Nissan has been in the news a lot lately. But, coverage has focused more on the financial woes and cash infusion from Renault, and less on the biggest new product blitz in Nissan’s history. And part of that barrage is an all-new flagship sedan, the larger and more powerful 2000 Maxima. But, is the new Maxima likely to be a profitable product for buyers and investors alike?
It certainly should be, if for no other reason than the Nissan Maxima has been the best selling, V-6 equipped import sedan since its introduction in 1980. And with a new look inside and out, and more power from its top rated V-6 engine, the fifth generation, 2000 Maxima doesn’t look ready to relinquish that title anytime soon.
Up front, the Maxima retains its familiar grille, but surrounds it with a smoother, more aerodynamic face that now includes flush-mounted, multi-parabola halogen headlamps.
Both front and rear glass have a steeper rake than the previous model, and the wheelbase has been stretched 2 inches to 108.3 inches for increased interior room and better ride comfort. While at the rear, a higher trunk lid aids the Maxima’s low aerodynamic profile, and its sharply whacked-off shape neatly integrates the distinctive taillight cluster.
Distinctive also describes what has become a staff favorite, Nissan’s 3.0 liter, DOHC, 24-valve, V-6. Highly praised since its introduction in 1994, this aluminum powerplant keeps getting better and better. And the addition of a new Nissan Variable Induction System air intake control and a variable capacity muffler system keeps the Maxima’s V-6 one of the smoothest in the business, and also helps boost horsepower from 190 to 222, and torque from 205 pound-feet to 217.
This improved engine moves the larger Maxima effortlessly to 60 in 8 seconds, and through the quarter mile in 16.1 seconds at 86 mph. And although fitted with an improved 4-speed automatic transmission which provides near seamless shifts, our drivers still feel the gearing and shift schedule don’t fully exploit the Maxima’s expansive powerband.
But it only took one trip through our low speed slalom to remind us what a fine handler the Maxima is. Steering feel is nicely weighted and gives the driver good feedback from the road. Side-to-side transitions are settled and even, giving the Maxima a very balanced feel despite its lack of an independent rear suspension.
But engineers did tweak the Multi-Link Beam rear suspension by moving the lateral link from in front of the torsion beam to behind it. The Maxima’s MacPherson strut, coil sprung, front suspension also gets a larger stabilizer bar to help reduce body roll.
An optional Traction Control System is also now available and is integrated into the standard, 4-wheel ABS system that now handles larger front vented brake discs with redesigned calipers. Solid discs are found at the rear, and with only 1,000 miles on our test car, the system did a good job of bringing us to a stop from 60 in an average 130 feet.
Once inside the Maxima, the added room due to the expanded body is immediately noticeable. Front head and leg room are up, and the front footwells are now 1.4 inches wider.
Our sporty SE-trimmed car comes with leather-faced buckets, with 8-way power for the driver and 4-way for the passenger. Even in their lowest setting, they give the front occupants a commanding view over the hood.
The driver grips a leather-wrapped, tilt steering wheel that has been repositioned forward for improved driver comfort. In the center stack, the controls for the 120 watt AM/FM/Cassette/CD stereo are also ergonomically-friendly and self-explanatory. A 200 watt Bose system is optional. Climate controls are close at hand, and the switchgear operates smoothly, and an auto setting is ready to keep things simple.
The Maxima’s rear quarters are absolutely spacious, with leg room growing 1.9 inches. Maxima’s total passenger compartment volume now measures 102 cubic feet, or more than a Toyota Camry. A locking, 60/40 split seat back allows access to the equally spacious trunk, that at 15 cubic feet also has plenty of long haul room.
And with three trim grades to choose from, there’s also plenty of wiggle room in pricing for all types of budgets. GXE models start at around $23,500. SEs like our tester are slightly more at $24,700. The top of the line luxury GLE will start at $27,000.
So despite distractions with finances, Nissan has maintained its focus. Demonstrating, once again, their prowess at building outstanding automobiles, and delivering a new Maxima that continues as a benchmark for all entry level luxury and sport sedans. With more room, more power, superb handling, and a more refined highway ride, the 2000 Nissan Maxima is a credit to anyone’s account.
Engine: 3.0 Liter Dohc 24-valve V-6
Torque: 217 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 8 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 16.1 Seconds @ 86 MPH
60-0 MPH: 130 Feet