Best & Worst Nissan Maxima Years

We've ranked each Nissan Maxima model for every generation so you can avoid picking the worst Nissan Maxima years and pick the best Nissan Maxima.

In this guide, I’ll break down the latest Nissan Maxima generations, unveiling the Nissan Maxima’s best years to buy and the worst Nissan Maxima years to avoid.

Compiled through extensive research, our comprehensive guide integrates data from top automotive sources like NHTSA and Consumer Reports, ensuring a well-rounded, informative experience for prospective buyers and enthusiasts alike.

Get ready to explore specific model year evaluations, detailed insights on powertrain reliability, and real-world data on Nissan Maxima’s common problems, enhancing your purchasing strategy.

Let’s dive right in!

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Table of ContentsShow

Nissan Maxima Generations

The Nissan Maxima’s journey began with its initial generation debuting in 1981; known for its small frame, affordability, and the introduction of the V6 engine, which set it apart during its era.

Here’s an overview table of Nissan Maxima generations from 2000 to now.

5th generation (A33B)2000-2003
6th generation (A34)2004-2008
7th generation (A35)2009-2014
8th generation (A36)2016-2023

Significant transformations between generations can be a decisive factor for potential buyers, encompassing design, performance, and technological advancements.

Nissan Maxima Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

When determining the best and worst years for the Nissan Maxima, we consider an extensive array of data points and resources, including but not limited to:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • owner ratings

Now, let’s introduce a graph that visualizes the combined ratings from the sources above.

Nissan Maxima Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Next, based on the compiled data, I’ll provide a table that categorizes all Nissan Maxima model years into the best, neutral, and worst Maxima years.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
5th generation (A33B)2003N/A2000
6th generation (A34)2007
7th generation (A35)2012
8th generation (A36)2019

“Neutral Years” are those that didn’t witness the high acclaim of the best years or suffer from the significant issues of the worst years. They generally offer average performance, cost-efficiency, and reliability.

Some factors, for instance, many NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints, indicate lower reliability and potential safety concerns, negatively impacting the vehicle’s standing in our ranking.

Let’s dive into the Nissan Maxima’s best, neutral, and worst years.

Best & Worst Years for Nissan Maxima 5th Generation (2000-2003)

Nissan Maxima 5th generation 2000 model
The 2000 Nissan Maxima

The 5th Generation Nissan Maxima debuted in 2000, showcasing a modern design and advanced features for its era, like a six-disc CD changer and a Bose sound system.

The post-facelift 2003 model year is Nissan Maxima’s best year in this generation, while 2000-2002 are the Nissan Maxima years to avoid.

The Best Years: 2003

2003 emerged as this generation’s most reliable Nissan Maxima model year, partly due to improvements made by its predecessors.

This year’s model was powered by a 3.5l VQ35DE V6 engine, producing 255 hp and 246 lb-ft of torque, paired with a 4-speed automatic or an optional 6-speed manual.

Fuel economy was reasonable for its class, with the Maxima achieving about 19 city / 26 highway mpg.

Trim levels ranged from the base GXE to the luxurious GLE and the sport-oriented SE. The SE was well-received for its stiffer suspension and performance-oriented attributes.

It also featured auto-dimming rearview mirrors, a sophisticated driver’s information center, and an available navigation system.

The Worst Years: 2000, 2001, 2002

Through our research on NHTSA, we concluded that 2000, 2001, and 2002 are the Nissan Maxima years you should avoid due to higher figures of recalls and owner complaints.

These vehicles suffered from a notorious problem with the front subframe rusting prematurely and ignition coil failures, which resulted in rough performance and the “check engine” light remaining on.

Transmission issues were rampant, with numerous reports of automatic transmission slipping, leading to jerky shifts or, in severe cases, complete transmission failure.

Significant recalls for these years involved a faulty weld on the cam position sensor, causing the engine to stall, and a defective lower control arm in the suspension system.

See NHTSA 2000, 2001, 2002 Nissan Maxima recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Nissan Maxima 6th Generation (2004-2008)

Nissan Maxima 6th generation 2004 model
The 2004 Nissan Maxima

Introduced in 2004, the 6th Generation Nissan Maxima represented a significant upgrade over its predecessors, with a revamped exterior design, enhanced interior luxury, and technological advancements.

The later model years of the generation – 2007 and 2008 are Nissan Maxima’s best years, while 2004-2006 are the years you should avoid altogether.

The Best Years: 2007, 2008

Due to a significant decrease in owner complaints registered on NHTSA, I recommend 2007 and 2008 as the best Nissan Maxima years in the 6th generation.

Both these model years were equipped with a robust 3.5l V6 engine, churning out an impressive 255 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT), replacing the previous 5-speed automatic.

The fuel economy was relatively competitive for its segment, with EPA estimates of 19 city / 25 highway mpg.

The SE trim was trendy due to its sport-tuned suspension and optional SkyView panoramic sunroof.

The Platinum Edition featured upscale comforts, including leather seats, a premium Bose sound system, keyless start, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

Safety was not overlooked, with standard features including anti-lock brakes, stability control, front-seat side, and full-length curtain airbags. 2007 Nissan introduced an optional rearview camera, which became standard in 2008.

The Worst Years: 2004, 2005, 2006

The 2004, 2005, and 2006 Nissan Maximas, with the highest number of owner complaints, mainly concerning transmission issues, are the worst Maxima years you should avoid without any doubt.

