- What’s New – Nissan rolls out the seventh generation of the Maxima, the company’s largest sedan that isn’t an Infiniti. It is a front-wheel drive car that shares the same foundation as the Altima, and used to be a head-to-head competitor with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, but has moved upmarket to compete with cars like the Toyota Avalon and other entry-level luxury sedans. With a 290-horsepower V-6 engine and sport-tuned suspension, Nissan hopes to recapture the mantle of “Four Door Sports Car,” a moniker it gave to the Maxima in 1990.
- Why It Matters – Nissan’s challenge is to present buyers with a car that performs well, like the Altima, and has the luxury befitting a flagship vehicle without taking away from the Infiniti G35 sedan. With a return to the sport character the Maxima once had, buyers are likely to respond to a four-door car with spirit.
2009 Nissan Maxima Preview – 2008 New York Auto Show: When the 1990 Nissan Maxima debuted, Nissan called it a Four-Door Sports Car, beckoning driving enthusiasts to climb behind the wheel. It worked, and the Maxima’s sporty demeanor won over buyers. Yet since then the Maxima got steadily bigger and heavier, losing its sporty edge even to its underling, the Altima sedan.
But not anymore. The 2009 Nissan Maxima once again wears the Four Door Sports Car moniker, and with a 290 horsepower V-6, sport-tuned suspension and aggressive but elegant looks, Nissan looks ready to reestablish the Maxima as its premier sedan offering.
2009 Nissan Maxima – Notable Features
The 2009 Nissan Maxima is new from the ground up, and will be available in S and SV versions when it goes on sale in early summer of this year. As Nissan’s top-of-the-line sedan, it comes with a wide range of standard and optional features. All Maximas will come with an aluminum- and wood-toned driver-oriented cockpit – leather is optional – with an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat and four-way power passenger front seat. The driver’s seat is available with a manual thigh extension and can be equipped with heating and cooling.
A twin-panel moonroof is optional, with a large front section and power sunshade for the rear.
The available Bose audio system features nine speakers and has an iPod interface, while the hard-drive based navigation system comes with XM NavTraffic with real-time traffic information, voice recognition, 9.3 GB of hard drive space for your own music and a 7.0-inch color display on the dash.
Safety equipment includes dual-stage front air bags, side impact airbags and roof-mounted side curtain air bags. The Maxima also features active head restraints.
2009 Nissan Maxima – What’s Under the Hood
The Maxima’s engine is significantly upgraded for the 2009 model year. Now producing an estimated 290 horsepower and 261 lb.-ft. of torque, power is routed to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission with manual shift control.
The suspension is independent on all four wheels, with four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist. Standard wheels are 18-inchers with 245/45R18 tires; optional are 19-inch wheels with 245/40R19 rubber.
2009 Nissan Maxima – Design
The Maxima breaks with its previous generation significantly from a style standpoint. The new car has a shorter wheelbase, but wider track, giving it a low, hunkered-down appearance. The sides are sculpted with a pronounced shoulder line that extends from the trunk well into the hood; think of the Altima, but more pronounced. The headlights are bound to create some controversy. Flanking a rectangular grille that would look right at home on an Infiniti, the headlights’ lower section extends backward, underlining a part of the fender and creating what stylists like to call “tension.” The theme is echoed slightly in the rear, albeit much less pronounced. Love it or hate it, Nissan clearly wants the Maxima to have a unique face, and it’s succeeded.
The interior is much less controversial, with an organic, driver-focused cockpit featuring all the luxury and features one would expect in a premium sedan. Nissan has clearly taken criticism of its recent cheap-feeling interiors to heart, as the new Maxima looks and feels high-quality.
2009 Nissan Maxima – Competition
The Maxima ostensibly competes against cars like the Toyota Avalon and Chevrolet Impala SS. It has the performance goodies to go head-to-head with the V-8 Impala, and the luxury accouterments to take on the plusher Avalon. Yet it also is an option for those looking in the near-luxury segment, such as the Acura TL, Lexus ES 350 and possibly rear-drive sedans like the Mercedes-Benz C300.
Photo credit: Oliver Bentley, Nissan