The Nissan Maxima first made its debut as the high-end trim level of the 1976 Bluebird, but it was not until 1985 that the Maxima branched off into its own model. Having gone through a great number of changes and upgrades; the Maxima is one of the longest running mid-size sedans on the American automobile market. Starting out as a boxy two-door coupe, the Maxima has transformed into a muscular, sporty four-door sedan. With a complete redesign scheduled for the 2009 model year, the Maxima is still one of the most affordable luxury models on sales lots.
From 1976-1979, the Nissan Maxima was known in the United States as a trim level of the Datsun 810, while European consumers knew the model as a version of the Bluebird. However, the badge "Maxima" was only known to the European market. In 1982, Nissan introduced the 810 Maxima to the United States. This model featured a 2.4L I6 and the option of either a five-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission.
The 1985 model year named the Maxima a standalone badge that was equipped with a 157 horsepower 3.0L V6. A Maxima wagon was available for both the 1987 and 1988 model years, but after that the model's exterior was tightened up and was listed as a compact sedan. The boxy exterior was traded in for a sleeker, more elegant design in 1989. The Maxima also gained a few inches, re-establishing it as a mid-size sedan in America.
With features like a moonroof, digital touch entry, and a complete power package, the Maxima quickly became an American favorite as an introductory luxury sedan. Though the engine remained a 3.0L V6 all through the 1990s, the Maxima's exterior was freshened up several times with curvier lines and a more aggressive front grille giving it a sportier appearance. However, the 2002 model year brought about the first major engine change for the Maxima. A new 255 horsepower 3.5L V6 was mounted under the hood, and upgraded wheels and a navigation unit became available.
Nissan Maxima's sixth generation brought with it a revamped version of the model. The build became more muscular, and the Maxima was only available as a four-door sedan. The engine stayed the same, but a continuously variable transmission was introduced. The unveiling of the 2009 Maxima at the 2008 New York Auto Show revealed a completely restyled edition with a futuristic appearance. With the redesign Nissan hopes to appeal to younger buyers.