2003 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE Consumer Reviews | Edmunds
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2003 Nissan Altima - Consumer Reviews

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2003 Altima Consumer Reviews

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Good but with its faults
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By Ivan
on

Vehicle

2003 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5M)


Review

The interior is cheap and pretty ugly. The turning radius is worse than a Ford Explorer. The cabin pressure is set up so that with the front two windows down theres alot of wind and pressure (compared to my 96 Maxima) but ok with all four windows down. The steering wheel is off to the left a bit and my seat seems to be facing slightly to the left, either way its not straightforward and it makes driving a bit uncomfortable. That last part is my real pet peeve. The circular dashboard is annoying too. Basically the whole interior stinks but I've had it since 52,000 miles (67 now) and no major repairs needed so far, its pretty fast, handles well (except for u-turns) and ok to look at.


Favorite Features

Speed, reliability, gas consumption (as compared to my previous Titan).


Suggested Improvements

Whole interior. Needs better upholstery and needs to put steering wheel directly in front of driver seat (no weird angles).


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Nissan Altima 3.5l SE Review
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By bunk22
on

Vehicle

2003 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5M)


Review

I purchased my Altima with the intent of it being my daily driver, 60 miles a day. Previously owned an 04 Maxima and loved the 3.5l engine. The Altima had 47,XXX miles when I bought it and 2.5 years later has 81,XXX miles. It is the A4 model with all leather interior. I change the oil every 4000 miles, rotate the tires and keep it in great shape. The engine is great, very good power to pass traffic or easily accelerate onto a freeway. The engine still runs beautifully; the car handles great; the interior leather looks awesome for 81K miles (though I do take great care of it). My only complaint in 2.5 years is that my 6- disc CD player just gave out.


Favorite Features

The 3.5l v-6 motor is my favorite thing. Granted I drive a Tahoe and a C6 Corvette but still the motor in the Altima. The quality of leather is my second favorite thing. Sure, not BMW quality but better than my much more expensive C6 Corvette.


Suggested Improvements

The plastic headlights are fading, even with my dedicated care. The 6- disc CD player giving out is also a cause for concern. It has the Bose sound system afterall.


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Somewhat disappointed
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By Daniel in Florida
on

Vehicle

2003 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5M)


Review

I've driven this car for 2 years. Plenty of power, very pretty car to look at from outside, feels pretty plush inside. Corners well. But unfortunately I have had a spat of maintenance problems. I've had to go to the service 4 times in the last 6 months, for a total of $2500, for various things the car computer reports. Had to replace the A/C compressor at 80K and 4 years of age, but that seems too soon. I was faithful to Nissan having had a new Sentra for 10 years, a used Maxima for 7, both performed well and required minor maintenance. But this last one has left sour taste, and I will now try another brand. I think the 3.5 motor in Altima frame is part of problem.


Favorite Features

Looks beautiful from outside, very pretty car. Corners well. Powerful most of the time, except when you don't step on pedal just right.


Suggested Improvements

Turning radius stinks. And just too many maintenance problems lately. Maybe it's just my particular car. But planning on trading it in for another car, from another brand.


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Great value
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By Andy
on

Vehicle

2003 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5M)


Review

I bought mine used off of a corporate lease w/ 40k mi. Just clicked over 100k. The brake pads were replaced at ~65k, and it now needs new struts. If you're looking used, look for the 3.5L V6 and the 17" factory wheels. The 2.5L has good performance and fuel economy, but the 3.5 is a much better design and build quality. Fuel mileage is only 1-2mpg down from the 4 cyl. 17" wheels have larger brake pads that handle heat better and don't warp. Only downside is pricey tires. Still looks sharp and rides great, and I can tow a small trailer (PWC, and a flatbed for motorcycles/ Home Depot trips) with no problems. Much better than the Accord I traded in in every way... haven't looked back!


Favorite Features

Acceleration, smooth transmission, available class 2 trailer hitch that bolts to the frame. Nice stereo. Still looks good. Roomy and comfortable. Great gas mileage for as big as it is. Real tilt steering, with friction lock telescoping.


Suggested Improvements

Slow opening sunroof. Rubber cupholder insert has to go. Poor placement on seat heater controls, and overall cheap plastic interior. Not a lot of aftermarket support for upgrades.


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Beware the Catalytic Converter
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By Anniee
on

Vehicle

2003 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5M)


Review

Originally car was great-looking and drove beautifully. Last year started to drive rough and didn't pass emissions. Had to pay $1200 to replace 4 valve cover gaskets. Was driving on major interstate at 60 MPH in the fast lane and the car suddenly stopped dead. Scariest moment of my life. The dealer is saying pay $1300 for catalytic converter. This apparently a HUGE problem with Nissan Altimas. Get yours checked before the 8 yr. 80,000 mandatory replacement expires, because Nissan won't replace if you are at 80,001. Disappointing at best and no longer have confidence in car.


