option with the Sport package.

The Technology package adds a voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic, a 7-inch LCD screen with DVD playback, a single in-dash CD player (which replaces the six-disc version), streaming Bluetooth audio and 9.3GB of digital music storage. The Monitor package includes the color monitor, 2GB music server, auxiliary audio-video jack, rearview camera and USB port. Finally, the Cold package adds heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and heated outside mirrors.

Powertrains and Performance

Powering every 2011 Nissan Maxima is a 3.5-liter V6 producing 290 hp and 261 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that can be overridden by six simulated "gear" ratios selected via shift paddles on the steering wheel (if optioned on SV models).

In testing, the Maxima SV accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, which is in line with the acceleration times of many entry-level luxury cars. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.


Standard safety equipment for every 2011 Nissan Maxima includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and front active head restraints. A rearview camera is optional on SV models. In Edmunds brake testing, Maximas with both the Premium and Sport packages came to a stop from 60 mph in 128 feet -- a bit longer than average for this price range.

In government crash tests, the Maxima scored a perfect five out of five stars sweep for frontal- and side-impact protection for all occupants. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Maxima its highest score of "Good" for frontal-offset and side crash protection, but got the second-best rating of "Acceptable" in the roof strength test.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2011 Maxima's interior is as upscale as you'll find in the Nissan lineup. The cabin is understated and surrounds passengers with high-quality materials worthy of the sedan's luxury-car price tag. When combined with the Premium or Sport packages, the cabin is on even footing with its pricier Infiniti G37 cousin. We're especially fond of the Maxima's optional iPod interface, which is one of the best.

Within the ample, adult-size cabin, the front seats blend support and soft cushioning. The executive-style rear bucket seats are comfortable and stylish just like those in the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Volkswagen CC, but the small center position is understandably all but unusable. The standard 60/40-split rear seats can fold down for bulkier items, but the optional bucket rear seats offer just a center pass-through for longer objects.

Driving Impressions

Nissan calls the 2011 Maxima a "four-door sports car," but no one is going to mistake this large sedan for a 370Z. Yet it's still a very good sport sedan and it should please the vast majority of drivers. The Maxima's steering is exceptionally nice, boasting light effort, plenty of communication and spot-on precision. For the money, though, we would forgo the optional Sport package, which stiffens the compliant ride without any appreciable performance gains.

It used to be that when we'd encounter a vehicle fitted with a CVT, we were filled with a combination of dread and loathing. But that's not the case with the 2011 Nissan Maxima, as its CVT is well-suited to the strong V6.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

My 2011 maxima

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT)

I've had it long enough to ensure a quantify review. I've had no issues with anything in or in the car. Mine is maxed out and is a pure pleasure to drive. No Mechanical issues whatsoever. My has the sport suspension so its a bit bumpy on poor roads, on good roads its a dream. The Trans in this car is not for performance, its to save on gas, its NOT a sports car regardless of what Nissan says, cvt cant be a sports transmission. I find myself using the paddle shifters much of the time.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Not perfect, but is still

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT)

I bought my 2011 SV Sport right as the 2012s were coming out so I got a decent deal. I was really looking at Infiniti G37s but those dealers werent negotiating. The sport package is the best looking version, IMO due to the 19 inch wheels and smoked headlights, and its equipped with some of the extra goodies I would have wanted anyways. As of 9/17/12, I am just shy of 7000 miles on the odo.

1 of 7 people found this review helpful

Dual sun roof disaster

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT)

Nothing but problems with my 2011 dual sun (or moon) roof. Last summer car was brand new and in the shop of a month. Well summer is here again and the car is back in the shop. I'm not sure if its the tracks that have a problem when they get heated by the sun but I feel like I got a real lemon. Everything including the roof lining interior has already been replaced once. Here we go again ;-(

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

No better deal

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT)

Just a smooth ride! Love this car. Don't have any issues. My AC is super cold, love my cooled driver seat, no rattles, bluetooth is smart. It recognizes who gets in the car more, me or my wife, and automatically connects to the most frequent driver. This car has THE BEST stock stereo I have ever had. The BOSE is awesome. You really don't know how good it is until you turn it up to just two or three bars below max volume and set the equalizer like you want. I am a spirited driver. My main car is a Mustang GT. This car has plenty of power. More torque steer as my tires wear and get older. But the handling is still superb. Suspension is tight but smooth.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Passenger airbag light malfunction

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Maxima 3.5 S 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT)

I purchased my 2011 Nissan Maxima in November 2011. I have had an issue with the passenger side airbag light on with an adult in the seat. I have taken the car to the dealership on numberous occasions and was told it was normal. I called Nissan and talked with some named Tim, he took my information over the phone and said he would get back with me in a few days. He called my husband and told him the seat was functioning properly, that the adults weren't sitting in the seat properly. I called him back with no response. How can they say it is functioning properly no one at Nissan or the dealership will ride in the car with me so I can show them what the car is doing. Very disappointed..

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Passenger airbag light malfunction

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT)

I purchased my '11 Maxima new on 03/31/2011 and have had an issue with the passenger side airbag light coming on with an adult passenger in the seat. When the light is on, it reflects that the airbag is in the 'off' position. I have brought the problem to my dealer's attention, Giles Nissan, Lafayette, LA ever since my first 3,750 oil change service, and was given a variety of reasons. At first the dealer could not locate the trouble then I was told that it was normal. I finally brought my wife with me and rode with a service tech who witnessed the problem. Since then, different techs at different times have experienced the light on, however the issue has not yet been resolved.

Talk About The 2011 Maxima

2011 Nissan Maxima Discussions See all Started By

The 2011 Maxima goes on sale in August 2010....

I have the 18' Aluminum Alloy rim peeling all along the rubber and rim in 4 different locations of the rim. The coating is lifted in larger peels and I can see it starting to begin the peel in certa?...

The 2010 Maxima is due out sometime this month with some minor changes to colors, package options, and the wheels; there is suppose to be more standard tech on the SV and I wanted to know what everyon...

Gas Mileage


  • 19
  • cty
  • 26
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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