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Used Nissan Maxima For Sale

17,072 matching vehicles
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2017 Nissan Maxima
34 photos

List price: $23,288

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Expires Nov 30, 2017.

2014 Nissan Maxima
26 photos

List price: $18,999

Special Offer + Perks

Expires Nov 30, 2017.

Check out this gently-used 2014 Nissan Maxima we recently got in. This vehicle is loaded with great features, plus it comes with the CARFAX BuyBack Guarantee. This is about the time when you're saying it is too good to be true, and let us be the one's to tell you, it is absolutely true.This vehicle won't last long, take it home today.More information about the 2014 Nissan Maxima:The Maxima's sporty styling and spirited handling, as well as its long list of standard features, makes it a solid performer in its segment. At 290 horsepower, the standard 3.5L V6 engine in the Maxima is the most powerful in the segment, while the continuously variable transmission allows good fuel economy.Strengths of this model include comfortable interior with easy-to-use controls, Smooth and powerful drivetrain, and lots of standard features at all trim levels

2016 Nissan Maxima
24 photos

List price: $28,998

CarMax makes car buying easy and hassle-free. Our upfront prices are the same online and on our lot. All our used cars come with free vehicle history and safety recall reports (certain vehicles may have unrepaired safety recalls-check to learn if this vehicle has an unrepaired safety recall), plus a 5-Day Money-Back Guarantee, and a 30-Day Limited Warranty (60-Day in CT, MN, and RI; 90-Day in MA, NJ, and NY). Price excludes the cost of optional equipment selected by the purchaser; and State and local taxes, tags, registration and title fees. Some fees are location specific and may change if you transfer this vehicle to a different CarMax store.

2010 Nissan Maxima
32 photos

List price: $10,736

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Expires Nov 30, 2017.

Extra Clean. WAS $11,496. Sunroof, Heated Leather Seats, Quad Seats, Satellite Radio, Premium Sound System, Rear Air, Alloy Wheels, Serviced here, Non-Smoker vehicle. AND MORE!KEY FEATURES INCLUDE: Quad Bucket Seats, Rear Air, Heated Driver Seat, Premium Sound System, Satellite Radio Leather Seats, Rear Spoiler, MP3 Player, Keyless Entry, Remote Trunk Release.OPTION PACKAGES: 270-Watt Premium AM/FM Stereo W/6-Disc In-Dash CD Changer, USB Interface, Front Wheel Drive, Dual Panel Moonroof W/Pwr Retractable Sunshades, 3.5L Dohc 24-Valve Smpi V6 Engine, Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags. Nissan 3.5 SV w/Premium Pkg with Dark Slate Metallic exterior and Charcoal interior features a V6 Cylinder Engine with 290 HP at 6400 RPM*. Serviced here, Non-Smoker vehicle.EXPERTS CONCLUDE:'s review says A high-quality, well-stocked entry-level luxury sedan.. 5 Star Driver Front Crash Rating. 5 Star Driver Side Crash Rating.EXCELLENT VALUE: Reduced from $11,496.VISIT US TODAY: Faulkner Honda has earned the prestigious Best Dealerships to Work For award again for 2015. This recognition program is dedicated to finding and recognizing the best employers in the retail automobile industry! It is also your assurance that you are visiting a dealership that places the highest value on you, the customer, as well as our employees and their families. We also offer FREE delivery within 400 miles of our dealership to bring this high level of customer service right to your home o Pricing analysis performed on 11/16/2017. Horsepower calculations based on trim engine configuration. Please confirm the accuracy of the included equipment by calling us prior to purchase.

2016 Nissan Maxima
16 photos

List price: $21,198

This vehicle passed a rigorous inspection by an ASE-Certified technician and is backed by a 12-Month/12,000 Mile Limited Powertrain Warranty(1). We offer a free CARFAX (R) Vehicle History Report (TM) and a 7-Day Buyback (2) to give you peace of mind that you are buying a quality used vehicle. Call us for further details or stop by today for a test drive! 1-888-227-7253. (1) Limited Powertrain Warranty begins on the vehicle purchase date & extends for 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. Coverage runs concurrently with manufacturer warranty. Restrictions apply. See a Sales Consultant for details. (2) For a period of 7 days after the date of purchase or 1,000 miles beyond the odometer reading at purchase, whichever comes first, the vehicle may be returned for the exact price originally paid minus a $200 restocking fee, (as allowed by law). Restrictions apply.Price includes Processing Fee of $199. Price does not include tax, title, tags, governmental fees, electronic filing charge, any emissions testing and/or state inspection fees, and any finance charges (if applicable).Vehicles subject to prior sale. We make every effort to provide accurate information including but not limited to price, miles and vehicle options, but please verify with your local Enterprise Car Sales location before purchasing. Current mileage may vary due to test drives and vehicle relocation. Used vehicles were previously part of Enterprise short term rental, lease fleet or purchased by Enterprise from other sources including auto auctions, with previous use possibly short term rental, lease or other.

2016 Nissan Maxima
16 photos

List price: $28,888

Special Offer + Perks

Expires Nov 30, 2017.

DUAL PANEL PANORAMIC MOONROOF* FORWARD COLLISION WARNING* INTELLIGENT CRUISE CONTROL* NAVIGATION* HEATED STEERING WHEEL* REMOTE START* FULL COLOR BACK UP CAMERA* LED HEADLIGHTS* ILLUMINATED KICKPLATES* REMOTE ENGINE START* BOSE PREMIUM AUDIO SYSTEM* HEATED & COOLED LEATHER SEATS* FRONT & REAR PARKING SENSORS* BLIND SPOT WARNING* BLUETOOTH HANDS FREE* AUX INPUT, DRIVE MODE SELECTOR, AND MORE!!!! ONE OWNER LOCAL TRADE IN!!!! **Advertised vehicle sale price subject to Tax, Title, Licensing Fees, and $299 Service Fee. **** Se Habla Espanol **** *Using strong relationships with over 20 Financial Institutions, we will provide you with the strongest, most competitive terms available! *Let us show you how the Lynch Family of Dealerships will treat YOU like family. Provide us with the opportunity to earn your business and you will agree that NOBODY Sells for Less than Lynch! With Real Time, Live Market Pricing from our 3rd Party Vendor, you get a Great Price Upfront without the Hassles of Negotiation. The Lynch family of Dealerships is one of the largest retailers of new and used vehicles in the Midwest. Because of this volume, customers can expect not only an impressive selection, but also a volume-based price which may simply not be available at smaller, single location dealerships!! We also pride ourselves on our reconditioning process, which is SECOND TO NONE!!! Only a short drive from Milwaukee, We proudly serve customers from Madison, Kenosha, Waukesha, Gurnee, Chicago, Janesville, Lake County IL, Racine, Lake Geneva, Sun Prairie, East Troy, Mukwonago, Delavan, Pewaukee, Brookfield, New Berlin, Elm Grove, Delafield, Hartland, Oconomowoc, and Jefferson customers with an incredible customer satisfaction rating!! For our complete inventory and current specials, please visit us at or call us today at (262)-642-4700! We appreciate the opportunity to EARN Your business!!!

