2009 Nissan Maxima

S FWD 4-Dr Sedan V6

S FWD 4-Dr Sedan V6

2009 nissan maxima Reviews and News

0812 02 Pl+volkswagen CC Nissan Maxima+mazda 6
0812 02 Z+volkswagen CC Nissan Maxima+mazda 6
Many are the mid-size sedan offerings, and most are sold in large numbers. Naturally, whenever a product is produced in great quantities, its very popularity will cause a subset of its audience to seek an alternative. Something a bit sportier, or more luxurious, or more stylish. The Volkswagen CC, the Nissan Maxima, and the Mazda 6 all hail from mainstream automakers, yet all three address this desire for something more in a mid-size car.
Volkswagen's CC - the letters stand for Comfort Coupe - is the newest of the three. This low-slung four-door is essentially a rebodied Passat. VW has wrapped its mid-size sedan mechanicals in a sheetmetal form that is obviously inspired by the Mercedes-Benz CLS (itself a rebodied E-class).
0812 09 Z+2009 Mazda 6+drivers Side
The Nissan Maxima has been a premium mid-size offering forever - or so it seems - but the 2009 version has been restyled inside and out to put more psychic distance between it and Nissan's volume-selling Altima, which uses the same platform.
The 6 is Mazda's volume-selling mid-sizer, except that it's never sold in quantities anywhere near those of its big-name competitors, the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord. That alone makes it a bit of an alternative choice, and we've long felt that the Mazda provides a greater degree of driver involvement than the typical mid-size sedan. For 2009, the 6 is brand-new, with a particularly shapely new design. West Coast editor Jason Cammisa came back from his initial drive raving about the new version, so we thought a top-spec 6 could hold its own in this company.
0812 01 Z+volkswagen CC Nissan Maxima+mazda 6
Styling is the first element you encounter, and although appearance is ultimately subjective, a few comments can be made. The Mazda's look is a major departure from that of its mundane predecessor, but the design is still perhaps not as dramatic as the other two cars here. The new Maxima is a vast improvement over the previous model and looks nothing like the Altima. The VW is a faithful copy of the CLS, from its banana-shaped profile to its slitlike side windows, but if you're going to copy, the highly successful CLS is a good template.
In all three of these cars, the emphasis on style means a rakish roofline that threatens to seriously clip rear-seat headroom. True enough, medium-height and taller adults risk a painful thwack if they forget to duck their heads getting into the back of any of these cars.
0812 12 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+drivers Side
Once inside the Maxima, headroom is barely adequate for six-footers and knee clearance is good, but there is no foot room under the front seats. The Maxima's bench has seatbelts for three but is deeply sculpted for two; its fold-down center armrest includes optional audio and climate controls. The VW doesn't even make a pretense of a middle rider position; its rear seat has a storage console between the two seating positions. Again, headroom is barely adequate and knee space is good, but there's more foot room, and the CC rider sits a bit higher than the Maxima passenger. The Mazda easily has the most habitable back seat. It's the only one with a usable center position, space is good all around, and the view out is the best. Even in Grand Touring trim, however, you'll find no A/C vents or power points for the rear-seat riders.
0812 13 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+front Interior View
Moving up to the front seat, the Mazda is nicely dressed in its top-spec duds, although its not-quite-faux-wood trim was somewhat odd, and its navigation system was our least favorite. The Mazda has good visibility and a narrow cowl, which make this car a bit easier to maneuver in tight spots. The Nissan's interior is pretty well done, and our test car - the most expensive here - was packed with features, including a power-adjustable steering column and a rearview camera. The Maxima's navigation controls (borrowed from Infiniti) are first-rate, and we love the feel of the small, fat-rimmed steering wheel. The CC borrows the Passat dash but dresses up its cabin with unique door panels and its own steering wheel. The seats are taken from the V-6-powered Passat and are very comfortable, and the leather (standard on the Luxury trim level) is soft and supple. Volkswagen at last has gone to a touch-screen navigation system but still doesn't offer Bluetooth. The quality of the CC's interior materials was the best of this bunch, beating the Maxima by dint of its consistency.
