1998 Nissan Maxima SE 3.0L V6 (VQ30DE) from North America
Legendary Reliability, Good Looks, Great Performance, Spectacular Bargain
No problems currently.
The Maxima was the first car I looked at, and a month later, ended up purchasing from the original owner.
The car was the flagship model, top of the line SE with every available package option. It came loaded with features including climate control, 200w audio system, the infamously reliable "VQ" engine, 4 wheel disc brakes among many other goodies.
Performance is excellent with the smooth V6. I have the auto, so there is a bit of a pause when you go full throttle; typical of automatic transmissions. Low and mid range power is great, but the top end is a little lacking, due to the intake runners. Nevertheless, highway passing and sprints never felt so smooth and quick.
Ride comfort was decent with the SE suspension. Noticeable body roll and lean through the corners. Cabin noise is good, however.
Interior is par with the competition family cruisers. Nothing too luxurious, but not too mundane, either. The leather found in the Maxima is of low grade. They get pretty stiff if left unconditioned and untreated.
Fuel economy on the Maxima is surprisingly good. After a full service dealership tuneup, I am getting ~20MPG in all city driving. Sans the hilly roads and the plethora of intersections, I'd definitely be in the low 20's. Even with my modifications, my MPG didn't even blink.
The car looks great, although the large wheel gap makes it look like a 4x4.
A few things I didn't really like about the Maximas, however.
First thing, the use of premium fuel was a bit of a shocker, especially for a family sedan. I personally don't mind paying the extra few dollars to get 94 octane, but I suppose this is a main reason as to why the Maxima is hardly ever compared to with the Camry and the Accord among consumers.
The paint quality is a bit of a let down. I've got noticeable paint chips on my hood mostly. I figure it is largely due to the previous owner and I driving a little too close to trucks and such. At our Vancouver Maxima meet, the other Maximas didn't exhibit this problem.
Probably the most annoying thing on the Maxima are the lousy headlights. Even on their flagship model, the Maxima came with 9004 headlamps. They are subpar at night and provide for minimal lighting in dark and rainy conditions. Thank goodness the SE's came with foglights as well. There is a writeup on converting the 9004's to 9007 for stronger light output, thus better visibility. I personally plan on swapping in the one-piece Cefiro headlamps that use the H4 fitament and convert them to a bi-xenon H.I.D. system.
It has been a little over a year since I took ownership of my Maxima, and it has been a delight. I've currently spent about $6,700CDN on upgrades for the car on performance and cosmetic items. I figure to spend well over $10,000 on upgrades to complete the car. Mind as well improve everything on the car that can be improved!
The stiffer, and lower suspension setup now allows me to hug corners with hardly any body roll. It also removes the wheel gap along the way.
Aftermarket wheels and tires provide for good looks and excellent grip.
A full body kit from Stillen evens out the look of the Maxima from front to back, without sacrificing the clean, factory appearance.
Exhaust components free up the restrictive factory exhaust system providing for some of the missing top end previously absent before.
I don't plan to part with the Maxima. From all the testimonials from other Maxima owners, every Maxima will be sprinting to the 200,000 mark!
You get a little bit of everything in the car. What a bargain.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 22nd August, 2004
I read your review and noticed that you said that the Maxima needs premium gas. This worried me since I am looking to buy one. I did a search and found online that the Maxima can take regular unleaded. I think that Nissan just recommends premium, but it is not required.