2008 Nissan Maxima Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2008 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 Automatic
  • Horse Power 255 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/25 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2008 Nissan Maxima

  • The 2008 Nissan Maxima provides decent performance, luxury and space, but is no longer the standout it once was in the midsize sedan segment.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Ample interior space, standard V6 engine, suspension well balanced for both handling and comfort.

  • Cons

    Reflexes aren't as sharp as those of some competitors, gets pricey when options are added, some low-grade interior materials.

  • What's New for 2008

    After receiving a midcycle refresh last year, the Nissan Maxima heads into 2008 with only mild package adjustments. Last year's Elite Package has been largely replaced by the Platinum Edition Package, though the Elite's more comfortable two-person backseat arrangement has been dropped.

Full 2008 Nissan Maxima Review

What's New for 2008

After receiving a midcycle refresh last year, the Nissan Maxima heads into 2008 with only mild package adjustments. Last year's Elite Package has been largely replaced by the Platinum Edition Package, though the Elite's more comfortable two-person backseat arrangement has been dropped.


The 2008 Nissan Maxima is a car with an identity crisis. In terms of price, heritage and image, this is Nissan's flagship sedan. But the days of the Maxima's "four-door sports car" performance are an increasingly fading memory, and the car doesn't hold much of a premium advantage over other choices that it might once have had.

Problem number one for the Maxima: the Altima. These days, Nissan's mainstream sedan can outdo the Maxima in just about every regard. Of course, one needs to order a well-equipped Altima V6 in order to make this happen, whereas the Maxima comes standard with a V6 as well as more features and space. The Maxima must therefore rely mostly on its ability to provide upscale features at a price that undercuts equally equipped luxury cars by thousands. However, a so-equipped Maxima touches $35,000. We're not sure people will be willing to throw down that much change for a Nissan, when the same amount (or less) could net a decently stocked Acura TSX or TL or an Infiniti G35.

True, the 2008 Nissan Maxima continues to offer a respectable combination of performance, luxury and space. There's nothing overtly wrong with it, but for a premium, larger midsize sedan, there are simply better and/or wiser choices available. Besides the Maxima's sibling, shoppers should also consider the Chevrolet Malibu and Honda Accord, which are bigger and redesigned this year, as well as the Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT Limited and Volkswagen Passat. Large sedans like the Chrysler 300, Hyundai Azera and Toyota Avalon should also be considered for those attracted to the Maxima's size. The aforementioned TL, TSX and G35 also deserve a look if luxury is a priority.

Nissan's flagship is set to be replaced next year, but for now, and with so many smarter choices available, the Maxima just isn't as enticing as it once was.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

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. Standard features on the SE include 18-inch alloy wheels, side skirts, a rear spoiler, a fixed SkyView glass-paneled roof, a power driver seat, tilt-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless ignition/entry and an eight-speaker stereo with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The SL trim trades the SE's sporty appearance for more creature comforts. Gone are the 18-inch wheels, sport side skirts and rear spoiler. In their place are 17-inch wheels, a Bose audio system with an in-dash six-CD/MP3 changer and satellite radio, leather seating, a power front passenger seat, and heated front seats and exterior mirrors.

Most of the SL's extra features can be added to the SE trim via the Sensory Package. The Platinum Edition Package available on both trims adds bi-xenon headlamps; rear parking assist; a power tilt-telescoping steering column; memory functions for driver seat, steering wheel and outside mirrors; heated steering wheel; Bluetooth and power-folding and auto-dimming outside mirrors. A navigation system and power sunroof are stand-alone options.

Powertrains and Performance

The powertrain of the 2008 Nissan Maxima is a carry-over from the previous year's model. Nissan's award-winning VQ-series V6 and Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) team up to propel the 3,600-pound midsize sedan. The result is a maximum of 255 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque sent to the front wheels. Despite no option of a manual gearbox, the CVT offers pseudo ratios for use when additional control is desired. More realistic 2008 EPA estimates rate the Maxima at 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.


Antilock disc brakes with brake assist, traction control, front seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side-impact head curtain airbags represent the Maxima's key standard safety features. Stability control is a stand-alone option. In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's frontal crash testing, the Nissan Maxima received a top five-star rating for the driver and four-star rating for the front passenger. Side-impact testing resulted in a four-star rating for both the front and rear seats. When tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Nissan Maxima produced results of "Good" in the frontal offset test but a second-lowest "Marginal" in the side impact test.

Interior Design and Special Features

It may be a midsize sedan, but the 2008 Nissan Maxima's interior feels downright cavernous front and rear. The standard strip of glass in the roof known as SkyView aids that airy feel considerably. The front seats are wide and accommodating, though finding an optimal driving position can be difficult. The dashboard features a sleek and modern design. In years past, the center stack was marred by some poor ergonomics, but Nissan has largely rectified the situation, and controls are very user-friendly. One of our lingering complaints about the Maxima's cabin is the mediocre materials quality. For a car priced at the $30,000 mark, there are still a few too many low-grade plastics and fit and finish miscues. A 15.5-cubic-foot trunk plus split-folding 60/40 rear seats reinforce the larger-than-average midsize sedan theme.