0812 11 Z+2009 Mazda 6+front Interior View
The Mazda's V-6 is next in the order of power output, with 272 hp from its rather self-effacing six, which does the job but calls little attention to itself. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission (although Mazda offers a manual with its four-cylinder), and it has a manu-matic function but no shift paddles. The Mazda posted the lowest EPA numbers, 17/25 mpg.
Typical of a Nissan, the Maxima boasts the most powerful engine: a 290-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. It's mated to a continuously variable transmission (another Nissan marker) and is the sole powertrain choice. The CVT helps the Maxima outpace the Mazda in the fuel economy derby - with EPA ratings of 19/26 mpg - and it's more responsive to a sudden boot of the throttle. The Maxima is the only car here with shift paddles, which were welcome since we were switching among three cars with no consensus on whether manual downshifts require a pull of the shifter (VW, Nissan) or a push (Mazda). Shifting manually also makes the CVT behave more like a conventional, stepped gearbox. The Maxima is very quick, but even though its chassis is better behaved than the previous version, it still suffered the most steering fight under hard acceleration.
0812 03 Z+volkswagen CC Nissan Maxima+mazda 6
On the subject of steering, give Nissan credit for resisting the trend toward electric boost. The Maxima's hydraulically assisted steering has some nice heft to it, although it's still lacking in feel. We've previously driven the Maxima with nineteen-inch wheels and the sport suspension tuning, but this time we wanted to try the eighteen-inch wheels and the standard suspension. We prefer this setup, which gives up a bit of body control but delivers a significantly less nervous and jittery ride. The Maxima has plenty of grip, but when pushed hard in tight corners, its front tires wash out sooner than those of the Volkswagen and the Mazda.
The Mazda is quite refined on the highway and generally good in the twisties, but bump isolation is a weakness, and you can feel the weight of the V-6 on the front wheels. The steering feels great when you first start driving, but effort doesn't build and there's a dead spot at center.
0812 07 Z+2009 Volkswagen CC+drivers Side
VW's electrically assisted steering is absurdly overboosted at low speeds but provides more reasonable levels of assist, and a great deal of precision, once you get rolling. The CC offers a welcome bit of extra firmness compared with the Passat, although it's still not a sports car. With its four-cylinder engine, the CC carries about 200 pounds less weight than the Mazda and the Nissan - all of it on the front axle. As a result, it feels more balanced and was more enjoyable through the corners.
0812 10 Z+2009 Mazda 6+rear Interior View
Overall, the Mazda 6 is impressive for a car playing a bit beyond its league. It has a lot of style considering that, in its most basic trim, the 6 starts at less than $20,000. Our Grand Touring V-6 cost nearly $33,000, but there were clues to its humble origins. Tire noise is pronounced, some interior elements are rather basic, and the leather feels industrial grade. But the Mazda won points for practicality, with the most accommodating back seat and the roomiest trunk - neither a surprise, given that it has to slug it out with practical transport like the Camry and the Accord. Dynamically, the 6 is always competent but rarely excels, at least in this company. The Mazda may be a standout in its class, but perhaps not to the degree that it rises a class above.
0812 14 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+rear Interior View
We like this version of the Maxima more than the overtly sporting example we drove a few months ago. The mellower suspension tune and the slightly smaller wheels help ride quality more than they hurt handling. The Maxima puts up game-winning numbers and can be loaded with a full-on luxury sedan's worth of equipment. But for $38,000 as equipped, we couldn't help feeling that we'd rather be behind the wheel of an Infiniti G37, which is a far more natural sport sedan than the Maxima will ever be.
0812 06 Z+2009 Volkswagen CC+front Interior View
The CC is far from perfect, and Volkswagen's pricing philosophy - which seems to be something like, "It's German, so of course it costs more" - means that its turbo four goes up against competitors' sixes, and its own six costs several thousand dollars more. That puts the CC at the bottom of the price/performance matrix. Interestingly, though, we might have liked this car less if it had been equipped with a V-6. If the turbo four is quick enough for you, going that route pays real handling dividends for a front-wheel-drive sedan. And its fuel economy is impressive. If you can live without leather - and VW's two-tone vinyl is nicer than you might think - you can get the base model and a six-speed manual transmission that makes the turbo four even more lively. (That combo also drops the price to $27,480.) As it is, the Luxury version we tested had the richest leather and an impressive interior overall. The suspension upgrades over a Passat are subtle but welcome, and the exterior style proved to be a real head-turner, literally stopping passersby in their tracks. The CC makes a convincing upgrade over a conventional sedan, one that stands apart from the mid-size multitudes.