2014 Nissan Maxima
31 photos

List price: $16,995

Check out this gently-used 2014 Nissan Maxima we recently got in. How to protect your purchase? CARFAX BuyBack Guarantee got you covered. This is a well kept ONE-OWNER Nissan Maxima 3.5 S with a full CARFAX history report. In addition to being well-cared for, this Nissan Maxima has very low mileage making it a rare find. Beautiful exterior. Clean interior. This Nissan Maxima is so immaculate it is practically new. A true feat of engineering, this Nissan Maxima 3.5 S has otherworldly acceleration, prodigious power and is accompanied by the prestigious reputation of Nissan. Although it may not make much sense, this vehicle will undoubtedly provide a memorable experience every time you drive it. The first thing anyone notices about your car is the paint job and this car's is near perfect. More information about the 2014 Nissan Maxima: The Maxima's sporty styling and spirited handling, as well as its long list of standard features, makes it a solid performer in its segment. At 290 horsepower, the standard 3.5L V6 engine in the Maxima is the most powerful in the segment, while the continuously variable transmission allows good fuel economy. Interesting features of this model are comfortable interior with easy-to-use controls, Smooth and powerful drivetrain, and lots of standard features at all trim levels

List price: $27,888

+ Perks

The redesigned 2016 Nissan Maxima is worth a look if you're searching for a car that's more exciting and refined than a typical family sedan, but not so expensive as to be in true luxury-car territory. Enjoy this *1 owner clean CARFAX *well-equipped Maxima with enhance options like; *panoramic sunroof, a heated steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, active noise cancellation, active sound enhancement, a premium 11-speaker Bose audio system and adaptive cruise control, 19-inch wheels (with available summer performance tires), a sport-tuned suspension, Active Ride Control (uses the brakes to quell body motions over bumps), **Active Trace Control** (uses targeted braking to keep the vehicle on its intended path) and active engine braking that helps slow the car when heading aggressively into corners or approaching a stop, LED headlights, premium leather upholstery, simulated suede interior trim and heated and ventilated front seats. The Platinum adds the LED headlights, a power-adjustable steering wheel, driver memory settings, premium leather upholstery, automatic wipers, a power rear sunshade, a 360-degree parking camera system (with a moving object detection system) and a driver attention alert system. The Platinum also features Nissan Connect.* Visit our New Dealership @ I-20 & Matlock near The Highlands Shops in Arlington -- 20 Mins South of DFW Airport to see this fantastic value of a vehicle. Schedule your hassle free and fun experience with a Sales Experience Manager today and see why Park Place Motorcars Arlington is not just Park Place, it's Your Place!__________________________________________* CARFAX BuyBack Guarantee is included* Advantageous Vehicle Protection Policies available for this model* No Pre-Payment Penalty Loans thru 75 months* Very competitive rates (with approved credit and special finance needs welcomed)* Quick Approvals for most credit situations (special finance situations welcomed)Visit our Arlington Mercedes-Benz Pre-Owned Showroom located at I-20 & Matlock -- across from the Highlands Shopping area. It would be our sincere pleasure to assist you in selecting your vehicle of a lifetime! Park Place Motorcars Arlington: 4201 Beltway Place, Arlington, TX 76018 - Your go-to Dealership for the ideal Pre-Owned Vehicle!


2017 Nissan Maxima
24 photos

List price: $26,999

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Hertz Car Sales, Buying a Car Made Better ! Our Hertz Certified vehicles come with a 12mo/12k mile ltd warranty. We offer a full range of financing solutions, and Trade-ins are welcome. You can finally stop searching... You've found the one you've been looking for. The quintessential Nissan -- This Nissan Maxima SL speaks volumes about its owner, about uncompromising individuality, a passion for driving and standards far above the ordinary. Beautiful color combination with Gun Metallic exterior over Charcoal interior making this the one to own! More information about the 2017 Nissan Maxima: The Nissan Maxima starts at a little below $33,000, so while it would never be accused of being an economy car, it is also priced below most luxury vehicles in the marketplace. The Maxima offers more space than an equivalently priced Audi, BMW or Mercedes, but it also offers more pace than a high-end Camry or Accord. The Maxima tries to let buyers have their cake and eat it too, reproducing the fun driving experience offered by European sports sedans, without reproducing their higher prices and smaller cabins. Interesting features of this model are sporty driving experience, efficient CVT transmission, Striking styling, powerful engine, and upscale luxury features Visit us at or call us at (866) 798-1564.

2014 Nissan Maxima
19 photos

List price: $14,715

This 2014 ALMOST NEW Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV has a great looking Super Black exterior! Looks Fantastic! This Maxima has many valuable options: Backup Camera, Bluetooth, Leather Seats, Sunroof / Moonroof, Satellite Radio, High Intensity Headlights, Keyless Start, Multi-Zone Air Conditioning, Automatic Headlights, Keyless Entry, and Tire Pressure Monitors -Leather Seats- -Backup Camera- -Sunroof- -Bluetooth- -AM/FM Radio- -Satellite Radio- -Aux Audio Input- -Auto Climate Control- -High Intensity Headlights- -Automatic Headlights- -Fog Lights- -Rear Seat Pass-Through- -Front Wheel Drive- -Multi-Zone Air Conditioning- -Remote Start- -Security System- -Power Locks- -Keyless Entry- -Keyless Start/Push Button Start- -Power Windows- -Power Mirrors- -Power Driver's Seat- -Steering Wheel Controls- -Cruise Control- -Leather Steering Wheel- -Rear Bench Seats- On top of all that, it has MANY safety features. -ABS Brakes- -Brake Assist- -Traction Control- -Stability Control- Our pricing is very competitive and our vehicles sell quickly. Please call us to confirm availability and to setup a time to drive this Maxima! Contact us at (888) 451-6176. We are located at 11514 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78759 We also serve the following cities: Jollyville, Anderson Mill, Pflugerville, Lakeway, Kyle, Leander, Lockhart, Taylor, San Marcos, Canyon Lake, New Braunfels, and Seguin, Texas. Come by today and take advantage of the benefits of purchasing your next new or pre-owned vehicle from Covert Ford Lincoln.

List price: $24,199

Special Offer + Perks

Expires Nov 30, 2017.

