The Nissan Maxima is a full-size car first available as a 1981 model year. It serves as Nissan’s flagship sedan in certain markets, including North America, China, and the Middle East. It is in its eight generation of design.
Nissan Maxima Design and Introduction
The introduction of the Maxima first came in 1980, a 1981 model year, as a follow-up to the first-generation Datsun 810. It was the second-generation Datsun 810 and was offered in North America only as a base model Datsun 810 Deluxe and higher-level trim option as the 810 Maxima. For the 1982 model year, all variants had the Datsun 810 Maxima moniker, and Nissan badges were slowly introduced starting in model year 1984. The original body styles included a 4-door sedan and 5-door station wagon. It was powered by the same 2.4L L24E inline-6 engine from the first-generation Datsun 810, but now produced 120 horsepower. The Maxima shared a platform with the Bluebird 910, but to fit the inline-6 engine in, the wheelbase was extended. A 5-speed manual transmission was available for the lower-trim models and a 3-speed automatic was used on the upper trim levels. Some of the Maxima's features and available options were the usual changes in interior appointments and exterior styling touches. A unique feature caused a miniature phonograph to play an audible message to alert the driver of doors open, keys in the ignition, and lights left on. It was marketed by Nissan as the first talking car.
Second Generation Updates
In 1985, the second-generation Nissan Maxima (PU11) was released. The exterior design remained similar to the previous generation, with updated headlights and color-matched bumpers introduced. While the 5-door wagon body style was still available, it would be the last generation to offer the extra cargo space. The Maxima used a larger 3.0L VG30E V6 engine with 157 horsepower, paired to a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. In Japan, the Nissan Bluebird Maxima was sold, and offered a 2.0L V6 engine available in both naturally aspirated and turbocharged variants, keeping the displacement under the level for additional road tax consequences. Japan also saw a 4-door hardtop sedan in addition to the regular sedan. This generation saw the introduction of even more luxury features on the Nissan Maxima. A digital touch entry system helped ease entering the vehicle, while power locks, windows, and seats brought in electrical convenience. Options included heated front seats and a power sunroof. Adaptive suspension was available and select models used a sonar-based monitoring system to detect the road conditions and automatically adjust the suspension.
Nissan Maxima: Third and Forth Generations
The third generation Nissan Maxima (J30) hit the market in 1989. The shape had changed with over four inches added to the wheelbase length and overall larger dimensions. It was only available as a 4-door sedan. It was the first Maxima to be sold in the European and Australian markets. The engine choices remained a 3.0L V6 design, producing 190 horsepower. Independent rear suspension was added, while the sonar-based automatic adjusting feature was still available. The Maxima was one of the first vehicle to offer a heads up display with an image showing the vehicle's speed projected onto the windshield. \
In 1994, the fourth generation Maxima was released as a 1995 model year. The styling was slightly refined by including some rounded corners, but the overall shape remained quite similar to the previous generation. It was available with the same V6 engine choices as 2.0L and 3.0L options. The 3.0L VQ30DE has received much acclaim for its reliability. A Bose stereo system was available and the interior was made spacious and provided a quiet environment. A 5-speed manual transmission was still offered, but a 4-speed automatic was still available.
21st Century Nissan Maxima
A modern makeover hit the Nissan Maxima in 2000 as the fifth generation was introduced. While it kept a lot of the styling cues from the past generation, it was become more refined through the design provided by Nissan's La Jolla, California design team. The engine remained the 3.0L VQ30DE V6, now producing up to 227 horsepower. A larger 3.5L was also introduced, bumping the power up to a respectable 255 horsepower and 246 lb ft of torque.
The sixth and seventh generation Maxima was released in 2004 and 2009, respectively. The style continued forward with aerodynamics taking a major role, but also showing off a slightly more aggressive look. The engine now bumped up to the 3.5L V6, and transitioned to a continuously variable transmission as the only option.
Most Recent Updates and General Reputation
The current, eighth generation Nissan Maxima was released in 2016 on the Nissan D platform. It has redesigned itself to meet Nissan's description of a 4-door sports car by including a lower front bumper with sweeping lines running the length of the vehicle. The 3.5L VQ35DE was carried over from the past generation, now with 300 horsepower and 261 lb ft of torque, paired to the CVT. The Nissan Maxima is one of the Japanese automakers' most recognizable cars in North America, with a large following and stable sales throughout the many generations. Nissan hit the mark with this model as it includes many luxury amenities on a platform with a highly-rated engine and sufficient power.