Nissan Maxima

Aptly named, the Nissan Maxima enjoyed a very long history that continues to grow and develop more than 30 years after it was initially launched back in 1977. Then known as the Datsun 810 in the U.S., the Maxima name wouldn’t find its way onto any Nissan models until 1981. Also known as the Bluebird in European markets, the four-door sedan’s praises were sung across the industry, with auto magazines singling it out as one of the best buys of 1977.

More on the Nissan Maxima
Nissan Maxima Origins

Powered by a 2.4-liter 12-valve L6 engine good for a respectable 125 hp, the interior cabin of the Datsun 810 was spacious enough for a 183-inch long car with a 104-inch wheelbase. Loaded with some of the more ""modern"" features of the late-1970s, such as power steering and a dashboard mounted digital quartz clock, the 810 was available with either a three-speed automatic or a five-manual transmission.

With a hefty pick-up rate from zero to 60 mph in just over 12 seconds and a quarter mile time of 18 seconds, the Datsun 810 was a fiercely powerful car for its class and a welcomed bargain for buyers with a base price that started off at an even $5,000.

About the Nissan Maxima

The Nissan Maxima is one of the Japanese auto manufacturer’s most successful and longest vehicle lines in its nearly-100 year history. Originally marketed as a four-door sports car, it was officially renamed in 1981, a year in which also bore witness to the Datsun brand morphing into Nissan.

As an extension of the six-cylinder Nissan Bluebird G6, the rear drive Datsun 810 itself was spun off into a two-door coupe for the 1979 model year. Sharing an identical chassis as that found on one of the most successful sports cars of the day, the Datsun Z 240, 260, and 280 lacked the Z’s more powerful 2.8-liter engine.

One of the most noteworthy aspects of these first Nissan Maximas for 1981 had to do with its revolutionary voice-activated warning system. Technically the first ""talking"" cars then sold in the U.S., Nissan Maxima would caution owners about lights being left on, doors that were still ajar, or when the key was left in the ignition.

Nissan Maxima Features

With over 30 years in production, the four-door mid-size Nissan Maxima sedan offers consumers a nice balance between practicality and up-scale luxury.

The 2012 edition is available in S and SV trim levels, which can be boosted to Premium or Sport models. At the S level, standard features include keyless entry/ignition, sunroof, trip computer, front cabin power seats, Bluetooth functionality, eight-speaker stereo system, and a rear spoiler, which was special with the Limited Edition option. It upped things a notch to the SV line offers leather seats throughout, satellite radio, nine-speaker Bose stereo system, 2GB of music storage space, iPod/USB connectivity, and a rear-mounted camera.

The 2012 Nissan Maxima derives its power from a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, generating 290 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque. Accelerating from zero to 60 mph, it trampled its competition with a time of 6.2 seconds. EPA estimated fuel economy for the newest Maxima comes out to 19/26 mpg city/highway.

Awarded the highest marks by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, all Nissan Maxima’s come equipped with the full-range of safety features: front/side airbags for both rows, anti-lock brakes, and stability/traction control.

Nissan Maxima Evolution

Over its nearly 35-year history, the Nissan Maxima went through some major transformations in terms of body style, cabin features, and engine performance.

Following on the heels of its initial powertrain, the optional three-speed automatic and five-speed manual 2.4-liter L6, the 1985 Nissan Maxima received a welcomed engine upgrade in the form of a 3.0-liter V-6 good for 157 hp. As the 1980s drew to a close, the Maxima’s standard wagon-inspired exterior gradually morphed into a sedan for its third generation and a new decade.

Emerging as a sport-class contender, the third-generation Maxima got a slight horsepower jolt up from the pervious 157 to 160 and then another 30 hp increase for the 1992 model year. With a host of features now available across trims like a moonroof, digital touch entry, and a completely revamped interior power package, it was during the mid-1990s when the Nissan Maxima really began to win over consumers as the top introductory luxury sedan.

Key improvements for the fifth-generation Maxima were more engine horsepower, enhanced rear-cabin legroom, a 200-watt Bose stereo system, upgraded wheels, and an on-board navigation unit. Engine performance remained basically unchanged for successive generations, but Nissan did continue to tack-on some impressive interior amenities for the Nissan Maxima between 2007 and 2010: eight/nine speaker stereo systems, one-touch power windows, wood interior, and heated seats.

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