0812 04 Z+volkswagen CC Nissan Maxima+mazda 6
VOLKSWAGEN CC
Price (base/as tested) $32,640/$34,630
Powertrain
engine Turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
displacement 2.0 liters (121 cu in)
horsepower 200 hp @ 5100 rpm
torque 207 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm
transmission type 6-speed automatic
drive Front-wheel
Chassis
steering Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
suspension, front Strut-type, coil springs
suspension, rear Multilink, coil springs
brakes f/r Vented discs/discs, ABS
tires Continental ContiProContact M+S
tire size 235/45HR-17
Measurements
L x W x H 188.9 x 73.0 x 55.8 in
wheelbase 106.7 in
track f/r 61.1/61.4 in
weight 3374 lb (per manufacturer)
EPA mileage 19/29 mpg
0812 05 Z+volkswagen CC Nissan Maxima+mazda 6
MAZDA 6s
Price (Base/as tested) $28,930/$32,790
Powertrain
engine DOHC 24-valve V-6
displacement 3.7 liters (227 cu in)
horsepower 272 hp @ 6250 rpm
torque 269 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm
transmission type 6-speed automatic
drive Front-wheel
Chassis
steering Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
suspension, front Control arms, coil springs
suspension, rear Multilink, coil springs
brakes f/r Vented discs/discs, ABS
tires Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 M+S
tire size 235/45WR-18
Measurements
L x W x H 193.7 x 72.4 x 57.9 in
wheelbase 109.8 in
track f/r 62.4/62.4 in
weight 3547 lb (per manufacturer)
EPA mileage 17/25 mpg
0812 01 Z+volkswagen CC Nissan Maxima+mazda 6
NISSAN MAXIMA
Price (base/as tested) $32,650/$38,130
Powertrain
engine DOHC 24-valve V-6
displacement 3.5 liters (214 cu in)
horsepower 290 hp @ 6400 rpm
torque 261 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
transmission type Continuously variable
drive Front-wheel
Chassis
steering Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
suspension, front Strut-type, coil springs
suspension, rear Multilink, coil springs
brakes Vented discs, ABS
tires Goodyear Eagle RS-A M+S
tire size 245/45VR-18
Measurements
L x W x H 190.6 x 73.2 x 57.8 in
wheelbase 109.3 in
track f/r 62.4/62.4 in
weight 3579 lb (per manufacturer)
EPA mileage 19/26 mpg
0808 01 Pl+2009 Pontiac G8 2009 Hyundai Genesis+2008 Toyota Avalon 2009 Nissan Maxima
0808 01 Z+2009 Pontiac G8 2009 Hyundai Genesis+2008 Toyota Avalon 2009 Nissan Maxima
Much has been written about the new Hyundai Genesis and the Pontiac G8, but most reports have concentrated on the eight-cylinder versions. Here we've gathered the sixes, more relevant now than ever, and threw in two competitors that are available exclusively in six-cylinder form, the new Nissan Maxima and the Toyota Avalon. All four are largish cars, priced in the low-$30,000s range (except for the slightly less expensive Pontiac), that promise something more than the typical mid-size sedan.
2009 Nissan Maxima 3.5
0808 20 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+front Three Quarter View
The Maxima is the newest entry, and subjectively at least, the best looking. That's a big turnaround from the outgoing model. But Nissan's "four-door sports car" is a big boast, and the Maxima struggles, and ultimately fails, to live up to it, mostly due to the limitations of its front-wheel-drive layout. Our test car was equipped as aggressively as possible - with the sport suspension and larger, nineteen-inch wheels - but we were left feeling that the car might be better served with a more mellow specification, which would improve ride comfort.
Base Price: $32,650
As tested Price: $35,130
Powertrain
Engine: 3.5-liter 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 290 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 261 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Transmission: CVT Automatic
Drive: Front-wheel
Measurements
Dimensions (L x W x H): 190.6 x 73.2 x 57.8 in
Legroom (F/R): 43.8/34.6 in
Headroom F/R: 38.5/36.4 in
Cargo capacity: 14.2 cu ft
Curb Weight: 3579 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 19/26 mpg
2009 Hyundai Genesis 3.8
0808 03 Z+2009 Hyundai Genesis 3 8+rear Three Quarter View
The V-8 version of Hyundai's new Genesis impressed us, and now so has the V-6. The interior is particularly well done, and the list of available equipment is long. Despite its rear-wheel drive, however, the Genesis is no sport sedan. Its suspension tuning is too soft for that. The Genesis rides well around town but loses some composure at higher speeds. Still, the Genesis is an impressive, if imperfect, effort.
