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New York 2008: Nissan unveils 2009 Maxima with "liquid motion" sheetmetal

Click above for more high-res pics of the 2009 Nissan Maxima

Ever since Nissan took the Altima upmarket in both size and prize, the Maxima has suffered from an identity crisis. In the Nissan/Infiniti lineup, this premium front-wheel-drive sports sedan suffered a middle-child syndrome while slotted between the less-expensive yet still capable Altima and the more aspirational rear-wheel-drive Infiniti G35 sports sedan. Nissan hopes to give the Maxima a new voice in its crowded lineup of large sedans with the new 2009 model that comes in your choice of a 3.5 S or 3.5 SV trim. Clearly, it packs a visual punch.

The new design is something Nissan calls "Liquid Motion". It's dynamic, for sure, with peaks and valleys among flowing lines and sharp creases that combine to form a muscular shape. See a little of the last-gen Nissan Skyline GT-R in that grille? We do, and that's not a bad thing, though the new wraparound L-shaped headlamps may not go over well with everyone. Despite the large front and rear overhangs, Nissan actually shrunk the Maxima's length and wheelbase while widening its track. Call the design what you want, but it's not derivative and the expressive flanks make it truly look like a four-door sports car.

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Backing up the new look will be the venerable 3.5L VQ V6 in both the S and SV models, now producing 290 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque. Apparently the Maxima still isn't premium enough for the best V6 in the parts bin (the new 3.7L to be specific), but the 3.5L makes 35 more horsepower in this iteration than it did in the last-gen Maxima. Those who like to keep their left foot busy, however, will be disappointed, as a new version of Nissan's Xtronic CVT is the only transmission offered. Paddle shifters, however, will be available, and a new Ds (drive sport) mode will be present.

The interior is nicer and much more inviting in person than it is in the photos. Even the Klingon warship steering wheel makes perfect sense when you're sitting in the driver's seat. It's cosy, but anyone who enjoys Nissan seating will like this just as much. Possibly the only issue we'd have with the Infiniti-esque center stack is that it's perhaps too close to an Infiniti -- but that's just good news for Maxima buyers.

So will the all-new 2009 Nissan Maxima finally find a place for itself, carve out an identity that connects with the public, and go on to bigger and better sales? A fluid new form and the return of the 4DSC ethos may get the job done, though you'll have the final say.

[Source: Nissan]


At a Glance: 2009 Nissan Maxima

The 2009 Nissan Maxima, which makes its world debut at the 2008 New York International Auto Show, marks the seventh generation of Nissan's flagship sedan. Designed as a commanding four-door sports car, Maxima is unique in both appearance and driving feel, with renewed relevance for today's active and ambitious sedan buyers. The all-new 2009 Maxima will be offered as two well-equipped models, Maxima 3.5 S and Maxima 3.5 SV, and is scheduled to arrive at Nissan dealers nationwide in early summer 2008.

High targets were established for the development of the new Maxima, including the goal of creating "the best performing front engine, front-wheel drive car in the world," along with the goals of class-leading acceleration, braking, handling, craftsmanship and cockpit design.

The breakthrough exterior design of the new Maxima imparts a feeling of "liquid motion," which combines an aggressive stance and powerful fender design – not unlike many exotic sports cars on the market today. Maxima's new stance comes, in part, from a slight reduction in wheelbase and overall length, along with a wider front and rear track.

The new Maxima's interior design team developed an interior concept of "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, available 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 (active XM® subscription required, sold separately), 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 award-winning 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve VQ-series V6 engine, enhanced and refined to take driving performance to new levels. The revised engine is now rated at 290 horsepower and 261 lb-ft of torque (estimated), increases of 35 horsepower and 9 lb-ft of torque over the 2008 Maxima engine. All 2009 Maximas come equipped with a revised standard Xtronic CVT™ with manual mode, tuned specifically for Maxima's sporty driving character, and available paddle shifters. A new "Ds mode" (drive sport) is added to the CVT for 2009.

Highlights of the 2009 Nissan Maxima include:

  • "Liquid Motion" exterior design theme, embodying the flow of its powerful and beautiful surface, like the undulation of a wave
  • Aggressive, powerful form and commanding stance and a premium presence
  • Large wraparound L-shaped headlights with "turbine" light surrounds, wide grille, large bumper opening and "catamaran-style" hood
  • Deeply sculpted body/fender treatment similar to that of exotic sports cars
  • Distinctive "Maxima-style" C-pillars and high trunk lid
  • 1.9-inch shorter wheelbase, 1.5-inches wider, 1.4-inch/1.2-inch wider front and rear track than previous generation Maxima
  • Available Dual Panel Moonroof with wide opening front panel, fixed translucent rear panel with front and rear power retractable sunshades, providing the appearance of a full black glass roof; available power rear sliding sunshade
  • Auto on/off halogen headlights, available High Intensity Discharge (HID) Xenon headlights, available fog lights
  • New 12-LED L-shaped "stepped" taillights
  • Manual folding outside mirrors; power outside mirrors with available reverse tilt-down feature, available turn signal indicators, available heated outside mirrors, available auto-dimming feature (driver's side)
  • Available rear spoiler
  • Dual exhaust with chrome finishers
  • UV reducing solar glass
  • 0.33 coefficient of drag
  • Eight exterior colors: Super Black, Sterling Blue, Tuscan Sun, Winter Frost, Radiant Silver, Mystic Jade, Precision Gray and Dark Slate

