The Nissan Maxima is Nissan’s flagship model, and it is Nissan’s most expensive. In addition, it is the largest model in Nissan’s passenger-car lineup, followed by the smaller Altima and the even smaller Sentra.
Initially introduced in 1976 as the Nissan Bluebird Maxima, it was initially imported into the USA the following year as a Datsun 810, as a rear-wheel-drive with either a 2.0-liter or 2.4-liter Inline-6 engine and a manual transmission. The 810 evolved into the 810 Maxima in 1981, and that name changed to Maxima in 1982. These Maximas were offered with either a 2.4-liter Inline-6 gasoline engine or a 2.8-liter Inline-6 diesel engine and with the choice of either a manual or automatic transmission. The Maxima switched to a front-wheel-drive version in 1985. The 1996 is powered by a VQ30DE engine, a 3.0-liter V-6 engine cranking out 190 horsepower and 205 ft-lbs of torque. Coupled with its family-sedan image, it makes for the ultimate sleeper. Who would think that a bland-looking sedan could blow the doors off many tuner cars? Its powerful V-6 makes for a fine road cruiser and the seats are very comfortable. It comes in three trims, the GXE, the SE, and the GLE, and except for the GLE, which is only available with an automatic transmission, it comes with a 5-speed manual standard, with a 4-speed automatic as an option.
Under the hood, the Nissan VQ30, the V-6, cranks out 190 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 205 ft-lbs of torque at 4000 rpm, enough to propel this unassuming sedan from 0-60mph in around 7.5 seconds with the manual-transmission GXE and reach a top speed in the 130 miles-per-hour range. However, the 0-60mph time is a bit longer with the automatic, but manual or automatic, the Maxima flies by. Even with the performance credentials, you can run it on regular unleaded, and save gas, as it has a fuel economy rating of 18/26 City/Highway. However, premium is recommended for maximum performance, and this is especially true if you have any performance modifications done on the car. Also, due to its light weight relative to a large sedan, you can feel it going fast even after a slight push of the accelerator. And if 190 horsepower is not good enough, aftermarket performance-enhancing parts and services are widely available.
Handling: For a large car, the largest in Nissan’s passenger-car lineup, it handles very well, although the Sentra and 350Z have far better handling on curvy stretches of road. However, the steering feels light at times, partly due to the low weight of the car.
Interior: Although the GLE has the most luxurious interior out of the three trims, as it comes with leather seating standard, you won’t get tired on long trips, regardless of whatever trim your Maxima has. Even the GXE, which has cloth seats, is comfortable. In addition, all trims have air conditioning, power door locks, and power windows standard, as well as adjustable front seats with lumbar support.
Compared to the sticker prices of $20,999 for the GXE, $22,679 for the SE, and $26,279 for the GLE, the 1996 Maxima has a suggested Kelley Blue Book value of $6,000 to $7,700, depending on trim, mileage, and vehicle condition. In other words, you can get your “ultimate sleeper” for a small fraction of the original price.
Pros: *Comfortable seating for 5 adults.
*High performance without the visibility
*Aftermarket parts easy to come by.
*Good fuel economy for a large car (between the BMW 3-Series and 5-Series of that era in size)
*Handles well for a large car
Cons: *Low resale value
*They should have offered a V-8 or supercharged version.