|| The Nissan Maxima has been one of my choice family cars
since its introduction back in 1981. The 1991-1998 Nissan Maxima's not
only provide plenty of room for 5 adults but also offers performance
that rivals many sports cars of its day.
The 1991-1998 Maxima's come
standard with a powerful DOHC V6 and unlike many V6 powered family cars
which usually only come with an automatic, the Maxima SE can be had with
either a 4-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual. The Maxima also offers
a very smooth ride without sacrificing good handling.
In addition to
good performance the Maxima is a well built family sedan with all the
The Nissan Motor Company is quietly working on a campaign to overhaul
their car line up. Current models, including the Maxima, Altima, and
Sentra, soon will be transformed into more luxurious and expensive models
while a new car line, the Versa, is welcomed into the fold and sold as
the automaker’s introductory model. So, why this change for Nissan?
Will the automaker’s plans succeed or
|fail? A lot
is hinging on this move by Nissan, perhaps more than meets the
The Nissan motor division has been a good performer in the highly
competitive US auto market. With the transformation of the make’s
name from Datsun to Nissan in the early 1980s to the introduction
of a luxury line, Infiniti, in the late 1980s, the Nissan Motor Company
has benefited financially and its customers have been receptive to
the changes. Still, Nissan’s line is a perennial third place
finisher among Japanese automakers in the lucrative U.S. auto market,
easily being outperformed and outsold by Toyota and Honda year in
and year out.
The pending changes for Nissan’s line up are coming about and
for the following reasons:
1. The Maxima’s competition, the Toyota Avalon, was overhauled
for the 2006 model year. The Avalon has shed its frumpy image as
it borrows Lexus styling cues to give it a much more luxurious and
appealing look. An improved interior and more standard equipment
has pushed a fully loaded Avalon into the low to mid-30s range as
well. Nissan’s response to Toyota’s move is to “Infinitize” the
Maxima starting with the 2007 model year by giving it a more luxurious
edge to compete effectively with the Avalon.
2. Introduction of the Versa. To fight Toyota’s budget minded,
youth friendly Scion division, Nissan will be importing the Versa
-- a 1.8L 4 cylinder powered xA-competing hatchback -- expected to
retail at about $12,000. To make way for the new introductory level
car, both the Sentra and Altima get a slight push up market, not
as noticeable as the Maxima’s bump up, but enough to distinguish
these two lines from each other and from the Versa.
Of course, Nissan won’t be selling the Maxima, Altima, or Sentra
for less than what you pay for these cars now. In fact, the Maxima’s
price may ultimately surge several thousand dollars and into the
range of cars sold by their Infiniti division which begs the following
question: why purchase a Maxima when an Infiniti G35 could be had
for almost the same price?
At the same time, both the Altima and Sentra risk being undercut price
wise by American and Korean manufacturers hungry to carve out a greater
share of the market. Indeed, the all new Alabama-built Hyundai Sonata
should sell for several thousand dollars less than a comparatively
equipped Altima. With Hyundai’s quality levels improving, the
Sonata’s appeal rises measurably.
Ultimately, Nissan must keep pace with Toyota and Honda or risk being
marginalized further. With other manufacturers duking it out, it will
be interesting to see if higher prices hold for Nissan models or whether
the Japanese automaker will be forced to cut prices to win consumers
and to hold onto market share.