Recent Arrival! Clean CARFAX. 30/21 Highway/City MPGSilver 2017 Nissan Maxima

2014 Nissan Maxima
27 photos

List price: $17,525

Special Offer + Perks

Expires Nov 30, 2017.

Recent Arrival! Clean CARFAX. Home of the Lifetime Warranty!. Gun Metallic 2014 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV FWD CVT 3.5L V6 DOHC 24V 26/19 Highway/City MPG The Suntrup Pre-Owned Super Center is the Home of the Lifetime Warranty. With a dedicated facility and staff, here to cater to all your pre-owned needs, we are able to buy and sell cars from all over the metro area. Whether we are in your backyard or you have to cross a river to get to us - as a Women's Choice Award Winner, Dealerrater Dealer of the Year, Google reviewed or Better Business Bureau A+ rated - you can be sure that our expansive inventory, superior customer service, and no haggle upfront pricing guarantee this will be the best buying experience of your life! Reviews: * Strong acceleration; steers and handles well for a car its size; excellent interior materials; easy-to-use high-tech features. Source: Edmunds * With an aggressive silhouette - and the power to match - the 2014 Nissan Maxima embodies refinement and style. The dual mufflers that show off its throaty roar, accentuating its commanding stance. Also featured is automatic on/off headlights and LED taillights. The Maxima features a power sliding moonroof that adds both ventilation and sunlight to the interior. The tinted moonroof slides, tilts and has a manual sunshade, all controlled by a single button. The interior features Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition that allows you to unlock the doors and start the engine, all without taking the key out of your pocket. Conveniently integrated into the gauge cluster, the multi-function trip computer records and displays your current and average fuel consumption, your distance/time traveled and the outside temperature. Comfortable combinations are endless with the 8-way adjustable driver's seat and 4-way adjustable front-passenger seat. And with the power controls and manual lumbar support for the driver's seat, personalizing your journey is easy and efficient. Exhilaration comes standard with Maxima. The legendary 3.5-liter V6 engine rapidly unleashes its 290 horses with a press of the accelerator. The innovative valve design, coupled with variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust ports, helps generate incredible torque for off-the-line acceleration and improved power at higher engine speeds. A stiffer, ligh

List price: $19,769

+ Perks

New Price! Clean CARFAX. CARFAX One-Owner. 2014 Nissan Maxima 3.5 S FWD * Lifetime Powertrain Warranty *, * Clean Carfax *, * Oil Change *, ABS brakes, Electronic Stability Control, Front dual zone A/C, Illuminated entry, Low tire pressure warning, Power moonroof, Remote keyless entry, Traction control. Odometer is 17235 miles below market average! 26/19 Highway/City MPG All prices and dealer discounts are inclusive of an additional $1,000 discount that is contingent on financing with a Legacy Ford approved lender. Excludes Taxes and applicable fees. We want your business. Call or come in to experience the Legacy difference. Locally owned and operated by a dealer that is available.

2014 Nissan Maxima
23 photos

List price: $15,299

PASSED 151 POINT INSPECTION, 3.5L V6 DOHC 24V, 18 Aluminum Alloy Wheels, AM/FM/CD/MP3 Audio System, Brake assist, Delay-off headlights, Electronic Stability Control, Front dual zone A/C, Front fog lights, Fully automatic headlights, High-Intensity Discharge Headlights, Power passenger seat. Odometer is 26919 miles below market average! 26/19 Highway/City MPG 3.5 SV This car has a Branded Title. For more information as to why Branded Titles offer the best value, please learn more at: AutoSource is the largest dealer in the nation for Branded Title vehicles and we have done so through great service and offering excellent inventory. To see more of our quality vehicles, visit us at Call or Come in For a Test Drive Today! Best Prices in America! AutoSource is Where Smart Money Buys. Save Thousands of Dollars without Sacrificing Quality. Drive a Better Vehicle with More Equipment. Own a Newer Used Vehicle with Lower Miles. More Safety and Luxury for Much Less Money. Our Customers Have A Fun Easy Buying Experience with our Up Front Pricing and Transparent Full Disclosure Process. Visit us at Call or Come in For a Test Drive Today!

2016 Nissan Maxima
24 photos

List price: $27,998

CarMax makes car buying easy and hassle-free. Our upfront prices are the same online and on our lot. All our used cars come with free vehicle history and safety recall reports (certain vehicles may have unrepaired safety recalls-check to learn if this vehicle has an unrepaired safety recall), plus a 5-Day Money-Back Guarantee, and a 30-Day Limited Warranty (60-Day in CT, MN, and RI; 90-Day in MA, NJ, and NY). Price excludes tax, title, tags and $299 CarMax processing fee (not required by law). Some fees are location specific and may change if you transfer this vehicle to a different CarMax store.

2011 Nissan Maxima
35 photos

List price: $14,892

+ Perks

LIFETIME POWERTRAIN WARRANTY, NAVIGATION, DUAL PANEL SUNROOF, LEATHER, CARFAX 1 OWNER, BLUETOOTH, BACKUP CAMERA, USB PORT, SATELLITE RADIO, MEMORY SETTINGS, HEATED SEATS, DUAL POWER SEATS, REMOTE KEYLESS ENTRY, PUSH BUTTON START, MP3, NEW TIRES, NEW PA INSPECTION, NON-SMOKER, LOCAL TRADE, and CLEAN CARFAX REPORT. Heated Steering Wheel. StarCar Certified gives you the Ultimate Piece of Mind with a 172 Point Inspection backed by a Lifetime Warranty, Carfax Certified Dealer(No frame, Flood or salvage history vehicles) all cars free of dings, dents or scratches, Free PA Inspection for Life, DealerRater Dealer of the Year 2016! How alluring is this fully-loaded 2011 Nissan Maxima? This great one-owner Maxima has been well taken care of, plus it has comfort and safety to spare. In business for 47 years! A well trusted name! Here at Star PreOwned, we try to make the purchase process as easy and hassle free as possible. With over 450 PreOwned Vehicles in stock we are a high volume dealer that sells to the masses! Easily accessible right off major rts I78, 33, and 22. Located one hour north of Philadelphia & one hour west of New York City in the center of the Lehigh Valley !! Call 610.691.8000 for the latest availability & directions.

