Commentary: Farewell, 4DSC
Yet, this is another example of another sedan being sent off into oblivion for the sake of crossovers and SUVs.
On August 4, 2022, Nissan announced that it will drop the Maxima sedan from their lineup after 2023.
Excuse me, what?
That’s what the automotive media has been reporting, as well. Thus, the obituaries have been published across the electronic frontier. Perhaps prematurely.
Yet, this is another example of another sedan being sent off into oblivion for the sake of crossovers and SUVs. Even with supply chain shortages, there is still room to eliminate another vehicle from the lineup.
In this case, it appears that Nissan chose to target the large Maxima sedan for elimination. It falls into recent storylines. Sedans no longer sell. Large sedans are a waste of showroom space. Customers prefer stepping up into a Murano or a Pathfinder than stepping into a Maxima.
The reality can only be found on the sales chart. Through June 30 of this year, Nissan sold only 3,753 Maximas. This resulted in a drop of 62.3 percent in sales from the same period previous in 2021. The Maxima became the second lowest selling vehicle in the Nissan lineup – above the GT-R.
Looking back at its history, the Maxima’s origins come from the Bluebird, which was sold in the USA as the Datsun 1200 back in the early 1960s. It was part of the longest running model sold in the USA, wearing nameplates such as Datsun, the 510, the 610, and the 810. Then, in 1980, the Maxima name appeared in a new generation model that had upmarket ambitions. This would also be one of the first USA models to apply the Nissan name over its Datsun one.
Since the 1985 model year, every Maxima was a front-drive model. Every Maxima would be powered by a V6 engine. And, every Maxima would entice its customers to enjoy a level of luxury that would eventually be the domain of the Infiniti brand. In fact, there was a generation of Maximas that were sold as Infinitis.
By 1989, the 4DSC sticker first appeared. This gave Nissan an alter ego for the Maxima as the “Four Door Sports Car.” They likened these specific Maximas as a four-door alternative to the iconic Z. They mixed sport with luxury and invited drivers to take them to the limit.
As the sixth generation came about in 2003, the Maxima was solely a North American offering. It was designed and built in the USA. And, it showed. The next generation followed design trends that either were inviting or putting off consumers. Then again, the Maxima was facing its own crisis of relevance, identity, and a change of direction in the future of the automobile in this market.
Flash forward to 2015 and you finally get a Maxima worth looking at. One that defines 4DSC. It drove as it had a purpose being more of a large sporty sedan than anything else. The in-your-face design was one selling point, as it gave us a view of then-current trends in Nissan style.
The trick to sell the Maxima a few years ago was to assure consumers they are getting a special sedan among the rows of SUVs on sale alongside it. While it was a charming idea to do so, not a lot of consumers fell for it. They followed the herd to the trend towards SUV/Crossovers and have been leaving the sedan for dead.
A couple of years ago, Nissan made placates to us assuring us that they’re committed to selling sedans alongside their growing SUV portfolio. Is that assurance being broken? One could say “yes,” but the sales numbers do not lie. Even as the automotive industry struggles to meet the challenges of supply-and-demand, some models are simply passed up for others in the marketplace.
The Nissan Maxima will join the Chrysler 300 towards riding off into the sunset at the end of the 2023 model year. It appears that the Dodge Charger will be reimagined into a new electric vehicle. That will leave the all-new Toyota Crown as the only vehicle in its class, even though it is a different breed of vehicle entirely.
If you look back at the last 42 years, Nissan made a concerted effort to elevate the Maxima somewhere between its mainstream contemporaries and near-luxury/mid-priced rivals. It combined the heart of the 4DSC with luxury that would find its way into the Infiniti brand.
In a year’s time, there will be fewer large sedans on sale in North America. Nissan executed the Maxima to its 4DSC image for the last run. I’ll give them credit for that before saying “good-bye” to their largest sedan.
All photos by Randy Stern, except attributed otherwise