By on December 17, 2018

2019 Nissan Maxima

As you may or may not know, invitations for press junkets often arrive quite some time in advance. So when Nissan sent the invite to drive the 2019 Maxima more than a month before the wraps came off the real thing in Los Angeles, I was excited.

See, I’ve always liked the idea of Maxima – a large, front-drive sedan endowed with a little bit of sportiness. Maybe it’s not the four-door sports car of yore, but surely it’s less sleepy than an Avalon, less generic than an Impala, and less in-your-face than a rear-drive Charger/300.

So, if the execution fell a bit short, and if the look grew a bit stale, well, maybe now is the perfect time for an update, I thought. After all, the smaller Altima is all-new. It seemed like the Maxima would be next in line for a full-zoot reboot, even though it launched a little less than four years ago.

(Read More…)

By on October 22, 2018

Image: Nissan

At Nissan, all eyes are on the vastly revamped 2019 Altima, currently trickling onto dealer lots with a revolutionary variable compression four-cylinder under some hoods and available all-wheel drive. A very different roll-out is underway north of the border.

All of the hubbub surrounding Nissan’s new midsizer doesn’t leave much oxygen in the room for the model’s slightly larger sibling, the Maxima. Confused in identity for about the past two decades, the Maxima doesn’t enter 2019 unchanged. There’s styling and content tweaks afoot, though you’ll have no trouble spotting the 2019 Maxima after its launch at the L.A. Auto Show next month.  (Read More…)

By on September 20, 2018

2017 Nissan Maxima

Nissan North America is recalling 215,124 vehicles in the United States and another 19,761 units in Canada due to an anti-lock brake pump defect that could pose a fire hazard. Affected models include the 2015-2017 Nissan Murano, 2016-2017 Nissan Maxima, 2017-2018 Nissan Pathfinder and 2017 Infiniti QX60.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s report on the recall says a seal on the ABS actuator pump may leak brake fluid onto the control electronic circuit board, resulting in a malfunction. In such an instance, the ABS warning lamp should come on to warn the driver. If this notification goes unheeded, the fluid leak could eventually cause “an electrical short in the actuator circuit, which in rare instances, may lead to a fire.”  (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2018

Has it really been five years since I rented and tested the previous Nissan Maxima? Well, as Natalie Merchant once said about children, “At your age / in a string of days / the year is gone.” That less-than-maximum Max was, in my opinion anyway, the worst Maxima ever.

Is there anybody out there who expected anything more than mediocrity from the current Maxima, despite the in-your-face styling, despite that hugely evocative Super Bowl ad? I doubt it. The five-year gap between my last go-round with a big Nissan sedan shrinks to insignificance when compared to the three-decade gap that separates today and the introduction of the first (and last) first-rate automobile to bear this particular nameplate.

Here’s the good news: The new one’s better than the old one, and the one before that. It counts as a pleasant surprise in a business which is increasingly bereft of such consolations. All you need to appreciate this car is the proper perspective, which we’ll triangulate based on two historical points: the first-generation Datsun 810 “Maxima”, and the Renault Laguna.

(Read More…)

By on June 6, 2018

So far in the Crapwagon Garage QOTD series, we’ve covered hatchbacks, sedans, and pickup trucks. For the fourth installment in the series, we take the best qualities of all three of those previous vehicles.

What do you get when you affix a hatchback to a sedan, and add the covered rear bed area from a truck? A wagon, of course.

(Read More…)

By on April 18, 2018

Car dealership, Image: VadimGuzhva/Bigstock.comThis will be our third Sedan Showdown in a row. Kicking us off were some basic full-size models, and through the “Not nice enough!” complaints, the Charger took home the win. Giving the people what they want, we turned the budget up to $45,000 and presented some luxury full-size sedans instead. Again, FCA took home a win; the Chrysler 300 easily overpowered the base Lincoln Continental, and pipped the top-trim Buick LaCrosse.

All the while, this third commenter-sourced trio waited in the wings, ready to pounce. Smaller than our previous two sets of cars, Bumpy ii wants to see you squirm and set fires. You ready? This couple is.

(Read More…)

By on March 20, 2018

In our last Buy/Drive/Burn entry, we traveled to the heady year of 1995 to peruse a trio of alternative luxury cars. One American and two Swedes vied for a place in the fantasy garage. The comments seemed to indicate a desire for more Japanese cars in the running, and commenter JohnTaurus suggested a trio we might discuss.

The year is 1995 (again). The cars are three unsuccessful Japanese luxury sedans that time forgot. Are you feeling… Vigorous?

(Read More…)

By on December 12, 2017

2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO – Image: Nissan USA

I often joke that not only are we all destined to buy a crossover in the near future, we’ll one day become crossovers. Oh, how the TTAC guys laugh…

Still, it’s hard to avoid the crossovers-are-replacing-cars narrative, as it isn’t some far-out theory — it’s a cold, hard reality. Crossover and SUV market share grows each year as buyers abandon traditional passenger cars in favor of a vehicle that does everything at least marginally.

That said, not every model faces the same rate of abandonment. Certain cars — through a hazy combination of performance, value, nameplate recognition, and other, more nebulous factors — haven’t yet been dropped off on the front steps of the orphanage by their once-loving guardians.

Let’s take a look at some surprisingly healthy performers in the non-premium, non-sports car class. Cars that aren’t declining in popularity, as this analysis isn’t about overall volume. Guess what? None of these vehicles are the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord, two models currently locked in a battle for midsize sedan supremacy (and worthy of their own singular coverage).

