Pros: Reliability, powertrain, style, smoothness
Cons: No power lock switches on passenger doors.
I was driving around a 1991 Ford Probe GL that had 113,000 miles on it, and I didn't think that it was going to last much longer. That's when I decided I needed a new (but used) car. I have always had an affection for Nissan Maxima's ever since I rode in my friend's 1992 SE model when I was sixteen (four years ago). I own a 1993 GXE model. The SE is the sports edition, and the GXE is the luxury edition in case you were curious. My family is a "car family" as you might say, so we defintely keep tabs on what cars are good and what ones don't stand up so well. Nissan has always been well known for their outstanding V6's, and rightly so. I bought my Maxima from a Nissan dealership, which was the least likely place that I thought I was going to buy a used car because I'm not a big fan of dealerships, but I just couldn't resist this car. I had my eye on it for a week or so before I actually drove into the lot to take an up close look at her. The car is in absolutely MINT condition, and so I thought that it must have had very few miles on it. I looked through the window at the odometer, and was shocked to see that the car had 128,000 miles on it. There wasn't a single paint chip, ding, or speck of rust anywhere on the car. Originally I remember being somewhat shied away from the car because after all, why would you buy a car that is only two years newer than your current one and has MORE miles??? Simple, because it's a MAXIMA. I promptly went out for a test drive in the mint Maxima, and every single other aspect of the car is just as impressive as it's exterior condition. The interior has absolutely no wear, and looks as if it just rolled off of the assembly line. There aren't even any wear marks on the places that generally receive the most contact (places like where elbows rest, A/C & heater control buttons, so on...). That gave me a good idea that the previous owner had taken very good care of the car, but more importantly it further gave me the impression that Nissan really built a high quality car inside and out that could withstand the rigors of 128,000 miles without showing any signs of aging or wear. After the test drive, I didn't even wait until I sold my Probe for a safety net of money. I pulled out the check book and drove home MY Maxima. I have had her for a little over three months now.
The engine and Transmission (automatic in my case) are a wonder of mechanics and engineering. The 3.0 liter V6 is very quiet and has ample power for all situations. I'm a 20 year old college student, and despite my age and gender I drive this car like an 80 year old grandmother, and I have only stomped on the gas three times that I can remember (oops, I pull out in front of people sometimes...). I recall the first time I gave her some serious gas. I roared through the first two gears like lightening, and I remember thinking to myself "what the f#@k was that?!?" I was absolutely astonished at the acceleration of this four-door "family car." I am no stranger to fast acceleration either. My summer toy is a 1966 Pontiac GTO, with a 400 cubic inch big-block V8 and 4:11 gears. This maxima moves! Not only does it have wonderful acceleration, but the manor in which it accelerated was also very impressive. It was a silky smooth burst of lateral g-forces that only grew stronger as the tachometer rose. With all its impressive go power, it certainly matches the same level of performance with braking. The brakes always feel good and confidently strong at all times. One of the most key reasons for this I think is because of the suspension setup that Nissan developed for this car. There is very minimal "nose dive" under hard breaking. And your trunk doesn't ever do the "trunk dip" as I call it whenever a full stop is reached. Handling is great. Curiously, I pulled a 90 degree right hand turn at 25 miles an hour, and there was very little tire squeal. All four tires stayed very dominantly stuck to the road.
As far as classiness goes, this car reeks of it. My Maxima blantantly looks so much more refined and upscale than scores of other NEWER and more EXPENSIVE cars out there today. I have had a number of people get inside my car and wonder if it was new. I would defintely say that its "simple is better" attitude has a timeless feeling to it. The interior looks like it could be placed in a 2002 car, and nobody would question a thing. The only problem I have with the interior is the fact that there are no power lock buttons on any of the passenger doors. They are all controlled by the driver, unless you want to reach up and do it manually. It just seems like a foolish thing to leave out, but I think all Nissan's and Infinity's are the same exact way. My friend's older brother has a loaded 1993 Camery XLE V6 (which is also a very nice car), and the Maxima is undoubtedly a better vehicle.
Now lets get to the topic of repair... About a month after I bought my Maxima, I noticed that it started dripping coolant from under the hood. Within a day it had gotten to the point where I could not drive the car anymore, so I took it in to a shop to see what was up. I was hoping that I only needed a new radiator hose or something simple and cheep like that. Unfortunately what I needed was a new water pump. The part itself was not all that expensive (around $100.00), but the labor involved *was* expensive. In order to replace the water pump, it is necessary to remove a lot of other engine components. After all was said and done the whole water pump episode cost me $420.00. An unfortunate thing to happen, but water pumps go bad with time just as tires do, and it has no bearing on how well the car has been taken care of. My mechanic told me that the old water pump that he took off was the original one from the factory. He was shocked at that fact because he said normally you need to replace water pumps about every 60,000 miles, and this one had gone over TWICE the usual life expectancy. That was comforting to me, because it gave further indication of the high level of craftsmanship that went in to the car by Nissan. I would not let the story of my water pump sway your feelings about the fact that this is a super reliable car.
All in all, I couldn't be happier with my Maxima purchase. I look forward to having her for many trouble free years to come.