The Nissan Maxima is a full-size car marketed as the brand’s flagship sedan in the United States. It was introduced in the 1980s and is known for its performance, safety, and unique design.
Now in its eighth generation, the Nissan Maxima is not slowing down. The latest model years are fitted with state-of-the-art technology and numerous safety features.
JD Power rates the Maxima highly; In 2021, the Nissan Maxima received the highest rating (88 out of 100) among its direct competitors, being significantly ahead of the Dodge Charger, Toyota Avalon, and Chrysler 300.
If you would like to know which model years of the Nissan Maxima to go for (and which to avoid), continue reading our guide.
Table of Contents
Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The Nissan Maxima Are:
The best Nissan Maxima models ever made are from 2018 onwards and from 2011 – 2015. On the other hand, the worst Nissan Maxima models ever made are the 2004 – 2006 model years and also the 2009 and 2010 years. Taking note of these model years is important if you are looking to purchase a used Maxima.
What Are The Best Years For The Nissan Maxima?
Over many generations, the Nissan Maxima has had decent reliability ratings and overall reviews.
Listed below are the models that stand out from the rest:
2018 Nissan Maxima
The 2018 Nissan Maxima can be considered one of the best versions of the vehicle line in several decades in terms of a balance between features, performance, and pricing.
The model has high build quality (capable of competing with premium car brands and models), intuitive electronics and feature controls, and extremely sharp handling for this particular size of sedan.
If you are looking for the most affordable version of the Nissan Maxima on this list, then go with the 2018 Nissan Maxima.
Of the best model years on our list, the 2018 Nissan Maxima was granted the highest consumer rating on Kelley Blue Book (4.5 out of 5.0, tied with the 2019 Nissan Maxima) and the second-best consumer rating on Edmunds (4.5 out of 5.0).
Based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com, the 2018 Nissan Maxima has only received a total of 3 complaints, two of which are related to brake problems and the last one is related to window problems.
Here’s what one owner had to say about their 2018 Maxima:
“For a Step below a Mercedes and BMW this car has it all. Definitely worth the money and the outside car design is up to date and very futuristic looking.”
2019 Nissan Maxima
Clearly, a year does not do much in terms of overhauls or major updates. However, the 2019 Nissan Maxima is worth adding to this list because it still retains the high-grade luster of the 2018 Nissan Maxima while managing to add some much-needed refinements.
This model has front and rear LED headlights, added standard and optional safety equipment and delivers a surprisingly athletic performance.
If you need to get a Maxima from the latest generation of the series with all the added features mentioned earlier, then the 2019 Nissan Maxima is worth considering.
Of the three model years on this list, the 2019 Nissan Maxima was granted the highest consumer rating on Kelley Blue Book (4.5 out of 5.0, tied with the 2018 Nissan Maxima) and second-best consumer rating on JD Power (86 out of 100).
Based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com, the 2019 Nissan Maxima has only received 1 complaint concerning transmission problems.
2021, 2022, 2023 Nissan Maxima
The 2021, 2022 and 2023 Nissan Maximas are the perfect blend between performance, reliability, and style. Although there were concerns with a slightly outdated infotainment system and minor tweaks that have marginally diminished visibility, these particular model are definitely worth getting, used or brand new.
The 2021, 2022 and 2023 Nissan Maxima’s boast a V6 powertrain, a variety of trims, including the limited-production 40th Anniversary Edition, and are packed with lots of tech goodies and state-of-the-art features.
Of the three model years, the 2021 Nissan Maxima secured the highest consumer rating on Edmunds (4.8 out of 5.0) and JD Power (88 out of 100).
Based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com, the 2021, 2022 and 2023 Maximas have not received any complaints.
Here’s one owners review of their 2022 Maxima:
“This is my second Nissan Maxima, and I am very impressed with the handling ability. It is a very quick and responsive vehicle. I also love the CV transmission you can’t ask for a smoother ride. A lot of people may say this car looks a lot like all the other cars out there but they haven’t driven one once they do it will set them apart. Also very roomy inside and a quiet ride.”
The Maxima seems to be getting better and better with age and proves that a full-size sedan doesn’t have to be boring to look at and uninteresting to drive.