Base Price: $33,000
As Tested Price: $36,000
Powertrain
Engine: 3.8-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 290 hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 264 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: Rear-wheel
Measurements
L x W x H: 195.9 x 74.4 x 58.3 in
Legroom F/R: 44.3/38.6 in
Headroom F/R: 38.1/37.7 in
Cargo capacity: 15.9 cu ft
Curb Weight: 3748 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 18/27 mpg
2009 Pontiac G8 V-6
0808 06 Z+2009 Pontiac G8 V 6+front Three Quarter View
Pontiac's G8 stands out as the best sport sedan and the biggest bargain. Much like its eight-cylinder sibling, the base G8's well-balanced, rear-wheel-drive chassis makes the G8 a winner on back roads. We also like the fact that Pontiac has not stripped the exterior of the base car to the point where it looks like, well, a base car. Only the truly sharp-eyed can pick it out from a GT. The starting price of less than $30,000 is also compelling, but the Pontiac does lack many of the high-end options (including a navigation system) that push up the as-tested prices of the other cars here. And the Pontiac's interior, although roomy, is not as well finished as the other three cars.
Base Price: $27,995
As Tested Price: $29,370
Powertrain
Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 256 hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 248 lb-ft @ 2100 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Drive: Rear-wheel
Measurements
L x W x H: 196.1 x 74.8 x 57.7 in
Legroom F/R: 42.2/39.4 in
Headroom F/R: 38.7/38.0 in
Cargo capacity: 17.5 cu ft
Curb Weight: 3885 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 17/25 mpg
2008 Toyota Avalon XLS
0808 05 Z+2008 Toyota Avalon+front Three Quarter View
Toyota's Avalon wins points for being absolutely true to its mission. There is absolutely nothing here for the driving enthusiast, but your parents will love it. The ride isolation is supreme, the powertrain is smooth, and the interior delivers comfort in spades. Although the Avalon is no Prius, its fuel economy is even pretty good. Overall, it's a car that knows what it wants to do and does it exceedingly well.
Base Price: $32,035
As Tested Price: $35,013
Powertrain
Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 268 hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 248 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: Front-wheel
Measurements
L x W x H: 197.2 x 72.8 x 58.5 in
Legroom F/R: 41.3/40.9 in
Headroom F/R: 38.9/37.5 in
Cargo capacity: 14.4 cu ft
Curb weight: 3570 lb
EPA rating (city/highway): 19/28 mpg
0808 20 Pl+2009 Nissan Maxima+front Three Quarter View
A return of the four-door sports car?
0808 20 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+front Three Quarter View
Nissan wanted its latest Maxima sedan to go back to its roots, back to being a true four-door sports car just like it was in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Scanning the specs of the 2009 version, all looks to be very promising. The wheelbase and overall length have been chopped and the exterior dramatically altered. The V-6 engine gains 35 hp and there is a plethora of sporty features either standard or available including paddle shifters, 19-inch wheels with performance tires, a rear wing, and sport seats with adjustable thigh support. But is the end result a proper sports sedan or just another Maxima trying to act the part?
A muscular new look
0808 14 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+interior
This is area the Maxima's trump card; it looks really good. The wider track and bulging fenders combined with the shorter overall length give the Nissan a distinctive look. One might even think the Maxima is a rear-wheel-drive sedan based upon the design but, alas, the power is still fed to the ground through the front wheels. Interior space is diminished somewhat by the aggressive exterior styling, and we wouldn't recommend taking a fifth person along on a trip of any length.
Much is standard; more is optional
0808 15 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+cockpit
The Maxima is nicely equipped as standard and there is no shortage of optional equipment. The latter includes a heated steering wheel, navigation with real-time traffic info, a 9.3 GB music hard drive, a rear-view camera, a power-adjustable steering column, power seats with memory, a Bose audio system, a climate-controlled driver's seat, and Bluetooth. Nissan continues to offer more and more equipment that used to be reserved only for their premium Infiniti brand.
