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2009 Nissan Maxima Road Test
Potential owners get preview of newest Maxima
By Bill Roebuck
The 2009 Maxima, Nissan's flagship sedan, was recently unveiled to the public by the company in 'Shift Into Gear Experience' programs across Canada. The redesigned sedan boasts new styling, an improved platform, a more powerful V6 engine and a redesigned interior.
The 2009 Maxima Sport and Maxima Premium models were tested by existing Maxima drivers as well as those new to the make.
Demetrios Vandekas of Toronto is the owner of a 2004 Maxima in Radiant Ember, He said he found a "great deal of difference" in the new Maxima compared to his current ride.
In particular, he was impressed by the comfort of the seats. "I spend a lot of time in my car, driving as much as 40-45 km a year. The seat extension is great -- other cars are not long enough for a guy my size." The trim Vandekas stands 6 ft. tall.
"The steering is feather light," he noted, then and he also liked the paddle shift controls under the steering wheel in the Sport model. "One of my favourite features in my '04 is the heated steering wheel," a feature is that is now standard in the 2009 models.
"It's odd, with the CVT transmission, you don't feel the shifts," Vandekas noted. "It's silky smooth, almost surreal."
"I've driven a lot of cars for trips of a quite reasonable length, and it's the 3.5-litre engine that convinced me to stay with Nissan when I got my current vehicle."
Reliability is another factor that kept him loyal to Nissan (his previous ride was a Nissan pickup truck on which he put over 400,000 km). "I've not had a single issue with this car in 115,000 km," he said of his current Maxima.
"With this new model, Nissan has done all the right things. My search for a new car this time around won't be as vast."
Michael Cole, who's in charge of fleet acquisitions for the Ontario government, had a different perspective on the day, as he wasn't shopping for a personal car. "We have several Nissans listed with Fleet," he said.
"I found the new Maxima a very nice car to drive. It's very comfortable. I like the design of the front end, and there appears to be increased visibility." He said he would check out the new model's fuel economy, improved with the 2009's CVT transmission."
Sean Ramsarran of Waterloo, ON, currently drives a 2005 model. "It's been bullet-proof, very reliable, a great vehicle," he said.
He noted that he's never before bought the same model of a vehicle back to back, but the new Maxima may change that. Also, he said, "I really like the service I get at the dealership. It's been very good." As a result, he's reluctant to change dealerships.
"I commute to Mississauga daily with three others, and they all like my car." He noted how the heated steering wheel is "a godsend in the winter." He also was impressed by the paddle shifters. He said his passengers love the heated rear seats in the winter, although that is no longer a standard option on the 2009 models.
"The CVT is a lot more responsive than I expected," Ramsarran noted. "The handling and braking are a lot better than my Maxima. It also feels more responsive. And it's got tight handling."
The performance of the new model has been improved. "It is more responsive," said Jill Young, manger of product planning for Nissan Canada. "We've improved the performance from 255 hp to 290 hp. Handling was improved with a shorter wheelbase. Also, the turning radius is a lot tighter.
Best of all, she added, "the CVT is a lot more fuel efficient. Even so, it's "still a four-door sports car."
At a Glance: 2009 Nissan Maxima
The 2009 Nissan Maxima marks the seventh generation of Nissan's flagship sedan. Designed as a four-door sports car, the all-new 2009 Maxima has the ambition to be “the best performing front engine, front-wheel drive car in the world,” along with having the goals of class-leading acceleration, braking, handling, craftsmanship and cockpit design.
The stance of the new design comes, in part, from a slight reduction in wheelbase and overall length, along with a wider front and rear track.
The Maxima's interior design team developed an interior concept of a “Super Cockpit” - imparting the feeling of sports car with controls ergonomically close, yet with ample roominess and comfort for both driver and passengers. The interior includes a special driver's sport seat, standard leather-appointed seating, offset shifter lever that is closer to the driver.
“Daylight Illumination” gauges and a wide range of available technology, including a premium audio system, RearView Monitor and Nissan Hard Drive Navigation system with XM NavTraffic real-time traffic information, Voice Recognition and 9.3GB Music Box Hard Drive.
The new Maxima offers a more powerful engine, quicker acceleration response and a performance-oriented tuned exhaust note. The 2009 Maxima again features a standard 3.5-litre DOHC 24-valve VQ-series V6 engine. The revised engine is now rated at 290 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque, increases of 35 hp and 9 lb-ft of torque over the 2008 engine.
All 2009 Maximas come equipped with a revised standard Xtronic CVT transmission with manual mode, tuned specifically for the car's sporty driving character, and available paddle shifters. A new “Ds mode” (drive sport) is added to the CVT for 2009.
The new model is available as the Maxima 3.5 SV, with Sport and Premium Packages available.
For more information, visit www.nissancanada.com.
Bill Roebuck is the Editor of CarTest!
Manufacturer's website: www.nissancanada.com