ROAD TEST: Nissan Maxima deserves respect for its longevity

The Nissan Maxima continues its reputation as an exciting near-luxury sports sedan with its standard 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine and sport-tuned steering, braking and suspension. Maxima's aggressive, updated exterior appearance features a more voluminous front grille with a deeper V-motion flow that carries into the hood and down the body to the redesigned rear tail lamps and rear fascia.

Nearly 40 years after its debut via the long gone defunct manufacturer Datsun, the Nissan Maxima has endured an influx of rivals and remains a solid large sedan choice. But there's a catch: sales are suffering.

The Maxima peaked in 2005 with more than 75,000 units sold. Last year, the numbers slipped to just over 42,000. Intense competition from ever-increasing SUVs sales mean the market share for large sedans is shrinking while diverse options abound, from the Dodge Charger to Hyundai Sonata.

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