By on July 25, 2008

Much better in the fleshWhen I reviewed the ’07 Altima 3.5 SE, I concluded by posing the question, “Why in the world would anyone buy a Maxima?” Why indeed. The Pen-Altima far surpassed its big brother in power, handling and styling. Nissan had neglected the Maxima into a noisy Toyota Avalon with a cheap interior. Pity, because the nineties’ version was a sort of lower-case-m-5: Japanese bento-box-styling with three tubes of wasabi squirted under the hood. Now Nissan’s thrown the old Maxima blueprints out the window of a Nürburgring-blitzing GT-R. Four-door-sportscar? We’ll see about that.

The Maxima’s new “Liquid Motion” ethos looks fishier than cocktails at Sponge Bob’s. Except for the Audi Quattro-like haunches, there’s not a single surface where a drop of rain could tarry. The smeared mascara headlights look idiotic in press photos. They become samurai-helmet material in the flesh. The dual exhausts and [optional] rear spoiler signal sporting intent with similar subtlety.

Yep, it\'s related to AltimaWith 19″ rims, doors the size of stainless-steel refrigerators, and a new wider track and shorter length, the Maxima offers pure, broad-shouldered aggression. Overall, the new, downsized– yes, downsized– Maxima looks like some antediluvian antecedent to the G37 coupe just got dredged up from the Marianas trench. And then ate four people.

Nissan may be eating Subaru’s lunch when it comes to performance, but the two brands are in a race to the bottom when it comes to interior quality. Even the mighty Nissan GT-R suffers from a cheapish-feeling interior. The Maxima’s cabin is as rubbery as Chrysler’s plastics are hard. If Nissan wants people to think their cars are built to last, they’re going to have understand that first impressions last.

Still, the four-door’s fat three-spoke steering wheel approaches perfection, and the ergonomics are beyond reproach. Nissan allows you to choose between “piano black” trim or eucalyptus wood. Choose the wood, at least it’s real; the piano trim wouldn’t look out of place on a Farfisa synthesizer.

Lots of toys but still bizarreThe new Maxima offers an Infiniti amount of optional toys, from thermal butt management to premium mood lighting (want to drive my etchings?) to the industry’s biggest heat sink- I mean dual panel sunroof. But the view forward is the killer app, as your eyes stare down that fantastic hood with its stingray arches and central power bulge.

Fire-up the not-so-uber-anymore Nissan and it’s clear the brand’s engineers have a hotline to a dodgy Mexican pharmacy. The good ole’ 3.5-litre VQ-series V6 tells you in no uncertain terms that it’s chock-full of Vegas-grade Viagra; power is up from 255hp to 290hp. Fuel economy has also been maximized, with a single mpg added to the highway economy. On premium fuel. Oops. Anyway, it’s enough thrust to power the Maxima from rest to sixty in about six seconds.

The new Maxima comes with Nissan’s Continuously Vacuous Transmission (a.k.a. CVT). Sorry pistonheads, there’s no stick-shifting your expectations here. Saying that, perhaps it’s time to cut the transmission slack some slack. The previous rubbery isolation that interfered with driver involvement now feels merely latex-based, particularly in the sportier DS mode. Theoretical cogs swapped via the steering-column-mounted paddles aren’t quite as crisp as some of the other manually-shifted autoboxes out there, but the responses are gratifyingly rapid.

Sure to be a hit in ArizonaThe best bit: the new Maxima’s rolling acceleration. With 261 lb-ft. of torque lingering underfoot, the Tennessee tornado is no real world slouch. Highway or two-lane overtaking is as easy as it is aurally satisfying. You’ll be able to pass most anything at its price point except, perhaps, a mirrored window.

Usually, turning-up the sporty knob on a family sedan creates the sort of discomfort Herr Mosley [allegedly] enjoys. In the new Maxima, aluminium suspension bits borrowed from the Infiniti M45 and a six-point engine mount (for reduced vibrations) deliver a ride that manages to hit a high note of communicative firmness without ever resorting to cruelty. It could housebreak a golden retriever puppy. But if you prefer a more sedate Maxima, a softer Premium trim is offered next to the Sport model.