List price: Not Listed

+ Perks

Looking for a clean, well-cared for 2017 Nissan Maxima? This is it. Your buying risks are reduced thanks to a CARFAX BuyBack Guarantee. There are many vehicles on the market but if you are looking for a vehicle that will perform as good as it looks then this Nissan Maxima SV is the one! The Nissan Maxima SV will provide you with everything you have always wanted in a car -- Quality, Reliability, and Character. More information about the 2017 Nissan Maxima: The Nissan Maxima starts at a little below $33,000, so while it would never be accused of being an economy car, it is also priced below most luxury vehicles in the marketplace. The Maxima offers more space than an equivalently priced Audi, BMW or Mercedes, but it also offers more pace than a high-end Camry or Accord. The Maxima tries to let buyers have their cake and eat it too, reproducing the fun driving experience offered by European sports sedans, without reproducing their higher prices and smaller cabins. Strengths of this model include sporty driving experience, efficient CVT transmission, Striking styling, powerful engine, and upscale luxury features

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Nissan Maxima History

With the 240Z, which it introduced in 1970, Datsun (a.k.a. Nissan) proved that it could build a vehicle so good that it would sell on inherent virtue rather than price advantage. But the sports car market is a fairly narrow one — hard-core enthusiasts can make a car a success while seeking characteristics most buyers would never even consider. Midsize sedans, on the other hand, need broad appeal and advantages that are instantly apparent even to buyers who don't know the difference between a carburetor and a carbohydrate.

While the 1977 810 was the largest sedan Datsun had ever sold in the United States, it was also a move toward the deepest part of the American mainstream. It wasn't just another Asian alternative to cheap American sedans like the Chevy Nova, Dodge Dart or Ford Maverick; rather, it's comparable to the well-equipped mainstream Buicks, Oldsmobiles and Mercurys of the day. It was also sophisticated enough to challenge such Europeans as the BMW 3 Series and Volvos 240- and 260-series. And it still had a price advantage over most of them.

Of course, Datsun wouldn't stay Datsun and the 810 wouldn't stay the 810 — but you knew that by the title of this Generations piece.

First-Generation 810: 1977 to 1980

"Datsun has recently introduced what may well be one of the best buys so far in 1977," wrote Road & Track in its April issue of that year, "the 810 four-door sedan." For a magazine known for its muted praise, that sort of comment amounts to an emotional outburst — Road & Track loved the 810.

There was, after all, a lot to love about the 810. First there was the rear-drive chassis that featured an all-independent suspension consisting of MacPherson struts up front and semitrailing arms in the back. Then there was the engine, which was the same 2.4-liter, single-overhead-cam, 12-valve, straight six used in the original 240Z, but equipped with Bosch fuel injection rather than the old Z's carbs. Rated at 154 gross horsepower, it was making something like 125 hp using the "net" SAE standard that was by then the accepted way of expressing engine output. The standard transmission was a four-speed manual, while a three-speed automatic was optional. Nothing revolutionary, but good stuff nonetheless.

Sure, the 810 still used drum brakes in the back and a recirculating ball steering gear, but this was still a relatively sophisticated package built around a solid unibody structure. And with a base price of just $5,099, at a time when the four-cylinder BMW 320i started at $7,990, the 810 was a raging bargain, too. A five-door station wagon version was also offered, but it used a solid rear axle on leaf springs instead of the independent rear suspension.

"So, all the mechanicals of the 810 are tried and true, both in design and use," continued Road & Track during its first test. "What makes the car excellent is the blend of all those components. The six-cylinder engine transforms the car from the usual four-cylinder sedan where all the get-up has gone to one that gets up and goes. We noticed the markedly different performance as soon as we picked up the car and confirmed it during our acceleration testing: 0-60 mph in 12.2 seconds, which puts the 810 in a class with the Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT, BMW 320i and the Ford Granada five-liter. The time for the standing-start quarter-mile run was an equally impressive 18.7 seconds at a speed of 74.0 mph….

"The pleasing blend of proven components extends to the 810's handling characteristics as well. There is mild understeer and no abrupt transition during hard cornering as with many cars that use semitrailing rear suspension. Nor does it switch to oversteer if you back off the throttle during a tire-squealing turn."

So what about the exterior and interior design of the 810? Well, the cabin was roomy enough for a 183.5-inch-long car on a 104.3-inch wheelbase. And by the humble standards of the day, it was a well-appointed interior that featured such advanced technology as a quartz digital clock! But the exterior was pretty darn hideous.

Basically a scaled-up version of the awful styling then infecting Nissan's smaller sedans, the 810's shape managed the bizarre trick of being both overstyled and fully anonymous. There was a half-hearted attempt to make the car look upscale with the big, upright front grille. But that's as far as the tasteful styling touches went. The tail looked like it had been backed into a puddle of molten red and amber plastic. The 810 also wasn't particularly aerodynamic, and at least a few critics noted that the wind whistled around the A-pillars.

The inherent goodness of the 810's drivetrain, chassis and overall package, however, was apparently enough for it to overcome the dreadful styling to become a solid sales hit for Datsun.

Datsun barely touched the 810 for 1978 with the addition of power steering as a standard feature about the only significant change. Hey, no one was buying an 810 without power steering anyhow. However the 810 did pick up a major competitor with the introduction of the similar-specification Toyota Cressida that year. A two-door coupe version of the 810 was new for 1979 along with the adoption of four rectangular headlights in place of the four round ones that originally framed the car's face. The coupe used the same 104.3-inch wheelbase of the sedan and featured both small side-quarter windows that rolled down and large opera windows in the C-pillars. Furthering the 1970's penchant for tackiness, the coupe's interior featured a plaid upholstery fabric that was among the creepiest ever conceived. But again, under the skin the 810 shone; Datsun's new 280ZX used essentially the same suspension as the 810 under its sleeker sports car bodywork. The coupe also got a five-speed manual transmission swiped from the Z car parts bin as standard equipment. The 2.4-liter six was unchanged and now carried a 120-hp net rating.

What worked so well under the sedan continued to impress critics under the coupe. "We doubt anyone will mistake the 810 coupe for a BMW or Alfa," wrote Road & Track. "A bargain? Well cost is a relative thing. But where Datsun is concerned, it is still the most important factor."

However inflation and the plummeting value of the U.S. dollar against the Japanese yen made the 810 more expensive and less of a value in the market. Throw in the fact that the quirky styling was now aging and, no surprise, sales suffered.

Halogen headlights and cruise control were new options for the 1980 810 coupe, sedan and wagon, but the rest of the car was essentially unchanged. Why bother when there was a new 810 on the way? And that second 810 would prove so good, it would outgrow its own name.

Second-Generation 810/Maxima: 1981 to 1984

There was nothing radical about the second Datsun 810, but it was cleanly styled and handsome in a way the old 810 had never been. In the early '80s, that was enough to make the car a hit.

In general specification, the 1981 810 didn't differ that much from the old one. The suspension still used MacPherson struts up front and a set of semitrailing arms in the back. The engine was still the same fuel-injected 2.4-liter SOHC straight six ripped from the Z car and it still made 120 hp. A five-speed manual transmission was now standard, but it still sent power back to the rear wheels. And the brakes were still discs up front and drums in back. However the steering gear was now a rack and pinion design.

