Interior

The Nissan Maxima's interior is as pronounced and edgy as its exterior. However, it felt a little too masculine for my taste. There are a lot of dark gray materials on the inside. It's accented with metallic-looking plastic trim on the center stack. Upon closer inspection, the faux metallic trim is speckled, and it looked like a peel-and-stick finish. It didn't do much for me.

The seating is comfortable, and its eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat also has power lumbar support. I liked the red stitching that contrasted with the Charcoal-colored leather seats, as well as the power moonroof that really opened up the already roomy cabin area.

In the backseat, my boys had plenty of legroom. There's so much legroom that they couldn't kick the back of my seat because they couldn't reach it. It's worth remembering that a seatback that's out of reach of little feet is a seatback that stays clean. All that extra legroom means a rear-facing infant-safety seat should easily fit in the backseat.

I also took the Maxima on a major grocery run, and its cargo space gulped up my groceries and had room to spare for dessert. The trunk is sizable, but if you have a double stroller I'd make sure it can fit back there before buying the Maxima.

My test car came with a 9.3GB hard drive for music, which is part of an optional Tech Package. For the first time ever, I figured out how to record my CDs to the hard drive, so I wouldn't have to tote CDs around. I really liked this feature, but if you prefer an iPod, an iPod interface is also available as part of the optional package.

The navigation system's controls are completely separate from the stereo buttons; this helps minimize confusion. The touch-screen also displays cabin information. To adjust the air conditioning, you have to push the mode button down by the climate controls, then scroll through the options on the screen. If I had a choice, I'd replace the mode button with a simple diagram of body parts. I like the swiftness of clicking one button to get air flowing where I need it instead of scrolling through modes to locate my preference.

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

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