For some time now, Nissan has been using a two-vehicle strategy in a segment the other car companies use one model to compete in. Nissan's thinking has been that the 4-cylinder Altima and the 6-cylinder Maxima with their different styles and attitudes could cover more ground in the mid-size market than could a single model like the Ford Taurus, the Honda Accord, the Subaru Legacy, the Toyota Camry, and so on.
It's a solid theory in principle but Nissan's practise of it has not been as successful as they'd hoped, probably because it's resulted in a diluted marketing message for both vehicles rather than a broad one for Nissan's mid- size cars as a whole. Whatever consumer reaction has been so far, I like Nissan's two-model strategy because it offers a much broader range of choice in cars of the same general intent -- midsize 4-door sedans.
For my own tastes, the Maxima has always been the more appealing car, partly because it's powered by one of the sweetest and most responsive engines in the business and partly because its dimensions are more accepting of mine. Is it any wonder, then, that I greet the introduction of the 2000 Nissan Maxima with such interest? As shown to a gaggle of North America's automotive media here recently, the fifth-generation Maxima has become an even better car, with more emphasis than ever placed on its role as a performance sedan. But there's also a more striking exterior (the current model tended to get blander with age) to think about, more luxury touches, more room in all the key directions, and a greater dedication to the notion of a hassle-free product. When you see the 2000 model year Maxima at Canadian Nissan stores this summer, you're supposed to recognize that Nissan did its best to keep what Ian Forsyth, product planning boss of Nissan Canada, called its "Maxima-ness," which he defined "as the heart and soul of the performance/luxury sedan."
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