2004 Nissan Maxima Review

Pros & Cons

  • Roomy interior, lots of upscale options, sweet V6, available with a manual transmission.
  • Some small, oddly arranged controls.
List Price Estimate
$965 - $2,120

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Although it's now more upscale than ever before, the Maxima remains one of the best combinations of performance, luxury and value in the midsize sedan segment.

2004 Highlights

The Maxima has been fully redesigned for 2004. It now rides on the same underpinnings as the well-received Nissan Altima. This year's Maxima is longer, wider and more powerful than the previous version.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2004 Nissan Maxima.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Nissan Maxima Brakes, ABS, Floorboards, Sunroof, Nissan Corporate, Faulkner Harrisburg, Star Nissan Greensburg
I purchased a 2004 Nissan Maxima after extensive research as a left over in January 2005. The car was garaged 95% of the time and serviced by the dealership until the warranty expired. Traveling from South Carolina to Pennsylvania, the ABS and Brake lights illuminated. Standard brakes were still operational subsequently I drove the car to the Faulkner dealership in Harrisburg. Here the mechanics determined there was a fault code indicating an entire ABS replacement. They also found rust on the floorboards under the front wheel wells. Add this to a sunroof motor failure just days prior to the ABS brakes failing. Stranded in Harrisburg I did a little research and quickly identified a TSB on Maxima brakes. Nissan owners posted on this subject frequently as well as rust under the floorboards and sunroof failure. I shared my findings with the dealership when they called to announce the nearly 5K in repairs needed for the Maxima. The Faulkner dealership then directed me to call the Nissan Corporate Customer Assistance. I explained the situation and that the car was indeed 8 years old but had merely 60K miles most of which were highway. The interview process was consistent from the dealership to the customer service representative to the final mediator. I realized I was repeating information on the car for three days. The global narrative included; • The car received regular maintenance from the Star Nissan Dealership (I would not recommend this dealership) • The Star Nissan Group sold and maintenanced the car until warranty expiration. • The Star Nissan mechanics failed to notice any of these issues even though they had the car on the rack for 10 days repairing the air conditioning just five months prior. • I personally detailed the car four to five times a year—washed the undercarriage as well. The day before Thanksgiving the corporate mediator, Glenda, called to announce Nissan would not be providing any repair assistance. Unfortunately, I was also very ill and lacked the energy to pursue the matter. It was essential to repair the brakes so I could make it home and get to a doctor. It is important to know that I loved this car. I selected every option and waited until I found a black on black fully loaded Maxima. This car was serviced more than any other vehicle I have owned. From the 261 lb/sqft torque to the responsive engine this car made me happy…..until it didn’t. As it turns out, we had a dysfunctional relationship. I gave and gave and Nissan left me sitting. If you have read this and still purchase a Nissan and especially a Maxima remember you were warned.
Nissan Maxima
I was so excited when I bought this car I've always had a Nissan and they never let me down. I loved the double sun roof and the previous owner had "tricked" it out so it was all fancy. I bought it with 130,000 miles on it which was quite a bit but it was running well! But then after about 20,000 miles the key kept getting stuck in the ignition, the CD player skips everything and cuts out, takes a few times to actually start the car and now it has trouble switching gears AND I was driving a few days ago and it totally turned on in the middle of the road; steering wheel locked, gas didn't work, lights and everything went off (had to turn it off then back on again). Nissan has let me down.
2004 Maxima transmission problems
I have a 2004 Nissan Maxima with the serious transmission problems, driver’s side window motor and one motor used to control the driver side power seat is out. We have been owners of Nissans for more than 22 years. At one time all of my children’s (3) has a Nissan. We will switch to another brand and never own a Maxima again. My daughter had the same problem with her 2004 Murano.
you will regret it I learned the hard way!
Mr Texas 2015,12/18/2015
3.5 SL 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 4A)
It will definitely gain attention on the road by the exterior design but that is about all this car can do for you. Very low mileage purchase in January of 2011. The first thing I noticed about a week later was the famous shimmy. I'm doing 45-50 and the steering wheel starts shaking like a hula dancer. So of course I went back to the dealership they re balanced the tires. A week later it came back so I purchased 4 brand new Goodyear tires didn't solve it shimmy remained up until the end. March of 2011 had to have motor mounts replaced under warranty. September 2011 the timing chain was replaced under warranty thru Nissan. January 2012 the upper A/C hose was replaced for $600. July 2012 Power Steering leak was replaced. December 2012 both H.I.D headlights went out on the highway due to a bad ballast. March 2013 both CV Joints had to be replaced due to leakage. August 2013 The vehicle began to experience a hard start then that same day left me stranded at wal mart it was the Cam/crank sensors. January 2014 The Valve cover gaskets leaked oil. Fixed properly leaked again for a second time. June 2014 check engine light comes on P0420: Catalyst Efficiency Failure which means that catalytic converter was bad didn't replace. October 2014 Alternator fails. By December 2014 another check engine light this time the transmission needed to be replaced for a second time as had been by the previous owner. January 2015 traded for a 2009 Infiniti M. DO NOT BUY THIS CAR YOU ALONG WITH MY BROTHER,MYSELF,A MILLION OTHERS WILL REGRET IT.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2004 Nissan Maxima features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2004 Nissan Maxima
More About This Model

With the introduction of the 2002 Nissan Altima, many were predicting the death of the Maxima, a car Nissan has been selling in the U.S. since 1982. It never made sense that Nissan would kill a car with such name recognition, but at the same time, the Maxima seemed obsolete, overpriced and underwhelming when compared to the quick and spacious Altima. For the 2004 model year, the Maxima will share a platform with the new Altima which sort of begs another question — won't the new Maxima be little more than a fully loaded Altima?

