Behind the Wheel

2020 Nissan Maxima Review: Good enough to fill the small void left by Buick, Chevrolet

Nissan refreshed the Maxima for the 2019 model year. For 2020, there's a few improvements and the model still retains its comfortable seats and spacious trunk.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In the words of Andre 3000 at the 1995 Source Awards, "the South got something to say." The mass market large car segment is nearing extinction, according to most of the headlines and statistics you'll read. Nissan, whose North American HQ is located squarely in the Southern U.S., has found itself in a strong position to pick up the slack left behind by General Motors.

The 2020 Nissan Maxima is relatively the same as the 2019 model, with a few differences. Nissan Safety Shield 360 is now standard on the car, adding automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and rear automatic braking to every Maxima model.

2020 Nissan Maxima The Nissan Maxima still features the updated exterior that was given to the car for the 2019 model year. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan has also added the Integrated Dynamics Control Module to every grade of the car (previously in SR only), which includes intelligent trace control, active ride control, and intelligent engine brake, to the car.

The enhancements make the Maxima, which is powered by a capable but not exhilarating 300-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine, a formidable choice for buyers who want a competent daily driver with a little more rear seat and trunk space than what is in the midsize Nissan Altima.

Nissan has done interiors quite well for years now and the Maxima is not an exception to that rule. For its $40,000-ish price tag when fully equipped, buyers get smooth surfaces with sleek accents. Despite cries from reviewers for Nissan to up its game here, a quick look at the market reveals that these materials are at least as nice as what you'll find in the Toyota Avalon, if not nicer.

2020 Nissan Maxima The car has a large center stack that doesn't give the feeling of roominess that makes cars like the Genesis G90 and Audi A8 so desirable. Still, it feels roomier than the Lexus LS.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Large car buyers want comfort and the Maxima delivers. Its seats are spacious and feature Nissan's Zero Gravity technology, which keeps tiredness at bay for hours at a time. The back seats are equally comfortable carrying adult occupants and in top trims, the leather on the seats, steering wheel, and shifter are supple.

The car's sore spots are predictable and common in aging Nissan vehicles like the Maxima and Murano. The car's 8-inch infotainment touch screen features outdated graphics that get crowded when using the audio function and don't know enough clear detail when using the navigation system. The A-pillar isn't the easiest to see around. It could stand to be more athletic and isn't terribly fuel efficient.

2020 Nissan Maxima The Nissan Maxima has comfortable seats, good forward visibility, and an available panoramic sunroof - all for around $40,000 fully loaded. That's a good price for a good car.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Still, the Maxima delivers a lot of what buyers are looking for. Sure, it's not as well-equipped or engaging as large cars by BMW, Audi, Genesis, and Mercedes-Benz, but it's literally half the price.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Alfa Romeo and the Italian police have a 70-year history, which includes this model, the Giulietta.

Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo

In the fifth episode of "Storie Alda Romeo", the company reveals how, for over 70 years, police officers in Italy have used the company's cars to perform essential job functions. Starting in the 1950s, Alfas were used as call-out vehicles, patrol models in U.S. terms, and became known as the "volanti".

Cars used by the State Police were nicknamed "Panthers" and those of the Carabinieri (military police) earned the nickname "Gazelles". Both terms were flattering and served as metaphors for the vehicles' power and agility.

The first Panther

1900, Police

Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo

Built in 1952, the first Panther was an Alfa Romeo 1900. The Gazelles began production a few years later.

The Alfa Romeo 1900 marked a lot of firsts for its maker. It was the first Alfa to have a self-supporting body and the first left-hand drive model. The car came with a four-cylinder engine, abandoning the six- and eight-cylinder power plants that had proved popular with buyers. The engine was powered by a single carburetor and delivered 80 horsepower (that was a good amount back then).

The 1900 was the first Alfa to be produced on an assembly line, which dropped the production time of one vehicle from 240 hours to 100. Many modern factories have been able to cut this time down to 48 to 72 hours.

It was agile and fast. The car was launched to the public with the slogan "The family car that wins races". It proved popular with buyers. Alfa sold more 1900s alone than the total number of Alfa Romeos it had sold up until the 1900 was produced.

Success in variety

Portello factory, 1900 production

Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo attributes much of the 1900's success to product cycle management that is replicated time and time again in the modern market by companies worldwide. Alfa introduced several high-performance variants of the 1900 including the 1900 TI, 1900 C Sprint and Super Sprint, and the 1900 Super, winning important international competitions within their category.

Continued coachbuilder collaboration

BAT  Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica

Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo

Even as the 1900 grew in popularity with the average buyer, the Alfa Romeo continued working with coach builders to launch concept cars, like the Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica (BAT) on 1900 mechanics. The BAT was created by Bertone and designed by Franco Scaglione.

