2009 Nissan Maxima Review

$34,190 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
    9.5L
  • Engine Power
    134kW
  • CO2 Emissions
    226g
  • ANCAP Rating
    N/A

2009 Nissan Maxima - First Steer

I mean sure the public was always aware of its presence, but for the man on the street the Maxima was always thought of as just "there", quietly sitting in a niche all of its own, seemingly content with its place in the world.

Perhaps then it could be said the market was confused by the Maxima's intended purpose.

Think about it this way, it was never as common as the Subaru Liberty or Toyota Aurion, but that's not to say it was any less capable. It certainly had a lot going for it in terms of both power and economy, and could rival both with relative ease, but was is too big?

Similarly it was quite affordable when you considered the size of the vehicle, the equipment on offer and the smooth V6 performance availed, though it seemed more buyers were drawn to the similarly priced Honda Accord V6 or, to a lesser degree, the now deceased Mitsubishi 380. So did that mean it was a failure?

It was a good drive too, and a rather comfortable ride, and from a design point of view it was "safe", and managed to hold its own for almost five years with little in the way of modification or manicure.

For those reasons alone the Maxima was always a little bit more highly aspired than its rivals, something to work towards, and perhaps that meant it was time for a change, time to make the Maxima more accessible, more competitive and more thoroughly suited to the challenges it would be presented with over its life span.

So, what's changed? Well for a start the all-new 2009 Nissan Maxima now comes with a choice of two V6 engines and ergo, aggressively competitive pricing.

In a bid to tackle the competition we've just discussed above head on, and perhaps the rear-wheel-drive Holden and Ford camps simultaneously, the Maxima now positions itself in a two-tier structure, in much the same way Toyota does with its Camry and Aurion models or Honda with its Accord Euro and Accord V6 range - though cleverly for Nissan, this is all achieved within the one smart and sporty package.

Based on a completely new "D" segment platform, common to the new Nissan Murano SUV, the Maxima is completely new from the ground up, but perhaps importantly to prospective retained buyers, is evolutionary in style so as not to be too rapid a departure from the familiar styling so favoured by current owners wishing to update.

It's more refined, more highly equipped - even in standard form - and more capable, or as Nissan sums it up: Modern Elegance.

Nissan's Chief Executive Officer, Dan Thompson explains:

“The new Maxima will play an increasingly important role in the large and medium car market by offering the best blend of distinctive luxury - at an attainable price,” said Mr Thompson. “We are doubling the appeal of the new Maxima in Australia with our new two-engine model strategy and a very attractive entry price.”

“The new 2.5-litre V6 engine, the sharp pricing right in the heart of the four-cylinder market and the unprecedented high level of luxury features as standard, makes the Maxima 250 ST-L unbeatable. For a start, no one else in this market sector offers leather upholstery as standard. We are making four-cylinder large car customers an offer they can’t afford to ignore in the Maxima ST-L,” he said. “And with the elegant Maxima ST-S and Ti sedans, an impressive ride and luxurious appointments will give the new Maxima the muscle to grow its sales in the upper end of the large car market where there are many customers looking for unparalleled value.”

The familiar six-window coupe-like profile too has been retained, though now with a more pronounced character line that runs the length of the vehicle.

Proportionally the car is quite similar to the out-going model as well, though this time offers more internal room by featuring a floor some 36mm lower than the model it replaces, creating more headroom, and by moving the "A" pillar forward 60mm to provide not only more cabin space, but greater forward visibility too.

LED tail lamps and Xenon headlamps are also now standard across the range, as are 17-inch alloy wheels and Nissan's acclaimed Xtronic CVT (continously variable transmission) gearbox.

The car too has had a great deal of Australian input in its design and suspension set up, and this is evident in driving the car on our much maligned back and often inimical country roads.

But to get a better understanding of the range, perhaps it's best to break the new Maxima down model-by-model in order of rank, starting with the base model 250 ST-L.

Nissan J32 Maxima 250 ST-L ($33,990)

Pics to follow

Perhaps the biggest change to the Maxima line-up as a whole is the introduction of the smaller VQ25DE 2.5-litre V6 engine to the range.

This award winning power-plant is featured exclusively in the 250 ST-L and is a free revving unit that is quite smooth and linear in delivery managing 134kW at 6000rpm.

Power delivery comes courtesy of Nissan's Xtronic CVT (automatic) transmission that keeps the car within its torque range long enough to utilise the 228Nm on hand at 4400rpm under steady acceleration.

Once on the open road the engine is barely noticeable in terms of noise, something Nissan have gone to great lengths in improving across the new J32 series, and also manages exceptional fuel economy at just 9.5-litres per 100km as a combined average, that's 0.5-litres less the Toyota's four-cylinder Camry.

Handling is confident, and on the whole more dynamic than the previous model, though as you'd expect the car's front-wheel drive characteristics are more noticeable towards the car's upper limits.

The ride is more refined too, feeling more settled and offering greater comfort levels than I recall of the previous model.

The J32 Maxima, featuring an all-new platform, is now suspended by an all-new strut-type front and multi-link rear arrangement both with stiffer mounting points to further improve body stiffness and at the same time reduce NVH levels.

It's a great improvement over the Maxima's more wallowy predecessor and thanks to an increase in torsional rigidity of 40 per cent and front lateral stiffness of 85 per cent - thanks in part to a new X-shaped cowl top structure - the new Maxima feels more sorted and purposeful when cornering with little in the way of that "front heavy" feel usually associated with larger front-wheel drive vehicles.

Steering too has seen an improvement over the previous generation with a new speed sensitive hydraulic system offering more in the way of feel at higher speeds, though is still weighted well enough to not be vague when tackling narrow country roads with poorly maintained shoulders as found on our drive route. A turning circle of 11.4 metres is uniform across the Maxima range.