A familiar V-6, tweaked for more output
0808 18 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+engine
Both the Maxima S and SV models feature the same powertrain. The 3.5-liter VQ-series V-6 develops 290 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque in this car. As with the last Maxima, the power is transferred to the ground through a continuously variable automatic transmission. No manual gearbox is available. At least a manual mode and a sport mode are offered. Additionally, paddle shifters are packaged in both the optional sport and premium packages that are available on the higher-spec SV model.
A further evolution of an existing architecture
0808 12 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+rear Three Quarter View
The Maxima is now based on Nissan's "D" platform, which also underpins the less-expensive Altima sedan and coupe as well as the Murano crossover. Nissan refined and fiddled with the platform to enhance the driving experience in the Maxima. The steering system was heavily revised and the suspension retuned. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard and buyers can spec a sport suspension that includes stiffer suspension as well as nineteen-inch wheels. There is even an option for summer performance tires on the nineteen-inch wheels.
Despite some very smart technology, still hindered by its front driving wheels
0808 19 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+grille
The Maxima may look like a rear-wheel-drive car, but there is little doubt of its front-wheel-drive setup when you're behind the wheel. Nissan did a fair amount of work making the sedan a sporty proposition but there is only so much you can do with nearly 300 hp running through the front wheels. Yes, the rear end does some of the work while cornering briskly, but that strong V-6 engine overwhelms the chassis quickly. Nissan fit the Maxima with a quick steering rack but the steering effort is far too light at low speeds and slightly too heavy at highway speeds. Additionally, torque steer creeps in far too often, even at higher speeds. We could forgive some of those faults if the sport package-equipped Maxima rode better, but the large wheels and stiffer suspension give the Nissan a very brittle ride. We do like that the CVT transmission works well when driving the Maxima at a normal pace. Also, the manual mode is very capably follows the driver's intent when swapping ratios. It's only when you floor the accelerator in automatic mode that you encounter the usual CVT quirk of the engine sitting at a near-constant high RPM as the car accelerates.
Trying too hard to be sporty
0808 22 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+rear Three Quarter View
Nissan really did inject a fair amount of sport back into the Maxima but the end result is a car that is slightly confused. Our sport-package-equipped test car didn't handle well enough to be a sports sedan or ride well enough to be a luxury car. We expect that the standard car with its eighteen-inch wheels and softer suspension might be a better package overall. In the end, Nissan engineers didn't build a four-door sports car. They did add some much-needed style to the Maxima but if they wanted to make a true sports sedan, they should have started with the rear-wheel-drive platform that underpins the Infiniti G35/37 and the 350Z and they should offer a manual transmission. It's only when you look at the Maxima as a stylish offering in the near-luxury market and not a back roads dancer that it begins to make sense.
2009 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV
0808 13 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+front Three Quarter View
Base Price: $32,650
As Tested Price: $35,130
Powertrain
Engine: 3.5-liter 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 290 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 261 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Transmission: CVT Automatic
Drive: Front-wheel
Measurements
Dimensions (L x W x H): 190.6 x 73.2 x 57.8 in
Legroom (F/R): 43.8/34.6 in
Headroom F/R: 38.5/36.4 in
Cargo capacity: 14.2 cu ft
Curb Weight: 3579 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 19/26 mpg
0808 01 Pl+2009 Nissan Maxima+front View
0808 01 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+front View
One of the pioneers of the near-luxury segment (dating from before that segment was so identified), the Nissan Maxima was once a real standout in both looks and performance. For the legions of college students who drove rusty but trusty Datsun 210s and then, with the arrival of a first real job, graduated to the Sentra, the Maxima was something to aspire to. The Maxima juggernaut peaked in the first half of the 1990s, but with the past couple of redesigns, the Maxima's star dimmed. Outside, it had become an overgrown and overwrought Altima; inside, the cabin was laden with features but light on quality; underhood, its V-6 sent the wide front tires far more power than they could handle. Even people within Nissan acknowledged that the car had lost its way.
Now comes the new 2009 Maxima, and Nissan is crowing that it's the return of the four-door sports car ("4DSC" being the Maxima's 1990 tagline). While Nissan is to be credited for turning around the Maxima, this really is not a return to the halcyon days.