Favorite Features

The look of the car is awesome!


Suggested Improvements

Paint is a bit cheap and thin and is easily scratched. The middle console should be more durable. There are problems with the catalytic converters on an ongoing basis.


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Altima's Look "fine"
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By Dennis
on

Vehicle

2003 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5M)


Review

I bought this used at 61,000 miles and I love the look of my loaded Altima. It's an SE so it's great on corners and holding the road. The car looks great! However, It has draw backs with ride and mechanicals. I had a clunking under the hood and I tried to find anything that would make the same noise when I went down the road. I found so much plastic that rattled. Thought for sure I'd cure it. But no. It ended up being the strut. Now, 10,000 miles later the left strut is clunking. I also had the brake pedal stick during the winter and the brake lights stayed on and I was stranded with a dead battery. The car is all show. Not a car for a non-mechanical person.


Favorite Features

It looks great with the red and amber rear lenses and an off white body. I added chrome bars on the front grille. The dash displays are very good for sight. The interior is saddle tan with good rear leg room. The cars design was not changed in four years, proof it was a great looker.


Suggested Improvements

Softer seats. Better mechanicals. Too many issues mechanically. I would not even look at the new Altima. Sorry Nissan.


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Great Car
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By cami
on

Vehicle

2003 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5M)


Review

I saw my car in the lot and had to have it first of all because of the pearlish white color. It had 17 inch rims, a spoiler, a sunroof and nice ground effects. I drove it down the highway and loved the power it had. It is very zippy! I drive over 100 miles a day and have not had it in the shop yet. I keep the oil changed and that is all it needs.


Favorite Features

I like the seats for comfort and it gets great gas mileage. I will definitely be getting the next model when I am ready for a new car!


Suggested Improvements

Absolutely none.


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Sporty & Responsive
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By kegradtech
on

Vehicle

2003 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5M)


Review

This is the 3rd Nissan Altima I've owned. I've also had a 2001 GXE Limited Edition (the last year of the old body & engine style) and a 1999 SE Limited Edition. I love the throaty engine noise under heavy acceleration, balanced with a very quiet response under normal driving conditions. The body styling is second to none in its class and I feel you have to upgrade to luxury vehicles to get better body styling than the Altima. My only complaints about it are the front brakes which seem to warp too easily (the same happened in my 2001, but no problems with this in my 1999 model.) I have had to upgrade to slotted rotors to keep this from recurring and I don't even heavily brake the vehicle.


Favorite Features

Roughly 250-ish horsepower in the V6. Great styling on the exterior. Power up AND down driver and passenger windows. Orange guage cluster is well designed and looks sharp (though blue would be better). 8-way adjustable driver's seat with lumbar roll.


Suggested Improvements

Beef up the front brake rotors or make slotted front rotors standard. The steering wheel buttons for radio and cruise control should be backlit. The cup holder liner is designed with holes so all spills go through to bottom. Too much cheap plastic in center console latches (they break too easily).


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Brake Problems
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By debys007
on

Vehicle

2003 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5M)


Review

My husband and I bought our Altima 2003. We don't drive a lot comparatively speaking these days. I love the car but there is a real problem with the rotors warping. We have had to have the rotors resurfaced and new brake pads twice now. The first time was at 27,000 and again 10 months later and it's only been driven another 8076 miles. So less than 36,000 total on this vehicle we have had to resurface rotors and install new brake pads twice. Both of us are in our young 50s and have had many cars in our lives. We've never had a problem with brakes, so I say this is a car flaw!! Oh by the way, neither of us ride the brakes either.


Favorite Features

It is very roomy and other than the brakes I love this car.


Suggested Improvements

Nissan needs to accept there is a brake problem and deal with it!!


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Pat's Altima
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By patricia a leblanc
on

Vehicle

2003 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5M)


Review

This vehicle is totally reliable in the almost three years I've owned it. The biggest trouble I've ever had with it was the locking steering column which I just jiggle to get it to unlock. It happens maybe once a month. It steers joyfully. The visibility is really a nine with the last one being that there is still a blind spot on the driver's side. I hate that. It's not the smoothest ride I've ever had but it comes really close to it. The snow handling is good with a view on when it slides for me. The color is very pleasant, it's like a sea green. I've been going to the dealer for service and it has taken me to long distances happily! I also have a car roof rack!


Favorite Features

Moving steering column (up and down), elbow rest for driver and front passenger, bose radio system, center storage console, CD storage, spacious seats, driver trunk release, cargo net, auto car starter, auto change rearview mirror, retractable center elbow rest, power driver's seat, rear moveable cup holder.


Suggested Improvements

None.


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