NEW FOR 2009:

– Redesigned model

For 2009, the Nissan Maxima is an all-new model. Built on the company’s D-Platform, also used for the Altima and Murano, the Maxima features new exterior and interior styling, more powerful V6 engine, and refined CVT.

Offered in a single trim line with available option packages, the Maxima continues to use a 3.5-litre V6 engine with continually variable transmission (CVT) with manual shift mode. The revised engine now makes 290 horsepower and 261 lb-ft of torque, an increase of 35 horsepower and 9 lb-ft over the 2008 Maxima. The CVT now also uses "Ds Mode", for "Drive Sport", an electronic control logic that enhances acceleration feel and better engine speed maintenance during cornering. Electronic stability control, previously an option, is now standard equipment.

Features on the base model include 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, automatic headlamps, fog lamps, LED taillamps, heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, power sunroof, trip computer, electroluminescent gauges, Bluetooth connectivity, garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, Intelligent Key access system with pushbutton start, auto up/down front windows, tilt and telescopic wheel, cruise control, speed-sensitive variable intermittent wipers, eight-way driver and four-way passenger power-adjustable heated leather seats, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, cargo net, six-CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input, security system and tire pressure monitoring system.

The Sport Package adds 19-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension, auto-dimming driver’s sideview mirror, auto-tip-in-reverse mirrors, driver’s side memory, metallic interior trim accents, column-mounted paddle shifters, power tilt and telescopic wheel, premium leather seats with unique stitching, Xenon headlamps, XM Satellite Radio, and rear spoiler. The rear seats are buckets for four-passenger seating, and the fixed rear seat includes a fold-down rear armrest and cargo pass-through.

The Premium Package uses 18-inch alloy wheels and does not have sport suspension, but otherwise builds on the Sport Package and adds auto up/down on all windows, eucalyptus wood-tone interior trim, fold-down rear armrest with climate and stereo controls, heated and cooled driver’s seat, iPod interface, power rear sunshade, premium mood lighting, rearview monitor and dual-panel power sunroof with power sunshade.

The Sport Package can be further optioned with a Tech Package that adds 7-inch colour rearview monitor, iPod interface, navigation system with voice recognition, XM NaviTraffic and 9.3-gb Music Box; the Premium Package can be optioned with a Navigation Package that adds the voice-activated navigation system, XM NaviTraffic and Music Box.

With smooth styling that now differentiates it from the Altima sedan, the Maxima combines luxury with good performance. Torque-steer is virtually non-existent, and the CVT works very well, especially in the manual shift mode, which really feels like a conventional transmission. Nissan calls it a "sports sedan", and it probably would be except for its front-wheel drive configuration; call it a sporty luxury model, though, and you’ve nailed it.

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