0808 03 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+rear Three Quarter View
The Maxima is completely restyled, and we're glad to say that the effort has been largely successful (see design editor Robert Cumberford's analysis on page 24). The length has been trimmed by almost four inches, the wheelbase by about half that much. The track, however, is wider, a fact emphasized by the bulging fenders. The front overhang has been snipped, and what's left is further visually shortened by the angled corners, which give the new Maxima the athletic look of a rear-wheel-drive car.
We had hoped that the Maxima might switch to rear-wheel drive (perhaps borrowing the Infiniti G35's excellent chassis), but alas, it was not to be. The Maxima rides on Nissan's D platform, which also underpins the Altima and the Murano.
0808 02 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+cockpit
Predictably, the reduction in length and wheelbase shrinks interior space, which, based on pure volume, is now less than that of the Altima. Still, rear-seat space is OK for adults up to six feet tall, although toe room under the front seats is tight. The outgoing car's restrictive four-seat option, with a rear-seat center console, has been dropped, and we can't say that we miss it.
Nor do we miss the odd, undersize, front-to-back, fixed-glass moonroofs in the previous car. In their place is a conventional sunroof or, as an option, a two-piece full-glass roof with an opening front section.
0808 04 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+infiniti Sourced Navigation Interface
The Maxima's interior has received a much-needed, comprehensive upgrade, punctuated by a nice, fat-rimmed steering wheel. Other highs include deeply cushioned armrests, logical switches, supple optional leather, and an available navigation-system interface lifted from Infiniti. Only the console and the lower door panels still appear designed to warm the heart of Nissan/Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, once celebrated as "le cost cutter."
The Maxima might look convincingly like a rear-wheel-drive car from the outside, but that illusion dissipates when you're sitting behind the wheel. The windshield slopes far away from the driver, in the manner of a classic cab-forward, front-wheel-drive sedan. More strangely, the hood sweeps up at the sides and has a bulge in the middle with a curved inset at the rear. This, combined with a deep dashboard swell that rises ahead of the driver, creates a view that's a bit like looking out over a roiling sea.
At least the Maxima's chassis is unlikely to induce seasickness. Riding on the available sport suspension (with upgraded springs, dampers, and antiroll bars), our test car was very buttoned down yet absorbed bumps well. It did suffer a side-to-side rocking motion, a common pitfall of cars with stiff antiroll bars. The upside is that the Maxima turns in with alacrity and doesn't plow straight ahead in the manner of many big, front-wheel-drive sedans. Ultimately, though, the Maxima is too big and heavy to be a back-road dancer.
0808 05 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+steering Wheel
The car's steering is now speed-sensitive, providing decent feel once you're up and rolling but too much assist in low-speed maneuvering. You can certainly feel the torque (all 261 lb-ft of it) flowing to the front wheels, but when you stab the throttle, the Maxima now has manners enough to fight off the urge to go hunting around its lane.
Speaking of urge, Nissan's 3.5-liter V-6 provides plenty, as it's been fortified with an additional 35 hp, bringing the total to 290 hp. (Despite the extra power, fuel economy improves slightly, to 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway.) Nissan is unique among automakers in its dedication to continuously variable transmissions, which have replaced conventional automatics in most Nissan models. The payoff is evident in the Maxima's standard Xtronic, which is the most sophisticated CVT we've ever driven. Our test car came with shift paddles (part of the sport package), which may seem absurd with a CVT, but they actually worked great, so convincingly does this transmission imitate a geared automatic and so well-thought-out is its programming. Unlike some paddleshifted gearboxes, the console shift lever doesn't have to be moved to the side (activating the Sport mode) before the paddles can be used. But if it is, the transmission will hold a paddle-actuated "downshift" indefinitely. If the lever is in D, the transmission will upshift and return to automatic operation a few moments after the driver paddles down to a lower ratio. Very smart. The only time this transmission acts like a CVT is when you floor the accelerator and hold it, which sends the revs to the top of the tach and keeps them there.
