For 2006, the Nissan Maxima receives only minor changes: an available factory-installed satellite radio, illuminated steering wheel switches, available Bluetooth hands-free phone system, available outside mirror auto-tilt in reverse, and an improved navigation Graphic User Interface.

The Maxima comes in three lines: the 3.5 SE comes as a five-passenger model, or a four-seater that gives rear seat passengers their own heated bucket seats, while the 3.5 SL is a five-seater. All models use a 3.5-litre V6; SE models have a six-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to a five-speed automatic, while the SL uses only the autobox.

The SE five-seater features 18-inch aluminum wheels, sport suspension, fog lights, 60/40 folding rear seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, six-CD stereo with eight speakers, cruise control, power locks with keyless entry, automatic headlamps, HoneLink garage door opener, heated mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, eight-way power driver’s seat, heated suede cloth seats, heated leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, speed-sensitive wipers and traction control. A SkyView fixed glass panel roof is standard, and is deleted with the optional opening power sunroof.

The SE four-seater adds Xenon headlamps, rear spoiler, rear centre console, a trunk pass-through instead of a folding rear seat, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, mirror-mounted compass, power folding mirrors with two-position memory and driver’s side auto-dimming, power-adjustable lumbar support, four-way power passenger seat, heated rear seats, leather interior, power tilt and telescopic wheel with memory, power rear sunshade, and auto up/down rear windows.

The SL features luxury suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, power sunroof (SkyView is not available), wood tone interior trim, automatic driver’s entry/exit system (with automatic transmission only), and Vehicle Dynamic Control.

Torquey and responsive, the Maxima is a decent ride for the money, offering numerous luxury touches not normally found at this level. Its long glass roof and available four-passenger seating makes for a pleasurable driving experience, no matter what corner of the car you’re occupying. But if the budget is of primary concern, the Nissan Altima is only marginally smaller and is very nicely appointed as well.

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