Nissan’s Detroit Auto Show concept will likely tease next Maxima

Though it’s not officially naming the car yet, Nissan will use the upcoming Detroit Auto Show to give us a good idea of what the next-generation Maxima will look like.

The automaker announced Tuesday it plans to unveil the Sport Sedan Concept, a vehicle that points to where Nissan will take the design of a new Maxima that is due in production form later in 2014.

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The full-size, front-wheel-drive car sits at the top of Nissan’s sedan lineup, and competes with the likes of the Chevy Impala, Toyota Avalon, Hyundai Azera and Kia Cadenza. Each of those models has been completely redesigned in the past several years, and the field is stronger now than it’s ever been.

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This means the current Maxima -- with us since 2009 -- has had trouble keeping up, with sales through November down 14% compared with the first 11 months of 2012.

When the new version of the Maxima does bow in 2014, don’t expect it to change its philosophy much. This is a segment where front-wheel-drive, entry-level luxury and V-6 engines with around 300 horsepower are the status quo.

Despite a tendency for this segment to prefer comfort over performance, Nissan has always sought to position the Maxima as the fun-to-drive alternative to its peers. The brand plans to carry this ethos into the newest version as well.

“The Sport Sedan Concept previews a new energetic design direction that amplifies Nissan’s legendary approach of applying sports car principles to a sedan,” Nissan said in a statement announcing the concept’s debut.

Nissan will debut this concept on Jan. 13, the opening press day of the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. Other debuts already announced for the show include the Honda Fit, Chevy Corvette Stingray Z06, BMW M3 and M4, and the Mercedes C-Class. More world debuts are expected to be announced the week of Jan. 6.


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