Good For: Just another 4DFWDC. Nissan no longer sticks a "4DSC" decal on the Maxima, but they have styled the car to appeal to those wanting the appearance of a 4-door sports car. Despite the appearance of a wide rear track, the Maxima is still a 4-door front-wheel-drive car underneath, based on the same platform as the Altima. The CVT does offer a sport mode that responds well to requests for more power, while still dropping to lower revs when putting around town for city driving efficiency.
Compromises: The practicality I associate with a 4DSC was not considered when Nissan tuned this 290hp version of the VQ35DE. Premium fuel is recommended, and highway efficiency is noticeably worse than other V6 sedans, including the Altima with the same motor. It's not worth going through all that for 20 horsepower, not to mention the thousands extra on the vehicle price when you compare the Maxima with the Altima 3.5 in equivalent trims.
Overall reaction - Thumb down: Nissan seems to be saving the rear wheel drive cars for the premium Infiniti brand. The Altima can be optioned up to be quite nice, so that leaves limited product space for a flagship Nissan sedan. Perhaps this returns the Maxima to its roots, when it was just a special version of the Nissan Bluebird.