Engine and Driveline
  • Front engine/front-wheel drive
  • New Nissan "D platform" with enhanced body rigidity for responsive handling with virtually no torque steer
  • 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 with improved air intake, combustion and exhaust efficiency, producing 290 horsepower and 261 lb-ft torque (estimated)
  • Engine features include electronic throttle, silent timing chain, microfinished camshaft and crankshaft surfaces, molybdenum coated pistons, resin intake collector, digital knock control system, cross flow coolant pattern and high capacity muffler
  • New standard quad E-VTC (addition of exhaust-side continuous valve timing control)
  • Platinum-tipped spark plugs with 100,000-mile maintenance intervals
  • New 6-point engine mounting system
  • Revised standard Xtronic CVT™ (Continuously Variable Transmission) with standard Ds and manual modes
  • Available paddle shifters
  • 20-gallon fuel tank capacity for extended driving range

Suspension, Steering and Braking
  • Independent subframe-mounted strut/coil spring front suspension with extensive use of lightweight aluminum parts
  • X-type upper cowl structure helps establish front body rigidity for suspension mounting
  • Independent multi-link double wishbone rear suspension
  • Rear shock absorbers and springs separated for minimized friction; shocks are in line with the center of the rear wheels, providing excellent damping and minimal harshness
  • Front and rear stabilizer bars
  • 4-wheel power-assisted vented disc brakes, standard 4-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA)
  • New vented rear disc brakes with larger rear rotors (versus the previous generation Maxima), variable ratio linkage, increased brake pedal stroke rigidity and smoothness
  • New Twin Orifice Power Steering (TOPS) vehicle-speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion steering system
  • 10-spoke, 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with P245/45R18 all-season tires
  • Available split-5-spoke, 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with P245/40R19 tires; available 19-inch high-performance summer tires

Interior Features
  • Warm, inviting "Super Cockpit" interior with flagship craftsmanship
  • Tailored, refined interior styling, use of premium materials including available metallic-link trim and Eucalyptus wood-tone trim
  • Five-passenger seating with luxury cloth or leather-appointed seats with available sport stitching
  • Premium leather-appointed seats available with Premium and Sport Packages
  • Sporty driver's seat with available manual thigh extension and climate control (heating and cooling)
  • Standard 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat with manual lumbar support with available 2-driver automatic entry/exit memory feature
  • Standard 4-way power-adjustable passenger seat
  • Available heated front seats
  • New slim, sculpted design for front seatbacks, provides additional rear passenger knee room
  • Rear 60/40 split fold-down rear seat or fixed rear seat with armrest pass-through
  • Available large rear-seat fold-down armrest with HVAC and audio controls
  • New leather-wrapped steering wheel with illuminated steering wheel switches; unique "parallel" stitch pattern on Sport and Premium Package models
  • Available heated steering wheel
  • Revised shifter placement and raised center console
  • Use of soft-touch materials and padding
  • "Daytime Illumination" electroluminescent meters, with a special tilting of the tachometer so engine redline is placed at 12 o'clock
  • Chrome surrounds for the gauges, vent rings, vent knobs and audio switches
  • Power door locks, power windows with driver and passenger auto-up/down feature; rear window auto-up/down feature on Premium Package models
  • Two 12-volt power points
  • Driver and passenger door bottle holders
  • Dual overhead map lights, dual rear reading lights
  • Available 7.0-inch color monitor
  • Available RearView Monitor
  • Standard audio system with 8 speakers and AM/FM/6CD/MP3 with auxiliary audio input jack and steering wheel-mounted controls
  • Available Bose® premium audio system with 9 speakers, AM/FM/CD6 in-dash CD changer and RDS radio function
  • Available Interface System for iPod®
  • Available XM® Satellite Radio (active XM® subscription required, sold separately)
  • Available Nissan Hard Drive Navigation system with XM NavTraffic® with Real-Time Traffic Information (active XM® subscription required, sold separately), Voice Recognition, 9.3GB Music Box Hard Drive, and 7.0-inch touch-screen color display
  • Dual zone air conditioning with automatic temperature control and rear vents
  • Available Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System
  • Available HomeLink® Universal Transceiver

Safety and Security
  • Standard Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS) with dual-stage air bags, seat belt sensors and occupant classification system
  • Front seat-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags and roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags
  • Front-seat Active Head Restraints
  • 3-point ALR/ELR seat belts (driver's seat ELR only) including rear center position
  • Front seat belts with adjustable upper anchors, pretensioners, and load limiters LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system
  • Zone Body construction with front and rear crumple zones
  • Standard Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with Traction Control System (TCS)
  • Emergency inside trunk-release
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Models and Manufacturing
  • Offered as two well-equipped models: Maxima 3.5 S and 3.5 SV
  • Assembled by Nissan North America Manufacturing Smyrna & Decherd Tennessee Plants

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