Midsize car; Built in USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $9,900 – $29,200*

2009 Nissan Maxima Front

2009 Nissan Maxima Rear

2009 Nissan Maxima Interior

2009 Nissan Maxima Profile

  • Acceleration
  • Handling
  • Front-seat room/comfort
  • Cargo room
  • Requires premium-grade fuel
  • Noise

Maxima fills a space between the more sedate Altima and the sportier, premium-level G37 from Nissan’s Infiniti division. Although Maxima fails to strike an ideal ride and handling balance, it offers abundant power and plenty of front passenger space. There’s also the bonus of some unexpected available features, such as a heated steering wheel. While Nissan targets Maxima as a “4-door sports car,” it’s not quite athletic enough to live up to that title. Strong resale values tend to keep prices rather high on secondhand Maximas.


Redesigned for the 2009 model year, Nissan’s midsize front-wheel-drive sedan gained fresh styling and additional power. Two trim levels were available: 3.5 S and 3.5 SV. The 3.5 SV sedan could further be equipped with a Sport or Premium package that featured upgraded equipment such as 19-inch wheels, woodgrain or faux carbon fiber interior trim, heated leather seats and steering wheel, and power rear sunshades. All models were powered by a 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6-an increase of 35 hp over 2008 Maximas. A continuously variable automatic (CVT) with a manual shift gate and optional paddle shifters was the only transmission.

Standard safety features included antilock brakes, traction control, an antiskid system, front side airbags, and curtain side airbags. Leather upholstery was standard on the SV model. Nissan’s dual-panel tinted moonroof also was available; a conventional sunroof was standard. Other optional equipment included satellite radio with real-time traffic information; a 9.3-gigabyte hard drive for storing digital music files; rear-seat climate and audio controls; a rearview camera; an iPod interface system; heated front seats; a cooled driver seat; and a wireless cell-phone link. Maxima rivals included the Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry.

Yearly Updates

2010 Maxima
Except for new wheel finishes and a standard Bluetooth hands-free phone system, no major changes were evident on the 2010 models. Nissan’s navigation system was upgraded to include DVD playback capability, streaming audio, and real-time traffic/weather information. The Premium Package for the SV sedan included a dual-panel moonroof, heated/cooled driver’s seat, rearview camera, and power sunshades. The Sport Package added 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, faux-metallic interior trim, heated leather front seats, and a power tilt/telescopic steering column. Keyless access and a wireless cell-phone link were standard.
2011 Maxima
The 2011 Nissan Maxima, when equipped with the available Sport Package, gets slightly freshened styling. Otherwise, Nissan’s sporty midsize sedan sees no major changes.
2012 Maxima
The 2012 Nissan Maxima received only minor exterior styling and trim changes.
2013 Maxima
For 2013, Maxima saw no major changes, just a minor shuffling of standard-equipment and option-package content.
2014 Maxima
For 2014, a rearview camera, USB port, and 7-inch dashboard display screen became standard on the 3.5 SV model (they were optional previously). The base 3.5 S versions received a Value Package option that included xenon headlights with smoked glass, unique wheels, a rear spoiler, fog lights, and other exterior trim.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

All Maximas carry the same powertrain: a 3.5-liter V6 engine that develops 290 horsepower, mating with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive.

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/214
Engine HP 290
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 261
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
CVT automatic



Road Test

Acceleration can be lazy from a stop, but Maxima gathers speed quickly, once it’s rolling. Maxima has reserves of power at the ready for highway maneuvers. The CVT is seamless in operation, but does not impart a sporty feeling, despite Maxima’s performance aspirations.

Fuel economy is around average for this class. A test Maxima averaged 18.8 mpg with slightly more city use than highway driving. Other Maximas have averaged 20.1 to 22.4 mpg, with more highway operation. Maximas require premium-grade gasoline.

Ride quality is generally comfortable, though all Maximas have trouble coping with highway bumps and expansion joints. No discernible difference is evident in the SV Sport with its 19-inch tires.

Handling prowess disappoints, given Maxima’s sporty pretense. Maximas are generally nimble, though models lacking the Sport Package feel a bit ponderous in fast corners. Brakes are strong and responsive, but the pedal can be touchy. Some slight torque steer is noticeable during brisk acceleration.

The V6 engine emits a throaty, sporty note at higher rpm. Some droning is heard at highway speed. The Sport Package included an extra dose of sound deadening, making Maximas so-equipped slightly quieter. All models suffer from moderate wind noise and tire thrum.

Maxima’s controls are clear and logically placed. The SV model’s large center-mounted trip computer screen offers little of value on models without the navigation system. That navigation system is easy to use, and does not complicate audio functions. The available iPod interface system makes easy work of controlling the device through the stereo system. Soft-touch surfaces are just okay in appearance, which is disappointing given Maxima’s upscale pretensions. The Sport Package included “piano key” carbon fiber trim, which imparts a sporty flair.

Front seats are very comfortable and supportive. The SV is equipped with a thigh extender for more support. Headroom and legroom are generous for occupants under 6 feet tall. The available heated steering wheel is a nice touch, not often found in this class.

Rear-seat legroom disappoints, given Maxima’s exterior dimensions. Headroom can get tight because of the sloped roofline-and even more cramped beneath the sunroof housing. The narrow center position is unsuitable for adults, or even large children. Doors open wide enough, but entry and exit are still hampered by narrow floor-level passages.

Maxima has a wide-opening trunk lid and a moderately low liftover height. The 60/40 split-folding seats feature a one-touch button operation on one side, but require the pull of a trunk tether to lower the other. Premium and Sport Package SV models have a fixed seatback with a not-so-useful center pass-through. Interior storage spaces are decent and include a large, wide glovebox; deep center console; and small, scattered cubbies.


Model Tested: 2010 Nissan Maxima SV54

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 7
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 6


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 8
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 4

Total: 54


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
109.3 190.6 73.2 57.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
14.2 20.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.5 36.4 43.8 34.6
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2009 Maxima 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Fuel gauge
Description: The fuel gauge may be erratic or may not work at all, requiring replacement of the fuel level sensor. (2009-10)
Ignition switch
Description: The ignition switch lock may no longer turn preventing starting the car. (2009-10)
Vehicle noise
Description: The front struts make a groaning or creaking noise, requiring installation of a piece of adhesive-backed tubing over the top of the springs. (2009-10)
Heated/Cooled seats
Description: The front seat cooling feature may not work properly due to some of the seat foam covering the air outlet. (2009-10)

Recall History

Description: Upper front strut insulators may have been manufactured out of specification, resulting in potential for cracking, which would create potential for strut rod to come out, affecting vehicle stability and increased risk of crash.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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