Driving Impressions

The 2008 Nissan Maxima accelerates, brakes and handles well, but it's no longer the track star of its class. The car is brisk off the line with a broad midrange that the CVT fully exploits, but as it's a high-horsepower front-wheel-drive vehicle, some torque steer is evident under hard acceleration. Unlike other CVTs, Nissan's unit does a fine job of ensuring the engine works in the most effective range of its power band. Those looking to row their own gears will be disappointed, however, as no manual transmission is offered.

The suspension is tuned more for comfort than spirited road exercises, and steering feel is merely good under normal driving conditions. Nor does going with the "sporty" SE trim help matters. The SE's 18-inch wheels and tires, while larger and V-rated, are still all-season tires like those the SL wears. Moreover, the components and tuning of the steering, suspension and brake systems of the SL all match the SE's. Simply put, the use of the words "fun-to-drive" and "Nissan Maxima" in the same sentence is largely a thing of the past.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Excellent car, excellent value!

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SL 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT)

Only negative is the turning radius. 3 point turns and squeezing around tight spots (i.e. parking lots) can be tricky at times. Othewise, this is a great car at a great price. Holds up well, repairs are minimal. I went with a Nissan Maxima after years ago vowing never to buy chevy after seeing a fleet of salesman (company) cars (1/2 the sales force picked Chevy Mailbu 1/2 picked the Altima, 6 Malibus and 6 Altimas go head to head over a 3 year run). Basically the Malibu's ALL started shaking, rattling, needed "front end" work..ballbearings needed repaired, brakes/rotors...you name it...all went after about 24K to 26K..the Altimas didn't need any repairs until into thier 30K's.

Great car

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT)

I bought a 08 Maxima about 4 months ago. Driving this car is a blast it has plenty of power and the lack of road noise is incredible. After reading reviews on how horrible this car is on hitting bumps in the road. I came to the conclusion that as long as your not hitting bumps at excessive speeds just like any car its perfect. The design of the exterior is real classy with a sports car feel. The interior is comfortable and there is a few pieces that I think could be made alot better but that comes along with any car. I love the car and the only complaint from me is the turning radius but if you've ever owned a sports car they all are.

Won't get fooled again

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SL 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT)

In the first 12k miles, I've had: 3-4 service trips for check engine light before replacing faulty gas cap. service: re-glue interior upholstery near moon roof. It was suggested that the cause of it coming off may have been use. Use. Guess they never planned on people using it more than 3 times. service: re-glue cheap material around steering column which was splitting along the seam. Guess I wasn't supposed to use the steering wheel either. - worst car in snow I've ever driven - jarring ride - scraped bottom going 1 mph over a speed bump. - very quick to scratch, chip, rust. - sun visor bracket came loose when I popped it off to put visor by side. started rattling. Total # uses:2

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Fun car, horrible turn ratio!

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT)

I have always driven Honda's. Decided to turn in my Honda Civic for a 2008 Nissan Maxima. Totally FUN to drive! Blow by people while barely pushing in the accelerator! Overall a really nice car. Gas mileage not great but its a souped up V6 sports car, I expected that. The one MAJOR complaint I have is the turn ratio! I have to practically make a three-point turn to get into a parking space. Trading it in because of those two things. Can't stand it anymore. I can barely get through a coffee drive through! Put good tires on it and it's actually pretty good in the snow for a CAR. Traction control.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Low build quality that takes

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT)

Nissan wanted to make the most profit possible, so they built this nice car with the lowest quality parts available. The car has nice transmission, powerful engine, comfortable seats. and low quality material. bad suspension, below average rims quality, precise steering that won't last long. noisy gas tank when it's full.The car also has a very large turning radius makes you feel you're turning with a semi truck. Nissan also has a very bad customer service with the slowest response in the industry.

Already traded it in

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT)

Traded in '99 Altima for 2008 Maxima, loaded w/everything but nav system. I missed my Altima. Battery went out within a year. Not prepared for how low it sat (my fault, it's a sports sedan). I scraped the front bumper (visible damage) on the curb of a parking space within a month and had a hard time getting in and out of steep parking lots. The turning radius is horrible and the car is so long that I had a very hard time parking and backing out of tighter spaces. I live in a city where it floods; I kicked myself for two years because the car sits so low I could not really drive in the rain. I traded it in for an AWD Subaru Forrester that sits up high, has great clearance and turns on a dime.

Talk About The 2008 Maxima

2008 Nissan Maxima Discussions See all Started By

New 2008 Maxima w/bluetooth Phone sevice is Verizon, our phones (both same model VX8300 LG) are problematical, one works sometimes, the other one never, even though both are paired properly. On Veriz...

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Gas Mileage


  • 19
  • cty
  • 25
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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