The 2006 Nissan Maxima essentially bridges the gap between practicality and luxury. The Maxima name dates all the way back to 1982, but it began its life as a Datsun 810. The Nissan Maxima has long boasted one of the best V-6 engines in the industry, and the 2006 models certainly continue that tradition. The Maxima got a redesign in 2004 and by 2006 it reduced to two trim levels: the SE and the SL. The SE represents the sporty model with a firmer suspension and bigger wheels, while the luxury-oriented SL utilizes smaller wheels and a slightly softer suspension.
Body Styles: Midsize sedan
Engines: 3.5-liter V-6
Transmissions: five-speed automatic, six-speed manual
Models: Maxima SE, Maxima SL
The Nissan Maxima receives some minor upgrades in 2006. The steering wheel audio controls get illumination and the navigation interface receives some improvement. Nissan also makes satellite radio available and Bluetooth optional. The outside mirror can now tilt down in reverse.
The 2006 Nissan Maxima’s exterior looks modern and aerodynamic with integrated headlight clusters wrapping around the sides and over the top of the front end of the car. The wheels get displayed in large fender openings and flattened wheel lip openings.
The midsize Nissan Maxima comes in 3.5 SE and 3.5 SL trims. Designed to be the sportier of the two, the SE has a slightly stiffer suspension and 18-inch wheels on the outside. It comes loaded with standard features that include one-touch, up-down front windows and keyless entry. Along with its softer tuning, the more luxurious SL has 17-inch wheels, wood interior trim, heated leather seats, and HID headlights.
Despite its midsize sedan classification, this car offers plenty of legroom and headroom. The seats feel wide and comfortable. The control panel is back-lit with an orange light, which offers minimal contrast and it makes it difficult to just glance at it. The dashboard looks sleek and modern, but the center stack buttons all have the same size and shape, making it necessary to take your eyes off the road to verify that you press the right button.
The SE model has metallic trim in the interior, a leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, a leather-wrapped shift knob, cruise control, a universal remote transmitter for a garage door or security system, an eight-speaker stereo system with a CD player, dual-zone climate control, and remote trunk release.
The SL model adds a 320-watt, Bose, six-speaker audio system; eight-way power and manual adjustable lumbar support for the driver’s seat with multiple heat levels; a four-way power passenger seat; leather interior; remote window operation; speed-sensitive volume control; and interior air filtration. The optional Elite Package changes the seating from five passengers to four by adding a rear center console that features controls for the seat heaters and a switch to operate the power rear sunshade. Additional options on both models include a DVD-based navigation system and satellite radio.
Performance & Handling
The front-drive Nissan Maxima contains a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine that produces 265 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque. The 3.5 SE uses either a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic, and the SL comes only with the automatic. If you choose the manual, you can also add Vehicle Dynamic Control to have greater stability over a wide range of conditions. The sport-tuned, four-wheel independent suspension affords crisp handling, but the SL has slightly less control than the SE because of the softer suspension. The Maxima has a sprint speed, from zero to 60 mph, of 7.1 seconds.
The 3.5-liter V-6 engine under the hood makes acceleration strong at any speed, and shifting feels smooth with either transmission. Although its suspension provides a smooth, comfortable ride, the 2006 Nissan Maxima lacks the true performance feel of a sport sedan. The brakes feel strong and stable and the steering responsive. The cabin remains relatively quiet on smooth and rough pavement.
Standard safety features include four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution, a remote anti-theft alarm system, front-seat side and full-length head curtain airbags, child seat anchors, traction control, a driver and passenger head restraint whiplash protection system, fog lights, and cornering lights. Maximas with an automatic transmission can be equipped with an optional stability and traction control system. A torque-sensitive, limited-slip differential comes optionally when you select the six-speed manual.
In testing completed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2006 Nissan Maxima earns a perfect five out of five stars for driver protection in frontal collisions. The Maxima receives four out of five stars for front-passenger protection in frontal impacts and in side-impact protection for front- and rear-seat passengers. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety gives the Maxima a ?marginal? rating for side-impact protection even though it named the Maxima a ""Best Pick"" in 2006.
EPA Fuel Economy
Maxima SE: 18/27 mpg city/highway
Maxima SL: 18/26 mpg city/highway
- Good acceleration
- Roomy interior
- Long list of features
- Available manual transmission
- Good handling and smooth ride
You Won't Like
- Poor center stack ergonomics
- Subpar interior materials
Combines function with performance to create a roomy, upscale, midsize sedan.
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