2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
If the newer models we’ve mentioned are just outside your budget then the Maxima models from 2011 – 2015 are also well worth considering.
Based on industry data collected from Car Problem Zoo, these years have had very few reported problems.
Despite being slightly older models, these model years still offer a very robust engine and competent driving dynamics.
There are no widespread problems with these models either although there are a handful of complaints pertaining to the following:
- Airbag warning light blinks on and off
- Problems with the passenger seat airbag sensor
- Melting sticky dashboard
If you’ve got your eye on any of these models make sure you run a VIN check first for recalls on the NHTSA website and make sure these have been addressed.
If the model you’ve got your eye on has very high mileage, and you’re planning on keeping it a very long time, you might be better off spending a bit more money for something more reliable.
Consumer Scores for Best Nissan Maxima Years
Below is a table that presents all the consumer ratings of the best Nissan Maxima model years from reputable vehicle websites:
|Model Year||Edmunds’ Consumer Rating||Kelley Blue Book’s Consumer Rating||JD Power’s Consumer Rating|
|2018 Nissan Maxima||4.5 / 5.0||4.5 / 5.0||85 / 100|
|2019 Nissan Maxima||3.9 / 5.0||4.5 / 5.0||86 / 100|
|2021 Nissan Maxima||4.8 / 5.0||3.9 / 5.0||88 / 100|
|2022 Nissan Maxima||N/A||4.5 / 5.0||88 / 100|
|2023 Nissan Maxima||N/A||N/A||N/A|
What Are The Worst Years For The Nissan Maxima?
The Nissan Maxima like any car that’s been around the block a few times has had its fair share of problems and complaints.
The models listed below are the versions of the vehicle that you should steer clear of:
2004 Nissan Maxima
The 2004 Nissan Maxima is a fully redesigned version of the vehicle line with decent transmission and engine specifications on paper. Unfortunately, the host of complaints lodged against this particular model resulted in a negative perception for the brand as a whole.
The 2004 model was plagued by transmission issues, with drivers complaining of violent jerky movements when shifting gears.
Here’s one owner’s testimony:
“Transmission jerks when shifting from reverse to drive, bangs into and out of gear. Sometimes you step on the gas and it revs up and grabs the gear so hard the tires break loose, other times it just drives fine.”
Many other drivers had similar problems, and in many cases, the transmission completely failed well before 100,000 miles.
Aside from the transmission issues, another less serious quirk that this model had was the weird arrangement of the controls and knobs.
The 2004 Nissan Maxima received a total of 357 complaints based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com and logged a total of 1,705 problems based on information acquired from CarPoblemZoo.com. The leading issue of this model year is transmission problems.
2005 Nissan Maxima
The 2005 Nissan Maxima was a slightly better version of the 2004 Nissan Maxima, but in terms of improvements, there is not much to say.
This model was also plagued by transmission troubles, although not to the same extent as the 2004 model, the number of complaints was excessively high.
Owners again report jerkiness and jolting when driving. In most instances, a replacement transmission was needed at a cost of over $4000.
This model also had problems with center-stack ergonomics and design.
The 2005 Nissan Maxima received a total of 272 complaints based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com and logged a total of 1,139 problems based on information acquired from CarPoblemZoo.com. The leading issue of this model year is transmission problems.
Here’s what one owner had to say:
“I’ve noticed way too many complaints about 2005 Nissan Maxima having transmission. Issues around 100k miles. Whenever I shift to reverse, drive , first, second, or third there is a delay and loud thud. I’ve seen way too many people having the same issue and the fact that there hasn’t been a recall is a shame. Someone needs to do something. Anyone?”
2006 Nissan Maxima
The 2006 Nissan Maxima suffered similar problems to that of the 2005 Nissan Maxima and 2004 Nissan Maxima, despite improvements made in terms of driving and handling.
The model still had center-stack ergonomics issues, was not considered as sharp and maneuverable as direct competitors at the time, and had suffered from plastic materials in certain sections of the interior, leading to a cheap overall feel.
The 2006 Nissan Maxima received a total of 192 complaints based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com and logged a total of 733 problems based on information acquired from CarPoblemZoo.com. The leading issue of this model year is transmission problems.
