2012 Nissan Maxima 350Ti Review

Overall Rating

  • Interior

  • On The Road

  • Value For Money

  • See Full Specs

What’s Hot

Impressive comfort, powerful V6, big boot, value for money.

What’s Not

No parking sensors, tilt-only steering column, no fold-down rear seats.

X Factor

Value packed, immensely comfortable and a good drive. The Maxima 350Ti is all three.

  • Country of Origin
    JAPAN
  • Price
    $46,990 (plus on-road costs)
  • Engine
    6 Cylinders
  • Output
    185 kW / 326 Nm
  • Transmission
    Constantly Variable Transmission
  • ANCAP Rating
    N/A
  • Airbags
    Driver & Passenger (Dual), Head for 2nd Row Seats, Side for 1st Row Occupants (Front), Head for 1st Row Seats (Front)
  • L/100 km
    10.2
  • C02
    243 g/km
  • Luggage Capacity
    504 L
  • Towing (braked)
    1200 kg
  • Towing (unbraked)
    750 kg
Tony O'Kane | Jan 24, 2012 | 10 Comments

2012 NISSAN MAXIMA REVIEW

Vehicle Style: Large sedan
Price: $46,990 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 10.2 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 10.4 l/100km

Nissan’s J32 Maxima is a frequently-overlooked large car contender and only commands a tiny share of the segment.

But its shortcomings are few: the interior feels quite upmarket, the back seat is spacious, it rides well and that 3.5 litre V6 is a pearler.

Even at the flagship 350Ti’s $46,990 pricetag, it’s a very good car for the money. A minor update in late 2011 added even more equipment - leaving just one or two perplexing gaps in the 2012 Maxima 350Ti’s spec sheet.

INTERIOR

Quality: Materials and build quality are well above par, and markedly better than the Maxima’s Australian-built competitors.

There are plenty of soft leather-upholstered surfaces and the quality of the hide is good, if a little slippery.

The centre console with its alloy-look console plastics is a little plain and featureless, but in keeping with the Maxima’s clean, flowing interior design.

Comfort: Both front seats are electrically adjustable (the driver’s is eight-way adjustable and has a two position memory) and heated, however the steering column only adjusts for tilt, not reach - a real oddity in this segment.

The front seats offer excellent support though, as does the rear bench.

Three smallish adults can easily sit across the back seat, and with just two people it’s positively luxurious.

Legroom and headroom is plentiful at the back, and a large centre armrest is standard.

Face-level air vents are also provided for backseaters, and a power-retractable sun blind in the parcel shelf (a new addition for 2012) helps deflect the harsh Aussie sun.

Equipment: The Maxima 350Ti is well-specced, coming standard with satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, trip computer, auto-on xenon headlamps and a proximity key.

The sound system is a premium 11-speaker Bose stereo with auxilliary audio inputs, and the Bluetooth phone integration on MY2012 350Ti’s can now be controlled via steering-wheel mounted buttons.

Other new features added for 2012 include a side-facing camera, which shows the kerbside front corner of the car to aid parking.

The xenon headlights now also turn into corners to help improve vision at night. Annoyingly though, front parking sensors are nowhere to be found on the Maxima’s spec list.

A rear view camera is standard on the Ti, but with the Maxima’s width, front overhang and large nose, the omission of front parking sensors is a real oversight.

Storage: The boot space is large, flat and measures a generous 506 litres.

Unfortunately, the back seats don't fold down to allow larger items to be carried. However, a small port hidden behind the centre armrest enables longer, thinner cargo (such as skis), to be carried.

ON THE ROAD

Driveability: The J32 Maxima’s 3.5 litre V6 is essentially a detuned version of the 350Z’s engine and serves the Maxima very well, producing 185kW at 6000rpm and 326Nm at 4400rpm.

Performance is strong with plenty of low-down torque, and the CVT automatic it’s coupled to is one of the best around.

The engine rarely needs more than 2500rpm during everyday urban driving, but both the engine and gearbox respond swiftly to demands for more power.

It’s capable of delivering a decent shove in the back too, and overtaking at highway speeds is a breeze.

The CVT features a six-ratio manual shift mode, which changes gears quickly and smoothly for a sportier driving experience.

Refinement: The cabin is well isolated from noise and vibration, with just a little bit of tyre roar on coarser tarmac.

The Maxima feels a lot more cosseting than its competitors,thanks to a quieter cabin and a very smooth ride.

Suspension: The Maxima’s front MacPherson strut and rear multi-link suspension delivers a good balance between ride comfort and roadholding.

The steering feels a bit lifeless around town, but firms up somewhat at faster speeds. Its 11.4 metre turning circle is a bit on the wide side though.

Grip is reassuring, but like all front wheel drive cars the Maxima carries more weight over its nose and understeers when pushed hard.

Braking: Braking performance is good, with the Maxima’s all-disc system stopping its 1600kg-plus weight with ease.

The pedal is responsive and with consistent feel underfoot.

