Nissan Maxima, 2009: The Weekly Driver Car Review

James Raia

Nissan Maxima, 2009: The Weekly Driver Car Review 1The redesigned 2009 Nissan Maxima has morphed well into its seventh generation. And it’s the edition that’s the most wonderfully confusing of the model’s long-time tagline, “four-door sports car.”

With an increase of 35 horsepower to 290 in its 3.5-liter V6, the new Maxima has a fine presence and further blurs the distinct line in what once were clear car segments. Paddle shifters to the sleek, shorter new body, it all adds to a new appeal for the more than 30-year-old model.

The Weekly Driver’s Ratings
(Rating low to high, 1 to 10 points)

Acceleration (8)
The increased horsepower makes a lot of difference. Quick, steady and powerful, the Maxima is impressive for quick bursts around town and it’s authoritative with power in reserve on the open road.

Braking/Handling/Steering (7)
Firm and tight in all areas. The engine has a noticeable growl at high speeds, but it’s not annoying. Maneuvering in all driving conditions is handled without issue, with more of an emphasis toward fun.

Nissan Maxima, 2009: The Weekly Driver Car Review 2

Cargo Room (4)
From the outside, it appears the trunk is slightly open when it’s closed. And once open, the trunk cave area is fine but the lift-over height requires navigating bulky items. Cup holders and other storage areas are adequate.

Controls (7)
Logically positioned and equally logical to use. The navigation system screen is clear and the optional back-up camera works efficiently and provides a clear view.Nissan Maxima, 2009: The Weekly Driver Car Review 3

Details (7)
Inside and out, the Maxima’s redesign works on all levels. Strangers asked questions and offered compliments. Friends thought the Maxima look more upscale, like a Lexus.

Front Seat (7)
Driver and passenger ride comfortably with easy in-and-out access. Available leather-appointed seats firm, positioned logically and comforting each time.

Fuel Economy (5)
Bigger engine rarely translates into less gas. Premium fuel is required and the 290-horsepower V6 uses what might be expected, with 19 mpg (city) 26 mpg (hwy.) averages.

Quietness (6)
The SV model is a sports car/sedan. For a sedan, it has the welcome tone of a sports car. For a sedan, the baritone hum is more pronounced than most competitors.

Rear Seat (5)
The one down side of the redesign is that the sporty new body curves reduce backseat room. Head  and leg room are adequate for two midsize adults, but overall back seat space doesn’t compare to front seat space availability.

Ride Quality (7)
The sport edition has 19-inch alloy wheels and they add to the Maxima’s composed feel at any speed.

Total ( 64 out of 100 )

Class — Midsize Sedan (with sports car ego).

Primary competition — Acura TL, Hyundai Genesis, Infiniti G35, Volkswagen Passat.

Standard equipment/option packages features — Sport Package ($2,300) — 19-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension, rear spoiler, xenon headlights, auto-dimming driver side outside mirror, heated power tilt-telescoping steering wheel, driver memory functions with automatic entry-exit system, upgraded leather upholstery, heated front seats, rear bucket seats, Bluetooth, satellite radio and metallic-look interior trim).

Tech Package ($2,250)  — Hard drive navigation system with voice recognition, real-time traffic update capability, rearview parking camera, 9.3GB of digital music storage, iPod integration control, auxiliary audio/visual jacks and single-CD player); Floor Mats and Trunk Mat ($180).

For more features, visit:

Manufacturer’s suggested retail price — $31,990.00

Price as driven — $37,380.00

Mileage estimates — 19 mpg (city), 26 mpg (hwy.)

Warranty — Bumper to Bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.

The Weekly Driver’s final words — “Crossover vehicle” is a term largely used in the sport utility vehicle segment. But it’s appropriate with the new Maxima. It’s a sports car with sedan characteristics. And it’s a sedan that can easily masquerade as a sports car. It turns heads with a sleek new design and moves down the road like it’s been here all along, which it has — only a lot less noticeably.

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