2009 Nissan Maxima unveiled in New YorkEnlarge Photo
Powered by a 290hp 3.5L V6 generating 261lb-ft of torque, the new Maxima shares power specifications very close to the original 350Z, gaining 35hp and 9lb-ft over the 2008 Maxima. Nissan says the exhaust is tuned to balance sporty sound with comfortable cruising. Use of technology like a six-point engine mounting system to control noise, vibration and harshness means smooth, quiet travel. All new Maximas come equipped with a CVT with manual mode. A special Ds mode enhances sporty performance even further by allowing variable manual mode ratios through clever use of the CVT, as well as optional paddle shifters.
Designers focused on bringing back the heritage of late 1980s and early 1990s Maximas by halting development of the new Maxima half-way through the process, scrapping everything, and starting over at the Nurburgring. In the process, Nissan set a very high goal for itself: to produce “the best performing front engine, front-wheel drive car in the world." That would be no mean feat, with fierce competition ranging in size from cars like BMW's Mini Cooper all the way up to Acura's sports sedans, and myriad others. Nissan says the body rigidity, suspension and steering of the new Maxima are competitive with Europe's sports sedans.
Appearance of the new car was addressed also. The previous generation Maxima won several awards for its generally excellent nature, but it left a bit to be desired in the design department. The new Maxima takes some very aggressive steps to remedy the blandness of its predecessor, especially in the headlights and front fascia. A dual-panel moonroof adds visibility and light to the interior of the car, and out back new LED taillights in a dramatic L-shape bring the Maxima to the cutting edge of design.