The end of an era is at hand as Nissan announced it is killing the Maxima sedan. Dating back to 1980, it has seen eight generations pass through its portals. Nissan will replace the Maxima at some point with an EV. But we don’t know if it will be called Maxima or be a sedan. Though not necessarily a tarnished brand, it has been rudderless for years.
Why have Nissan Maxima sales slumped?
So far this year Nissan has sold only 3753 Maximas, while the slightly smaller Altima has seen sales of 78,610. And that has been Maxima’s problem, or at least one of them. When the Altima was introduced in 1993, it became the darling of Nissan’s sedan offerings, moving past the Maxima. Over the years, the automaker tried to position it as a sports sedan to goose sales. The Maxima SE featured a V6 and even a manual transmission option for a time.
But that didn’t last, and more recent versions never had the performance, or cache, of the earlier SEs. Another problem that Nissan is guilty of is that it neglected its premium sedan, which applies to most of its lineup. It is the same thing that has happened within the sedan segment in general, as we saw with the Ford Taurus SHO and Chevrolet SS.
What competition did the Maxima sedan have?
When the Xtronic CVT transmission was added to the sedan in 2007, that pretty much killed any memory of its earlier glory days. Besides getting killed by the Altima, it was also being cross-shopped against the Honda Accord 2.0T, Hyundai Sonata N-line, Kia K5 GT, and Toyota Camry TRD V6 and Avalon. In some ways, the Maxima was like a premium Camry or Accord. But it couldn’t beat their lower prices.
In 2015 Nissan released a new Maxima. Its VQ35DE engine did not change much from the previous model. Rated at 300 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque it still packed plenty of power. It was available in three trims, SV, SR, and Platinum. Last year a 40th Anniversary edition featured gray pearl paint, black interior, white face gauge cluster, and black wheels. The 2018 version received a slight update.
What was the Maxima sedan’s best year?
Looking at sales for the Maxima, it had many years with sales above 100,000. Its best year was 1994, when it sold 163,138, nearly twice the amount it sold the previous year. But in 2000 the slow sales decline began. It was able to clear 50,000 over several years, but the past two years have seen sales drop to 18,000 in 2020 and 16,386 in 2021.
For now, the upcoming Toyota Crown, ancient Dodge Charger, and Chrysler 300 carry the sedan torch.