The Nissan Maxima has been long hailed for its performance, luxury, and value in the large sedan market. Nissan’s flagship sedan has been in production for over 40 years and toes the line between family sedan and luxury sport sedan.
2016 – Present Nissan Maxima A36 (8th Generation)
The eighth-generation Maxima was introduced during an ad during Super Bowl XLIX and boasted sleek exterior styling, an attempt to return to the luxury sport sedan reputation it held briefly in and around the fifth generation.
The 2016 model year saw additions to the trim offerings with top-end SL, SR, and Platinum tacked on to the previous S and SV trims. The sole engine received another round of modifications to reach 300 horsepower while decreasing fuel consumption.
Other upgrades include an eight-inch touchscreen display, a navigation system, and an eight-speaker audio system.
In 2018 forward-collision warning with automatic braking was added as a standard feature.
The car was updated for the 2019 model year with slight tweaks to the exterior styling, interior features, and additional active safety features.
For 2020, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity were standard. Also added were rear parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alert.
2009 – 2014 Nissan Maxima A35 (7th Generation)
The seventh generation of Maxima was offered in two trim levels: a base S and high-end SV trim (previously SE and SL). Another styling redesign was marked by a square grille and unique headlights.
As was expected, the sole engine option received another upgrade to reach a power output of 290-horsepower while mated to a continuously variable transmission.
Base models come with a slew of features including automatic headlights, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, 60/40-split folding rear seats, and a safety addition of standard traction and stability control. Bluetooth connectivity became standard on all models in 2010.
2004 – 2008 Nissan Maxima A34 (6th Generation)
The sixth-generation Maxima was introduced in 2004 with only two trim levels, a base SE and high-end SL.
A styling redesign both lengthened and widened the vehicle and was marked by a mohawk-style sunroof that runs along the centerline of the roof.
The standard engine gains yet another power boost pushing the overall power output to 265-horsepower. With the suspension tuned for comfort rather than performance, the handling prowess of the Maxima took a small hit in the sixth generation.
One-touch front windows and keyless entry join antilock disc brakes and electronic brakeforce distribution as standard features for the 2006 model, and a continuous variable transmission became the exclusive option for all trims in 2007.
2000 – 2003 Nissan Maxima A33 (5th Generation)
2000 saw the introduction of the fifth-generation Nissan Maxima. It carried the same three trim levels offered in the previous generation but offered a boost in power.
A revamped 222-horsepower engine and increased legroom in the rear seats pushed the Maxima to become a frontrunner for family-oriented sedans that were also fun to drive.
The sporty-sedan reputation was carried further by Nissan in 2002 with another power boost to the standard engine, upgrading to 255-horsepower and 3.5-liter displacement.
GXE and GLE models came standard with a four-speed automatic transmission while the SE model carried a six-speed manual.
Standard on all models was high-intensity discharge headlights, 16-inch alloy wheels, an eight-way power driver seat, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. These additions were unsurprisingly paired with a hike in price that put the Maxima nearer to a luxury sport sedan than a family sedan.
1995 – 1999 Nissan Maxima A32 (4th Generation)
For the 1995 model year, Nissan’s fourth-generation Maxima carried a 190-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 engine option on all models.
The Maxima came in three trim levels: the GXE, SE, and high-end GLE.
The five-speed manual transmission was standard on GXE and SE models, while the GLE pairs the V6 to a four-speed automatic.
Nissan dropped the wagon body style for the new generation carrying only the sedan body style into the future.
In 1995 the Maxima was one of a few four-door vehicles sold in the U.S. with a six-cylinder engine and manual transmission standard. It had few competitors at the time (namely the Toyota Avalon), which played into the Maxima’s strong sales numbers.
The Maxima was named Motor Trend’s Import Car of the Year in 1995.
1989 – 1994 Nissan Maxima J30 (3rd Generation)
With a departure from the previous boxy style, the third-generation Maxima was introduced with a gentler look and increased dimensions that bumped the vehicle out of the compact sedan segment and into the mid-size sedan segment.
Both GXE and SE models received a 160-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 engine until 1992 when SE models received an upgrade to a 190-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 engine.
Both trims had the option of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions.
An independent rear suspension was standard for the third generation, and a Bose stereo system was added for the 1993 model year.
1985 – 1988 Nissan Maxima PU11 (2nd Generation)
As the second generation of the Maxima was introduced as the Datsun brand was discontinued, and all subsequent models bore the Nissan Maxima name exclusively.
This second-generation version was introduced for the 1985 model year with a base GXE trim and high-end SE trim, and it was the first front-wheel-drive Maxima.
A 157-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 was the only engine option with transmission pairings of either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.
The 1987 model year saw updated interior and exterior styling and carried standard features that included automatic shoulder seatbelts, a digital touch entry system, and a voice warning system that was the first of its kind in the US.
1981 – 1984 Nissan Maxima G910 (1st Generation)
In 1981 the Maxima namesake was introduced under the Datsun brand as the high-end trim offering on the Datsun 810, officially the Datsun 810 Maxima.
For 1982, the Datsun 810 was rebranded as the Datsun Maxima.
This first generation was offered in both wagon and sedan body styles with a standard 120-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.
A more powerful 90-horsepower 2.8-liter six-cylinder diesel engine was available on models from 1981 through 1983.
Engines had the pairing options of either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.