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: Not tested.

Safety features: Standard safety features include stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD and brake assist.

Passengers are protected by dual front and front-side airbags, front active headrests, front pretensioning seatbelts and full-length curtain airbags.

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

Warranty: 3 years/100,000km. An extended warranty is available.

Service costs: Servicing intervals are set for every six months or 10,000km, with the first 12 services covered by Nissan’s capped-price servicing scheme.

Under the scheme, a general service for the Maxima costs between $250 and $370, while more detailed services can cost between $550 and $650. The first major service is due at 60 months/100,000km, and costs $792.

HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY

Ford Falcon G6E ($46,735) - The G6 has the best-appointed interior of Australian built large cars, and has a torquey and effortless 195kW/391 4.0 litre inline six and six-speed automatic.

The Maxima outguns it however for features and refinement. (see Falcon reviews)

Toyota Aurion Presara ($49,990) - The most expensive of this lot, but also the least appealing. The Aurion is at the end of its lifespan and due for a replacement later this year, so it looks and feels dated in this company.

It’s also quite a dull drive, despite its powerful 200kW 3.5 litre V6. (see Aurion reviews)

Holden Calais ($48,290) - Blessed with a superb 210kW/350Nm 3.6 litre V6, the Calais has plenty of straight-line muscle. It handles very well for a car of its size too; but is bettered by the Maxima's pampering features and high-quality furnishings. (see Calais reviews)

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

Nissan's Maxima range is misunderstood and underrated by Australian car-buyers.

It may not immediately conjure up images of luxury and refinement, but the Maxima 350 Ti offers exactly that and is a properly nice car to drive.

The lack of reach-adjustable steering and front parking-sensors count against it, but, those omissions aside, the Ti offers very good value for money when stacked against its key rivals.

Its individual and slightly ungainly styling may not be for everyone, but why it doesn’t sell in greater numbers (only 1923 Maximas left dealerships last year) is beyond our comprehension.

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Filed under: Featured, review, Nissan, petrol, nissan maxima, sedan, automatic, fwd, maxima, CVT, family, large, Advice, special-featured, 6cyl, 4door, 5seat, nissan maxima 350ti

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  • Grumps
    Grumps says,
    2 years ago
    I used to own a 2000 model Maxima ST. Most comfortable and smoothest riding car I have ever owned.

    If only the resale was not one of the worst!
    • Tocam says,
      2 years ago
      Totally agree, the Maxima is and has always been a very nice comfortable yet relentless car, although dynamics are not its strong link, so is the resale.

      Overall, it is very well packaged for the price.
  • Roger says,
    2 years ago
    As a large car buyer, the Maxima suffers from the fact it is dead set awful to look at. Lack of folding rear seats in a front wheel drive car is inexcusable as they usually offer cargo areas significantly greater than their rear drive competitors, but no folding seats is a real problem. Its a real "nothing" car, so Nissan really need to address that issue with more competitive pricing otherwise it just wont even be considered. Pity as it is the only car in the set listed that is made in Japan, and that is a REAL advantage. They cannot match europeans cars for technology and engines, but they always win hands down for reliability in my experience.
  • Lightning Rod says,
    2 years ago
    To most buyers, looks has alot of bearing on what car they choose to buy. If Nissan can get rid of that geriatric exterior, they will see sales rise.

    The Maxima is a wonderful car in every other way.
  • Peter Dempsey says,
    1 year ago
    1 like
    Thank you for this and other reports, they are very helpfull when trying to decide wich car to buy.
    • Andy says,
      1 year ago
      1 like
      Having recently compared medium to large cars, I bought a Maxima 350 STS simply because I was impressed with the features, quality (built in Japan), refinement and power. I too am perplexed as to why Australians don't buy quality and sales of the Maxima are so low.
  • Kim says,
    7 months ago
    I owned a 2009 Ti model and I lived it. Maxima has loads of features for the price. A pleasure to drive and very smooth ride. Only 1 negative with Nissan is that they want the car serviced every 6 months even when I hardly do the kmls and they did my 20,000 Kim log book service when I hadn't even done 10,000 kmls. That's the only negative. Would I buy another Maxima - yes, if it's made in Japan and not Korea. I believe 2009 was the last of the Japanese made Maximas. Later models are made in Korea.
  • Andrew says,
    6 months ago
    I drive a 350 TLI and love it. Only issue is that you feel a bit removed from the world as its so cosseting and easy to drive. Smooth as silk. The brakes are a tad sensitive and even with light braking the ABS feels like its kicked in. Aside from that, it's a beauty.
  • Kel says,
    5 months ago
    I purchased a 2012 350 TI and quite frankly i have to say im impressed. I do think Nissan needs to slimline the front end alittle more but overall the comfort and drive of this vehicle is absolutely 5 Star.
  • jared says,
    4 months ago
    1 like
    I own a 2012 model and I love the dark green colour. Best features and really good on fuel for a large car. good to buy for the price too
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