By on September 21, 2020

40th Anniversary Maxima. Image: Nissan

Nissan’s Maxima turns 40 this year.

“This year” is a tricky statement, of course, since the year of production isn’t necessarily the same as the model year, but whether you mark it from the beginning of production in 1980 or the first model year in 1981, either way you slice it, the Maxima is hitting the big 4-0.

And Nissan is marking the milestone with a special edition package. Naturally.

The limited-edition package will only be available on top-trim Platinum models, and it will include: two-tone exterior with gray paint and a black roof, 19-inch gloss black aluminum wheels, black exterior finishes and badges, a 40th anniversary badge, black exhaust finishers, red leather seats with 40th anniversary embossing, red interior stitching, dark chrome interior finishes, white gauge faces for the speedometer and tachometer, and heated rear seats.

Otherwise, the car remains powered by the same 300-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 that mates to a continuously-variable automatic transmission.

Forty candles on the cake. That’s a big number for an automobile model, especially one that now sits in the weird limbo that is the large sedan class. The original four-door sports car marks four decades, but will it make five? The Maxima’s class has shrunk, due in part to the crossover craze.

The future is cloudy and hazy, even for the best-selling models. So that question will be answered in time. For now, the eight-generation car soldiers on.

If you’re a true Nissan buff and you want this car, best hurry. Nissan’s media materials don’t mention a build target, but limited-edition usually does mean just that, despite the old Seinfeld routine of “limited” meaning “limited to how many they can sell.”

Update: We had reached out to Nissan for a production number before publication. They got back to us a bit after the post went live with the planned number: 1,100 units.

Act fast if you feel the need to celebrate four decades of Maxima.

[Image: Nissan]

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32 Comments on “Nissan Maxima Turns 40, Gets the Birthday Treatment [UPDATED]...”


  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Does anyone even care about the Maxima – or Nissan – anymore? I mean, outside of anyone who works for the company or one of its suppliers or dealerships.

    • 0 avatar
      lstanley

      The Maxima is my rental car of choice outside of winter. It’s a lovely car for driving, fits my clients when we go to dinner, and is more interesting than a Malibu or Altima.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      1,227,973 of your fellow Americans cared enough to buy or lease one last year. 1.2 million ain’t nothin’.

      I think this might be where auto journalists go wrong in terms of what people actually buy. Is a Rouge better than a RAV4 or a CRV? Probably not. When all is said and done are you getting a better deal on the Rouge than you’re getting from Toyota or Honda? Almost always yes. The vehicle itself might not be better but it’s also not much worse and it’s $2,500 cheaper. So that answers the question for a lot of buyers.

    • 0 avatar

      Nissan is the world’s third-largest carmaker, and is significantly larger than GM. This Maxima is plainly better than anything GM makes.

      What a disgrace!!

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        Nissan is not the worlds third largest automaker. It is part of an alliance that is that size. Renault does not have majority control of Nissan, and Nissan periodically threatens to leave the alliance.

    • 0 avatar

      “Does anyone even care about the Maxima”

      I don’t anymore. It is too big and unwieldy for my taste. And interior is low rent. No fun at all. And think about it = just 20 years ago Maxima was a fun car to drive. Maxima is Nissan’s Thunderbird.

      • 0 avatar
        Mr. Monte

        Of the many things that you can say about this current Maxima, a low rent interior is definitely not one of them. The interior quality is good and in Platinum and SL trim it rivals many luxury cars in quality and feel.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      We used to like it when it had v6+MT

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        I owned/leased four successive Maxima SEs all with the MT from 1989 until 1999.

        The ‘89 as brilliant for the time: well built, nicely styled with excellent driving characteristics. The ‘95 was also good (the first with the VQ engine which, before it got punched out, was smooth and quite powerful for the time). However, it didn’t have as much of a well-crafted feel at the ‘89 or the ‘93. The ‘97 was, clearly, suffering from the accountants knife.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Once the 6-speed manual was dropped from the Maxima option list, I lost interest. I liked driving my 2003 SE model, though I did NOT particularly like the appearance.