Owners frequently reported jerking motions during gear shifts, unexpected stalling, and, in extreme cases, complete transmission failure, all of which posed significant safety risks.

Premature wear of the timing chain tensioner and failure of engine mounts were common issues, leading to excessive vibration and noise.

Additionally, several recalls affected these years, with one of the most critical being the front passenger airbag sensor that could fail to recognize the presence of a passenger, deactivating the airbag and increasing the risk of injury in a crash.

See NHTSA 2004, 2005, 2006 Nissan Maxima recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Nissan Maxima 7th Generation (2009-2014)

Nissan Maxima 7th generation 2009 model
The 2009 Nissan Maxima

The 7th generation of the Nissan Maxima launched in 2009, was a blend of performance, luxury, and style, branded by Nissan as the “four-door sports car”.

2012-2014 were Nissan Maxima’s best and most reliable years in this generation. 2009 and 2010 are the Nissan Maxima years to avoid.

The Best Years: 2012, 2013, 2014

Our research shows that 2012, 2013, and 2014 are the seventh generation’s best Nissan Maxima model years, offering a blend of affordability and reliability.

These model years are equipped with a refined version of Nissan’s well-regarded 3.5l V6 engine, producing 290 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque, paired with an Xtronic CVT with manual mode, allowing for sportier handling and an engaging driving experience.

These years saw an improvement in fuel efficiency, with an average of 19 city / 26 highway mpg.

The SV trim focused on luxury, offering leather-appointed seats, a dual-panel moonroof, and a premium audio system. The SR trim added performance-oriented features such as a sport-tuned suspension, paddle shifters, and 19-inch alloy wheels.

Safety features were also outstanding, including Stability Control, Traction Control, six airbags, and optional features like a blind-spot monitoring system and a rearview camera.

The Neutral Years: 2011

The 2011 Nissan Maxima year served as a transition period for the Maxima, correcting some of the defects of the past while adopting new enhancements for future models.

It retained the same power train as the succeeding best years and shared similar standard features and options.

However, it didn’t quite reach the refinement level seen in the 2012-2014 models, with a few more reported issues, such as occasional CVT performance complaints and the steering wheel lock problem persisting from earlier models, albeit in fewer numbers.

The Worst Years: 2009, 2010

What are the Nissan Maxima years to avoid? Avoid the 2009 and 2010 Nissan Maxima years. Here is why:

The most pressing issue was the faulty steering lock, which rendered the car immovable and was a widespread defect, leading to a class-action lawsuit.

Furthermore, owners reported multiple transmission failures, a continuation of problems seen in the previous generation.

These issues, combined with several NHTSA recalls for components like the front suspension and airbags, significantly impacted the reputation and desirability of these model years.

See NHTSA 2009, 2010 Nissan Maxima recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Nissan Maxima 8th Generation (2016-2023)

Nissan Maxima 8th generation 2016 model
The 2016 Nissan Maxima

The 8th generation Nissan Maxima was unveiled in 2015 for the 2016 model year, emphasizing a dramatic redesign in styling, known as “V-motion,” that set it apart from its predecessors.

With a few more recalls, we categorized 2016 and 2017 as the worst Nissan Maxima years you should avoid in this generation. 2019-2023 are undoubtedly Nissan Maxima’s best and most reliable years.

The Best Years: 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023

The Nissan Maxima hit its stride starting in 2019, with these models showcasing the best years that Nissan offers.

The 3.5l V6 engine, producing 300 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque, remained constant, paired with an Xtronic CVT that had been fine-tuned for smoother and more responsive performance.

These models boasted improved fuel economy, with around 20 city / 30 highway mpg ratings.

The Platinum trim featured quilted leather seats, a 360-degree camera system, and a dual-panel panoramic moonroof, among other luxury appointments.

In technology, Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 became standard from 2019 onwards.

Additionally, these models featured Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, with a responsive 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system.

The Neutral Years: 2018

The 2018 Maxima was a turning point for the model, offering many advancements that would define the best years but still suffering from remnants of past issues.

The powertrain was the same reliable V6, and it included commendable features such as a forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and a driver drowsiness monitoring system.

However, there were reports of the occasional navigation system glitch and dissatisfaction with the CVT’s performance under high stress, which kept this year from being categorized among Nissan Maxima’s best years.

The Worst Years: 2016, 2017

Are 2016 and 2017 good for the Nissan Maxima? I wouldn’t recommend these years as they have many owner complaints and recalls on NHTSA. Here are the reasons why we categorized them as the Nissan Maxima years to avoid:

The primary concern for these years was the CVT transmission; drivers faced issues such as unresponsive acceleration, unexpected loss of power, and, in severe cases, transmission failure.

Critical recalls involved the ABS actuator pumps and the airbag systems. The 2017 Nissan Maxima had a recall concerning the rearview camera’s inconsistent display.

While the vehicles continued to perform well in horsepower and handling and offered innovative features like a remote engine start system, the reliability issues significantly tainted their overall appeal.

See NHTSA 2016, 2017 Nissan Maxima recalls and complaints.

Nissan Maxima Average Resale Values

See the financial aspect of ownership by looking at our chart below. It shows the average resale values of Nissan Maxima models across different years.

Nissan Maxima Average List Price


Navigating through Nissan Maxima’s top and worst years, it’s clear that the 2012-2014 models and 2019-2023 models stand out for reliability and performance, making them the best Nissan Maxima years for discerning buyers.

What factors primarily influence your decision when selecting the best Nissan Maxima model year?

Share your insights in the comments below!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.