For all the CVT's cleverness, however, we couldn't help wishing for the option of a manual gearbox, a choice that went away in recent years and which, in our eyes, was one of the hallmarks of the 4DSC, back in the day. Despite a shapely new exterior and an improved cabin, the Maxima hasn't really returned to its golden youth, when it stood head and shoulders above other mid-size offerings. The Maxima is a bigger, more powerful car today, and that has brought the limitations of its front-wheel drive into sharper relief. At the same time, a whole field of competitors (including Nissan's own Altima) has grown up around the Maxima. The one-time obvious choice for those seeking a quick, comfortable, well-appointed sedan is once again a good choice, but it's just one good choice among many.
0805 01 Pl+2009 Nissan Maxima+front Three Quarter View
0805 01 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+front Three Quarter View
The Nissan Maxima was one of the original near-luxury cars, a fast and comfortable sedan that was a real standout, both visually and in its performance. But with the past couple redesigns, the Maxima's star dimmed. Even people within Nissan acknowledged that the car had lost its way.
Now comes an all-new 2009 Maxima, and Nissan is crowing that it's the return of the four-door sports car (that being the Maxima's 1990 tag line). While Nissan is to be credited for turning the Maxima around, this really does not turn the clock all the way back to the Maxima's halcyon days.
0805 05 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+interior View
The car is completely restyled, and the effort has been largely successful. The length has been trimmed by almost four inches, the wheelbase by about half that much. The track, however, is wider, a fact emphasized by the bulging fenders. The front overhang has been snipped, and what's there is further visually shortened by the angled off corners, which give the new Maxima the athletic look of a rear-wheel-drive car.
We had hoped the Maxima might in fact switch to rear-wheel drive (perhaps borrowing the Infiniti G35's excellent chassis), but alas, it was not to be. The Maxima rides on Nissan's D-sized platform, which also underpins the Altima and the Murano.
0805 03 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+side View
Predictably, the reduced length and wheelbase shrinks interior space, which, in a measure of pure volume, is now less than that of the Altima. Still, rear-seat space is okay for adults up to six feet tall, although toe room under the front seats is tight. The outgoing car's restrictive four-seat option, with a rear-seat center console, has been dropped and we can't say that we miss it.
Nor do we miss the odd, undersized, front-to-back, fixed-glass moonroofs in the previous car. In their place is a conventional sunroof or, as an option, a two-piece full glass roof with an opening front section.
The Maxima's interior has received a much-needed, comprehensive upgrade, punctuated by a nice, fat-rimmed steering wheel. Other highs include deeply cushioned armrests, supple leather (an option), logical switches, and a nav screen interface lifted from Infiniti. Only the console and the lower door panels still appear designed to appeal to Nissan/Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn and his once-celebrated persona as "le cost cutter."
0805 02 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+front Three Quarter View
The Maxima might look convincingly like a rear-wheel-drive car from the outside, but it's a different story when you're sitting behind the wheel. The windshield slopes far away from the driver, in the manner of a classic, cab-forward, front-wheel-drive sedan. More strangely, the hood sweeps up at the sides and has a bulge in the middle with a curved inset at the rear. This, combined with a deep dashboard with a swell that rises ahead of the driver, creates a view that's kind of like looking out over a roiling sea.
At least the Maxima's chassis is unlikely to induce seasickness. Riding on the available sport suspension (upgraded springs, dampers, and anti-roll bars), our test car was very buttoned down yet it absorbed bumps well. It did suffer a side-to-side rocking motion, a common pitfall of cars with stiff anti-roll bars. The upside is that the Maxima turns in with alacrity and doesn't plow straight ahead in the manner of many big, front-wheel-drive sedans. Ultimately, though, the Maxima is too big and heavy to be a back roads dancer.
0805 04 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+rear Three Quarter View
The car's steering is now speed-sensitive, and provides decent feel once you're up and rolling but too much assist in low-speed maneuvering. You can certainly feel the torque (all 261 foot-pounds of it) flowing to the front wheels, but the Maxima now has manners enough to fight off its urge to go hunting around the lane when you stab the throttle.
