The Newly Redesigned 2009 Nissan Maxima


The 2009 Nissan Maxima. (Photo: Nissannews.com)

Car Talk
By Jonathan Pitman

When Nissan designed the new Maxima they left nothing unattended. Everything from the double stitched leather seats, to the award winning engine that has been the heart and soul of the Maxima for nearly 15 years.

The previous generation Maxima was pretty popular, and I expect the same with this new version. However, despite the attention to detail, I noticed things that were sacrificed during the designing process. For example, the fuel economy is less than the previous generation Maxima as a result of the added horsepower- now 290 versus the previous generation Maxima’s 265 horsepower. But on the positive side, the car gained quicker off the line acceleration. The Maxima I drove jumped the gun 0-60 in under 7 seconds. Now that’s impressive. The next thought that is going through your head is: “What is the fuel economy on this four door sports car?” To answer your question, it achieves between 20-26 MPG. However, maximum fuel efficiency can be improved depending on how you drive.

The Nissan Maxima comes in several packages and two trim levels. The trim levels are the S and SV. Although Nissan is not ready to identify the trims on the back of the cars yet, there is a noticeable difference in the appearance of the Maxima packages – both inside and out. From the wheel options that are either 18-inch aluminum alloy, or the 19-inch plain aluminum alloy wheels – both of which are stylish – to the cloth and leather interior and the new appealing aerodynamically styled exterior, there are changes. Speaking of interior, it is completely redesigned with sport instrument gauges that are easy to read and paddle shifters that are located behind the steering wheel.

I have mixed feelings about the paddle shifter. I believe the Mitsubishi Lancer was one of the first to feature the paddle shifter and now Nissan has copied the idea. I found the paddle shifter very tricky to operate despite the self-evident plus and minus signs on the paddle shifters. Keep in mind, however, that you still have the option of shifting gears with the auto stick feature located on the floor gearshift. I think the Maxima would have been better served if they had just kept the auto stick feature without the paddle shifters. I think those shifters have no place behind the steering wheel and to me are unappealing. You want to be able to shift gears like a stick shift, not like you’re playing a video game. But I guess it could be said that on the positive side, the shifters are good because they allow the driver to shift away, while keeping both hands on the wheel while driving.

There are three packages worth noting. They include the sport package, premium package, and the technology package. The Maxima that I test drove was the SV and had all of the packages combined. Those luxuries include leather seats, leather wrapped steering wheel, which by the way is heated, heated leather seats, wood trim, a navigation system and more. Lets, explore some of the unique features on the interior that are either new or worth addressing. New this year is the optional automatic sliding rear sunshade that blocks out the sun. Also, there is an added bonus of the rear climate control options, which the passenger can control from the rear. Another feature is the all way auto up, auto down power windows, which allows the driver to roll all four windows up and down automatically.

The design of the seats is appealing and comfortable. This is evident when you first sit down. Right away, you notice how soft and comfortable the seats are, front and rear. To me they look race inspired, and the double stitched leather seats add to that soft touch. This is defiantly a good road trip car, and for the business executive that is on a budget and who is looking for something affordable, yet sporty.

Safety features on the Maxima have also been improved for better security and peace of mind. The air bags that deploy in the event of a collision are designed to protect all the passengers. The types of airbags include driver and front-passenger seat mounted side-impact supplemental air bags, roof mounted curtain side impact airbags for front and rear head protection, and more. ABS and traction control are also among the safety features.

Overall, this vehicle performed well on all the tests. On the road, the Maxima handled well, and zoomed in and out of traffic with ease. The braking was excellent. Also, the sound of the engine revving with the CVT – a transmission that is shiftless – is an added touch. One thing that I enjoyed when driving the Maxima was how quiet it was on the road, and the response of the auto stick feature. Once engaged you are in command and there nothing except you and the road ahead.