2009 Nissan Maxima

Most folks inside Nissan won't hesitate to admit that the Maxima has lost its way a bit. It's a car that once sat proud as a sporty alternative to the Camry or Accord, and for a while, Nissan even called it the Four-Door Sports Car (a "4DSC" sticker adorned one corner of the rear window on models in the early nineties.) Now, the car sits awkwardly on top of the Altima that, in some ways, is actually a better car.

That will all change in 2009 when Nissan will dig into its past and make the Maxima a four-door sports car once again. We haven't seen the future Maxima, but has been described to us as "unlike anything we've ever done" by more than one Nissan insider. Expect a concept version of the car to debut next winter at a major auto show as part of Nissan's fiftieth anniversary celebration (which will also include the production GT-R and a new Z-car.) It should be an aggressive, Mercedes-Benz CLS-style car sharing some cues with Nissan's other halo vehicles. The new Maxima will use the same VQ engine family found throughout the Nissan/Infiniti range, but to prevent the car from cannibalizing G35 sales, it will most likely remain front-wheel drive. A diesel model is also planned, and it could end up being the high-performance range-topper. We're excited.

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