2009 and 2010 Nissan Maxima
The 2009 and 2010 Maximas are two model years to steer clear from if you’ll excuse the pun… these model years were plagued by steering issues.
Owners took to the online feedback sites and reported steering problems in their droves, and it was the highest reported complaint for both model years.
Essentially the problems were caused by the failure of the electronic steering lock, which typically occurred around 65,000 miles and cost $1,030 to fix.
The fix was to replace the steering lock.
Many owners were left stranded by this problem as the car will not start when the steering lock malfunctions.
These models also had a number of reported electrical complaints, suspension issues and reports of vibrating when driving.
What Years Have The Most Complaints?
Listed below are the number of filed complaints for each Maxima model year, the years with the most complaints are 2004 and 2005.
|Model Year||Complaints (CarComplaints.com)||Problems (CarProblemZoo.com)|
|2022 Nissan Maxima||NA||NA|
|2021 Nissan Maxima||NA||3|
|2020 Nissan Maxima||NA||13|
|2019 Nissan Maxima||1||15|
|2018 Nissan Maxima||3||27|
|2017 Nissan Maxima||10||89|
|2016 Nissan Maxima||47||141|
|2015 Nissan Maxima||0||2|
|2014 Nissan Maxima||15||96|
|2013 Nissan Maxima||14||64|
|2012 Nissan Maxima||10||121|
|2011 Nissan Maxima||54||121|
|2010 Nissan Maxima||94||375|
|2009 Nissan Maxima||61||432|
|2008 Nissan Maxima||28||98|
|2007 Nissan Maxima||49||170|
|2006 Nissan Maxima||192||733|
|2005 Nissan Maxima||272||1,139|
|2004 Nissan Maxima||357||1,705|
|2003 Nissan Maxima||11||243|
|2002 Nissan Maxima||18||259|
|2001 Nissan Maxima||24||216|
|2000 Nissan Maxima||45||462|
|1999 Nissan Maxima||7||215|
|1998 Nissan Maxima||9||130|
|1997 Nissan Maxima||10||123|
|1996 Nissan Maxima||7||116|
|1995 Nissan Maxima||10||NA|
|1994 Nissan Maxima||8||NA|
|1993 Nissan Maxima||13||NA|
|1992 Nissan Maxima||14||NA|
|1991 Nissan Maxima||6||NA|
|1990 Nissan Maxima||6||NA|
|1989 Nissan Maxima||1||NA|
|1988 Nissan Maxima||0||NA|
|1987 Nissan Maxima||1||NA|
|1986 Nissan Maxima||1||NA|
|1985 Nissan Maxima||1||NA|
What Problems Do Nissan Maximas Have?
Listed below are a few of the typical problems owners have encountered with the Nissan Maxima:
- Transmission Problems
- Engine Problems
- Electrical Problems
- Steering problems
- Airbag problems
What Are The Best Alternatives To The Nissan Maxima?
There are several great alternatives to the Nissan Maxima, we’ve listed them below with their vital statistics.
|Make & Model||Score||MSRP||Fuel Economy|
|Honda Accord||8.9||$26,120 – $38,050||City: 22-30 mpg / Highway: 32-38 mpg|
|Mazda6||8.6||$24,475 – $35,900||City: 23-26 mpg / Highway: 31-35 mpg|
|Toyota Camry||8.5||$25,395 – $35,820||City: 22-28 mpg / Highway: 31-39 mpg|
|Toyota Avalon||8.3||$36,375 – $43,075||City: NA / Highway: NA|
|Chrysler 300||8.2||$31,770 – $42,155||City: 16-19 mpg / Highway: 25-30 mpg|
|Dodge Charger||8.2||$32,500 – $74,900||City: 12-19 mpg / Highway: 21-30 mpg|
|Nissan Maxima||8.1||$37,240 – $42,550||City: 20 mpg / Highway: 30 mpg|
|Nissan Altima||7.9||$24,550 – $34,250||City: 25-28 mpg / Highway: 34-39 mpg|
|Chevrolet Malibu||7.3||$23,400 – $33,500||City: 22-29 mpg / Highway: 33-36 mpg|
|Volkswagen Passat||NA||$27,295 – $30,295||City: 24 mpg / Highway: 36 mpg|