2009 Nissan Maxima

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.

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