Hard to believe, we know, but there’s loyalty and desire to be found elsewhere. (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2017

2015 Nissan Juke, Image: Nissan

Today’s Question of the Day is the inverse of one I posited back in March of this year. At that time, we took your suggestions for current vehicle designs which you thought would stand the test of time.

It’s now time to cover the other side of the ugly coin; the vehicles on sale today which will become dated-looking quicker than all others.

(Read More…)

By on March 28, 2017

2008 Maxima, Image: Nissan

This week’s episode of Ask Jack is all about the magic boxes that separate today’s cars from their predecessors — and the unintended consequences of when it all goes wrong.

Reader Eiriksmal writes:

I hope I’ve startled you with this bold introduction. There’s a question I have that only you can answer … probably. It takes a sophisticated man with all sorts of worldly experience that I lack.

You see, I drive a car without antilock brakes, traction control, or stability control. I’m a whipper snapper who’s only been driving 14 years, so I never knew an era without ABS, at the very least. My beloved sixth-generation Maxima, what with the six-speed manual, has a malfunctioning ABS module, so the ABS and TC (no yaw sensor was installed on the 6MT cars — ESC was autotragic only) are kaput. I’ve driven it sans braking assistance for 2.5 years, but today was my first heart-clenching episode caused by a lack of experience with driving an ABS-less car.

I noticed when bedding in some new brakes recently that the back end tries to come around the front in a panic stop after the wheels lock. Sometimes it just squirms a little, other times it would step the back end out a solid 6-8 inches. This confuses me. When I’m pointing in a straight line, holding the steering wheel tight, and jamming the pedal to the floor, why does the lighter back end try to rotate around the heavy nose?

Today, a jerk in an Escape lumbered out in front of me …

This sounds like trouble.

(Read More…)

By on August 29, 2016

1996 Nissan Maxima GXE in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Maxima has been with us since the 1981 Datsun 810 Maxima, which became the Datsun Maxima, then the Datsun Maxima by Nissan, and finally the Nissan Maxima.

Starting out as a Z-car-based sporty sedan, it grew into an electronic-gadget-packed luxury sedan, then became bigger, more powerful, and less crazy with each successive generation until we arrived at the current competent-but-not-particularly-exciting Maxima.

The fifth-generation Maxima, made for the 1994 through 1999 model years, seems to be the last for which the manual-transmission option was selected by a significant minority of buyers; you could get one after 1999, but I never see anything but automatics in my junkyard travels.

Here’s a mean-looking ’96 that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on February 4, 2016

IMG_1122

Like cockroaches scattering in the light, Americans are fleeing sedans for the upright comfort and wagon-like space of crossovers.

The full-size sedan segment has recently been hit hard, Maxima included. Since 2012, the auto market has expanded 20 percent, while full-size sedan sales have contracted 14 percent. Based on an aging design and the entrance of Korean rivals, the Maxima’s 12-percent market share in 2012 dwindled to eight percent in 2015.

There is a fair chance no more than six people will read this review, and five of those readers will be future doctoral students deconstructing the final days of the sedan. Does that mean no matter how good the Maxima is — or could be — it’s doomed to fail?

(Read More…)

By on December 21, 2015

15 - 1981 Datsun Maxima in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The 1980s were confusing times for figuring out badges on U.S.-market Japanese cars.

You had the Toyota Corolla Tercel (which wasn’t related to the Corolla). You had the ever-shifting miasma of various Mitsubishi-based Chryslers. You had the Nissan Stanza Wagon (which was a non-Stanza Prairie at home). And you had all the brand bewilderment of the Datsun-to-Nissan changeover of the early part of the decade (to be fair, Detroit was doing the same sort of badging sleight-of-hand, e.g., front- and rear-wheel-drive Cutlasses in the same showroom).

The Datsun 810 became the Nissan Maxima during the 1981-1984 period, but it didn’t happen like flipping a switch; here’s a Datsun 810 with “by Nissan” and Maxima badging that I spotted in a Northern California wrecking yard a few months ago. (Read More…)

By on November 3, 2015

2016 Nissan 370Z at St-Eustache (Micra Cup)

Bark and I, either by fate or consequence, were presented with very similar automotive options lately. While his choice was made on the Emerald Aisle, mine was made over the phone before a planned trip to watch the final round of the Nissan Micra Cup in Quebec.

And while he was less than impressed with the 370Z  — and, on the surface, I can’t disagree — his view extended to the rest of the Nissan lineup.

From an enthusiast’s perch, Bark may not be able to see the forest for the trees.

(Read More…)

By on September 25, 2015

i30

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” It’s an old idea, but one that has increasing relevance in an era where automation is likely to permanently tilt the balance between capital and labor well off the scale. When all the jobs are done by robots, and the robots are owned by a small group of people, and there’s no way to earn enough money through labor to buy robot capital of your own, then won’t we have entered a stasis of sorts in society? And won’t the bolder thinkers among us then propose that the spoils of the robot labor be divided equally? And won’t they have a bit of a point?

There’s also the idea that if you have something that you don’t need, and someone else needs something that they don’t have, and the “something” in question is the same thing, that the reasonable thing to do is to hand that thing that you don’t need over to the someone who needs it. This was the argument I used in 1987 when my brother, known to all and sundry as “Bark M”, found himself in possession of a set of new Z-Mags thanks to our parents liking him best. He didn’t need another set of wheels, but I’d just broken my back wheel riding off a loading dock for no reason at all, so I requisitioned his Z-Mags for my own use. This was made easier by the fact that I was fifteen years old and he was nine. That’s another lesson: equitable redistribution usually requires unreasonable force.

So what does this have to do with the Nissan Maxima, recently summarized in these electronic pages?

(Read More…)

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