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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A red 2023 Nissan Maxima is shown from the front parked in a gallery.

End of an Era: Saying Goodbye to the Nissan Maxima

Automotive enthusiasts without the exorbitant funds needed for a proper car collection have long had to choose between prowess and practicality. Sports cars have the power and precision that drivers who really care about cars crave but often lack the passenger and cargo space necessary to make them usable for everyday tasks. Meanwhile, more spacious sedans usually don’t have the power and style that car buffs are looking for. That’s where the Nissan Maxima comes in.

This large, four-door sedan has an upscale cabin and a capable engine under the hood, delivering driving dynamics that make getting there more than half the fun. Unfortunately, the 2023 Nissan Maxima is reported to be the end of the line for this beloved nameplate. While it seems likely that Nissan will eventually (perhaps quickly) revive the nameplate, it’s still sad news to hear that this current era will be coming to an end. The Maxima has been Nissan’s flagship sedan for decades and will be missed. Let’s take a look back at a few of the highlights from the history of the four-door sports car.

1981: Birth of a Nameplate

The Maxima can trace its history all the way back to the 1981 Datsun 810, which was offered in two trims: the Deluxe and the Maxima. The car was rebranded as the Datsun Maxima in 1982 and officially became the Nissan Maxima in 1985. Early Maxima models were offered with a five-speed manual transmission when many vehicles only offered four-speed or less and were powered by a 2.4L I-6 engine shared with the Nissan 240Z and Nissan Skyline. The second generation Maxima, which was produced from 1985 to 1988, offered a 3.0L V6 engine and a variety of body styles, including a station wagon.

1989: The Maxima Finds its Niche

The third generation is where the Maxima really found its sweet spot. No longer offered as a station wagon, the vehicle was now focused on bringing the power of a sports car to the body of an affordable sedan. This gave it a unique place in the market, putting it in the same category as familiar domestic nameplates in the dealerships but pitting it against fancy European sports cars in road tests conducted by automotive publications. This unique balance was recognized by many organizations, and the Maxima was chosen as Motor Trend’s 1995 Import Car of the Year and made Car and Driver’s 10Best list in 1990, 1995, and 1996.

2000: A New Generation for a New Millenium

As we entered the new millennium, Nissan wasn’t content to rest on its laurels with the Maxima. The early 2000s saw several new generations come along and bring significant changes. For the fifth generation, a powerful 3.5L V6 was placed under the Maxima’s hood. Generation six saw a focus on the luxurious side of the Maxima, but the manual transmission option was dropped in 2007. The Maxima got some extra power for its seventh generation, now delivering 290 hp from its 3.5-liter V6.

2016: The Start of the Last Generation

The eighth-generation Maxima debuted for the 2016 model year, featuring Nissan’s modern V-Motion grille on the front end and a redesigned infotainment system. This generation also introduced many features that have proved popular among drivers in recent years, including remote start, stolen vehicle locator, and automatic collision notifications. In addition, it bumped the power up yet again, with an engine rated for 300 ponies.

Plenty of features often relegated to higher trim levels or offered optional upgrades are standard fare on the 2016 Maxima, including an eight-way power-controlled driver’s seat, push-button ignition with keyless entry, and a seven-inch driver information screen between the main gauges. The infotainment system, complete with an eight-inch touchscreen, voice control, Bluetooth, and two USB ports, was standard across all trims as far back as the 2016 model year as part of the brand’s commitment to providing its drivers with a luxurious experience.

A grey 2023 Nissan Maxima is shown from the side.

2023: The Final Model Year

The 2023 model year of the Maxima is set to be the last, and the four-door sports car is going out with the same combination of power, luxury, and convenience that has been making it popular for decades. Its 3.5L V6 engine still provides 300 hp, and it’s hooked up to an Xtronic CVT with dynamic step shifting and an adaptive shift controller designed to provide a connected driving experience while maintaining fuel efficiency. Switch into Sport mode, and you’ll get sharper throttle response, transmission tuning, and steering feel, plus more powerful engine sounds brought into the cabin with Active Sound Enhancement to bring the thrill of the drive to all of your senses.

Enthusiasts looking for even more driving prowess can opt for the SR trim, which is designed to offer more thrills with a track-inspired suspension that has stiffer springs and a larger front stabilizer bar. It’s fitted out with eye-catching 19-inch double-spoked wheels and W-rated tires that are made to grip the road. An available rear spoiler is a stylistic touch that screams “racecar” and is sure to impress both on the track and off. Those who long for extra control over the car’s transmission can use the paddle shifters built into the steering column, allowing you to find the perfect gear ratio without taking your hands off the wheel.

The 2023 Maxima has plenty of interior features made possible by modern technology. Of course, there’s an infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, built-in navigation, and a rotary dial that lets you manage everything with tactile controls, so you don’t need to take your eyes off the road to operate the touchscreen. There’s also plenty of driver-assistance tech, including Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Rear Automatic Braking, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and High Beam Assist.

But beyond the obvious bits of technology, there are other ways advanced engineering has shaped the Maxima’s interior. For instance, the sport-styled front seats are inspired by zero-gravity space travel, with materials designed to keep you in a natural position so that you won’t get fatigued easily and can comfortably drive for the long haul. The deeply bolstered shape is also designed to keep you in place while taking on sharp corners.

What’s Next for the Maxima?

With a nameplate as beloved as the Maxima, we doubt Nissan will leave it on the bench for long. Not much has been confirmed about the Maxima’s future, so for now, all we can do is guess. With crossovers and SUVs becoming more and more popular in the US, perhaps it will re-emerge as a new balance between automotive categories: instead of sports car meets sedan, it could become sports car meets crossover.

Another trend gaining ground with automakers in recent years is electrification. We certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see the Maxima make a return as an EV. Whatever’s in store for it, we only hope it’s something that lives up to the great legacy this model has built. For now, if you want to get behind the wheel of Nissan’s four-door sports car before this version of the Maxima drives off into the sunset, you’d better jump on the 2023 model. It looks like it’s going to be the end of an era.

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