2002 Nissan Maxima

Change year or car

Change year or car


starting MSRP

Key specs

Base trim shown


Body style


Seating capacity

191.5” x 56.7”


Front-wheel drive



4 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

  • Base

  • GXE


  • SE


  • GLE


Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2002 Nissan Maxima trim comparison will help you decide.

See also: Find the best Sedans for 2024

2002 Nissan Maxima review: Our expert's take

The Maxima used to be Nissan’s only four-door sports car, but that role has changed with the advent of the feisty Altima 3.5 SE. The Maxima maintains its station at the top of the product totem, offering a higher level of comfort and performance.

Key to the Maxima’s performance is the 255-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine that is as sweet and powerful as any in production. This engine, also used in various Infiniti products, has been named as one of the “10 Best Engines” by Ward’s Auto World for seven consecutive years. It sports continuously variable valve timing, a variable intake system, electronic throttle and a silent timing chain. This engine has well-toned muscles, yet it always feels civilized. A six-speed manual and limited-slip differential are available for those who want maximum performance, but the test car was equipped with a four-speed automatic that was much nicer in everyday city driving.

The current-generation was all-new in 2000, but it has a handful of changes for 2002. The oval grille is larger and filled with large chrome bars, the headlights have a four-bulb design with high-density xenon lights, windows have UV-reducing solar glass and the side sills have been redesigned. With the SE’s rear spoiler, the Maxima looks lean and elegant, although some might think the headlight design is too fussy.

Prices start at $24,699 for the GXE, $25,449 for the SE and $27,099 for the GLE. The sporty SE, driven for this review, has light-faced gauges, deeply contoured seats, 17-inch wheels and a suspension that is tightened up for sharper handling.

Inside, your eyes fall on an instrument panel whose design is excellent. The center panel arcs gracefully from the windshield down to the center console, and it houses fresh-air vents, navigation system, stereo controls and the heating/cooling unit. Its matte finish surrounds large, soft-touch buttons that have the look and feel of expensive home-audio gear. The folks at Nissan’s design center in California have done a great job with this car’s interior. Thoughtful touches include a cupholder whose divided insert can be removed to accommodate giant bottles and an adjustable armrest atop the center console so that shorter drivers can use it as an elbow support.

Nissan’s navigation system, a $1,995 option, includes the three-dimensional Birdview map display that has a rolling display that shows buildings, gas stations and points of interest in a realistic fashion. It allows the driver to look over the horizon, which makes orientation easier. The traditional flat map image is also available. A voice guidance system provides directions, lowering the radio volume when directions are spoken.

The test car’s Bose audio system was outstanding, but trunk-mounted CD changers are not at all handy.

The test car was loaded with leather seats, automatic climate control, power passenger seat and a power moonroof.

The Maxima SE is a sedan that thinks like a sports car. It is e ntertaining to drive because it has plenty of power and a luxurious interior. The sports suspension rides firmer than the other models, but overall agility is significantly enhanced. Larger wheels and tires contribute to its cornering prowess as well. Anti-lock, four-wheel disc brakes erase speed with impressive ease, and Brake Assist applies maximum stopping force in emergency situations. Traction control is a $299 option.

To counter the performance image of the Altima 3.5 SE, the Maxima raises the bar with a greater feeling of comfort, convenience and power.

The base price of the test car was $25,449. Options included the Bose audio system, navigation system, leather package and power moonroof. The sticker price was $31,465.

Three years or 36,000 miles.

Point: The current Maxima is two years old but it received a fresh face and a more powerful engine. It remains one of the leaders in the performance-sedan segment, yet adds features such as NissanUs three-dimensional navigation system.

Counterpoint: Traction control should be standard in a car in this price segment.

Engine: 3.5-liter, 255-hp V-6
Transmission: automatic Front-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 108.3 inches
Curb weight: 3,218 lbs.
Base price: $25,449
As driven: $31,465
Mpg rating: 20 city, 26 hwy.
> >

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.4
  • Interior 4.2
  • Performance 4.7
  • Value 4.3
  • Exterior 4.3
  • Reliability 4.5
Write a review

Most recent consumer reviews


Reliable if taken care of.

I bought a 02 maxima se with 215,000 miles on it. whoever had it before me did not take very good care of it but I rebuilt the whole engine and is as smooth and good running as a brand new car. Love that thing, great power when you need it and gets fairly good gas milage if you don't hotrod it around all the time.


Awesome Max the 4 door sports car!

I had a 2002 Maxima my second maxima btw, sold it with 265000 miles on it. See it from time to time, wish I had kept that one! Fun to drive, very reliable everyday work ride!


I just love Maximum

So far, I've only had my car since Aug 15,20 and I've replaced the starter, rack pinion, bushels, front end alignment, but no worries! I bought it because I noticed the low, low mileage. I did believe the original parts, it's just time to replace them, but I am very grateful to just have my old school, the older cars are better for me!

See all 51 consumer reviews


Based on the 2002 Nissan Maxima base trim.
Frontal driver
Frontal passenger
Nhtsa rollover rating
Side driver
Side rear passenger


New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Nissan Certified Select
New car program benefits
36 months/36,000 miles
60 months/unlimited distance
60 months/60,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
Nissan and non-Nissan vehicles less than 10 years old and less than 100,000 miles. (Nissan vehicles less than 6 years from original new car in-service date must have more than 60,000 to qualify for Certified Select.)
6 months/6,000 miles from date of sale
Dealer certification required
84-point inspection
Roadside assistance
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

Compare the competitors