In the world of family sedans, it pays to be different. No, you have to be different. Otherwise, people would just buy another Camry. To that end, Nissan sent their 7th-generation Maxima to the gym, and it emerged as a muscle-bound “4-Door Sports Car” (that’s what the 4DSC sticker means). Granted, the 2009–2014 Nissan Maxima won’t outdrag an M3, or outhandle a Quattro. But it will outclass a Camry just sitting still, which makes it one used car that’s hard to beat…

Introduced for the 2009 model year, the A35 Nissan Maxima rides on a modified version of the Altima/Murano FWD platform. Its dimensions sit between mid-and-full size, and it wears some of the best looking sheet-metal that Nissan’s ever devised. Although power is sent to the 18/19-inch front wheels, the aluminum-intensive suspension does a great job of transferring its 3,700 lbs through the bends. You won’t mistake a 2009–2014 Nissan Maxima for a ‘real’ sports car, but you won’t mistake it for a milk toast family car either.

Part of the Nissan Maxima’s charm comes from the VQ-series V6 under the hood. Thanks to lots of clever technology, this chain-driven twin-cam 3.5L cranks out 290 hp and 261 lb-ft. That ‘oomph’ gets channeled through a CVT transmission, which has been programmed to handle all that power brilliantly (it even has synthetic ‘gears’). Simply mat the throttle (the optional paddle shifters seem to slow it a bit) and the 2009-2014 Nissan Maxima will charge to 60 mph in 5.8–6.2 seconds. You won’t be late for that sales/PTA/AA meeting again!

The cabin of the 2009–2014 Nissan Maxima is just as smart looking as the outside. There’s an Infiniti-esque center stack, with lots of features packed into the full-color touchscreen display. All of the materials feel high-end, and seats are comfortable and supportive. Options include dual glass roof panels, adaptive cruise control, rear climate/audio controls, and a sport pack with bigger wheels and a sportier suspension setup. Comparing this generation Nissan Maxima to more expensive models from Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti is totally justified. And, considering that you can get a low mileage 2013 Nissan Maxima from $7900 to around $10,000, it’s a great used car that’s hard to beat.


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