Speaking of urge, Nissan's 3.5-liter V-6 provides plenty, as it's now fortified with an additional 35 horsepower, bringing the total to 290 hp. Nissan is unique among automakers in its dedication to the continuously variable transmission - which has replaced conventional automatics in most Nissan models - and the payoff is evident in the Maxima's standard Xtronic, which is the most sophisticated CVT we've ever driven. Our test car came with shift paddles (part of the sport package), which may seem absurd with a CVT but they actually worked great, so convincingly does this transmission ape a geared automatic and so well-thought-out is its programming. Unlike some paddle-shift gearboxes, the console shift lever does not have to be moved to the side (activating the Sport mode) before the paddles can be used. But if it is, the transmission will hold a paddle-actuated "downshift" indefinitely. If the lever is in D, the transmission will upshift and return to automatic operation a few moments after the driver paddles down to a lower ratio. Very smart. The only time this transmission acts like a CVT is when you floor the accelerator and hold it, which sends the revs to the top of the tach and keeps them there.
For all the CVT's cleverness, however, we couldn't help wishing for the option of a manual gearbox, a choice that went away in recent years and which, in our eyes, was one of the hallmarks of the four-door sports car back in the day. Despite a shapely new exterior and an improved cabin, the Maxima really has not returned to its golden youth, when it stood head and shoulders above other mid-sized offerings. The Maxima is a bigger, more powerful car now, and that has brought the limitations of its front driven wheels into sharper relief. At the same time, a whole field of competitors (including Nissan's own Altima) has grown up around the Maxima. The one-time obvious choice for those seeking a quick, comfortable, well-appointed sedan is once again a good choice, but it's just one good choice among many.
0808 02 Pl+2009 Nissan Maxima+profile View
0808 02 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+profile
0808 02 Z+2009 Nissan Maxima+profile View

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Certified Pre-Owned 2009 Nissan Maxima Pricing

Certified Pre Owned Price
$15,700

Used 2009 Nissan Maxima Values / Pricing

Suggested Retail Price
$30,160

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23
2009 Nissan Maxima
2009 Nissan Maxima
S FWD 4-Dr Sedan V6
19 MPG City | 26 MPG Hwy
Top Ranking Vehicles - MPG
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1
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2
rank
3
rank
4
rank
5
2009 Audi A4
Base FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4
23 MPG City | 30 MPG Hwy
rank
35
2009 Nissan Maxima
2009 Nissan Maxima
S FWD 4-Dr Sedan V6
$30,160
Top Ranking Vehicles - Price
rank
6
2009 Nissan Maxima
2009 Nissan Maxima
S FWD 4-Dr Sedan V6
290hp
Top Ranking Vehicles - Horsepower

2009 Nissan Maxima Specifications

Quick Glance:
Engine
3.5L V6Engine
Fuel economy City:
19 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
26 MPG
Horsepower:
290 hp @ 6400rpm
Torque:
261 ft lb of torque @ 4400rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer RearABS
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player (optional)
  • CD Changer
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation (optional)
Vehicle
36,000 miles / 36 months
Powertrain
60,000 miles / 60 months
Corrosion
Unlimited miles / 60 months
Roadside
36,000 miles / 36 months
Recall Date
12-31-1969:21:34:50
Component
SUSPENSION
Summary
NISSAN IS RECALLING CERTAIN MODEL YEAR 2009 AND 2010 ALTIMA AND MAXIMA PASSENGER CARS. THE UPPER FRONT STRUT INSULATORS MAY HAVE BEEN MANUFACTURED OUT OF SPECIFICATION RESULTING IN A POTENTIAL FOR THE STRUT INSULATOR TO CRACK.
Consequences
IF THE STRUT INSULATOR IS CRACKED, THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR THE STRUT ROD TO COME OUT OF ITS MOUNTING POSITION, WHICH COULD AFFECT VEHICLE STABILITY AND INCREASE THE RISK OF A CRASH.
Remedy
NISSAN WILL NOTIFY OWNERS AND DEALERS WILL REPLACE BOTH LEFT AND RIGHT SIDE FRONT STRUT INSULATORS FREE OF CHARGE. THE SAFETY RECALL IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN DURING OCTOBER 2009. OWNERS MAY CONTACT NISSAN AT 1-800-NISSAN1 (1-800-647-7261).
Potential Units Affected
26,398
Notes
NISSAN NORTH AMERICA, INC.


IIHS Roof Strength
N/R
IIHS Best Pick
N/R
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Applicable
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
5
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
5
NHTSA Rating Front Side
5
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
5
NHTSA Rating Rollover
5
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
Good
IIHS Overall Side Crash
N/R
IIHS Rear Crash
Marginal

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