2003 Nissan Maxima Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Nissan Maxima Sedan

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Nissan Maxima Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.5 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 4-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 255 hp @ 5800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 17/24 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No
Gas Mileage


  • 17
  • cty
  • 24
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Review of the 2003 Nissan Maxima

  • An excellent choice as a well-equipped family sedan or as a cheaper alternative to an entry-level luxury sedan.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Impressively powerful V6 engine, sports car moves, availability of premium features, plenty of room for five adults.

  • Cons

    High price, rough ride quality with SE suspension.

  • What's New for 2003

    Since the Maxima was updated last year and is scheduled for a redesign in 2004, there are no major changes in store for the family sedan in 2003. There's a Titanium Edition package available for the SE and side airbags are now standard on GLEs.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

03 maxima gxe

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Maxima GXE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 4A)

This is my second max, first one still have 94 with 264,000 km and engine/trans tops. Only have 62,000 km on 03 and now first major repair, brakes all around. Got this as last Japanese made one and was afraid of quality control with 04 on. I may be wrong with the 04's on. This car takes off like a scared cat-make sure you are hanging on tight. I like the 94 more as it seems more roomer inside and with self adjusting shocks, real nice. However, very poor head lights-moved up to stronger ones to help. 03 lights, what an improvement over the 94.


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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Maxima GXE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 4A)

We have had our Maxima for a while now. I was originally looking at the Accord, but after test driving my friend's, I scrapped the Honda idea. I had no idea it had that much power! The car is a rocketship when you want it to be. It is approaching 100k, and I have never had any problems with it. I am looking forward to having many more years of fun. It is a great car that can easily fit 4 adults and has a ton of trunk space for all of your stuff. I absolutely love my Maxima, and would buy it again in a heartbeat!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Style, performance, price

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Maxima GXE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 4A)

I drove a '90 Maxima to 175k w/ no major issues. I currently drive an '06 Altima SE-R. I was confident that the purchase of a well maintained '03 Maxima GLE wouldn't disappoint. Boy was I right. Very handsome design, plenty of power under the hood, and very well appointed for a car in it's price range. The car just feels solid and well engineered. I am slightly biased, but it's a car I highly recommend based on past and present Nissan ownership.

If i had known about

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Maxima GXE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 4A)

I have to admit that I am pleased with the Maxima overall; although I would have waited for the 2004 model though. I have had the car for about 8 months and it has been vandalized three times!! If you live in the Northeast, don't buy this car! It is in your best interest to buy the 2004 model or buy something else. The research was not available when I bought this car and I am sorry I bought it. When you pay up to $3500 for a pair of headlights you get a little bitter. It is a beautiful car but the headache is not worth it.

A solid car

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Maxima GXE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 4A)

I recently purchased the GLE a few days ago. I test drove the BMW 325xi, the Volvo S60 2.5T AWD, and the Audi A4. I was actually on my way to the BMW dealership to buy the 325 (true story!) and for some reason or another i stopped in at the nissan dealership to check out the '04 maxima. I drove the 2004 and the 2003. Once I drove the 2003 I was sold. I bought the car right there on the spot. It drives much more smoothly than the other cars, plus you'll get much more bang for you buck with the fully loaded GLE. Consumer Reports rates it very high and so do I. A highly recommended car.

Best performance family sedan

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Maxima GXE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 4A)

I was looking for a family sedan that would be large enough cargo/seating- wise to meet my needs but wouldn't put me to sleep driving it. I looked at all the mid-size competition under $25K. Maxima was on the high end for interior amenities, and its powerful engine blew away every other contender.


Full 2003 Nissan Maxima Review

What's New for 2003

Since the Maxima was updated last year and is scheduled for a redesign in 2004, there are no major changes in store for the family sedan in 2003. There's a Titanium Edition package available for the SE and side airbags are now standard on GLEs.


Since the mid- to late '80s, the Nissan Maxima has been a favorite choice of those who wanted a V6 sedan that offered a lot of bang for the buck in terms of standard features, performance and reliability. Last year, Nissan upped the ante by offering the most powerful and most luxurious Maxima ever. For 2003, this flagship car can be equipped to be anything from a nicely equipped family car to an affordable sport sedan.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The Maxima is offered in three trim levels -- base GXE, sporting SE and luxury GLE. There is plenty of standard equipment on the GXE and SE, including cloth seating; a power driver seat; air conditioning; cruise control; HID headlights; power windows, locks and mirrors; a CD player; Homelink and a trip computer with an outside temperature display. The main difference between the two is on the outside, with the SE having 17-inch wheels and tires (the GXE has 16s), front foglights and a rear spoiler. The SE also has a sport-tuned suspension that includes firmer springs and shocks and a larger front stabilizer bar. Want to be pampered? Go with the GLE and enjoy its leather seating, premium audio system with an in-dash six-disc CD changer, power front passenger seat, driver-seat memory system, automatic climate control and 17-inch wheels and tires. In terms of optional equipment, the GLE and SE can be ordered with a power sunroof; a Meridian package that includes heated front seats, steering wheel and outside mirrors; a traction control system and a CD-based navigation system. There are also a couple option packages that allow an SE to be equipped similarly to a GLE.

Powertrains and Performance

Last year, the Maxima received a new 3.5-liter V6 engine. Very similar to the V6 engine found in the Altima and Pathfinder, as well as Infiniti I35 and G35, this advanced power plant produces 255 horsepower and 246 lb-ft of torque. For the money, this is one of the most powerful sedans you can buy. A close-ratio six-speed manual transmission is standard on SE models. The six-speed can also be ordered with a helical-type limited-slip front differential. Remaining models come equipped with a standard four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission (optional on SE). In terms of acceleration, a manual-equipped SE can launch from 0-to-60 mph in just 6.3 seconds.


Along with dual-stage front airbags, the Maxima comes standard with ABS-equipped brakes with BrakeAssist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution; active head restraints; ALR/ELR seatbelts and child-seat anchor points. GLE cars also come with front side airbags. In government crash testing, the Maxima has earned respectable scores with four stars (out of a possible five) in front- and side-impact tests. The IIHS has given the Maxima an "Acceptable" rating for front-offset crash test results.

Interior Design and Special Features

As sedans go, the Maxima is well appointed with features and amenities. The backseat offers plenty of legroom and headroom, the trunk is big and the front seats are comfortable. The Maxima also features richer interior materials than its in-house competitor, the Altima.

Driving Impressions

Regardless of trim, the Maxima is an entertaining car to drive. The V6 provides plenty of forward thrust. Some people might find the SE to have overly firm ride quality because of the sport-tuned suspension, but it's never harsh. If you have about $30,000 to spend, the Maxima is a great choice as a well-equipped family sedan or as an alternative to an entry-level luxury sedan. If the Maxima no longer fits your budget, you might want to check out the Altima. It offers near identical performance and passenger space for a lower price tag.


Talk About The 2003 Maxima

2003 Nissan Maxima Discussions See all Started By

I am a big fan of the maxima. I upgraded from 98 to 2000 to 2003 with manual transmission maxima. I love my 6 speeds 03....

I have a 2003 Nissan Maxima and live in the NE area. My headlights have been stolen twice in the past 5 months. These are very expensive to replace and I am afraid my insurance company will drop me....

My 2003 Maxima has been trouble free but the battery recently died. After replacing the battery, resetting radio presets, etc. I discovered that the sunroof would not respond to the switch. It worked ...

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