Pros: Power, styling, handling
Cons: no fold down rear seats
I had a 1992 Nissan Maxima GXE and had it for 11 years. For those not familiar with the car, the GXE had the 165 HP Single Overhead Motor while the SE had the 190 HP Dual Overhead Cam Motor and Variable Valve timing. The two models are essentially the same and the SE is more stifly sprung and has dual exhaust tips and a timing chain in the motor, not a timing belt, like the GXE. A timing belt typically needs changing every 60,000 miles as a precaution.
I missed my old 1992 GXE, and recently bought a 1993 GXE to enjoy the car all over again and customize it somewhat. The 3rd Generation car, (1989-1994) is in some ways a better car than the 4th Generation car (1995-1999). It has a longer wheelbase, and it has an independant rear suspension, not beam axle. It's styling is still very modern by today's standards. If the car gets upgraded rims, say 17" from the newer maxima and clear corner lenses, it still look very attractive even by today's standards, despite being esssentially, a 1989 design!
The 3rd generation (1989-1994), fourth generation (1995-1999), 5th Generation (2000-2004) and 6th Generation, today, are very different cars, but it's the 3rd generation Maxima that is remembered the most and built the legendary Maxima reputation as a Japanese alternative to the BMW 528 or the Mercedes 190E. It is in spirit closer to the BMW 528 than the Camry and Accords of that same time period. Does it handle as well? Not exactly, but it is still a very good handling car, especially if you add a front strut tower brace. You can also add stiffer front and rear sway bars and poly-urethane, not rubber bushings. Try www.stillen.com for more stuff.
I've had 1994 Infinity Q45. I also had a 2001 Nissan Maxima. I can honestly say that the Infinity, even thought it was a V8 car and rear drive, in spirit and overall proportion reminded me more of my 1992 Maxima. The same was somewhat true of the 2001 Maxima. Yes, it had the VQ series motor at 235 Horsepower, but in profile, it looks remarkably similar to the older 3rd Generation Maxima than the 4th Generation before it. I also think that the newer 6th generation Maxima is really a re-badged Nissan Altima with a V6 and not a Maxima at all.
The 1989 design, in terms of interior, still looks nicer to my eyes than the brand new 2006 design. The older car is sportier, lighter in feel but not overly light like a sports car, but rather, has a heavier weigthed steering response. It's not a shoot and point car like a Miata, but a mature sports sedan.
The car has a very big trunk, but doesn't have fold down rear seats. The BOSE stereo sounds great, but has BOSE specific amplified speakers, so if you want to change out the system, for more power, you can't change the receiver only,but must change all audio components.
In terms of problem areas, the car ages like any other car. However, some things to look for are exhaust manifold leaking making a loud sound. Another common area to look for is fuel injectors needing possible replacement. Yet another potential area is the windows not going up and down and possibly needing to be fixed. Mind you, the car is very reliable, but these are potential common problem areas. If you have a GXE, and not an SE, you'd be smart to change the timing belt right away, especialy if it hasn't been changed at 60k miles and you're buying a car with over 100k miles or more.
Overall, these cars are pretty cheap now. But, you still get a car that even at 12 years of age is fairly competive in terms of design and performance with much newer models.