2006 Nissan Maxima
Trim Level: "SE"
EPA Vehicle Class: Midsize Car
Engine: DOHC 3.5L, V-6 rated at 265 Horsepower / 255 lb-ft torque
Transmission: 5-Speed Automatic with "Manu-Matic" shift gate
EPA Mileage Estimates (City/Highway/Combined Cycle): 20/28/23
Test Loop: 75% City, 25% Highway
Max Cruise Speed = 65 mph
Weather Conditions over 2-days: Icy/Snowy roads, 25-40F. Day 2: Light rain, overcast skies, and then heavy rain on the last day (32-50F)
Driving Style: Agressive
Location Test: Urban Little Rock
Vehicle Computer Average Speed = 40 mph (approximated)
Vehicle Computer MPG = 19.9 MPG
Actual Calculation = Not performed (tank not received full)
Conclusion: This is really an unfair test. When the roads dried-up, it was too tempting to really rev-up that "VQ" V-6 to hear and feel one of the best engines designed. This same engine can be found in the likes of the 350Z and Altima SE-R. It was really a pleasure to drive. Despite its large size, the big tires and wheels really bit down in the corners. With power comes a sacrifice in economy. Essentially, around 20 mpg was expected with the mostly agressive, city driving.
Editor's Notes: The Maxima is a big car with a big, thirsty engine. In "SE" trim, expect a tighter suspension than the SL, razor-sharp handling, fun with the "manu-matic" shift-gate, G-force pulling acceleration, and an available full-length glass window that runs through the roof (unfortunately it doesn't open). Exterior styling is aggressive, with large rims, and bold features. The interior is where this car loses it's lustre. The fit and finish seems "cheap", and the center stack has like 100 buttons to access a variety of controls (very confusing at first). Dual-zone automatic climate controls are standard, as are steering wheel-mounted controls for the radio and cruise. The seat was supportive and comfortable. Plenty of trunk space and rear seat room is on tap. I've always considered the Maxima a good rental, but not very efficient.
Bottom line: In the rental bin, there are few cars to be classified as a true sports-sedan, so when the mood strikes you to let loose and have some fun, this one fits the bill. Just don't expect it to be very economical (or encourage economical driving).