  • avatar
    redapple

    I supply Nissan. I feel a little obligated to support my customers and buy one. Years ago I had the holy grail – Sentra SE-R.
    Not impressed with the performance. Real bad quality ie- AC quit in year 4 or 5. Trunk mechanism came off track and locked – open. Premium Stereo was real bad.

    Never liked the CVT Altima – Worst CVT progamming in any car (Honda Accord is the bench mark for CVT)

    So, I ll pass thank you. I supply Toyota, Honda and Subaru as well. I ll find something in those stores.

  • avatar
    phxmotor

    My wife likes to rent cars even though we have six cars we drive anyway. She rented a maxima last month. Can’t stop gushing about it. I drove it. Holy shit. I thought the accord was good. The Maxima is something else. Wow. Not a big fan of Nissan until this. Now I am. Was very wary of the CVT. Not any more. Wow.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    I still think the Jatco CVT is the single biggest reason why Nissan is in such bad shape. If you’ve owned one of those and had a bad (and expensive) experience you never want another one.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Was 1981 when it became the Maxima, or was it the 810 Maxima? This was around the time when the brand was transitioning from Datsun to Nissan. The first Maxima was RWD, by the way.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      Nothing like the previous Junkyard find to settle it. In 81 it was the Datsun 810 Maxima. They were branded Nissan
      a couple of years later. Essentially a four door Z car.

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/12/junkyard-find-1981-datsun-810-maxima-nissan/

  • avatar

    This is a nice looking vehicle. I wish Detroit would build something comparable.

    What a disgrace!!!

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I’d gripe about ANOTHER special edition car being painted a non-color (see the Corolla story) but instead I’ll pretend it’s a 30th anniversary version of my 1990 Maxima SE. Which still was grey and stands as one of the best cars I’ve owned, and it was a rust bucket when I got it with 80k miles.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Every Maxima story I post the same thing.

    I’ve had several Maxima rentals, they are on my “preferred” list now as they are comfortable and fun to drive.

    if it wasn’t for the CVT, and the reputation, I would have seriously considered a one or two-year-old lightly used one given they have over 50% depreciation, and at the mid-20s with part of the warranty left, it is one Hell of a car.

    But I just can’t get past that CVT.

    As for this appearance package, I wonder if any will be showing up at rental lots.

  • avatar
    renewingmind

    The Maxima used to be a great car. But now it’s saddled with the garbage CVT that makes it one of the least interesting cars on the road. If they want to make a true anniversary edition it should have a manual, or at least a proper auto.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    By ’87, the Maxima was the smart Yuppie’s alternative to the 3 or 5-series BMW. But Nissan was killing it every segment they played in. What the hell happened?

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I wonder how many of the 1,100 will end up on rental lots.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Our two cars are a 2000 Lexus GS400 and a 2003 Maxima, both in very good condition. The Maxima doesn’t compare to the GS in terms of quality build or materials, but it’s far sportier in feel and handling. Considering the price difference when new $67,000CAD for the GS and $35,000CAD for the Maxima, it really punches above its weight. To see the Maxima go from a light, handsome, powerful alternative to a BMW or Merc to the bloated irrelevance it has become is sad. Happy 40th though.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    I cannot own a typical F-150 size truck, so I am very interested, although I’m worried for Ford’s quality. And more specifically, the Transit Connect in “minivan” trim has a terrible satisfaction rating among owners.

  • avatar

    It gets worst for GM. When the FCA/PSA merger goes through GM drops to fifth place. GM is becoming an automotive minnow.

  • avatar
    Opus

    Only available in Gray? HARD PASS.

  • avatar

    CVT in an alleged performance car ? Stopped reading right there.

    The Maxima exists as an upsell for an Altima intender….I see one a year and still ask why….

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