Nissan Maxima Review:
Nissan’s flagship has been a fun car to drive for its entire life. It
may not have been the most exciting sedan to look at sometimes, but its
healthy, happy V6 pulled it along vigorously. With a seventh generation
for 2009, the company has dumped conservatism and gone for the gold.
The first thing you’ll
likely notice about the new car are its wraparound L-shaped headlights.
Having done circles, rectangles, slits, and other shapes, the industry
is trying new approaches to illumination. They give the Maxima’s stubby
face a fresh look. You’ll see this motif on the face of the new 370Z as
well. The taillamps each feature 12 LED’s in a shape that complements
The new car sits on a
nearly two-inch shorter wheelbase, but is an inch and a half wider, for
a chunkier appearance, along with more nimble handling, while preserving
generous room for five. The fenders bulge out wider than the car’s
waist, visually warning other cars to watch out! Nissan calls this look
“Liquid Motion.” Make of it what you will, but you can’t ignore it.
Gazing out through the
windshield of my Precision Gray tester, I could see the hood rise in the
center, drop down and then curve up again into the boldly defined front
pillars. Nissan calls this a “catamaran” design, its just part of the
sense of intentional sportiness baked into every part of this new car.
cockpit-oriented interior design is meant to combine the intimate feel
of a close-coupled sports car with the roominess expected of a car in
this segment. So, for example, the shift lever is moved closer to the
driver. Nissan went all out, with no skimping on materials. It’s all
soft-touch matte surfaces, padded wherever it needs it
Nissan has offered its
potent and award-winning 3.5-liter VQ-series V6 for years, but for 2009,
the Maxima’s version gets bumped to 290 horsepower, up 35 from last
year. Despite this, fuel economy is slightly improved, 19 City and 26
Highway, rising 1 mpg on the highway number. I averaged 19.9 miles per
gallon during my test week, better than many other cars its size.
The EPA Green Vehicle
Guide rates the new Maxima a 7 for Air Pollution and 6 for Greenhouse
Gas, good numbers for a potent, 3,579-pound machine.
The engine is loaded
with high tech features identified by acronyms, and uses exotic
materials and exquisite finishing to achieve maximum efficiency and
performance. It runs through the latest version of Nissan’s Xtronic
continuously variable transmission (CVT), which selects the perfect gear
ratio for you or lets you pick your own with steering wheel mounted
The CVT comes with Ds
mode (drive sport) this year, which increases acceleration feel at
higher engine revs, provides automatic engine braking, and maintains
engine speed during cornering, more like a manual (which you can’t get
The Maxima remains
front-wheel-drive, despite some consideration of moving to a rear-drive
platform to match the competitors. Rear-wheel drive is considered
“sportier” but front wheel drive provides lower cost and weight and
offers more room so it was retained. Nissan assures sports sedan
enthusiasts that torque steer, often a bugaboo of powerful
front-wheel-drive --cars, is virtually nonexistent.
Nissan knew that they
were competing with the sporty German makes, so they took the Maxima
prototypes to Germany’s famous Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit, where
they sorted out many of the details while they were developing their
mighty GT-R sports car. Some changes came from the tests, but it was a
great PR move as well.
Maximas come as
four-door sedans only, in two trim levels, 3.5 S and 3.5 SV. My tester
was the latter, which means it had an upgraded Bose sound system with
nine speakers and two (!) subwoofers, fog lights, and turn signal
indicators in the outside mirrors.
All Maximas have
niceties such as an eight-way power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate
control, cruise control, keyless ignition, the usual power everything,
and much more. It is the brand’s flagship, right?
Prices start at $30,720
for the S, including destination charges. My tester, with the addition
of the Sport Package and Sport Technology Package, came to $37,380. The
Sport Package adds a sport tuned suspension (of course), 19-inch alloy
wheels, a rear spoiler, nicer leather all around, and more. The Sport
Technology package brings in such things as a voice recognition
navigation system with a seven-inch color monitor, a 9.3GB Music Box
hard drive, XM NAVTraffic (live information) and an iPod hookup. With
these two packages, the Maxima IS maxed out.
Nissan’s goals for the
new Maxima, exciting exterior design, sporty interior and class-leading
performance, have clearly been met.
By Steve Schaefer
© AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Byline: Nissan Review provided by Tony
Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Nissan Home Page
Column Name: Maxima is
the brand’s flagship
Topic: The 2009 Nissan
Word Count: 842
Photo Caption: The
2009 Nissan Maxima
Photo Credits: Nissan
Maxima Internet Media
Series #: 2009 - 53
the Microsoft Word version here: 2009
Download the Original Image File here:
2009 Nissan Maxima