2002 Nissan Maxima Review

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2017
The Car Connection
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2002 Buyer's Guide: Nissan by Bob Plunkett (10/1/2001)
You review the '02 Maxima SE

 

Front-wheel-drive cars are at a disadvantage compared to rear-drive cars. They begin to get a little squirrelly as the output creeps much past 200-hp, especially if the car has a manual transmission and no sophisticated traction/stability control system to rein it all in. Since front-driven wheels also have to manage steering, they get befuddled by torque steer where rear-drive keeps things separated.

The 2002 Nissan Maxima has always been a capable and swift sport sedan, but now that it boasts a throbbing 3.5-liter V-6, it’s so potent that it requires full-time attention to keep under control when driven hard.

The upgraded 255-hp engine (up half a liter and 33 hp from last year's 3.0-liter, 222-hp engine) wants to jerk the car into the next lane through the first two gears of the standard six-speed manual gearbox found on the SE, especially if you change gears hard and fast, like a would-be Jeff Gordon.

This car really flies, but you get the impression that the Maxima's front-drive platform is getting right close to the limit of its ability to deal with the mighty motive force of the 3.5-liter engine. If Nissan pumps up the volume much more, it will either have to upgrade the Maxima to rear-wheel-drive (my vote), or offer an all-wheel-drive system, which has been the route taken by Audi (A4 and A6 Quattro), Jaguar (X-Type) and Subaru (WRX), to name a few makes and models.  While these cars may not be direct Maxima competitors, they are similar in that their powerful engines are made much more tractable by bolting an AWD system to their otherwise front-drive platforms.

Maybe next year, or the one after that.

Substantial upgrades

2002 Nissan Maxima SE

2002 Nissan Maxima SE

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Meantime, we'll have to make do with the upgrades and improvements Nissan has made to the 2002 model, and they are substantial. Above and beyond the formidable V-6/six-speed drivetrain that should make the Maxima among the fastest vehicles in its class, Nissan has shape-shifted the front end of the car and the result is much more appealing. An atmosphere-gulping, wide-mouthed grille and new-for-'02 headlight assemblies featuring High Intensity Discharge (HID) Xenon bulbs, which sear the night with ultra-blue-tinted light. Visibility with HID lights is much improved and Nissan deserves praise for adding these to the Maxima's list of standards. There are also new clear/translucent taillight housings out back, in keeping with what's trendy, but the Modern Art jumble of ovoids and planes remains. This last aspect — the Maxima's less than stunning rear end — is the only lingering stylistic question mark floating above what is otherwise a very handsome, no-nonsense-looking sport sedan.
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December 24, 2016
2017 Nissan Maxima SR 3.5L

Great buy, great looking.

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I have a Pearl White Maxima SR model, came off an 2012 Audi A6. Test drove the SV and was very impressed with the interior quality, materials and design, as well as ride. My wife saw a Pearl White SR and fell... + More »
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July 19, 2015
2016 Nissan Maxima 4-Door Sedan 3.5 Platinum

wow the most awesome maxima yet

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just bought 2016 maxmia truly impressed had a 2011 max this one is far superior interior is great ride and drives great
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July 19, 2015
2016 Nissan Maxima 4-Door Sedan 3.5 SL

Great car, no regrets.

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Test drove mazda6 and Hyundais offering. Neither came close. Honda and Toyota highly rated but boring looking. Found the maxima SL beautiful inside and out. Looks great, sort of like a cross between sports... + More »
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July 8, 2015
2016 Nissan Maxima 4-Door Sedan 3.5 Platinum

Just keeps getting better

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This is my 3rd. maxima. First a 04 then a 09 then the new 2016. Have only had it for 5 days but is a cut above my 2009 Maxima. Everything works better. Love the new car and all the new high tech features. Car... + More »
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June 21, 2015
2016 Nissan Maxima 4-Door Sedan 3.5 SL

Interesting style for the 8th generation model

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CVT still does not belong in a Maxima, needs a DSG or 6 speed manual transmission. It would be worth the extra money. Now the current CVT looks for the highest ratios for better gas MPG. If you're buying a... + More »
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February 10, 2016
2014 Nissan Maxima 4-Door Sedan 3.5 SV w/Premium Pkg

Nothing but problems!

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Brake/rotor problems at 16,000 miles and after repairs again at 19,000 miles, a/c dials don't work 40% the time, already had to replace a faulty master cylinder at 18,000 miles, emergency brake light randomly... + More »
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June 3, 2015
2014 Nissan Maxima 4-Door Sedan 3.5 SV w/Premium Pkg

Nice car with decent power

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Nice car with decent power and fun to drive, could use more horsepower and better upgrade in luxury styling and transmission upgrade.
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April 30, 2015
2014 Nissan Maxima 4-Door Sedan 3.5 SV w/Premium Pkg

STYLISH AND FUN

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I love the Maxima! It is a superb combination of sleek sophisticated styling and fun performance. No wonder Nissan calls it a 4door sports car :) I previously had a 2005 Ford Mustang GT and as an addition to... + More »
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April 17, 2015
For 2014 Nissan Maxima

A great car.

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I have had 7 Maximas over the years, and this one is the best yet. They just keep getting better.
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April 28, 2015
2012 Nissan Maxima 4-Door Sedan V6 CVT 3.5 SV w/Premium Pkg

The car is comfortable, roomy, fast, stylized very well, and I enjoy driving the vehicle.

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This car has just about everything that you would want in a car of this quality. When you want it to be sporty you can change to the paddle shifters and get a real sports car feel with a four door. It has all... + More »
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