For years, I have recommended the Nissan Maxima to friends and family. I would do the same with the redesigned 2009 Maxima. This new version of Nissan's lead sedan is far superior to what I had imagined from the displays at recent auto shows. While I liked the design as it spun on show turntables, this was nothing compared to the enthusiasm I felt when I saw the production model up-close.
The catamaran-like design highlights on either side of the hood give the Maxima an aircraft-like appearance. Looking down the side at the "Coke bottle" contoured design reminds me of a vintage IMSA racecar with the bulging front and rear fenders. The Maxima design just exudes sports-car excitement.
While the rear design may be the sports-car look with the large trunk lid, the lighting system grabbed my attention. The front-headlight assemblies are quite striking and provide excellent nighttime visibility.
Nissan folks bill the Maxima as a sports car wrapped in sedan clothing. This is quite brave, with a group of crazed auto media types assembled to be the first to experience the Maxima. I may not completely accept the notion that this is a sports car, but the Maxima does handle well and exhibit excellent performance.
For me, the Maxima doesn't reach high-performance sports car level, but it comes close. Part of the reason this Nissan is more than a normal everyday sedan is because of Nissan's GT-R super sports car. Like the GT-R, the Maxima was developed at the internationally acclaimed Nurburgring racing circuit. Nurburgring has become the ultimate in development race courses where it seems every vehicle having the heritage of a super high-performance automobile is developed and tested.
Typical of Nissan vehicles of the last few years, the interior of the Maxima is executed in the highest of levels in design and build quality. They are one of the first, at least in the more mainstream categories, to use a matted wood trim. When I first experienced this marvelous execution of wood, I likened it to the stock of a fine shotgun. It was appealing to the eye and to the touch. It is as if it was formed at the sensual hands of artist, whose entire life experience exudes from their hands. This is true artistry, to design then form, in an artistic yet functional manner.
In the automotive world, function must prevail over design and style. The Maxima excels in all three. Every feature within the cockpit is in a place for easy use or visibility.
The front seats are formed in a manner with which they are both comfortable without being over stuffed, yet supportive. Support is most important in a vehicle aimed at the sporty market. It does no good to have a cushy seat in a vehicle that is intent at aggressive cornering.
While the Maxima is a bit smaller on the outside, it is roomy on the inside. It will and did transport four adults in comfort. Moreover, the driver will have a blast heading out onto a backcountry road. Even the rear seat has contours built in the form of a sport bucket seat.
The 2009 Maxima continues the sporty image that Nissan developed with many of its automobiles. Happily, the Maxima also continues my ability to easily and confidently recommend this Nissan.