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Used Nissan Maxima review: 1995-2009

Nissan Maxima has enjoyed sales success in Australia over many years. Success in a class in which others have struggled, that's because buyers show a preference for locally built cars in the big-six-cylinder market. Maxima is fully imported from Japan and can carry four large adults and a child with ease, five adults if they don’t mind doing some space sharing. 

The Maxima gives a smooth, quiet, comfortable ride. Though it's not quite as good on really rough corrugations as cars that are specifically built for Australian roads, it copes reasonably well with Aussie dirt roads. Handling is softer and less responsive than that of the local sixes, but the Nissan is safe and predictable and will suit many drivers. But those looking for a sports sedan should try elsewhere.

2000 Nissan Maxima. 2000 Nissan Maxima.

Styling of the big Nissan was nothing special in the pre-1995 models but has improved since. Maxima underwent a styling revolution in 2003, though with the 2009 model the designers backed off and went back to a more modest shape.

Maximas prior to the 2003 model, use a 3.0-litre V6 engine. The 2003 Maxima had upgraded power by courtesy of a 3.5-litre V6. With the introduction of the 2009 Maxima, Nissan Australia surprised us all with the addition of a sweet little 2.5-litre V6 as an option to the 3.5-litre unit. The smaller engine has more performance than you might expect, but traditionally buyers of six-cylinder family cars in Australia want plenty of grunt and the 2.5 doesn't really supply that.

Nissan Maxima was unusual in having a manual transmission option in a market that’s normally auto-only. However, the manual was only offered during 1995 and 1996 and only in the lower-cost model. This five-speed unit could be difficult to resell. However, many country drivers enjoy the added control offered by the manual gearbox and may be looking for a car just like this. 

The automatic transmission had four forward ratios until the interesting move in 2006 of specifying a continuously variable transmission (CVT) beside the engine. The CVT gives a little more performance and there's some reduction in fuel consumption. But not all may like the different sound and feel it displays. Then again it's an acquired taste.

2004 Nissan Maxima. 2004 Nissan Maxima.

Spare parts prices are often a little higher than average for this class, reflecting the fact that the Maxima is fully imported. 

The good home mechanic can do some of their own maintenance and minor repair work on older models, later ones are pretty complex in places. Underbonnet access is good but make sure you have a workshop manual before diving in too deep. 

The Australian Nissan dealer network is long established and works well with outlets in virtually every area, even those deep in the outback. However, the latter may not always keep spare parts on hand for the Maxima so you may face a wait if unlucky enough to have problems in the bush.

Insurance charges, though usually higher than for Aussie family sixes, aren't excessive. There can be a bigger than average range of premium charges so it's smart to take time to shop around.

What to look for

The engine should start almost the moment you turn the key and idle smoothly and quietly as soon as it starts.

A smoking exhaust is probably a sign of expensive wear – and the older Maximas are often getting towards their use-buy date.

2009 Nissan Maxima. 2009 Nissan Maxima.

If the automatic transmission is slow to go into gear or harsh in its changes it may be due for an overhaul - though you may get away with simply having it serviced.

Check the brakes pull up the car in a straight line and that one wheel doesn’t lock before the others. If ABS is installed you should feel a pulsing through the pedal during hard braking, if it’s too harsh have an expert look it over.

Make sure there are no suspension noises, particularly when the car is driven on rough roads. Try a few hard corners and feel for a car that leans overmuch, but keep in mind these Nissans are set up for comfort not speed.

Look for body damage or repairs following a crash, an inspection of the front tyres for uneven wear and a look over the seats, door trim and carpets for signs of rough use. Always have a professional do a final inspection.

How much

Budget on paying from $3000 to $6000 for a 1996 Nissan Maxima 30S Touring; $4000 to $7000 for a 1999 Maxima S; $6000 to $10,000 for a 2003 ST-L; $9000 to $14,000 for a 2005 ST-L; $12,000 to $17,000 for a 2006 Ti; and $21,000 to $29,000 for a 2009 Ti.

Car buying tip

Cars aimed at drivers who prefer comfort often appeal to those who spend money on having them professionally maintained at all times. Ask to see the service books.


Year Price From Price To
2009 $6,160 $13,420
2008 $6,160 $9,900
2007 $5,940 $9,460
2006 $5,060 $9,020
2005 $4,730 $8,360
2004 $4,400 $7,810
2003 $3,410 $7,260
2002 $3,080 $6,380
2001 $3,080 $6,380
2000 $3,080 $6,380
1999 $3,080 $6,710
1998 $3,190 $6,710
1997 $3,190 $6,710
1996 $3,190 $6,710
1995 $3,190 $6,710

View all Nissan Maxima pricing and specifications

Pricing Guides

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Range and Specs

30G 3.0L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $3,850 – 5,720 1995 Nissan Maxima 1995 30G Pricing and Specs
30GV 3.0L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $4,510 – 6,710 1995 Nissan Maxima 1995 30GV Pricing and Specs
30J 3.0L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $3,190 – 5,060 1995 Nissan Maxima 1995 30J Pricing and Specs
Executive 3.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $3,410 – 5,390 1995 Nissan Maxima 1995 Executive Pricing and Specs

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