OK, we’re here now. Is this the “world’s best-handling 290hp front-wheel-drive-car?” Surely the concept is as ridiculous as the “world’s best one-armed boxer.” Yes, the traction control steps-in when mashing the gas from a stop. But otherwise, torque steer is blessedly absent. Even better, the new Maxima corners so evenly you’d think it had outriggers. Even betterer, Nissan’s quick but unfortunately-named twin-orifice power-steering rack provides a direct connection to the front tires. There’s a feeling of slippery nimbleness that even an Altima coupe would be hard-pressed to match.

Liquid motion standing stillDespite sharing platforms with the Altima and Murano, the Nissan Maxima is not a super-sized something. Their new flagship- I mean, four-door flagship won’t look out of place slotted next to a GT-R on the showroom floor. Brutal styling, a snarling V6 and a sorted chassis: welcome to the Circus Maxima.


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64 Comments on “2009 Nissan Maxima Review...”

  • avatar

    Based on the interior pictures here and seeing one on the road the other day, I have to conclude that this is just an odd looking car. And the lines of the car look much different in person than in the pictures, in my opinion.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m a Nissan fan myself and I’ve driven my 1997 Maxima for 160,000 miles so far.  I like the look of the new Maxima a lot better than the bloated model that preceded it but I feel that Maxima still has an ongoing identity crisis.  On the one hand it presents itself as a “four door sport car,” while on the other hand it is clinging to the front wheel drive platform and now to the CVT, both of which handicap it from the get-go in achieving it’s stated identity goal.  Nissan should offer all-wheel drive at least as an option or convert to a rear drive platform to make it competitive with the best German sport sedans.  They should also offer transmission options other than the CVT. By all means, keep the CVT as a standard offering but at least offer an optional manual tranny or a more traditional gear-based automatic.  C’mon, Nissan, we know you can do it, you’ve got other vehicles with those components.  Stop hamstringing the Maxima and let it achieve its true potential as a sports sedan!

  • avatar
    John The Accountant

    Sweet looking car, but I don’t agree with the interior comparison to Chrysler. I think Nissan’s interiors are usually of pretty good quality, and are definitely no where near Chrysler’s abominations.

    I drove an Altima Coupe with the 2.5 and the CVT and the CVT is pretty neat. I would never take it over a good manual, but if I had to have a slush box… The CVT really isn’t so “slushy.”

    Overall… Good review!

  • avatar
    Jeff in Canada

    Took my Rogue in for scheduled maintainance last night, and the dealer had just got a few Maxima’s in recently.
    As strange as it looks in pictures, I felt it looked much better in person. The rear haunches are finely sculpted.
    Interior would feel comfortable in an Infiniti, from a styling stand-point. I am dissapointed that this car comes only with the CVT.
    If they had put a DSG, with AWD then they could really call it a 4 Door Sports Car. This is just a Fat FWD beast.
    The Altima V6 with a stick is closer to a 4DSC, but still not quite.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    I know there are only 800 words allowed, but one question not addressed is how this car compares to the other FWD sports sedan, the Acura TL Type S. With the pricing I’ve seen for the new Maxima, these two are pretty much going head to head.

    Inquiring minds want to know

  • avatar

    I agree on the interiors. Even the one in the previously tested Infiniti FX50 looked kind of subpar to me (that is, the plastics did). And that spoiler is hideous.

    The engine is undoubtedly sweet though.

    I guess it’s another one of those typical JDM products, a good car, great value, but not one you’d really, really want because you know in less than 2 years maximum there will be a slightly better one (be it a new Nissan, Subie, Honda or even a *cough* Toyota) that you wish you had. That would be ok if it were, say, a cell phone, but as a car for an enthousiast I’d say not so much.

  • avatar

    The Maxima is what it is, a very good “sporty” family sedan. If you want more performance, RWD/ AWD, and/or a stick buy the just about equally priced G35. If you desire space and comfort more than driving dynamics the Maxima is hard to beat.

  • avatar

    This is what the last Pontiac Bonneville would have been like had GM known what they were doing.

    The neighbors just bought one. Even in white (and I can’t stand white cars) it looks super-sexy. The headlights are still weird, though – a useless affectation marring an otherwise stunning design.

