With a ready engine, a well-tuned continuously variable transmission, and stable suspension, the Maxima is a great driver's car. Cabin tech is an added bonus, with a navigation system that alerts to traffic problems.
Nissan further transforms itself into a performance brand, taking the Maxima from sedate sedan to quick sports car. To make matters even better, the cabin electronics are borrowed from the upscale Infiniti brand.
2 of 16 Corinne Schulze/CNET
The Maxima is the third model to employ Nissan's new design language, getting boomerang headlights after the GT-R and 370Z.
3 of 16 Corinne Schulze/CNET
That new styling is also shown in the wide and high fenders rising up on either side of the hood.
4 of 16 Corinne Schulze/CNET
Nissan has gotten plenty of use from its VQ series V-6 engine, and further refines it for the Maxima, with 290 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque, big numbers for the formerly mild-mannered car.
5 of 16 Corinne Schulze/CNET
Nissan's slogan for the Maxima is "The 4-door sports car," making the not-exactly-revolutionary claim that a sedan can perform well. The only performance drawback with the Maxima is that it is on a front-wheel-drive platform.
6 of 16 Corinne Schulze/CNET
This Maxima SV has the Sport package, which includes 19-inch wheels and sport tuning for the suspension, resulting in a very flat ride in the corners.
7 of 16 Corinne Schulze/CNET
Maxima has always featured a decent interior, and the 2009 model doesn't let down, with quality materials and fit. Nissan also does away with its low-end cabin electronics, fitting the Maxima with the gear previously developed for Infiniti models.
8 of 16 Corinne Schulze/CNET
Metal switches on the steering wheel let you control audio and cruise. Steering response is very good, lending to the performance.
9 of 16 Corinne Schulze/CNET
The Maxima uses a well-tuned continuously variable transmission, which sets the right drive ratio no matter how fast the engine is turning. Its sport program does an excellent job of holding high rpms.
10 of 16 Corinne Schulze/CNET
Long paddles are mounted to the steering column, helping drivers use the transmission's manual mode, six virtual gears on the continuously variable transmission.
11 of 16 Corinne Schulze/CNET
The plain gauges have a useful trip display on the speedometer, showing information such as immediate fuel economy.
12 of 16 Corinne Schulze/CNET
The hard drive-based navigation system uses rich graphics to indicate turns. We really like the big multifunction knob for controlling the interface. It is one of the most intuitive and easy-to-use in the business.
13 of 16 Corinne Schulze/CNET
The Maxima includes traffic information integrated with the navigation system, but we didn't find the capability for automatically rerouting around bad traffic.
14 of 16 Corinne Schulze/CNET
The audio system has many music sources, including excellent iPod integration.
15 of 16 Corinne Schulze/CNET
Because the navigation system includes a hard drive, you also get space to store music. The car can rip CDs to this hard drive.
16 of 16 Corinne Schulze/CNET
Bluetooth phone integration works well, but it doesn't import a phone's address book. You have to manually enter phone numbers.