If you walked up to the average US resident and asked them which name sounded more familiar, “Nissan” or “Maxima”, most of them would pick the latter. That’s according to Pierre Loing, vice president of Nissan NA product planning, from an interview between him and Automotive News.
And yet, even though the Maxima is a Nissans all the longest-selling nameplate in the US and more recognized than the brand name itself, just four years ago, Nissan almost axed the car from their lineup completely.
With the next-generation Nissan Maxima set to go on sale in the US in barely a week’s time on June 2, we’re certainly glad that Nissan decided to keep the family size sedan in their lineup. You’ve probably already seen the Maxima several times this year… It first debuted in a Super Bowl ad, then made its in-the-metal premiere at the 2015 New York Motor Show back in April.
What will be the eighth-generation of Nissan’s “4 Door Sports Car” is substantially sportier than the car you’ll find it Nissan dealerships today. It’s got Nissan’s new V-motion front-end design, complete with a lower, more aggressive roofline, a curvier body and an all-around better powertrain. The next-gen Maxima runs on a new 3.5L V6 that outputs 300 horsepower, which is a noticeable boost in performance over the current model year. In a classic “have your cake and eat it too,” Nissan has somehow managed to eke 15% more fuel-efficiency out of the upgraded engine, made possible by stripping and replacing a full 60% of the old engine’s parts.
Inside, the new Maxima is even better. It boasts a truly plush interior with quilted leather, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and a modern, premium-feeling design. Takeshi Yamaguchi, the VP for vehicle engineering and program management for the Maxima project, says, “When I look at this car, I’m proudest of the fact that it’s here at all.” Yeah, us too Yamaguchi. “And on top of that, I’m proud of the fact that we took the Maxima beyond where it was, instead of taking it backward.”
… Apparently that was the other option on the table. Nissan was thinking about gutting the sedan to make it cheaper to both manufacture and sell. Instead they went the opposite direction, and what they came up with is perhaps the best, most refined execution of a non-premium sedan we’ve seen in the past 10 years.
So, in a month as you start seeing those sleek new 2016 Nissan Maximas on the road, be thankful for the sight… It almost didn’t happen!