    How can both Altimas and Maxima look so cool when the Sentra and Versa are so hideous?

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I test drove one Saturday….I’m not sure about the grill, but the rest of the styling is dead on. I especially liked the view from the cockpit that, yes, did remind me of the stingray view. Interior materials were certainly decent, at least compared to a fully loaded Accord.

    The power launch was maniac. This is the first time I have to admit the CVT ain’t too bad. And the engine growl was sweet.

  • avatar

    I think it looks pretty good too, except for the headlights. Sounds like a decent engine, but given it only comes with a CVT, I don’t see how it can be considered a sports sedan. It’s hard to imagine true connectedness with a car that doesn’t sport a manual transmission, and in my mind anyway, that’s a big part of being a sports car.

  • avatar

    It looks like a crossbreeding between a BMW 5-series and a Jaguar XF. And that could be a good thing. Unless the result makes it look like the kid sister of a Lincoln MKS.

    Seriously, what is it about generic design? Why can’t anyone do a design that stands out, that have a real prescence? The Chrysler 300 was a good design. More of that, please. Enough of this me-too bullshit.

  • avatar

    Anything is better than the last one, which, IIRC, lost a comparison to a Pontiac Grand Prix in some auto mag.

    Oh, and:

    “Choose the wood, at least its real”

    It’s supposed to be “it’s,” not “its.”

  • avatar

    If you haven’t checked it out in person, do. I hated the look of the headlights until I was at the NYAS. The car is a stunner in person, and the interior is like a Chrysler, it’s indistinguishable from an Infiniti (no surprise) and quite good. Chrysler only dreams of such these days.

  • avatar

    Is it better that my SE-R? I would think that with a few years development and some more ponies, this thing would be a real killer, but that doesn’t sound true.

    And BTW, what mileage did you see? Mine gets 29 on the highway all day (crested 30 for a stretch in Canada), on mid-grade at 70+mph.

  • avatar

    The last gen Max was a bad joke. The “255” model (I refer to them by HP to reduce confusion) was interesting and you could get it with a 6 speed – that put it on par with a 3.5 manual Altima, which “only” had 245hp and was a bit bigger all round. Then the “265” came out, that caricature of an Audi TT, and driving it back to back with a then-current 3.5SE Altima was no contest. The Altima was brisker, lighter, faster, had better dynamics, and was cheaper. We bought the Altima on the spot and left the Max to find some geriatric owner with no sense of driving prowess.

    Glad to hear the new model has fixed those issues (aside from the Crap Vehicle Transmission). But I’ll still chose a G35 for the same price, even if the interior is sized for dwarf circus clowns.

  • avatar

    After reading this review, this is one of the 2009s I need to drive next time I find the time to hit a few dealerships. Communicative steering? Don’t find that often these days. And certainly not in an Altima coupe.

    In photos, the bodysides remind me of the last-gen Aurora, and the front is just plain wrong, in so many ways. But people keep saying it looks different in person.

    On the reliability front, Nissan has had some messy launches in recent years, and some clean ones. If we can get a few dozen owners signed up over at TrueDelta, I can provide a quick indication of where the new Maxima falls.

    So, if you know someone who buys one, send them here:

  • avatar


    The 265 Maxima was the 2004-2006 model. The 2007 ad 2008 were “reduced” to 255 horsepower (due to the change in SAE measurement, not actual engine changes) and the 6-speed manual dropped.

  • avatar

    Ah ok, the “255” I refer to is the pre-04 model, which succeeded the “222” if you use my weird nomenclature.

  • avatar

    For the record, the Chrysler comment was an Editorial addition. The original comment read, “I’m not sure what they were going for with ‘Super Cockpit’ but it’s about as rubbery as Batman’s underpants.”

  • avatar

    That was a good review of the new Maxima. I had a chance to check it out just the other day and although I haven’t driven it yet the car impressed me. In Canada there are only two exterior colours that come with light coloured interiors; everything else comes in black only and looks cheap, cheap, cheap. What is with this current penchant for black cave interiors anyway? I’ve owned one of every model of Maxima except the last, ugly one, and all have been excellent cars. The big difference between my 2000 and 2003 Maximas was in the greatly increased turning circle of the latter, presumably to accommodate its larger wheels. What about this new one? Does it need an entire parking lot to make a U-turn in or can it manage it on a normal street? The E-class 4-Matic that I’m driving at the moment has an amazing turning circle, especially given that it has 4 wheel drive. I’ll be in the market in about a year, when my current lease expires so I’ll have plenty of time to make up my mind…and compare it to the Genesis when that shows up at the dealers. It will probably come down to what the residuals are and what the lease payments will be, I guess. It would be nice if these cars were designed for regular fuel too.

