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Used Nissan Maxima review: 2009-2010

The J32 has a wonderfully smooth, free-revving V6 that delivers in spades when you depress the right pedal.

NEW - Some cars just never seem to grab the attention of buyers. No matter how good they might be they just don't attract any showroom traffic.

The Nissan Maxima is like that. It's a solid, well-built and attractive sedan with great engines, yet it might as well be invisible for all the attention it gets from the broader market. The Maxima badge isn't new, it's been around since 1993, but few buyers have even considered it when shopping for a new family car.

Even the J32, the most striking of the Maximas released to date, hasn't struck a chord with family car buyers. Nissan pulled out all stops to attract buyers to the Maxima when it launched its two-engine attack with the J32. Where previous models only offered the one engine, this time there was the choice of two with 2.5-litre and 3.5-litre versions of its acclaimed V6 available.

The 3.5-litre engine was the same one that has featured in other Nissan models; it delivers smooth and fuss-free motoring with decent fuel economy. The smaller engine, while not as powerful as its bigger cousin still delivers plenty of get up and go, and even better economy. There was only one transmission offered, a CVT. The cabin was comfortable and quiet, well laid-out and well equipped.

Even the ST-L that kicked off the range had leather trim; perhaps the only thing that was missing was cruise, which didn't come until the 2011 update. It was also well equipped with safety features, including front, side and curtain airbags, ABS brakes and electronic stability control.

NOW

If the Maxima failed to attract the attention of buyers looking for a family car, perhaps it should now as a solid, reliable used car. Mechanics rave about the Maxima's V6 engine, they say it's a jewel and grossly under appreciated by the motoring public at large. It's not surprising given that it's of the same family of engines that powers the Nissan sports cars, among other models in the Japanese carmakers portfolio.

It's a wonderfully smooth, free-revving V6 that delivers in spades when you depress the right pedal. It's not just about peak performance; it delivers smooth effortless response right through the rev range. If there's a question mark about the drive train it's the CVT transmission, the only transmission Nissan offers in the J32. CVTs have been around for many years, but it's only in recent times that they have been widely used.

The technology is still evolving and there are issues with the transmissions in the field. Shuddering and shaking are issues with some brands; in the case of the CVT used by Nissan it's noisy bearings. Mechanics report a number of cases of noisy bearings in the Nissan CVT. In one case involving a Maxima the owner reported a noisy bearing at just over 30,000 km, and when the mechanic went to buy a replacement bearing he found Nissan couldn't supply it.

All they could offer was a replacement transmission at a cost of $13,000. The bearing was eventually sourced from New Zealand and the car was repaired, but the episode not only emphasised the issue with the bearings, but also suggested Nissan's parts backup was less than satisfactory. The bottom line is that it's important to thoroughly assess the CVT when road testing a car prior to purchase.

Apart from the CVT there isn't a lot to be concerned about with the J32, but do the usual checks for a service record and inspect for possible crash repairs.

SMITHY SAYS

Under-rated sedan that should be on the shopping list of anyone looking for reliable comfortable family transport. 3.5 stars.

Nissan Maxima J32 - 2009-2010

Price new: $33,990 to $46,990
Engine: 2.5-litre V6, 134 kW/228 Nm; 3.5-litre V6, 185 kW/326 Nm
Transmission: CVT, FWD
Economy: 9.5 L/100 km (2.5); 10.2 L/100 km (3.5)
Body: 4-door sedan
Variants: 250 ST-L, 350 ST-S, 350 Ti
Safety: front, side, curtain airbags, ABS, ESP

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
2010 $6,930 $13,530
2009 $6,160 $13,420

View all Nissan Maxima pricing and specifications

Pricing Guides

$9,999
Based on 18 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$8,990
Highest Price
$11,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
250 ST-L 2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $8,995 – 10,980 2009 Nissan Maxima 2009 250 ST-L Pricing and Specs
350 ST-S 3.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $8,990 – 9,990 2009 Nissan Maxima 2009 350 ST-S Pricing and Specs
350 Ti 3.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $9,300 – 11,990 2009 Nissan Maxima 2009 350 Ti Pricing and Specs
ST-L 3.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $6,160 – 8,690 2009 Nissan Maxima 2009 ST-L Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist

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