The Nissan Maxima was first launched in July 1976 as an upscale version of the Bluebird. It is a full-sized car produced by Nissan Motors Limited. It was often advertised as ‘4-wheel sports car’. Majority of the Maxima units produced before 2004 were manufactured in Oppama, Japan. Later, a plant was built in North America in Smyrna, Tennessee and started the production of Maxima.
In several countries, the Nissan Maxima was sold as Nissan Cefiro or Nissan Laurel.
The Nissan Maxima started its production journey with the Nissan Bluebird Maxima introduced in US market in February 1977 under Datsun 810 badge. Two different engine versions of SOHC L-series I6 were used, i.e. Japanese market received 2.0-L displacement capable of generating 122 PS JIS (90 kW) and US market received 2.4-L displacement developing 125 hp SAE (93 kW). The base model for Bluebird Maxima received a carburetor, while sporty version came with fuel injection. The sporty version also featured a 4-speed manual transmission. These cars were rear wheel drive and offered a semi-trailing arm rear suspension. However, the wagon version came with rear live axle.
In 1979, 2-door coupe version was added Maxima range in the Datsun 810. The Datsun 280ZX was based on 810’s chassis, despite the fact that 810 never received the 280ZX’s larger 2.8-L engine.
First Generation (1981–1984)
In 1981, the Maxima name was used for the first time on the Japanese market Bluebird 910 featuring 3.9 inch (99 mm) longer nose. During the first production year, the car was marketed as the 810 Deluxe or 810 Maxima and by 1982 all the 810 range wore the Maxima name. The first generation Maxima was discontinued in 1984 and in this particular year the American Datsun started carrying the Nissan badge as well on the back of the car. Toyota in response to the Maxima also renamed its Toyota Mark II as the Toyota Cressida.
The first generation Maxima received the 2.4-L L24 engine similar to Datsun 810 and Datsun 240Z. The 2.8-L LD28 Diesel engine was also introduced in the US market in mid-1981mated to 5-speed manual or automatic transmission.
Second Generation (1985–1988)
The first front-wheel drive, compact Maxima based on Bluebird U11 was launched by Nissan in 1984. It was powered by a 3.0-L VG30E V6 engine producing 154 hp (119 kW) mated to either a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission. The engine was regarded as the first V6 engine to be mass produced in Japan. It was also used in naturally aspirated 200ZX and Nissan Cedric/Nissan Gloria. The station wagon version which had been produced since Datsun 810 times was discontinued in 1988.
Third Generation (1989–1994)
In 1989, a redesigned third generation Maxima was introduced as J30 (not to confuse with Infiniti J30). It was offered with relatively bigger dimensions to qualify as the mid-sized car after the Mazda 929. It was the second Japanese sedan to be offered in US market and the first Japanese car to surpass the Japan’s 67 inch (1701.8 mm) width restriction. Despite its increased dimensions, it had weight less than the previous generations. It was marketed as new Maxima a 4-Door Sports Car by Nissan who even introduced a ‘4DSC’ window decal. It was powered by a 3.0-L V6 generating 160 hp (119 kW). In 1992, the 190 hp (142 kW) VE30DE engine was made standard on SE models. Previously, the VG30E engine was used in previous models of Maxima together with first generation Nissan 300ZX. The most interesting was the introduction of digital touch entry system on the GXE version. The system allowed the driver to lower the window or open the sunroof without having key in ignition.
Fourth Generation (1995–1999)
The fourth generation Maxima was launched in 1995 as the A32 model. It was powered by a new VQ30DE 3.0-L V6 engine generating 190 hp (141 kW) and torque of 205 ft-lb (278 Nm). The engine topped the Ward’s ‘10 Best Engines List’. In fourth generation, the previous independent rear suspension was substituted by a lighter and cheaper torsion bar solid axle system.
Toyota Cressida was considered as the major competitor of the Nissan Maxima. Toyota discontinued the Cressida in 1992 and replaced it with front-wheel drive Toyota Avalon, an extended version of the Toyota Camry appeared for the first time in 1994.
Fifth Generation (2000–2003)
The fifth generation Maxima appeared in 2000 as A33 model. Its model was designed at Nissan’s La Jolla, California design studio. The fifth generation Maxima received a 222 hp (166 kW; 227 hp SE) 3.0-L VQ30DE V6 engine. The engine used was a variation of VQ30DE engine and was known as VQ30DE-K. Three different models including GXE, GLE and SE were produced with this engine variant. Among the three models, the GXE was the base model of Maxima, while GLE was luxury model featuring 16-inch wheels. Infiniti I30 was based on this generation.
A special edition of SE was introduced in 2001 with a view to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this particular Nissan range. This special edition car shared its engine with the Infiniti I30. It also featured special side skirts all around the lower perimeter and some interior modifications.
However, the fifth generation Maxima came with number of different problems during its run including ignition coils, MAF sensor, TPS (Throttle position sensor) and IACV-AAC (Idle Control Valve).
Sixth Generation (2004–2008)
The sixth generation Maxima was launched in United States, Canada and Mexico in 2004 as A34. The model offered in United States received a respected VQ35DE, a DOHC engine generating 265 hp (198 kW) at 5800 rpm and torque of 225 lb-ft (346 Nm) at 4400 rpm. It also featured a Standard SkyView fixed glass paneled roof or a traditional style moonroof as an option. Two trim levels were available for sixth generation Maxima, SE and SL. SE was a sporty version that featured 18-inch alloy wheels, P245/45R18 V-rated tires, stiffer suspension, rear spoiler, and an optional 6-speed manual transmission. The SL on the other hand was luxury model that received 17-inch alloy wheels, P225/55R17 H-rated tires, wood interior trim, 6-disc CD changer, Bose stereo, leather seats, and HID headlights. SL never received a manual transmission.
Seventh Generation (2009–present)
The seventh generation Maxima was introduced as 2009 model year. It was first introduced at the New York International Auto Show in 2008. It is designated as A35 and is based on the Nissan D platform. This platform was also used in the fourth generation Nissan Altima and second generation Nissan Murano. The exterior and interior of the car has resemblance with Infiniti G and Infiniti M. It also features an upgraded navigation interface and optional USB interface system.
The seventh generation Maxima is powered by the VQ35DE engine generating 290 hp (220 kW) and torque of 261 lb-ft (354 Nm) mated to a renewed Nissan’s Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) with paddle shifting. No manual transmission is offered for seventh generation Maxima. The Maxima is available as S and SV trim levels incorporated with a range of premium and technology packages. It has a keyless ignition that only uses a push button to turn on or turn off the engine. United States received it seventh generation Maxima in June 2008.