  • avatar

    Looks like the Maxima is going to be eating Acura’s lunch.

    Also @ Michael Karesh: Are you sure? Most people complain that the Altima/Coupe’s steering is too communicative (though I found it to be ‘just right’ if a tad light for my tastes.)

  • avatar

    Does everyone still think that the 1989-1996 Maxima is the best one?

  • avatar

    There was no 89-96 Maxima

    89-94 3rd Gen Great looking
    95-99 4th Gen Bland
    00-01 5th OK
    02-03 5.5 HID’s, much better looking than 5th gen
    04-09 6th hated the interior and it’s pretty fat

    I had a ’93 5 speed SE that I loved, great great car and now I’ve a got 03 6 speed SE. I could’ve bought newer but I wanted a Japanese made Max and the 03 was the last year.

    I love Maxima’s but I can’t wrap my mind on the CVT. Guess I’ll have to get a 6speed G35 next.

  • avatar

    I was a bit skeptical as to how Nissan would reinvent the Maxima (was even doggedly adamant about RWD being a given) but I have to say, they’ve pulled it off. The car is even better looking in person, design-wise and on the road. The power is certainly there when you want it and even though I’m probably the most 6-speed-manual-oriented person there is, I was willing to overlook the lack of a manual transmission.

    Good show Nissan…the car is brilliant for what it is…an anti-Avalon.

    But I’d still get the G35 sedan.

  • avatar

    BlindOne- right about the 94-95 model change
    but do you only judge cars by looks?

  • avatar

    Half the cars purchased are bought by women. Do we judge cars by their looks? of course we do, at least half of buyers do any how and I aint saying which half

  • avatar

    davey49 – No, not at all. Just picking out my favorites as far as the looks went. My G35 has everything over my Maxima but I still love it. Different kinds of cars.

  • avatar

    If only it had that three pedal action going…

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    The best designed Maximas were the squarish mid 80s one and the one that was available in 1990. Every Maxima since has been pretty much botched. Not Sebring sedan ugly, but darn close. Besides the unattractive boomerang headlamps and anteater nose, the new Maxima design is pretty much whitebread.

  • avatar

    The Super-Sized Altima killed the Maxima. When I pick up my 350Z there was the new Maxima next to an Altima and size difference is not noticeable immediately.

    Add the fact a full optioned out Maxima is close to 40K things don’t look good for success. Plus, the world does not need a 290HP front wheel drive car. I guess no one at Nissan did any research on how the Acura RL was selling.

    I blame the French.

  • avatar

    What an ugly weirdo looking car – from every angle.

  • avatar

    Glad to hear this one is fun to drive at least. My brother’s 4th gen was still pretty fun to drive when it was pushing 150,000 miles.

    I cant believe that I will ever like the headlights, and I have yet to see a spoiler that actually looks OK. But I have yet to see one in person, so I’ll reserve judgement.

    But I have to agree that Nissan has had very inconsistent styling success. Seems like I am not alone in thinking that they follow up each success with a dog, but not all agree on which are the better looking. In fact, I have given this a bit of thought… read on. While the Altima has had a “good, better, best” styling history, both the Maxima and the Sentra, I think, have jumped back and forth between HOT or NOT.

  • avatar

    Styling looks great until you get to the Toyota Yaris rear-end. Why did they take the Yaris tail-lights and stick them on this Maxima?

  • avatar

    “Nissan may be eating Subaru’s lunch when it comes to performance…”


    Legacy GT Spec. B 0-60: 5.1 (R&T, March, 2006)
    2009 Maxima (CVT) 0-60: 6.1 (R&T, Sept., 2008)


  • avatar

    GBG- You have to go back further to find my favorite Nissan styling. The 1990-1992 Stanza and the B13 Sentra. The new Sentra= Saturn ION

  • avatar

    Is this what is supposed to be “Pontiac Excitement”. Funny how Japanese manufacturers manage to do what everyone else does, but at a cheaper cost.

