2003 Nissan Maxima Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Nissan Maxima Sedan

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Nissan Maxima Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.5 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 255 hp @ 5800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/26 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

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.

Gas Mileage


  • 19
  • cty
  • 26
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Never left me stranded

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Maxima SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6M)

I love this car. I bought it used in 2006 with 77k on it. I drove it for 5 years and just sold it with 160k on it. The car is fast, gets good gas mileage, looks good, and is super reliable. Over the course of 5 years I replaced 2 sensors in the car and that was it. I liked the car so much that I went out and bought another one. The new one is a 2003 as well with only 60k on it. I can't wait to drive this car another 100k.

Great car, great value

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Maxima SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6M)

Purchased this car used with about 8k miles on it. New, it stickered for about $31K, but I picked it up for about $21K, a real bargain. This is a fun car. I've only had 3 problems with the car: At around 25k miles the Speed Sensitive Volume became erratic. Nissan changed out the Bose unit, it was fine for a few months and then the problem came back. They replaced the unit again and suggested if it happened again they would probably replace the amp. Both times were under warranty; no charge. No problems since. I now have about 68k miles, and a few months ago the front psgr window motor was replaced due to some sticking. That's it. This car is reliable.

Fun to drive

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Maxima SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6M)

I've owned my Maxima since 2004 and it has been a great car. The car is loaded and also has a 6 speed, which is fun to drive and is fast for a family sedan. There is a lot of room in the car and trunk for my family. The car has had minimal repair work (tires, brakes, exhaust system). I've got 89k miles and the car still looks great and runs well. I've noticed a slight drop in the acceleration but that is to be expected with time. I would highly recommend this car to anyone looking.

Recommend it, but...

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Maxima SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6M)

I'd recommend this car as shown by the ratings. A few minor things to pick on. I'm 6'1", and this car is too small for me. My head is buried in the roof (moonroof actually) unless the seat is really reclined. Bose radio, heated seats and window safety switch all broke. Leaky window seals. Handles poorly in the rain and snow, but can be compensated for by an appropriate tire. Still, a very good car.

Hard to beat

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Maxima SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6M)

We purchased this car used, knowing that it was an ex-rental previously. If ever there was an invitation for disaster, this would be it. And yet… this was a 2003 Nissan Maxima SE, allegedly a Japanese BMW, available for pennies on the dollar compared to new. As the old saying goes; even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then. And boy did we ever! I’m 6’4” tall and still fit comfortably. Acceleration is impressive, as is fuel economy (even while using regular), the handling brings out the teen in me (I'm mid 50's now), and yet it is still a functional and dependable sedan and business mode of transportation with which to entertain clients in.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Great car

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Maxima SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6M)

I own a 2003 Nissan Maxima SE with the Titanium Package which I purchased new in April 2003. It currently has 65,000 miles and is still solid as a rock. The VQ35 3.5L V6 is amazing - great power and torque. I've added the following: custom grille, Viper remote start system and Injen cold air intake. I plan to add hi-flow exhaust and upgrade to 18" wheels. It has never been back to the dealership even once for any problems. I also own three American cars, including a Cadillac, but none of them can match the quality of the Maxima. I wouldn't part with it for anything!


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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