Nissan's flagship sports sedan, the Maxima seats four comfortably and is powered by a wonderful V-6 engine.

Four-door sedans with a sporty character were few and far between a few years ago not including BMW and some other luxury makes, of course. Among the Japanese cars there was one exception -- the Nissan Maxima. It's long been a favorite car with those who enjoy driving and has garnered rave reviews from car magazines.

Nissan's flagship sports sedan has been exclusively powered by a slightly de-tuned version of the V-6 engine used in the famous Z sports car for over a decade -- no wimpy four-cylinder engine in these cars. What's more, about one in ten was fitted with a manual transmission. For those who really want to enjoy a sports car but need a sedan, that's a rarity in the mid-size market.

Although the latest Toyota Camry and Honda Accord are similar in size, that was not the case a few years ago. They have grown up to become closer in size and appearance to the Maxima. If you want a pre-owned car that offers more luxury and better performance be sure to take a look at a Nissan Maxima.

 

What You Need To Know:

1. Review of a 1995 Nissan Maxima
2. Summary of Good and Bad Points by Owners
3. History of Nissan Maxima
4. Review of Current Model
5. Basic Facts
6. Changes Year-to-Year
7. Safety Information
8. Value Guide
9. Option Installment Rate
10. Sales History
11. Awards and Commendations Earned
12. Other Reviews
13. Recall Information
14. Price of Spare Parts

 

1. Pre-Owned Vehicle Review -- 1995 Nissan Maxima GLE

Likes: attractive looks, sweet engine, good handling
Dislikes: none
Competitors: Toyota Camry, Acura Legend, BMW 3-Series, Lexus ES 300, Saab 9000


Miles: 37,725
Condition: A
Price when new: $25,544 (est.)
List price: $19,315

Nissan's Maxima has been a favorite of mine for many years. Although its size is much the same as the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord, it has long had a much more stylish look and feel to it. Today you can get a Camry that is just as luxurious as the Maxima, which was certainly not the case in the past.

I drove this pre-owned 1995 Maxima with 37,000 miles on it while I was also test driving a brand new Toyota Camry Solara. What surprised me was that the Maxima felt just as good as, if not better, than the two-door Solara.

The Maxima has a very sweet V-6 engine that is smooth and quiet yet provides plenty of power. The car I drove had a four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission that shifted smoothly. Sporty drivers should keep an eye open for pre-owned SE models, as they are more likely to be fitted with a five-speed manual transmission which makes the car worthy of being called a real sports sedan.

This example of the Maxima was in very good condition with no visible blemishes. I could not even find any scuffs on the leather seats inside though some of the smaller plastic trim pieces looked a little tired. Talking of the interior, the Maxima has a spacious feel to it. The dashboard is fairly plain yet has a classy look. There are some nice touches of luxury such as padded leather trimming on the doors. About 40 percent of Maximas sold in the U.S. were trimmed in leather.

Rear seat passengers will find plenty of leg room and a decent amount of head room. The center armrest folds down to reveal a pass-through door that can be opened through to the trunk for holding skis or other long items. This is a feature more often found on European cars.

Handling is precise yet soft enough to please those who go for comfort more than prowess through corners. The steering is also pleasant at all speeds. I was somewhat surprised to find the tires to be noisy, probably because the rest of the car was so quiet!

All in all, anybody who wants a mid-size car with a touch of luxury should look at a pre-owned Maxima -- it's not as common as a Camry or Accord but really offers more for those who want to be different.

 

2. Summing It Up -- Owners' Views

Good: N/A
Bad: N/A
Verbatims: N/A

 

3. Maxima History

The Maxima name first appeared on a Nissan car in 1983 as a special V-6 powered version of the Bluebird. It immediately garnered high marks as an upmarket model in an era when the majority of Japanese cars were still very much econoboxes. In some ways it was a precursor of future, more luxurious products from Japanese companies. At the time Nissan advertised the Maxima as a sports car in a sedan body. It fitted in well with Nissan's image-building 300ZX sports car as the same engine powered both.

Of course the Maxima was somewhat more expensive than cars from Japanese companies, so its sales never attained a high volume. Until a few years ago, the Maxima was larger than the Camry and Accord and thus was often placed in a different market segment, competing against bigger cars from domestic and European manufacturers. However, the Toyota Camry, and to a lesser extent the Accord, have grown in size in their current iterations, making the three models much more comparable.

Nissan has kept the Maxima's upscale image by selling it only with a V-6 engine -- there is no base four-cylinder model. The third-generation Maxima appeared in 1989 and had a much more curvy design than before, though still maintaining the boxy outline.

The current model was introduced in the spring of 1994 as a 1995 model. It maintained many of the styling cues that had made the previous version so popular.

 

4. Review of the Current Maxima

The current model is essentially identical to the 1995 pre-owned model I drove. The front and rear of the car had a mild facelift in 1997 when the headlights and taillights were changed making the car slightly more aggressive appearing. The rear edge of the trunk lid was also resculptured giving it a small spoiler-like lip.

There have been no major changes in the specifications of the engine, transmission or suspension. The car still drives very nicely with good performance and handling. It's obviously proof that a good car ages well. An all-new Maxima will be introduced in the summer of 1999 as a 2000 model year car.