  • avatar

    DGDuris, the turbo Subarus may be quicker on paper but they feel like greased slugs in reality. Significant turbo lag and not much torque – back to back, anything with a VQ35 feels much quicker than a Turbo Legacy (and base WRX for that matter).

    Acceleration numbers aren’t everything. Power spread and torque output are what give the VQ the edge.

  • avatar

    So what must MotorTrend have been smoking when they judged the cockpits here?

  • avatar


    I dunno. My Spec. B feels OK: not too much lag up the hills around here. I suppose that it could be better but, I have driven far more expensive cars with far, far worse turbo lag.

    The torque seems fine too.

    Torque steer is non-existent in the roo, however. ;-}

  • avatar

    You can sorta see the letter “Z” in the headlight in the driver’s side view…

  • avatar

    Nissan Sentra and Maxima has always been a reliable car.

    Like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. The Nissan Maxima is always been popular.

    I have great respect for this Nissan product.

    They always like putting a full view sky window on their Nissan Quest and Nissan Maxima.

    Which I think is very cool.

  • avatar

    dgduris, I think Cobb’s new stage IV is code named “greased slug”.

    JEC, you ARE kidding right? If not, no sale sir.

  • avatar


    Wonder what Cobb will call Stage III? (Scalded Cat Back)?

    These days, feeling is important. Facts be damned! It is important that it felt fast, regardless of how fast it was or was not. No?

  • avatar

    We just rented a Maxima from the neighborhood Enterprise store for a 400 mile business trip.

    Drives fine until you open up the gas cap and notice the decal telling you performance requires premium fuel.

    The really aggravating thing was the keyless ignition system that requires the key fob thingie to be within x number of feet to start the engine. Seems harmless enough but you are SOL if you and the valet forget about the thingie. About 175 miles SOL if you try to start the engine again after a stop.

    I also presume the thingie has a battery in it to power the transmitter. Unless it is solar powered, that is going to go down eventually. Chances are it will not be when you are in front of a Battery Plus, Radio Shack or Nissan dealer that is open.

    Most of us have enough stuff to keep up with and bring. I do not need another one. I know where my keys are. The thingie either is a royal PIA, in my opinion and by itself is reason not to consider buying a Nissan so equipped.

  • avatar
    A A

    @ jackc100:

    That’s strange. My Versa won’t start unless the key is inside the vehicle (front or backseat) and if the key looses signal w/ the car (Valet might have in pocket) a red “Key” light flashes rather annoyingly on the dash.

    If one can’t figure out what the deal is in 175 miles, they probably have other, more serious issues to worry about. And have you ever driven a Nissan w/ intelligent key? There is a physical key within the fob in case the battery dies.

  • avatar

    Valet walked off with the fob. I got in the car, the engine was running and kept on running as he started to take off on foot for his next car. I started to pull away, engine was purring. There were no red lights flashing on the dash or sirens or screechers. We both remembered the fob at about the same time.

    I was theorizing about looking for the fob some miles down the road. Could have happened.

  • avatar

    Almost every review I’ve read so far has mentioned that the car looks much better in person than in the photos. I can’t wait to judge for myself.

    I have to give Nissan kudos for managing to differentiate the Maxima from the Infiniti G35. Even though one is FWD and the other RWD, loaded Maximas were/are still competing in the same price range for many of the same buyers.

    The previous generation (’04-’08) Maxima was an abomination- whether intentional or not, Nissan had created an Avalon/Lucerne-wannabe that didn’t even appeal to that market segment. The Altima was cheaper, more athletic and much better looking! My mom had a ’97 Maxima SE that was the epitome of what a Maxima should be, a real 4-Door Sports Car!

    After the ’07 Altima redesign, I fully expected the Maxima to be taken out back, blindfolded and put out of its misery. I’m very happy to see that it’s been given a new lease on life!

  • avatar

    I’ve driven this car and it is awsome. Nissan really put together a nice car. I could never compare a Nissan to a Subaru. Sorry you lost your keys I’m sure your review would have been much better.

