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Nissan produces such an appealing sedan in the Maxima that one wonders how many people turn away from the more expensive Infiniti G Sedan, which is made by Nissan’s luxury division.

In several key areas, Nissan’s flagship sedan can go head-to-head with the Infiniti G. Of course, sticker price isn’t one of them, which is exactly the point. The Maxima comes in two trims and ranges from $32,060 to $34,760, while the more curvaceous Infiniti G starts at $32,600 and climbs to a high of $45,500 for the G-37 limited edition.

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There are plenty of other rivals to the 2012 Nissan Maxima, one of the better midsize sedans. So definitely shop around, because the competition in the midsize class is fierce

Honda has the Accord, while Toyota counters with the Camry. The Hyundai Sonata is also a fine choice, along with the Ford Fusion and Taurus. The Mazda 6, Subaru Legacy and Outback are also worth checking out. Take note that the Maxima has a fairly high sticker price compared to some of its competitors.

The Maxima has been around for years, originating from the old Datsun 810 that was a fairly sporty purchase some 30-plus years ago. Changes have naturally taken place over time, but not much in the last several years. The biggest change this year is the taillights and grille on the outside, plus some minor interior alterations.

While at its core the Maxima is a family sedan, it offers enough performance and handling to please drivers who really value those two qualities. The Maxima has an abundant amount of standard features, and offers a modernized, comfortable interior that seats five people.

What’s most memorable about the week of test driving the Maxima SV was performance. Both Maxima trims come equipped with a 3.5-liter, V6 that produces 290 horsepower, which makes this sedan quite fun to drive. The Maxima is quick, evidenced by its 0-60 mph clocking in 6.3 seconds, which is the type of acceleration one expects with a more luxury brand. However, that sizable engine impacts gas mileage – a mere 19-26 mph.

Sharing the same platform as the Altima, the Maxima provides extremely nimble handling and leaves the driver feeling confident and in control. Braking is strong and the Maxima is relatively quiet as well. What’s not so appealing is heading over bumps and uneven road surfaces – the Maxima performs much better on finely paved roads.

The cabin hasn’t been through any recent changes, yet competes quite well against some other models that have been newly redesigned. Nissan puts high-quality materials in the Maxima and other pluses include comfortable seating, solid legroom and smart dashboard design. One complaint is the trunk is undersized.

There’s much to admire about the Nissan Maxima. Due to its acceleration prowess, it’s a fun sedan to drive, and also features considerable comfort and handling that places it right on the doorstep of many entry-level luxury sedans.

2012 Nissan Maxima

  • Performance: 3.5-liter, V6, 290 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 19-26 mpg
  • Price: $32,060 to $34,760
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles
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