Used Car Review

2012 Nissan Maxima: Used Car Review

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Used 2012 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV
Used 2012 Nissan Maxima
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author photo by Joe Tralongo July 2015

The 2012 Nissan Maxima makes an attractive used-car choice. Although the 2012 model may look the same as the 2011 model at first glance, there are some subtle differences. The 2012 Maxima gains a revised grille and headlight design, new 18- and 19-inch wheels and a new Limited Edition package for the S trim. Inside, the instrument cluster meters are backlit in white, and there are new interior colors and wood trim options, as well as a new audio and climate control panel.

The Maxima is the perfect antidote to the boring family sedan. Some even say that the Maxima resembles a stretched 370Z sport coupe, and that's exactly how Nissan hopes people will view their flagship sedan. The Maxima has a reputation for being a solid car with a good repair record, although routine maintenance is slightly more expensive than with a less sophisticated sedan such as the Nissan Altima.

Although it lacks the option of a manual transmission, the Maxima is just as enjoyable to drive as more expensive sedans from Audi, BMW, Infiniti and Lexus. It comes with a long list of standard and optional equipment, including high-end features such as a ventilated driver's seat, a Bose audio system, a heated steering wheel, and voice-activated navigation and audio controls.

Against similarly priced sedans, such as the Volkswagen Passat and Hyundai Azera, the Maxima offers more luxury features and better performance, as well as more distinctive styling both inside and out.

What We Like

Stealthy styling; potent V6 engine; admirable ride and handling; a well-appointed cockpit; an excellent navigation and audio system; good reliability ratings

What We Don't

No manual transmission option; continuously variable transmission is not an enthusiast's first choice; upper trim models can be pricey; cooling seat is a driver-only option

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2012 Maxima sends power to its front wheels via a 3.5-liter V6 that's good for 290 horsepower and 261 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy figures are a respectable 19 miles per gallon in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2012 Maxima only comes as a 4-door sedan offered in two trim levels: S and SV.

The Maxima S includes cloth seating, an 8-way power driver's seat, a 4-way power passenger seat, cruise control, a tilt-telescopic steering column, keyless entry with push-button start, a power moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8-speaker AM/FM/MP3/6-disc stereo with an auxiliary audio input jack, Bluetooth, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, 18-in alloy wheels and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The SV trim adds leather-appointed seats, a 9-speaker Bose audio system, extendable thigh support and power lumbar support on the driver's seat and HomeLink.

The S trim offers a Limited Edition package that includes smoked appearance headlights, HID headlights, a rearview mirror compass, 18-in dark Hyper Silver wheels, a rear spoiler, a dark satin chrome grille, integrated mirror turn signals and metallic interior trim.

There is a handful of optional packages for the SV trim. The Premium package brings steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, Bluetooth, HID headlights, an auto-dimming driver's-side mirror, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, a 7-in screen with a rear backup camera, rear bucket seats with separate HVAC and audio controls, an iPod interface, two gigabytes of music storage (no CD player), a power rear sunshade, a ventilated cooling driver's seat, a power tilt-telescopic steering column, a heated steering wheel and satellite radio.

The Sport package adds heated front seats, 19-in wheels, a sport suspension, paddle shifters, HID headlights, a rear spoiler, a power tilt-telescopic steering column, a heated steering wheel, upgraded leather interior and Bluetooth. New for 2011 are smoked headlight covers and a dark chrome grille.

The Monitor package offers a rearview camera, a 7-in screen, two gigabytes of music storage and auxiliary audio/video input jacks.

The Technology package adds voice-activated navigation, a rear backup camera, a single CD player, SiriusXM NavTraffic and NavWeather, 9.3 gigabytes of media storage and an iPod interface.


The Maxima holds fairly good 5-year residual values, although they trend more toward average after the 3-year mark. As good as they are, there isn't a big demand for used Maximas, meaning you should be able to strike a good deal on a low-mileage model. To get a good idea of the Maxima's price range, we suggest checking out the used-car values at You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are currently for sale in your area.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hasn't issued any recalls for the 2012 Nissan Maxima.

Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

The 2012 Maxima carries a full complement of airbags, side-protection beams and numerous electronic systems, including electronic traction and stability control. In crash tests, NHTSA gave the Maxima five out of five stars in front, side-impact and rollover crash tests. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Maxima its highest rating of Good in the moderate-overlap and side-impact tests, an Acceptable rating in the small-overlap front crash and rollover tests, and a Marginal rating in the head-restraints and seat tests.

The Nissan Maxima entered service backed by a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. If you can find a 2012 Maxima through Nissan's certified pre-owned (CPO) program, the vehicle will not only have gone through an extensive 150-point check, but it also comes with an extended factory warranty of 7 years/100,000 miles from the original date that the vehicle entered service. Other advantages of the program include a free Carfax report, 24-hour roadside assistance, rental-car reimbursement, towing benefits and a free 3-month trial subscription to SiriusXM radio. To qualify for the Nissan CPO program, vehicles are typically less than 5 years old and must have fewer than 80,000 miles.

Other Cars to Consider

2012 Volkswagen CC -- The CC offers similar sporty styling and a luxurious interior, plus the added bonus of available all-wheel drive, but its unique rear bucket seats limit total occupancy to just four people.

2012 Acura TL -- Acura's TL isn't as expressive as the Maxima, but it does offer many of the same features, holds excellent resale and reliability ratings, and carries a highly recognizable luxury brand name.

2012 Audi A6 -- The A6 will cost more than a comparably equipped Nissan Maxima, but it has more power and a more luxurious interior, plus available all-wheel drive and a supercharged V6 engine option.

Autotrader's Advice

In the used market, we think finding a nice Maxima SV with the Premium and Technology packages will suit the need for performance and luxury without tipping the scales too much in favor of one or the other. The Sport package takes performance up a notch, but the larger wheels and stiffer suspension create a rather firm ride that can become tiring in day-to-day driving.

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Used 2012 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV
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2012 Nissan Maxima: Used Car Review - Autotrader