2009 Nissan Maxima Starts at $29,290

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Nissan announced pricing today for its redesigned Maxima, which we drove earlier this month. The cloth-equipped Maxima 3.5 S starts at $29,290, while the leather-clad 3.5 SV, which Nissan expects to account for the lion’s share of sales, starts at $31,990. Neither price includes a $660 destination charge. The Maxima is officially on sale today.

Nissan says the 3.5 S represents “nearly $400” more in value than last year’s base Maxima 3.5 SE, which started at $28,630 but kept items like stability control and a power passenger seat on the options list. Both are now standard. All the same, Nissan expects just 10% of buyers to get the 3.5 S, so if you don’t want leather, one might be hard to come by.

The 3.5 SV offers Sport and Premium packages for $2,300 and $3,450, respectively. As much of their offerings overlap — both add paddle shifters and heated seats, for example — you have to pick one or the other. We’d go with the Sport package, as its sport-tuned suspension and 19-inch wheels make the Maxima a lot more fun to drive. The Premium Package adds a panoramic moonroof and backup camera, among other things.

A Technology Package adds a navigation system, backup camera and iPod integration for $2,250 if you opt to buy it with the Sport Package. It’s $1,850 with the Premium Package, which already has a backup camera. Stand-alone options include a rear spoiler, an air-conditioned driver’s seat and more. A loaded Maxima 3.5 SV should top out just over $38,000. Compare that to an ‘08 Toyota Avalon ($27,325 to about $38,500), Acura TL ($33,725 to about $38,500) or Cadillac CTS ($33,675 to about $50,000).

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Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey Mays

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