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2002 Nissan Maxima Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: The 2002-2003 was the best Maxima ever built. by PHOONGDAN



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I've owned my 2002 Maxima GLE for about 3 years now. Wonderful car with sporty sedan looks and impressive V6 power. Overall, the car's been reliable but it will nickel and dime you with occassional costly repairs. Then again, it's a nearly 15-year old car now so annual repair of something is to be expected. Engine and tranny are solid. Usual issues with these Maximas are related to emissions sensors that will throw check engine lights, the MAF (mass air flow) is also an expected costly repair with this generation of Maxima, and expect a lot of suspension-related repairs at around the 100K mark, if not before. But with proper maintenance many Maxima owners report 200K or near that on their engine/tranny before any major issues.

Reviewed: 2002 Nissan Maxima

4dr Sedan 255-horsepower 3.5L V6 4-speed automatic FWD

Why the 2002 Nissan Maxima?

Exterior styling

Overall exterior styling is attractive, especially the front end of the car. The slope of the hood, the grill, the stacked lighting and fog lights all add together to make a very attractive front-end appearance. It looks like a performance sedan from the front.

Interior styling

Leather seats are the only way to go! Decent quality leather, albeit a bit stiff. The seats are comortable and the interior is roomy, even for a long body like myself. The dash layout is simple and effective. I especially like the leather shift knob, adds a nice touchy class. They should have added some more pieces like this.

Powertrain performance

It's impressive in both throttle response and torque. In it's day, one of the fastest sport sedans on the road and will still walk all over most new higher-end 4-cylinders.


Not bad for a sedan of it's size. But turning radius is simply hideous. The ride is pretty rough when going over bumps, especially with the SE suspension or with KYB gas shocks, but that improves the handling. On a smoothe road, it has a nice glide to it.

Why Not the 2002 Nissan Maxima?

Exterior styling

Overall an attractive sedan, but the rear end has sort of a Toyota Camry grandma look to it. I prefer the 6th gen's big rear end to the 5th gen, but that's the ONLY thing better about the 6th gen.

Interior styling

Again, nice interior overall. The leather really makes it a Maxima in my opinion. I wouldn't own one with cloth interior. But, there are too many plastic parts that hurt the overall interior quality, especially the emergency brake.

Warranty, maintenance cost

Maintenance costs can be pretty high, not quite BMW maintenance, but close. The car will nickel and dime you with costly repairs. But it always starts right up.

Other Features of the 2002 Nissan Maxima


Despite being nearly 15 years old, this is still a good looking sedan with a beast of a V6 motor that's reliable and still holds it's own with the younger import crowd.

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Response from scumbling1

4:03 pm April 5, 2016

Thanks for the great review -- I love these Maximas. I can remember when they debuted; 255 horsepower in a sedan was quite impressive for the time. I always liked the rear end, with it's distinctive large lights.

Have you also driven the I35? I'm curious how it compares, and if it even offers anything worthwhile to an already competent car.


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Response from PHOONGDAN

4:41 pm April 5, 2016

Thanks. I'm glad you mentioned liking the rear end of the car, because it made me realize that I meant to say I don't care for the rear bumper. The rest of the rear end and the big eyed taillights I also like. I'll edit my review to reflect that.

I haven't driven any Infiniti models, so I can't say. But in the used car market the Maximas are usually half the price of the corresponding Infiniti models, which seems excessive. I think you'd be paying for the Infiniti name plate with possibly slightly better handling, and even that can be rectified with after market suspension parts. I'd rather have the Maxima. Infiniti may have more luxury swag, but Nissan has more street swag. Just depends what you like, I suppose.


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Response from scumbling1

8:24 pm April 6, 2016

My guess was that the Infiniti probably handles worse than the Maxima, as it weighs more. The only thing would be if it had some different suspension tuning, which was why I asked. I looked it up, and it looks like sport suspension was an option for the I35, so that could mitigate the greater mass's impact...But Like you, I'd take the Maxima; I don't care much for swag!

Is yours stock?


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Response from PHOONGDAN

1:07 am April 7, 2016

Struts have all been replaced with KYB and quite a few other suspension parts with Moog, otherwise it's all stock. Just had it repainted too and kept it the factory Nissan color, Sunlit Sand.

I do like the older model Q45's for pure luxury. What do you drive?


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