The Matta

Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo

The same engine as the one used in the 1900 was also adopted by the Alfa Romeo 1900 M, which is better known as the "Matta". Alfa made two different versions of the Matta from 1951 to 1954, one for civilians and one for military personnel.

It was a 4x4 that achieved 64 horsepower from its four-cylinder engine, which was paired with a four-speed manual gearbox.

In a similar vein as the Willys-Overland MB cum CJ-2A, several variants were produced for the agriculture, firefighting, and road maintenance industries.

The first Gazelle

Giulietta ti, Police

Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo

The Alfa Romeo Giulietta was the first Gazelle, which was designed as a patrol vehicle. It came equipped with a radio system so officers could stay in touch with headquarters. Even in most modern police vehicles, radios are a aftermarket accessory.

The Giulietta was shorter, narrower, and lighter than the 1900 and offered buyers a modern exterior that gave owners high levels of comfortability in the cabin. Its aluminum engine delivered 65 horsepower and the car had a maximum speed of 102.5 mph.

The car was a near instant success. It became known as "Italy's sweetheart" and sold over 177,000 units.

At the 1954 Turin Motorshow, a coupe version of the Giulietta debuted. Called the Giulietta Sprint, the model was designed by Bertone to be a low-lying, compact, agile car.

Enter: Giulia

Giulia, Police

Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo

As popular as Giulietta was, the Giulia was even more so.

The reasons for its popularity started at the front and rear, where, instead of beg but for style, they were designed to be shock-absorbent. This combined with a rigid passenger compartment to give drivers the comfort of knowing that they were in a safe (for its time) car. Many of these innovations were not yet compulsory.

Under the car's hood was a 1.6-litre twin cam engine. It had one one of the lowest coefficients of drag of its time, only 0.34. Alfa Romeo's marketing department capitalized on this, promoting the car as being "designed by the wind".

Sales of the vehicle were beyond expetation. The company sold over 570,000 sales, more than triple those of Giulietta.

Famous police cars

Giulia, "Carabinieri"

Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Super was one of the most popular Alfas ever produced and one of the most famous Italian police cars ever produced. Other police cars from the Alfa lineup include the Alfasud, Alfa 75, and Alfetta Alfasud, Alfa 75156. Today, first responders drive the modern Giulia.

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Yamaha Grand National Cross Country University gives drivers the opportunity to hone their skills.

Photo courtesy of Yamaha

Registration for the Yamaha Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) University is now open. The unique school allows off-road racers and riders to hone their skills with some of the best off-road racers of all time. Each master class highlights off-road racing fundamentals including sportsmanship, training, proper nutrition, and race preparation, along with hands-on technical riding instruction.

The event will return to Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia and be followed by a full weekend of racing. Dates for the event are September 23-25, 2020. Reservations are on a first-come, first-serve basis with 80 openings evenly split between ATV and motorcycle disciplines.

Photo courtesy of Yamaha

"Racing is back, Yamaha GNCC University registration is open, and the resilience of the Powersports industry was on display this past weekend as many appreciated the opportunity to get back outdoors and enjoy the sport we love while still respecting the space and wishes of fellow race fans," said Steve Nessl, Yamaha's Motorsports group marketing manager. "We celebrate podiums and championships at the end of a race day, but it is the time spent at the races on the whole that we take away as precious memories. That's why Yamaha GNCC University is such a special event, as it offers the next-generation of racers the opportunity to build not only memories, but also their race skill-set alongside past champions and legends of the sport."

ATV Classes will be led by:

  • Johnny Gallagher, XC1 Pro ATV rider celebrating 26 years racing at a pro-level.
  • Walker Fowler, five-time GNCC XC1 Pro ATV champion, and current undefeated series leader.
  • Traci Pickens, 12-time WXC ATV champion.
  • Mark Notman, retired Pro ATV racer and elite Walker Fowler Racing mechanic.
  • Josh Merritt, XC1 Pro ATV racer.

Motorcycle classes will be led by:

  • Randy Hawkins, seven-time AMA National Enduro champion and AmPro Yamaha Racing team owner.
  • Jason Raines, five-time AMA National Hare Scramble champion.
  • Layne Michael, XC1 Open Pro motorcycle rider.
  • Michael Witkowski, XC2 250 Pro motorcycle rider.
  • Becca Sheets, WXC motorcycle and undefeated class leader.
  • Rachael Archer, WXC motorcycle rider.

Rider can register by calling the resort at 877-441-4386 or find more information online at GNCCRacing.com.

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