All Maximas get a 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower, mated to a continuously variable transmission. It's a more powerful version of the setup used in vehicles like the Murano crossover, INFINITI JX and the new Nissan Altima V6. Every model gets front, side and curtain airbags, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, split-folding rear seat and tilt-and- telescoping steering wheel.
In terms of the competition, the Ford Taurus is available with three choices of powertrains and front or all-wheel drive. But the Taurus is much heavier and less agile than the Maxima. The Toyota Avalon is larger and quieter than the Maxima, but that works against the Avalon because it's not nearly as rewarding for the driver as the Maxima. The Buick LaCrosse offers an eAssist four-cylinder that gets up to 37 MPG highway. But it is also heavy and lacks the Maxima's sporting pretentions. The Dodge Charger offers a V8 and rear or all-wheel drive that will please enthusiasts or those living in snowy areas. But top-level Chargers are expensive.
Overall, the Maxima is one of the sportiest large sedans, even if it isn't as large as some other competitors. Its sporty nature and smooth CVT transmission set it apart from the class and it does offer a more premium feel than many mainstream branded sedans, but at a lower price than premium makes. It's perfect for sedan shoppers who want luxury features and good value.
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