While messing with a proven formula can always be tricky, our initial stint behind the wheel proves the new Maxima is clearly an improvement over the old and is much more than simply a decked-out Altima.

The Maxima still sports the same award-winning VQ-series DOHC, 24-valve, 3.5-liter V6 engine as in previous issues, but now that engine is good for 265 horsepower. That's a 10-hp increase over the 2003 model, but more importantly, the Maxima now offers 20 horsepower more than the V6 Altima.

The Maxima lineup has been reduced to just two trim levels: 3.5 SL and 3.5 SE. The SE is still the sporty model with a firmer suspension and bigger 18-inch wheels, while the more luxury-oriented SL has 17-inch wheels and a slightly softer suspension. The SE is available with an optional six-speed manual transmission while a five-speed automatic with shift-it-yourself mode is standard on the SE. Oddly, the SL comes only with a four-speed automatic.

All Maximas come with Nissan's Skyview Roof, which is sort of like a narrow moonroof that runs the entire length of the roof. The Skyview Roof cannot be opened like a traditional sunroof, but sliding doors inside on the headliner can be opened or closed to let in more light, or block out the sun. A traditional power sunroof is available as an option.

Without question, for 2004 the Maxima has moved up market. The new car is 1.4 inches wider, has a 2.9-inch longer wheelbase and offers increased trunk capacity. In 3.5 SL trim, the Maxima is clearly a near-luxury car that bridges the gap between Nissan and Infiniti models. An eight-way power driver seat, a dual-zone automatic climate control and a dash display that provides audio and trip computer readouts are all standard. The dash area in particular looks much more appealing than previous Maximas. Textured suedelike material adorns the door panels and dash area, giving the latter a sort of "floating" appearance. This kind of attention to detail is unnecessary, but Nissan planners learned a valuable lesson when complaints began to arise about the Altima's rather bland interior. Overall, the interior improvements work well — not once did it feel as if we were riding in an Altima.

The optional Elite Package affixes even more luxury to the Maxima by changing the rear seating area into a more comfortable two-passenger setup. A rear center console is added that features controls for the seat heaters as well as a switch to operate the power rear sunshade. Additional high-end options include a more powerful Bose audio system, DVD-based navigation system and XM or Sirius satellite radio.

The front seats are comfortable for long-distance travel, and the rear seats offer excellent hip-, leg- and headroom. The Elite Package engenders a limolike feel to the backseat in terms of space and comfort. The new design of the center dash area looks bold, but most of the buttons are the same size, shape and color making it hard to figure out how to operate certain features without consulting the manual and/or taking your eyes off the road. After a few hours of seat time, nothing seemed out of place.

Our only complaint with regard to ergonomics is the small joystick-type button that must be used to access certain information in the main display screen. The button itself is not a terrible idea, but it is difficult to use when the car is moving. Once your finger is touching the knob, a bump or turn can cause unwanted adjustments.

We were able to drive the 3.5 SL and 3.5 SE — both have a distinct character with the six-speed SE being the most fun. While the Maxima does exhibit a little torque steer under hard acceleration (especially when equipped with the six-speed), carving up back roads is still a rewarding experience. As the 3.5 SL is sprung a little more softly than the SE, there is more body roll around turns. On the open highway, the Maxima has a well-composed ride and the cabin remains quiet.

Now that the Maxima is a more upscale vehicle, educating the sales staff will be a huge part of its success. Nissan is upgrading its dealerships with what it calls "a more customer-friendly environment." With all its added content and features, the Maxima may be closer to competing with brands like Acura or even the company's own Infiniti brand, and those customers will not take kindly to the "hard sell" tactics many low-priced import brands resort to. A negative dealership experience may be the only weak spot in the Maxima's potential success.

Longer, wider, more luxurious and more powerful than its predecessor, the 2004 Nissan Maxima has definitely moved up market. Just like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, the Maxima has slowly changed from a compact family sedan to a near-luxury midsize sedan. But unlike the Accord and Camry, Nissan has long exploited the Maxima's performance advantage; thankfully that has not changed for the 2004 model year. By offering a true alternative to other midsize sedans, the 2004 Maxima is proof that Nissan "gets it." The Maxima is a terrific car that has a lot to offer midsize-sedan consumers who want more than just appliance-like transportation.

Used 2004 Nissan Maxima Overview

The Used 2004 Nissan Maxima is offered in the following submodels: Maxima Sedan. Available styles include 3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5A), 3.5 SL 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 4A), 3.5 SL 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5A), and 3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6M).

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Should I lease or buy a 2004 Nissan Maxima?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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