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Nissan Maxima 2006 review

Now Nissan has introduced a mid-life Maxima facelift and jiggled the line-up.

The exterior upgrades are hard to pick. The cars have new bumpers, a revised grille, fog lights, new LED tail-lights and slightly different alloy wheels.

On the inside, the changes are a bit more visible. Nissan has added new leather trim and replaced faux woodgrain bits with dark plastic.

The engine, a cracker 3.5-litre V6 with four valves a cylinder is unchanged. It doesn't quite match the 350Z's output, being tuned for refinement over performance, but still puts out 170kW and 333Nm.

The new gearbox is the most important addition. It is a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which uses a chain and two pulleys to constantly change gear ratios. The idea is that the engine delivers optimum power and improves fuel economy. For the driver, it feels as if the car has one gear, with no step changes.

Two problems prevented CVT technology from sweeping across the car world: the unpleasant sound and reliability concerns.

The Maxima range now includes the upgraded base ST-L and Ti. The range-topping Ti-L is gone. Prices start at $39,990 for the ST-L and hit $44,990 for the Ti.

It is a good car, but it could have been great. A marshmallow-soft suspension set-up might put bums on Maxima seats in the US, but in Australia it just spoils a nice car.

The mid-corner body roll of the big Nissan is extreme to the extent that it lurches through turns. Its floating suspension movement was so bad on a pot-holed, undulating, twisty country road I almost became sea-sick.

Some work on the steering would also be welcome. The present system offers little feedback through the wheel.

All this means you are not tempted to push the Maxima hard, despite the engine's terrific punch. The car, however, does deliver excellent ride comfort on smooth highways. The sumptous leather seats feel like soft lounges. The best feature of the revised Maxima is the CVT automatic. It works a treat with the 3.5-litre V6. Thanks to the steady flow of torque on tap, it doesn't sound like the clutch is slipping because you can hardly hear the engine working away.

There is no juddering as it pops up into the next gear. Nissan has added a self-shift mode, so you can shift between six pre-set ratios.

Nissan says the CVT delivers fuel economy benefits. Official fuel-use figures are reduced from 11.2 litres/100km to 10.8/100km. We found the Maxima ran at 10.4 litres/100km doing a fair chunk of highway driving, which is reasonable but not great considering it drinks only pricier premium fuel.

It is a nice big car with a luggage-swallowing boot and good legroom.

The interior looks good; several people who saw the Ti test car thought it cost a lot more than it does. It is not perfect though. The steering wheel, for instance, doesn't have buttons to control the sound system; a feature expected these days.

As for the sound system, the speakers are powerful enough but the in-glass antenna struggles out of town.

The keyless entry key-fob might impress some, but feels like an afterthought.

Most cars with similar systems have an engine start-stop button. The Maxima doesn't. You can get into the car without having to take the key out of your pocket, but you still have to turn a plastic dial covering the ignition barrel on the steering column.

Overall, the car is excellent value when you consider all the metal and equipment you get.

Pricing Guides

Based on 11 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

ST-L 3.5L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $5,999 – 8,880 2006 Nissan Maxima 2006 ST-L Pricing and Specs
Ti 3.5L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $4,588 – 6,450 2006 Nissan Maxima 2006 Ti Pricing and Specs
Ti-L 3.5L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $6,270 – 8,800 2006 Nissan Maxima 2006 Ti-L Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


Lowest price, based on 12 car listings in the last 6 months

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