While the sedan was still the heart of the 810 offerings and the station wagon was kept around for family-type buyers, the coupe was killed off since Datsun was now selling the 200SX to that niche.

America's new 810 was actually a revision of the four-cylinder Japanese-market 910 with the biggest change being an additional 3.9 inches of length spliced into the nose between the firewall and front wheels in order to accommodate the longer six-cylinder engine. Of course Datsun could have called the new car a 910 here in America as well, but why throw away what brand equity had been built for the 810 nameplate?

Compared to the old 810, the second one's 103.2-inch wheelbase was 1.1-inch shorter and overall length dropped by 0.6 inch. The newer 810 was also marginally wider and the interior was roomier. The cowl was significantly lower as well, dropping its waistline noticeably and increasing the size of the greenhouse. And the new design eliminated much of the irksome wind noise that plagued the original.

The 810 was offered in two trim levels, with "Deluxe" representing the base model and "Maxima" at the top of the range — which marked the first appearance of the Maxima name. "The Deluxe comes with a five-speed manual gearbox (the automatic is optional), an interior done in basic vinyl and a rudimentary set of instruments," explained Road & Track during its first test of the new 810. "Buy a Maxima, the model we tested, and you must take the fuzzy upholstery materials and the complete instrumentation, but can't have the five-speed manual. We'd prefer being able to order a Deluxe model with the full set of instruments or a Maxima with a good vinyl or perhaps even leather upholstery."

"The Maxima is loaded for American bear," wrote Car and Driver during its first road test of the second 810. "Gimmicks, comforts and competences are everywhere, and delivered in a very handsome package. The new 810 has gotten the sort of face-lift that snugs up lines without stretching too tight. The old 810 was just as much fun to drive, but it was unrepentantly gawky. The new car gathers a better grade of stares." They also noted the Maxima's most controversial feature — "a little artificial voice that will scare the wee out of you in the middle of the night at the Texaco station in Chetopa, Kansas, by whispering, 'Please turn out the lights.'" That's right, the 810 Maxima was in the vanguard of that oh-so-'80s fad — cars that talk.

Another early-'80s fad was the diesel engine and the 810 got one of its own midway through the '81 model year. The 2.8-liter diesel six was rated at just 80 hp. That's wholly inadequate against 3,100 or more pounds, yet at least a few were sold anyhow.

Road & Track measured its 810 Maxima traipsing to 60 mph in 12.3 seconds and completing the quarter-mile in 19.0 seconds at 75.5 mph. Solidly competitive for the era and enough to make the new 810 a hit even though the Maxima's price was just a few bucks short of $10,000.

For no apparent reason, the 810 name disappeared with the coming of the 1982 models and all of Datsun's biggest sedans and wagons were now known as Maximas. This was also the year when Datsun began its transition to using the "Nissan" brand name. So both names appeared on most of the company's products.

Substantive changes to the Maxima were slight, however. The instrumentation graphics were revised, new velour upholstery was installed and the headlights were now quartz halogen units. The Deluxe model was also gone as all Maximas were, well, Maximas.

For 1983 the Maxima got a new grille and slightly revised taillights, but the most significant change was that a new four-speed automatic transmission replaced the old three-speeder. Also the station wagon got a new four-link rear suspension.

In a giant (and legendarily disastrous) eight-car comparison test conducted in Mexico, Car and Driver was unimpressed by the '83 Maxima. "Both the Toyota Cressida and Datsun Maxima are growing whiskers which are especially noticeable with so many fresh faces around," it wrote. "Rear drive consumes an uncomfortable amount of their cabin space, both cars have gone a bit soft around the edges, and the typical plethora of buttons and gadgets has reached the point of sensory overload. Japan's strong points are still technically advanced powertrains (the Cressida's earned a perfect 27) and reasonable price tags."

The Nissan name change was complete by the 1984 model year and the unloved diesel engine option was dropped, but except for some slight trim changes and audible wear warnings from the front disc brake pads, the Maxima soldiered forward pretty much unchanged. But not only would this be the last year for this generation Maxima, but it would be the end of rear-wheel drive for the line as well.

Third-Generation Maxima: 1985 to 1988

About the least changed thing about the all-new 1985 Maxima was the styling. "This year," wrote Car and Driver upon its first test of the new car, "taking note of the Teutonic philosophy which holds that higher efficiency in all things means higher performance in all areas, Nissan has shrunk the Maxima's wheelbase by about three inches to 100.4. At the same time, the adoption of front-wheel drive, a transverse V6 and a 181.7-inch overall length has added about an inch to legroom. Headroom within the unit body has also grown an inch or so, and the trunk has swelled to 15 cubic feet." Still, with its square cut lines and blunt nose framed by rectangular headlamps, it was recognizably a successor to the previous Maxima.

There was nothing exotic about the new Maxima. The suspension once again relied on MacPherson struts in the front and now used them in the back as well. Finally, the front disc brakes were joined by a set of discs in the rear, too. The fuel-injected 3.0-liter V6 was the same SOHC, 12-valve unit installed in the rear-drive 300ZX sports car, and it fed either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transaxle. As ordinary as that engine seemed, its 154-hp output was a vast leap forward for the Maxima — a full 34 hp more than before. And that meant this car was seriously quick for its time, as Car and Driver's five-speed-equipped Maxima SE ripped from zero to 60 mph in just 8.4 seconds and completed the quarter-mile in 16.5 seconds at 80 mph.

Both the Maxima sedan and wagon returned to start the front-drive era. The sedan was offered both as a base "GL" and sportier "SE," with the wagon coming only as a GL. The GL models had the automatic transmission standard, while the SE came only with the manual.

The new Maxima was, on the whole, an impressive advance. "Nissan has made a bold and risky move from rear drive to front drive in its flagship sedan and hasn't stumbled in the process," wrote Car and Driver's Don Sherman. "To the contrary, the new Maxima is worlds better than the machine it replaced. The handling is decent, the ride is fine and the usual torque-steer and steering-kick gremlins are nowhere to be found. My compliments."

With such a solid start for the new-generation Maxima, about the only change Nissan made for 1986 was the addition of an anti-theft system.

A slight wedge was added to the front grille for 1987 and the Maxima line was reconfigured to be offered in either base "GXE" or sportier "SE" trim. The SE was now available with either the five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. For 1988 there was a new optional "Sonar Suspension" system that adjusted shock damping based on road condition information gleaned from sensors.

By this time, the first front-drive Maxima was played out. The next one would be a greater step forward than even Nissan could have imagined.

Fourth-Generation Maxima: 1989 to 1994

If there's one thing the 810 and Maxima hadn't been until this fourth generation, that thing was beautiful. The new 1989 Maxima sedan was downright pretty. And it was bigger. But it was no longer available as a station wagon.

