2009 Nissan Maxima

Much is standard; more is optional

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

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

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.

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