  • avatar

    I just took a three day test drive of this fine automobile. It is one of two cars I’m considering to replace my 2007 Acura TL once it comes off lease in about a year.

    I rented the Maxima from Enterprise in Houston, TX. It was a lowly “S” model with a cloth interior.

    Perhaps I’m not the car enthusiast that most are on this forum, but I was blown away by how FUN the Maxima was to drive. Even more so than the Mazda RX-8 I used to own.

    Why? The Maxima has loads more torque… and little to no FWD torque steer! I’d rented previous Maximas and had the torque steer literally rip the wheel right out of my hands, but Nissan engineers have very impressively eliminated that.

    The ride was fantastic… not too soft, not too firm. PERFECT. When I wasn’t having fun it rode as quietly as most luxury cars. It was very well put together (the leather-equipped models look and feel much better, especially with the thigh supports extended). Wish the wood trim was available without the premium package, as I have no interest in the big sunroof or rear climate/audio controls.

    And I think the styling is stunning, although the headlamps could have used some work. Interior (at least the light colored leather one) is equally so. VERY comfortable driving position too, I like the way I could tip the seats back.

    When I was going easy on the gas I was getting at 25-26 mpg in Houston traffic. When I thrashed it, mileage dropped to about 22.

    I took an evening and test drove the Hyundai Genesis six-cylinder. It’s obviously not as tossable, but it was better than I expected. The Genesis blew me away as well. Looks like I’ve got a tough choice to make…

  • avatar

    This has got to be one of the ugliest modern cars in recent history.

    Having not driven or even sat in it, that is all.

  • avatar

    Nissan had a winning formula in the Maxima. Basically, a family car with sporting underpinnings at a reasonable price.

    We picked-up a ’91 SE 5-speed and drove that thing past 300k miles with nary a problem. And had great fun doing it. Sold it to a young couple looking for a family hauler. As far as I know, it’s still running.

    We followed the ’91 with a 5th gen. 2001 SE 5-speed. Not quite the lean-mean look of the ’91, but it look ok. It still retained much of the 4DSC flavor that the ’91 had. Could still haul the family as well as haul ass. We’re approaching 300k on the ’01 now and, as I look at where Nissan has taken the model, I know this will be our last Maxima. It’s no longer an affordable sleeper. It’s just far too expensive for what it offers (or doesn’t offer)

  • avatar

    Continues todays fad of more and more HP, plainer more derivative exterior styling, cheaper interiors with less and less color choices and gobs of useless gadgets for the kids. This decade is going to be surely remembered for being unmemorable for car styling and warm inviting interiors.

  • avatar


    I can’t think of anything else the current Maxima resembles. The headlight cluster is unique as are its lines in sheetmetal.


    The Altima is now the affordable sleeper. The Maxima is a flagship and now goes head to head with Acura.

  • avatar

    The Maxima looks pretty nice in person. The fender flares are well integrated and add an athletic look to the car.

    If you guys want real fugly, look no further than the new Acura TL. Good grief.

  • avatar

    JEC said:

    Acceleration numbers aren’t everything. Power spread and torque output are what give the VQ the edge.

    Power/torque numbers are facts that help you imagine. Acceleration numbers are the truth.

    A good 3-D movie can make you feel that you are moving extremely fast, does that make it a better car than a Ferrari? A true enthusiast would trust science more than imagination.

  • avatar

    I admit I have always had a soft spot for the Nissan Maxima. That is, the Nissan Maxima of the early 90’s (I think). Never bought one as those were the college years, but I always wanted one. Everything changed when I rented a 2001 Maxima SE. Pulled out of the parking lot and hit the gas and HELLO torque steer. Who was the genius who tested that and decided it was OK I don’t know. So, I always look at the new Maximas just to see where they are going. I admit the redesign is very nice, but still with the FWD and to top it off they added CVT. So, no doubt this is a great sporty sedan I cannot see a reason to get this over a short list of other cars and especially the G35/37.

  • avatar

    I think eventually the Maxima will only be kept around for name value only, similar to the Land Cruiser.