"The new Maxima was designed with the U.S. market in mind," wrote Road & Track at its introduction. "In fact approximately 90 percent of total production is expected to be exported to Yankee shores. Unencumbered by Japanese size requirements and tax penalties, Nissan's designers had the flexibility to create a substantially larger Maxima. Compared with last year's car, it's 6.3 inches longer, 2.4 inches wider and has nearly 4 inches more wheelbase. 'We first asked ourselves what interior dimensions would be necessary to provide sufficient space for five American adults to ride in comfort,' says Hiroyuki Shiratori, Nissan's senior manager, product planning and marketing group No. 3. And you know, when the senior manager [of] product planning and marketing group No. 3 talks, people listen."

Coincidentally (or maybe not so coincidentally), the '89 Maxima's 104.3-inch wheelbase was identical to that of the original '77 810's. But the '89 Maxima, at 187.6 inches from nose to tail, was just over 4 inches longer overall than its ancestor.

Despite the growth in size, this Maxima carried over much of the previous-generation Maxima's established engineering. The suspension consisted of struts both fore and aft, and the 3.0-liter V6 still had SOHC heads and fed either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transaxle. The engine did get a boost up to 160 hp, and an electronic antilock braking system was available on the SE's four discs (GXE models reverted to rear drums). It was detail and tuning changes combined with radically improved ergonomics and appearance that made this Maxima a car Nissan could call a "Four-Door Sports Car." In fact, the carmaker called it the "Four-Door Sports Car" so often that it put little "4DSC" stickers on the side glass.

"The interior is where this sport sedan differs from the competition," enthused Road & Track about the '89 Maxima SE. "Immediately commanding attention are the gauges. On the Maxima SE model, they have a vintage-car look with white faces and black markings, a treatment that's different yet doesn't compromise readability…. When darkness falls and the instrument panel lights come on, the gauges assume a negative image — white markings against black backgrounds. In either mode, they're easy on the eyes."

Car and Driver rounded up six import sedans for a comparison test and rated the '89 Maxima SE "a strong fourth, just one point out of third and two points out of second." Where did it come up short? "Unfortunately," the magazine concluded, "the Maxima's chassis isn't as capable as its drivetrain. Our Maxima, fitted with 205/60HR15 Toyo tires, could do no better than 0.76G on the skid pad, a mediocre performance for a modern sport sedan. Moreover, the suspension is on the soft side, requiring a gentle touch at the wheel to keep the car from bobbing around." The magazine also measured its Maxima SE running to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds and turning the quarter-mile in 16.5 seconds at 84 mph.

With this Maxima a solid hit for Nissan, it was not surprising that only a few trim changes were made to the car for 1990. The Maxima's sideview mirrors were slightly redesigned for 1991, and there was another round of trim changes, but that was about it.

A new grille and minor trim changes were part of the 1992 Maxima. But the big news that year was the adoption of new aluminum DOHC heads for the iron-block 3.0-liter V6 on SE models — putting four valves over every cylinder. That change pumped output up to 190 hp and the SE's suspension was tweaked to make the best use of it. Those changes vaulted the Maxima SE to the top of Car and Driver's desirability list — in a three-car comparison with Toyota's Camry SE sedan and Ford's Taurus SHO, the Maxima SE won. "The SE romps from zero to 60 in 7 seconds flat," Car and Driver gushed, "and fails to match the SHO's 141-mph top speed by only four mph. Its braking and road-holding figures wind up within a hair-split of the others, and they all tied at 20 mpg on a rollercoastering Ohio trip."

Nissan celebrated the Maxima SE's new dominance by installing a standard driver-side airbag in the car for 1993. Otherwise the status quo was maintained. The company didn't change much about the car for 1994, either.

Though it was at the end of its production life, this generation of Maxima was still attractive and beloved by many buyers. But the world marches on and there was a new Maxima coming.

Fifth-Generation Maxima: 1995 to 1999

The 1995 Maxima may not have been as pretty as the car it replaced, but it made up for it by being quicker, better-handling and all around more plausible as a four-door sports car.

"The 1995 Maxima is roomier, more luxurious, softer and quieter than its predecessor," reported Road & Track in its first road test, "while outperforming the old car in every measurable category. An all-new engine and rear suspension make their debut here. A strict diet shaved 150 pounds from the previous design, while Nissan claims that the car's structure is 10-percent stiffer than before.

"Engineers stretched the '95 Maxima's wheelbase 2 inches but overall length remains the same, effectively pushing the wheels toward the four corners and increasing rear seat legroom 1.1 inches. Width is up marginally, mostly to address 1997 side-impact regulations, which the Maxima now meets." It didn't look as good as the outgoing model, but it wasn't exactly ugly, either.

The star of the new Maxima was that new 3.0-liter V6, the VQ30DE, the first member of Nissan's renowned VQ family of V6s that power 21st-century Nissans ranging from the 350Z sports car to the Murano SUV. "The Maxima's new four-cam, 24-valve all-aluminum V6 is a gem," the Road & Track editors continued. "It replaces both the SOHC 12-valve, 160-hp base engine (around in one form or another since 1983) and the '94 SE's DOHC 24-valve 190-horsepower engine of the same displacement and shares not a single part with those cast-iron V6s."

"For starters, it's 108 pounds lighter than last year's 3.0-liter, helping improve the Maxima's front/rear weight distribution. A two-stage chain cam drive (which permits use of smaller exhaust-cam sprockets) and cast-aluminum timing-chain cover and oil pan (which incorporate mounts for accessories) make the engine more compact, giving more space to the passenger compartment."

While being light and compact is always good in an engine, what was most enchanting about this one was the power it produced. The 190-hp rating wasn't any more than the previous year, but the thick 205 pound-feet of peak torque at a reasonable 4,000 rpm gave the engine a much friendlier power band. And when that torque was channeled through the SE's five-speed manual transmission, the result was a scintillating performance — zero to 60 in just 7.4 seconds and the quarter-mile flying by in 15.7 seconds at 90.0 mph, according to Road & Track. It was intoxicating power.

But it wasn't only the new muscles that made this generation Maxima a solid contender. The MacPherson strut front suspension was familiar enough, but the rear suspension was now a beam axle supported by trailing arms and a lateral link. Normally, a reversion back to a solid rear axle is nothing to celebrate, but this beam axle worked very well and produced handling that was balanced and nimble even if it still pushed into understeer at the limits. This was a serious driving machine, even if the SE's standard P215/60R15 all-season radials were modest rubber indeed.