 

5. Basic Facts -- 1995-1999 Maxima

Vehicle Type: Mid-size Sedan
No. Passengers: up to five
Origin of assembly: Japan
Engine: (standard): 3.0-liter 190 hp DOHC V-6
Transmission: five-speed manual, four-speed auto; front-drive
Length: 188 inches
Wheelbase: 106 inches
Width: 70 inches
Height: 56 inches
Curb weight: 3000 lb (approx.)
Cargo volume: 14.5 cu ft
Fuel tank capacity: 18.5 gal
Fuel economy (EPA City/Highway): 22/27 (manual); 21/28 (auto)

 

6. Changes in the Nissan Maxima Line 1995 - 1999

1995 Model Year (first year of new model)
New model introduced

1996 Model Year
No changes

1997 Model Year
Revised headlights, grille, taillights, bumpers and trunk lid give the car a slightly different look.

1998 Model Year
Side air bags optional on SE and GLE models.
Improvements to rear suspension
Improvements to steering

1999 Model Year
No changes

 

7. Safety Notes
NHTSA Crash rating ('95 model year): Driver 4; Passenger 3 (5 is best)
ABS optional
Dual airbags standard from 1995

 

8. Value Guide:
Prices listed are for base models. Options can add considerably to the lowest price listed as these are usually "stripped" models. In many cases, very few vehicles are ever sold at the lowest price listed! Source: Kelley Blue Book

1992 Model Year
New: $20,725 to $22,725

1993 Model Year
New: $21,460 to $23,610

1994 Model Year
New: $20,389 to $24,589

1995 Model Year (first year of new model)
New: $20,404 to $25,544

1996 Model Year
New: $21,419 to $26,699

1997 Model Year
New: $21,940 to $27,369

1998 Model Year
New: $21,989 to $27,389


9. Option Installment Rate
Generally, when you order a new car you have a choice of factory-installed options. When you buy a pre-owned vehicle the choice is limited to what was actually installed on vehicles sold in that model year. Use this option installment rate as a guide to the chances of finding particular options on a pre-owned vehicle. Source: Ward's Automotive Yearbooks

1995 Model Year
Auto 91%
Manual 9%
ABS Brakes: 35%
Remote/Keyless Entry: 89%

1996 Model Year
Auto 89%
Manual 11%
ABS Brakes: 27%
Leather Seats 41%
Remote/Keyless Entry: (est.) 65%

1997 Model Year
Auto 93%
Manual 7%
ABS Brakes: 30%
Leather Seats 41%
Remote/Keyless Entry: 41%

 

10. Production/Sales Volume History:

Normally a model year runs from Oct. to September. Often though, when a new version is introduced it hits the market before October. Legally, a model year can start as early as January of the preceding year. Accurate model year sales counts are almost impossible to collect as different model year vehicles are regularly sold side-by-side for several months. Production figures, when listed, include vehicles made for export to Canada, Mexico and overseas. Source: manufacturers

1995 Model Year (first year of new model)

Production run: May 1994 through Sept. 1995
Total number produced: n/a
Total no. sold in U.S.: 152,733

1996 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1995 through Sept. 1996
Total number produced: n/a
Total no. sold in U.S.: 155,562

1997 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1996 through Sept. 1997
Total number produced: n/a
Total no. sold in U.S.: 130,148

1998 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1997 through Sept. 1998
Total number produced: n/a
Total no. sold in U.S.: 116,860

 

11. Awards and Commendations

1995

"Import Car of the Year" -Motor Trend
"Ten Best Cars" -
Car and Driver
"All-Star" - Automobile
"One of the 10 Best Engines" --
Ward's Auto World
"Best New Car" -
Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine
"One of the best overall values in the Midsize Class (over $20,000)" - IntelliChoice

1996

"Ten Best Cars" -Car and Driver
"Best in class" -
Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine
"One of the 10 Best Engines" --
Ward's Auto World
" All-Star" - Automobile
"One of the best overall values in the Midsize Class (over $20,000)" - IntelliChoice
"One of the highest resale values in its class" - IntelliChoice

1997

"One of best overall values in its class" (GXE) -- IntelliChoice
"One of best resale values in its class" -- IntelliChoice
"Best Deals on Wheels ($20,000 - $24,000 category)" --
Money Magazine
"One of the 10 Best Engines" --
Ward's Auto World

 

12. Quotes

"We've been fans of the Maxima ever since the third generation of Nissan's "big" four-door sedan appeared in 1989, even more so since the sport-tuned SE model got a 30-horsepower boost in 1992. . . . Now the car has been completely redone, with a brand new engine, a trick rear suspension, and modernized styling. And even though the scrumptious recipe of the previous Maxima was a tough act to follow, the new car came out tastier still." -- Car and Driver, June 1994

"Going into this test, I never imagined that I would choose the Maxima, but this is the car I would buy. The Maxima's high level of comfort impressed me first, but the car's engine simply overwhelmed me. Smooth and powerful, this extraordinary powerplant is the best V-6 currently available, except for the Acura NSX's VTEC. The Maxima is the thinking man's enthusiast sedan. No oddball quirkiness here, just straightforward superiority on both track and road." -- Sam Mitani, Road & Track comparison test, June 1997.

 

13. Recalls (Only major recalls listed)

None since 1995 model introduction

 

14. Cost of Parts (relative to other vehicles)

Headlight unit: $194 (above average)
Side marker lamp: $35 (below average)
Door (left front): $405 (below average)
Fender (left front): $262 (above average)

Note: these are estimated retail prices for commonly replaced body parts on a 1995 model. Prices are current as of mid-1998 but will vary from region to region and are subject to change at any time. Source: ADP Collision

 

The Rettie Report and AutoConnect Pre-Owned Profiles contain objective information from a variety of sources. The subjective comments are those of John Rettie.

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