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Nissan Maxima Sports Sedan Concept Debut

Exaggerated, sure, but this is our first glimpse at the next Maxima

2014 Nissan Maxima Research Click to hide

What's New

Look at Nissan's lineup in the U.S. Just about everything there is new or just a few years old. Nissan's trucks aren't, but the company has at least addressed them. They'll be redesigned in the next year, most likely. But the Nissan Maxima, which has been with the automaker for more than 30 years, has been left to wilt on the vine, or so you might believe.

This concept, however, is proof that Nissan is planning to put some much-deserved attention into its big sedan. Called the Nissan Sports Sedan Concept, this car was first previewed at summer 2013's Nissan 360 global media event through some quick pictures over TV monitors. As Nissan has been previewing all of its production cars with slightly exaggerated concepts over the past few auto shows, and Nissan's lineup is pretty well filled, there's really only one thing this could be: The return of Nissan's so-called "four-door sports car" for yet another generation.

Who It's For

Despite going without a significant upgrade since its 2008 introduction, the Maxima has remained a relatively popular entrant full-size sedan segment that has quickly filled up in the meantime. All of the sedans in the segment have gotten bigger, more luxurious, and have basically become the easiest way to get into a real luxury car without the pretentiousness.

The Nissan Maxima was forced into this position a while back when the Altima became big enough and feature-filled enough to compete with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Filling space above it, the Maxima moved up in size, price, and accommodations. Figure the next one is going to move into the heart of the segment, ranging from the low 30s in price all the way up to around $45,000 for those who all the bells and whistles but don't want an Infiniti badge.

Nissan says, "The Sport Sedan Concept shows a new, highly emotional and energetic design direction that takes Nissan’s legendary approach of applying sports car principles to a sedan to the next level,” said Nissan Vice President and Chief Creative Officer Shiro Nakamura. "The Sport Sedan Concept captures that essence with bold and exciting sports car design and proportions."

Continued Nakamura: "Our new design direction mirrors the strength, power and capabilities of the engineering and innovation that serves as the foundation of every Nissan vehicle," he said. "Nissan is a brand for people seeking bold and passionate experiences, and who are willing to make choices outside of traditional boundaries. That’s why Nissan is committed to breaking new ground in automotive design, as expressed in the stunning new Sport Sedan Concept."

Key Features

The Nissan Sports Sedan Concept prominently features:
  • Bold, new styling that indicates the direction of the next-generation Maxima, including a floating pillar design.
  • A 300-plus-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission.
  • Diamond-pattern stitching and metallic contrast in the interior. We wouldn't be surprised if some elements make production.
  • A "V-motion" front end with boomerang-style tail lights.

What We Think

This car is an important preview into Nissan's future for so many reasons. Competing against heavily redesigned Toyota Avalons and Chevrolet Impalas, among a long roster of other cars, the 2014 Nissan Maxima has managed to maintain a foothold of relevancy despite its age and relative lack of sophistication. It's a stalwart in the segment, and we think that anything Nissan does in rolling out a new model--even as radical as this one looks from our initial impression--will help its success.

In the current car, there was expected to be the introduction of a diesel engine as well as perhaps a hybrid variant. Any hopes of those were canned with the 2008 economic collapse. But with higher fuel economy numbers becoming the expectation, those could make a comeback. Anything could make a comeback with this car, which, to us, is very promising, indeed.

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