The leather wrapped wheel is quite narrow of grip and unfortunately only offers tilt adjustment. It also features remote audio and cruise control buttons.

The 250 ST-L includes a comprehensive array of kit including ABS with EBA & EBD, ESP, six airbags, dusk sensing xenon headlamps, front and rear foglamps, LED tail lamps, black leather trim, cruise control, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, power folding mirrors with integrated indicators, an 8-way electric driver's seat, 4-way electic passenger seat, six CD tuner with MP3 compatibility and an auxilary input, push-button start and 17-inch alloy wheels (including full-size alloy spare).

Nissan expects this newly formed rival to compete directly with Camry and Liberty models and projects the 250 ST-L model to account for around 40 per cent of its overall sales.

Nissan J32 Maxima 350 ST-S ($37,990)

Pics to follow

Adding to the 250 ST-L's comprehensive feature and specification list, the 350 ST-S presents itself as the next step up and the first of the 3.5-litre V6 powered Maximas in the new J32 range.

Perhaps set to rival Toyota Aurion, Honda Accord V6 - and even Ford Falcon XT and Holden Commodore Omega - in terms of price, the 350 ST-S offers an additional 15kW of power from the previous model as well as a 6 per cent improvement in fuel economy.

The engine is a revised version of the same VQ35DE 3.5-litre V6 as found in the previous model, but is both smoother and more capable delivering 185kW of power at 6000rpm and 326Nm of torque from 4400 revs.

Again mated to Nissan's Xtronic CVT transmission, the 350 ST-S is a very capable performer with brisk acceleration both from standstill, and during overtaking, yet still manages excellent fuel economy at a claimed 10.2 litres per 100km.

As found in the lower spec 250 ST-L, the 350 ST-S also offers ABS with EBA and EBD, ESP and six airbags while inside, and in addition to those features listed on the 250 ST-L, the mid-level Maxima gains a rear spoiler and rear park assist, intelligent key system and heated front seats.

Nissan has indicated the 3.5-litre powered models will account for approximately 60 per cent of new Maxima sales, though are unsure how the split between the two upper models will pan out.

Nissan J32 Maxima 350 Ti ($46,990)


Sitting atop the all-new J32 Maxima shelf is the 350 Ti, and despite the noticeably large price hike over the 350 ST-S, this range topping model adds a profusion of gear to the equation to make it a very worthwhile consideration against similarly priced rivals.

The 350 Ti is, as the nomenclature suggests, powered by the same 3.5-litre V6 engine found in the 350 ST-S and similarly delivers the same 185kW of power and 326Nm of torque and while visually it isn't vastly different to the mid-spec model below, there are enough indicators availed to differentiate the pair including more elegant 17-inch alloy wheels and more pronounced chrome highlights.

But the real story lies beneath the skin with a feature packed cabin offering buyers an electric tilt-slide sunroof, memory enabled electric front seats, satellite navigation, rear parking camera, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity and, perhaps best of all, an 11-speaker Bose full Dolby 5.1 channel surround sound audio system on top of the features already found in the 250 ST-L and 350 ST-S combined.

The car is also very quiet on all but the most coarse of roads and is comfortable, supportive and generously proportioned. All models within the Maxima range feature a 506 litre boot.

As mentioned with the 350 ST-S model Nissan hopes the two V6 powered models will account for 60 per cent of the Maxima's sales ratio and go some way to improving the brand's 6th place ranking among the 180,000 medium and large sedans sold in Australia each year.

The all new Nissan Maxima will be available for sale nationally from June 1.

For our review of the previous generation Nissan Maxima, click here.

Specifications - Maxima 250 ST-L:

  • Engine: 2496cc DOHC V6 (24 valve)
  • Power: 134kW @ 6000rpm
  • Torque: 228Nm @ 4400rpm
  • Induction: Multi Point
  • Transmission: Six-Ratio CVT
  • Driven Wheels: Front
  • Brakes: Discs with ABS, EBA & EBD
  • CO2 Emissions: TBC
  • Fuel Consumption: 9.5 litres per 100km
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 70 litres
  • Fuel Type: 91RON petrol
  • ANCAP Rating: TBC
  • Airbags: Front, Side and Curtain
  • Safety: ESP with Traction Control
  • Spare Wheel: Full Size Alloy
  • Cargo Capacity: 506 litres
  • Tow Capacity: 1200kg (Braked)
  • Turning Circle: 11.4 metres
  • Warranty: Three Year/100,000km
  • Weight: 1516kg (Tare)
  • Wheels: Alloy 17 x 7.0-inch

Specifications - Maxima 350 ST-S & Ti:

  • Engine: 3498cc DOHC V6 (24 valve)
  • Power: 185kW @ 6000rpm
  • Torque: 326Nm @ 4400rpm
  • Induction: Multi Point
  • Transmission: Six-Ratio CVT
  • Driven Wheels: Front
  • Brakes: Discs with ABS, EBA & EBD
  • CO2 Emissions: TBC
  • Fuel Consumption: 10.2 litres per 100km
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 70 litres
  • Fuel Type: 95RON petrol
  • ANCAP Rating: TBC
  • Airbags: Front, Side and Curtain
  • Safety: ESP with Traction Control
  • Spare Wheel: Full Size Alloy
  • Cargo Capacity: 506 litres
  • Tow Capacity: 1200kg (Braked)
  • Turning Circle: 11.4 metres
  • Warranty: Three Year/100,000km
  • Weight: 1535kg/1563kg (Tare)
  • Wheels: Alloy 17 x 7.0-inch