Besides the SE (and a new high-luxury content GLE model), the GXE also carried forward with the four-speed automatic standard and a much softer suspension underneath it. Car and Driver ranked the 1996 GXE (which, like all '96 Maximas, was virtually unchanged from '95) a disappointing fifth out of six in a comparison test with mainstream six-cylinder cars like the Chevy Lumina, Ford Taurus, Dodge Intrepid and (the winner) Toyota Camry. "The steering effort is low," reported Car and Driver, "and this car turns into corners just a bit quicker than we'd expect. While that creates a sporting feel, the high body-roll angle says tourer. The overall suggestion to the driver is mixed, quite unlike the firm, controlled stride that makes the Maxima SE one of our favorites.

"The unfocused GXE personality shows in the interior appointments, too. While the quality of the materials is unquestionably high, the overall impression is noncommittal. The exception is the instrument cluster, where the large, round dials, long needles and minimalist markings will delight the classicist."

A mild redesign of the Maxima SE's nose and tail made it easy to distinguish the 1997 model from those that came before it. The old wheels were also ditched in favor of 16-inchers now wrapped in P215/55R16 Toyo tires. But this Maxima generation was proving to be a huge sales success (over 305,000 sold in the first two years), so further tweaks were deemed unnecessary. got its first exposure to the Maxima with the 1998 model year when side airbags were added to the option list of the SE and GLE. In a comparison test of sport sedans, we picked the Maxima SE as our favorite over the Volkswagen Passat, Mazda 626 and Ford Contour. "The Nissan's driving experience is what sets this car apart from its competition," we concluded. "Like a Mazda Miata, the Maxima feels like an extension of the driver, not just a tool to get from Point A to Point B in a hurry. Want to make a sharp right turn? It's almost as if the car knows before you do. Need to downshift for a quick pass on a two-lane road? The Maxima's gearshift falls to hand like a fly ball into Lenny Dykstra's glove. Yup, this car so impressed our assembled group that our evaluation sheets were filled with comments like this: 'Of all the cars I've driven today, this is the one I would buy.' 'I've read about this car for years, and it's actually as good as everyone says.' 'It handles like a dream, a perfect 10.' Pretty high praise for a car that was riding on the oldest platform in (the test)."

This generation of Maxima played out through 1999 with not much more than a new traction control system on the SE and GLE models and new three-point belts for the rear-seat passengers. No one ever loved how this Maxima looked, but it was going to be tough to top its personality.

Sixth-Generation Maxima: 2000 to 2003

Suitably impressed by the fifth-generation car, we were eager to get into the new 2000 Maxima. "The 2000-model year is rolling around and Nissan has turned out yet another substantially redesigned Maxima," we wrote in our first road test of the new car, "In some regards, this is the best Maxima yet, in others, well let's just say that the car's most recent trip to the plastic surgeon has resulted in a vehicle that looks, um, unlike anything else on the road."

What excited us most? Since it wasn't the styling, you probably already guessed that it was the VQ30DE-K (the K is for Kaizen, which loosely translates to "improvement") 3.0-liter V6 engine that now made 222 hp and 217 lb-ft of torque. Of course, curb weight was also up, so the extra power's influence on acceleration was muted. All three trim levels (GXE, SE and GLE) of the Maxima returned for '00 and all got the revised engine and extra performance.

We were less excited about the new Maxima's interior, despite the fact that with the wheelbase stretched an additional 2 inches (for a total of 108.3 inches), there was more interior room in most dimensions. "Put simply," we concluded, "the quality of the materials seems to have fallen this year — plastics are a bit shinier, storage compartments are a bit flimsier, the headliner feels a bit thinner. The changes aren't anything that reach out and smack you in the head, but we couldn't help feeling a little less special when seated behind the wheel of our test car. In fact, it made us wonder if the Maxima was worth the extra money it costs compared to a Volkswagen Passat or Mazda 626, cars that heretofore were always a step down from the Nissan."

While the new car was longer, most of the suspension and other elements carried over from the previous Maxima. The SE was now available with optional 17-inch wheels and tires, and both the five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions were offered on all models. Car and Driver had one SE blasting to 60 mph in just 7.0 seconds and running the quarter-mile in 15.6 seconds at 91 mph.

An automatic-equipped SE model later competed in a 2000 family sedan comparison test, finishing a respectable fourth in a field of nine. Author Scott Mead summed up the road test staff's impressions thusly: "At our as-tested price of $26,468, the Maxima is priced in the middle of the family sedan pack, but delivers a lot more than the price reflects. Packed full of features (like a one-touch up-and-down driver window, one-touch open and close sunroof, HomeLink transmitter and auto on/off headlamps), the Maxima SE is a great family car and a sports car wrapped into one package. If Nissan could smooth the rough edges from the styling, there's no telling how many units they could sell."

The Maxima celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2001 with a special edition of the SE that we tested. Road Test Editor John DiPietro wrote, "Nissan tarted up a 2001 SE model with exclusive features such as ground effects around the lower body perimeter, bronze-tinted headlights, drilled aluminum pedals, aluminum gearshift knob and the obligatory (though discreet) 20th anniversary badging, floor mats and key. This lily is gilded further with the addition of a moonroof, power driver seat, 17-inch wheels/tires and auto-dimming rearview mirror." But the substance of this special model was greater than just trim.

"The 20th birthday Maxima also boasts 5 more horsepower from its 3.0-liter, 24-valve V6 than the other Maximas, (earning a 227-horse rating) and a limited-slip differential to help put those ponies to the ground." DiPietro continued, "The driving experience for the anniversary model is virtually identical to that of the standard SE, which is mostly a very good thing. Acceleration is strong and smooth, with one editor comparing the engine's refined nature to that found under the hood of a certain German car — high (and risky) praise in this group. The five-speed's shifter drew some negative comments from various Edmunds staffers, who felt the joy of driving a potent, manual transmission sport sedan was blunted by the rubbery action of the Maxima's shift lever. Clutch action was criticized by a few as being non-linear and engaging too quickly, though in fairness, this particular press car had quite a few auto journalist (read hard-fought) miles on it and was unlike other Maximas we've driven in this regard."

The big news for 2002 was that the engine got bigger as the Maxima got a version of the VQ-series V6 now displacing 3.5 liters. In a follow-up test, we were impressed. "Nissan is increasingly using this engine in a variety of products, including the Pathfinder, Altima, 2003 350Z and Infiniti G35," wrote our Brent Romans. "For 2002, its advanced architecture includes enhancements like continuous valve timing control, a variable induction system, a silent timing chain and electronically controlled throttle. These changes help to increase horsepower to 255 and raise torque to 246 lb-ft.

"Yep, a 255-hp Maxima. This is certainly all-star power. It has 33 more hp than last year's car, 15 more than a '98 BMW M3 and is just a shade below the Acura TL Type-S. And, in Maxima tradition, it can be transferred to the front wheels through a manual transmission. There is some torque steer when you stomp on it in first gear, but it's not enough to be a concern. More importantly, there's one more gear to pick from for 2002."