    Nissan has simply progressively overpriced this car out of the market. It’s only a matter of time before the Versa grows, which in turn grows the Sentra and Altima leaving the Maxima behind while the TL and G35 can provide “real” choices for the $30,000+ market.

    Unless you’re middle-aged and/or live in the NE (the very target group that was adamant AGAINST a RWD Maxima), I really don’t see the point of this car anymore. It’s now an almost $40,000 fully-loaded FWD car w/ a CVT without a luxury nameplate.

    Again, who in their right mind would buy this over a G35?

  • avatar

    I used to have a 1997 Maxima that I adored, and I’m thinking about getting a 2003 for my next car. Seems like they got confused though once the Altima started to get better a few years ago, and didn’t really know where to put the Maxima. Kind of like what’s happening to the Toyota Avalon and Camry right now.

    We did a review on the Maxima last week, and rather liked it, despite the awful CVT and high-ish price point:

  • avatar

    Unless you are totally happy with the base model, and absolutely could not spare one more grand to save your life, buying a Maxima makes no sense. G37 sedans start at $32,000.

  • avatar

    I disagree. The G37 and Maxima are no longer just “siblings.” They’re two different cars, and although there are some similarities still (
    of course,) there are plenty of things that will make the Maxima more desirable than the G37 for some.

  • avatar

    There is a lot of complaints about the CVT transmission, which I think are prejudiced by a lack of engineering insight. The CVT is more direct that an auto trans, it has infinite gear ratios, so that a computer can keep the engine in its sweet spot of power and torque. When you shift a car with a manual transmission, the transmission is disconnected from the power train for the moments between shifts, thus resulting in power loss and inefficiency. The Maxima box does not have this disadvantage and with the high strength metal chain that it uses, it can handle large quantities of torque. The mapping of the transmission can go from a stepless transmission to one that “shifts” as it does in the Maxima in Ds mode. Further, it has flappy paddles to hold certain ratios, particularly useful when negotiating roads that have rapidly changing arcs and elevations. It does take a different skill set to get the most out of the CVT and to know when to leave it alone. People should stop thinking of it as some abomination and see it for its true innovation in efficiency and acceleration.

  • avatar

    The G37 and G35 are nice cars to be sure, but the rear drive package has reduced interior room and trunk space. I think they are excellent cars, but when I did a comparison drive between the G37 and I found that the G37’s brittle ride sent all the plastic bits inside of the car rattling. The Maxima SV with Sport Package and summer rubber on 19″ wheels was solid and quiet. Same exhaust note, and if you look at the 0-60 times: 6.3 Seconds for Maxima, 5.5 for the G37, they are by the seat of the pants, very similar. With a price difference of $5,000, those of us who are watching our pensions disappear can still have some enjoyment for less coin. It would be interesting to see the driveline hp at the wheels, given that the rear wheel drive models tend to lose more power to friction and driveline complexity and weight. Also those who worry about torque steer: I have found very little indications of torque steer; and the car rotates nicely (like a rear drive car) when pushing it through a turn.

  • avatar

    Having been an owner of numerous Honda & Nissan vehicles, here’s my two cents on the new Maxima:
    1. It’s way better than the two previous Maximas.
    2. Looks much better in the flesh than in photos.
    3. Other FWD competitors are either too generic (Accord, Camary) or down right ugly (Acura TL).
    4. It’s no G-37, but it’s the best FWD alternative and several thousand $$ less.
    Sure, I’d rather have a 6 speed Maxima because almost every vehicle I’ve owned in the last 35 years was a standard, but the CVT is much better than the annoyance of an automatic that constantly shifts up, down & in-out of overdrive.
    The Maxima CVT is the ONLY automatic I’ve found that’s tolerable for this hard-core manual trans guy. I also prefer a FWD sedan because it goes everywhere 365 days a year without the added expense & maintenance of AWD. So the new Maxima is by far the best sport sedan for me. Honda’s bizare styling cost them my business and the new TL is Butt-ugly. My 1999 Maxima has been absolutely trouble-free & unlike a Honda or Toyota V-6, it will never need a new timing belt. I’m convinced Nissans are every bit as dependable as a Toyota or Honda and often Nissans are less expensive.

  • avatar

    The tone of this piece is annoying. It’s not funny, or clever, but it tries to be.

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