1997 Nissan Maxima SE
1997 Nissan Maxima SE
Click image to enlarge

By Bob McHugh

Maxima is a near-luxury sports sedan and the flagship Nissan since 1981. Back then it was actually a Datsun/Nissan, as the company was in embroiled in a name change. Anyway, pushing ahead to the fourth-generation Nissan Maxima, launched in 1995 and the subject of this review, is a car that’s high on my personal ‘love-to-own’ car shopping list.

Designed in California but made in Japan, this Maxima has seating for five and a generous trunk. The ’95 redesign gave it a longer wheelbase than the previous generation Maxima and more interior space. It was offered in three versions; GXE (a well appointed base version); SE (the sporty one) and GLE (top model with all of goodies).

This was also the year that Maxima collected the coveted CAA Used Car Performance Award, which is based on the information gathered through a survey of actual owners. Although it didn’t repeat this feat during the review period, it consistently finished near the top of the heap.


1997 Nissan Maxima SE
1997 Nissan Maxima SE
Click image to enlarge


All trim levels come with the same award winning VQ-series engine, a smooth revving 3.0 litre V6, with a maximum output of 190 horsepower. The fuel consumption rating with a 5-speed manual is 10.8 L/100 km (25 mpg) city and 8.0 L/100 km (35 mpg) highway. And Nissan’s of this vintage came with a 6 year/100,000 km powertrain warranty, which may still be valid and transferable.

The VQ engine uses a no-maintenance timing chain (a good thing), instead of a belt. Intermittent hard starts and exhaust leaks at the engine manifold can be a problem, but this generation Maxima has never had a (official) safety recall (another good thing).

No significant changes were made to Maxima until ’97 when an exterior redesign included new headlights and some changes to front and rear. In ’98 side air bags became an option on GLE and SE, but you had to also order leather upholstery.

Bimmer-like performance, room for the kids and the five gallon picnic chest, what more could you ask for – that’s the Nissan Maxima.

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

Connect with Autos.ca