2009 Nissan Maxima 250 ST-L and 350 Ti Road

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NISSAN HAS HAD A BUSY YEAR with new model launches in 2009. This year TMR has road tested the new 370Z, Micra, Dualis, Navara and face-lifted Murano, all with positive results.
Now it’s the turn of one of Nissan’s more venerable model lines, the all-new Maxima sedan.
The Maxima model line has always been a solid performer for Nissan. The new model impressed us with our First Drive on release, let’s see if the gloss is still there.
For 2009, Nissan has taken a definite step forward with the design of the new Maxima.  Compared to the previous model, the face of the new model makes a bolder style statement with its raked-back xenon headlights and large front grille.
At the rear, Nissan has employed a sleeker roof line and sloping boot to give the Maxima a more coupe-like appearance. This distinctive shape is further emphasised by the placement of additional rear quarter windows, adding extra balance to the car’s overall proportions.
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Minor styling accents around the body such as chrome trimming, LED taillights and indicator door-mirrors add a welcome touch of class, thankfully without making the car look tacky.
To complete the luxury styling theme, all models in the Maxima line-up ride on a set of elegant ten-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels.
It’s fair to say that previous versions of the Maxima are hardly what one would call ‘exciting’ in the design department. The latest Maxima however will turn a few heads while not scaring away repeat buyers with any over-the-top styling changes.
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A minor gripe is that there is no easily discernible way to tell the 250 ST-L apart from the more expensive 350 Ti, aside from some badging and a subtle boot spoiler on the upper range 350 STS and 350 Ti models. All models also share the same paint schemes and wheel designs.
If you’re buying the top-deck model, you might want it more easily picked than having to search for the badge.

Interior

Interior wise, it’s a mixed bag. Highlights include a tidy instrument cluster and excellent leather seats (standard on all Maxima models) that are comfortable for long trips, but also have firm side bolsters holding you securely through the corners.
Interior space is another area where the Maxima shines. There’s ample space all round, offering decent leg room for the tallest of rear passengers and a high ‘ceiling’, even on the sunroof equipped Ti model.
While the boot looks small from outside, it’s a pleasant surprise that it offers 506 litres of stowage space and can easily swallow enough luggage for a family weekend away.
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The leather multi-function steering wheel is comfortable to the grip and with all steering wheel controls logically and easily used.
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On the higher-spec models such as the Ti, the navigation and display screen is recessed into the dashboard with the controls sitting below the screen.
While there is nothing wrong with the way it works, it’s not as elegant a solution as BMW’s iDrive system, which positions the controller at easy reach ahead of the central armrest.

Equipment and Features


The base level Maxima 250 ST-L comes with a number of standard features, including dual zone climate control air conditioning and a six-stacker CD player with AUX-in and MP3 compatibility.
The driver also gets an eight-way power seat with lumbar adjustment (four-way power adjust for the front passenger) and pushbutton engine start.
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Disappointingly the Maxima does not offer a dedicated iPod connection – even as an option – although, on the plus side, the auxiliary jacks are compatible with most portable audio players.
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Nissan also includes its ‘Predictive Path’ technology with this system, which shows the projected reversing path of the car with the current steering angle. Theoretically, it should make parking easier, but proves to be fairly unnecessary in reality.
For passive safety, the Maxima comes with driver and passenger front and side airbags and curtain airbags front to rear.

Mechanical Package

One of Nissan’s clear objectives when designing the new Maxima was to maintain the comfortable and refined ride of the previous model.
To achieve this, Nissan has adopted an X-shaped cowl top-structure to increase the new Maxima’s stiffness and to reduce vibrations.
There has also been extensive use of ultra-high tensile steel throughout the body, further increasing structural strength. The result of all these changes is a 40 percent increase in torsional rigidity.
The suspension is revised with Macpherson struts at the front and an independent multi-link system at the rear. The dampers are also new, both front and rear, and now incorporate built-in rebound springs to further enhance the ride and handling balance.
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Under the hood, the Maxima 250 ST-L differs significantly from that of its higher-spec 350 Ti sibling. The 250 ST-L comes with a smaller 2.5 litre VQ25 V6 engine, offering a reasonable 134kW at 6000rpm and maximum torque of 228Nm at 4400rpm.
Drive is sent to the front wheels via a newly designed six-speed ‘X-Tronic’ continuously variable transmission (CVT), which features a pseudo-manual mode that allows you to change gears yourself, albeit via the gear shifter only. No steering wheel gear controls are available.
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During our testing we observed the Maxima 350 Ti clocking up a fuel economy rating of around 12 l/100km for the mixed cycle, despite Nissan’s claims of 10.2 l/100km (though we were driving a little harder than most).
Note as well that the 350 Ti only accepts premium unleaded with 95RON rating or higher, while the 250 ST-L gets by on cheaper regular petrol.
The Drive

Settling in to the Nissan Maxima is a breeze. The car automatically reverses the motorised driver’s seat back to allow more room for entry and, once seated in the comfortable leather buckets, there’s a natty keyless push button to start the engine.
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On the highway, road noise barely intrudes into the cabin, ensuring a relaxing journey for all occupants.
And, around town, the X-Tronic CVT ensures that shifts are smooth and barely noticeable.

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