The flagship sedan of the line, the 2008 Nissan Maxima, carries over with few changes after a major update for the 2007 model year. In that update, the Maxima received a new front end and grille, new headlights, a restyled rear end, and a freshened interior layout with a new design center stack.
One of the terms used most frequently when talking about the 2008 Nissan Maxima in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com is "identity crisis." A major reason for that identity crisis is that the Nissan Maxima is very similar to its baby brother, the 2008 Nissan Altima sedan, at least in terms of exterior styling. However, one area where the 2008 Nissan Maxima distinguishes itself is its interior.
On all 2008 Nissan Maximas, Kelley Blue Book says that the styling is "a far cry from the boxy designs of its predecessors," thanks to "crisply-tailored lines punctuated by an expressive C-pillar and short decklid." Cars.com adds that this 2008 Nissan features many details that "mimic those on Nissan's other cars," most notably the similarly styled stablemate Nissan Altima. Car and Driver, for example, describes the Maxima as having an "overwrought-Altima exterior." Cars.com remarks the 2007 restyling gave “the car a boxier face, though the rear remains as bulbous as ever.” Most reviewers note the similarities to the Altima: “While the Maxima's arched roofline, notched C-pillar, chiseled fenders and truncated deck are reminiscent of the Altima's, if considerably more aggressive, its grille is distinctively different,” Automedia reports. However, they note, “You can see echoes of Z styling elements in the Maxima's triangular taillights, its creased hoodline, bold headlights, spoked alloy wheels, [and] 3-port gauge cluster.” Still, AutoWeek feels the Maxima is "really just an Altima XL."
Edmunds states that the "2008 Nissan Maxima midsize sedan is offered in two trims, the sport-oriented 3.5 SE trim and the luxury-oriented 3.5 SL trim," but the external differences are minor. They say that the Nissan Maxima SE comes with "18-inch alloy wheels, side skirts, [and] a rear spoiler," while the SL loses "the 18-inch wheels, sport side skirts and rear spoiler" in favor of "17-inch wheels" and more subdued styling.
Inside the short-lived exterior of the 2008 Nissan Maxima is an interior that features attractive, practical styling. ConsumerGuide says that the 2008 Nissan Maxima "has easily read white-on-black gauges" and the "audio and climate controls are large and within easy reach, but the unorthodox layout takes some acclimation." Other reviews report favorably on the interior as well, with Edmunds raving about the "sleek and modern" dashboard design and "very user-friendly controls." One slight mark against the interior styling comes from Kelley Blue Book, which comments that it features "yellow LCD display readouts that, unfortunately, can fade to illegibility in bright sunlight." However, Cars.com reports “the Maxima's cabin has an upscale, executive appeal,” and that “materials in my test car were top notch, with well-cushioned seats and high-quality leather.”