Nissan is a full-line automaker offering cars and trucks in virtually every segment of the market. Primarily known for enthusiast-oriented cars and inexpensive compact sedans and coupes, Nissan has expanded its product lineup in past few years. Recently, Nissan leveraged its expertise in small pickups to enter the full-sized truck and SUV markets, but has met with limited sales success.

In case you haven't seen the cover of a car enthusiast magazine in the last year, the latest Nissan GT-R has finally made it to North America. Long revered by enthusiasts, the 2009 GT-R is the first production model ever offered for sale in the U.S. The front/mid-engine GT-R is a technical tour-de-force from its twin-turbo V-6, to its full-time all-wheel-drive, to its twin-clutch rear transaxle. The styling puts some off, others decry it as an expensive Nissan. Either way, the GT-R has the performance to back up the hype.

The Murano crossover SUV enters its second generation for 2009. At first glance, the all-new Murano appears little different from the current model. Riding on a new platform, the Murano is virtually identical to its predecessor in size. Major changes include a more powerful V-6, sleeker front-end styling and a far more luxurious interior. The Murano deserves credit for creating a new niche of vehicle, as evidenced by the number of competitors entering this market.

Finally, the Nissan Maxima is all-new for 2009. It wears striking new sheet metal that no longer resembles the more common Altima. The Maxima retains its front-wheel-drive layout, but output from its 3.5L V-6 has increased by about 35-bhp. Nissan has resurrected the Maxima's "4DSC" tagline from the early Nineties to remind enthusiasts of its flagship's sporting heritage.

Next up for Nissan is the U.S. launch of the boxy Cube compact.

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