Not only could the SE be had with that six-speed transmission, but that gearbox was also available with a limited-slip differential resulting in excellent traction under most conditions. Other changes included yet another new grille, new headlights and clear lens taillights.

Even though our test car didn't have that trick diff, it was a rocket. It blasted to 60 in just 6.3 seconds and swept through the quarter-mile in just 14.9 seconds. Easily the quickest Maxima yet, but it was facing competition from inside Nissan itself. "But if you're in the market for a sporty family sedan, you should really consider an Altima 3.5 SE," Romans concluded, noting of course that the Maxima's little brother was powered by a similar VQ-series 3.5-liter V6. "It will do everything the Maxima can do and take a smaller bite out of your wallet."

The Maxima made it through 2003 virtually unchanged in anticipation of the all-new Maxima to come for 2004. In fact it would be so new, it wouldn't even be made in Japan anymore.

Seventh-Generation Maxima: 2004 to 2008

Taking a cue from Toyota, which had been building its larger Avalon sedan in the same American plant as the Camry, Nissan moved Maxima production to its plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, for the 2004 model year. And just as the Avalon was based on a stretched Camry platform, Nissan redesigned the new Maxima around a stretched Altima platform. The Maxima's lineup was also pared down to a choice of either the sporty SE or luxurious SL.

"Without question," Road Test Editor Brian Moody wrote upon our first taste of the new car, "for 2004 the Maxima has moved upmarket. The new car is 1.4 inches wider, has a 2.9-inch-longer wheelbase and offers increased trunk capacity. In 3.5 SL trim, the Maxima is clearly a near-luxury car that bridges the gap between Nissan and Infiniti models. An eight-way power driver seat, dual-zone automatic climate control and a dash display that provides audio and trip computer readouts are all standard. The dash area in particular looks much more appealing than in previous Maximas. Textured suedelike material adorns the door panels and dash area, giving the latter a sort of 'floating' appearance. This kind of attention to detail is unnecessary, but Nissan planners learned a valuable lesson when complaints began to arise about the Altima's rather bland interior. Overall, the interior improvements work well — not once did it feel as if we were riding in an Altima."

With gracefully arched new styling and a distinctive "Skyview" roof (a narrow glass panel that stretches nearly the whole length of the roof itself), the seventh-generation Maxima looked nothing like previous versions. The 3.5-liter V6 gained 10 hp over the previous generation for a grand total of 265 hp. A six-speed manual and five-speed automatic were the available transmissions for the first two model years.

"We put our 3.5 SE test car through a variety of driving situations during our week of testing," wrote News Editor Kelly Toepke in our full test, "and were ultimately pleased with its comfortable ride quality and responsive handling. Suspension components include an all-new independent multilink design in the rear that has been adapted for the Maxima from the Japanese-market Nissan Skyline, along with an independent strut design in front. The 3.5 SE has a sport-tuned version of this suspension, as well as a set of 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and tires. As we drove our 3.5 SE, we found the suspension tight with a comfortable ride, but without the performance feel expected in a true sport sedan. Steering was communicative, but one editor commented that she preferred the better-weighted steering of the Mazda 6 instead."

For 2005 changes included a shorter throw for the manual shifter, additional chrome accents (both inside and out), auto-dimming sideview mirrors and an additional 12-volt outlet to run accessories. For 2007, a continuously variable transmission (CVT) replaced both the manual and traditional automatic. A change in horsepower measuring procedure for '07 also yielded a 10-hp drop in stated power, although actual output didn't change. The Elite package (that provided a unique four-passenger seating configuration with a rear center console) was eliminated for 2008.

Despite its long, successful family lineage, this Nissan Maxima clearly showed that the nameplate was losing its way. It tried to simultaneously compete against larger sedans such as the Toyota Avalon while also providing the sort of exciting driving experience for which the Maxima was known. Ultimately, it did neither well and struggled to make a case for itself against its less expensive Altima sibling. A drastic change was certainly in order.

Eighth-Generation Nissan Maxima: 2009 to Present

When the eighth-generation Maxima debuted for 2009, Nissan tried to recapture some of the 4-Door Sports Car magic. Deviating from the norm, this Maxima was smaller than the car it replaced and the less expensive Altima. Instead of being a flagship in terms of size, it would be one in terms of luxury equipment, interior quality, refined driving dynamics and strong V6 power.

"With all its luxe bells and high-tech whistles, the Maxima is an honest-to-goodness luxury sedan for those who don't want the stigma associated with a luxury badge," wrote Automotive Editor James Riswick in his test-drive of a Sport-package-equipped Maxima. "While the 2009 Maxima is not quite the 4DSC its marketers are touting once again, it is a car with few flaws that's one of the best-handling front-drive sedans available — with or without the Sport package."

In fact, the Sport package (that included 19-inch wheels, sport-tuned suspension, heated power tilt-telescoping steering wheel, driver memory functions, heated front seats, rear bucket seats and Bluetooth) was deemed unnecessary. The Premium package provided all the same luxury goodies but without the 19-inch wheels and sport-tuned suspension that ruined the ride.

Upon driving the Premium-equipped Maxima, Chief Road Test Editor Chris Walton wrote, "All the chassis changes have produced a car that strikes an excellent balance between a comfortable ride and responsive handling. Where the Altima's ride sometimes feels flinty and prone to shudder on harsh impacts, the Maxima remains composed." The steering was another bright spot. "With its combination of low-friction weighting and high feedback, the Maxima's steering can be manipulated with the delicate touch of one's fingertips on the well-formed steering wheel," Riswick wrote.

Under the hood, this Maxima featured a 290-hp version of Nissan's venerable 3.5-liter V6 driving the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission. Although this amount of power tends to result in nasty torque steer in front drivers (such as the previous generation Maxima), the new car bucked this trend commendably. We found the responsive CVT to be one of the best examples of this type of transmission known more for saving fuel than impressive performance. In track testing the new Maxima went from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds.

Inside, the eighth-generation Maxima featured a design that could easily be found in Nissan's Infiniti luxury brand — all that was missing was the signature analog clock. The high-quality materials would be at home in a luxury car and were a big improvement over the previous generation. The Tech package added a hard-drive navigation system, voice recognition, real-time traffic, a rearview camera, digital music storage and an excellent iPod interface. Since it shrunk in size, the Maxima's cabin was hardly what we'd call spacious. Its available rear bucket seats made it more comfortable for two people while the front seats were deemed to be quite comfortable and the driving position friendly.

In total, this generation Nissan Maxima is impressive, if perhaps rather pricey, given its non-luxury badge. But for those who want to stay under the radar, it's an impressive sedan that returns this iconic nameplate to respectability.

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