After driving my 1993 Maxima SE for the past 10 years (over 150,000 miles), I have to say I am a firm Maxima believer. Starting recently, I like to tell others that "Not even a single light bulb burned out in ten years!" Not one headlight, not one taillight in TEN YEARS! "Well, not quite," I'd continue. It is true that none of the bulbs went out. I did repair ONE thing a pair of rubber boots that house grease for the front wheels. They became brittle and cracked -- after traveling to minus 100║F wind-chill factored Vermont for ski trips and over 100║F scorching beach weather for ten summer seasons, I guess thats not bad. THATS IT! Everything else works and works like when it was new, I might add.
I guess thats enough to convince everyone that the car is reliable, dont you think? Let me lay down what else:
HANDLING: When Nissan told you this is a performance sedan, believe it. I rent many types of vehicle when I take business trips. After driving various American, Japanese, and Korean models for a week or so, I still conclude My 10-year-old Maxima drives better than those new ones. Steering is not loose nor too tight and it responds to what you want it to do. The car turns tight corners by grabbing the road. I cant seem to point out any weakness.
ACCELERATION: No problem here. 3.0 liter V6 DOHC engine provides 190 hp, according to the specification. I dont know really how many horses are my engine, but, I can easily accelerate and squeeze between cars when merging onto Washington Metro area highway (Boy, are there too many cars nowadays. And, many of them dont leave a lot of room between his/her vehicle and the one in front). And, I drive an automatic. The car does provide a toggle switch in the front console area that you can choose power or comfort but, I honestly couldnt tell you if it makes much difference. I havent fooled around with it enough to say much about it. Maybe it does something extra in extreme driving conditions like climbing 10,000-foot mountain or something.
BRAKING: For this, I need to drag in my wife to illustrate my point. (Sorry, no offense to female intended here.) Even she knew right away that Maxima stops much quicker than other cars she has driven. And, she is not a very sensitive person when it comes to cars she almost notices nothing. About 80k mile mark, I replaced the front brake pads (all four are discs) with a generic brand and squeaky noise developed. But I havent run over anything yet; as long as the car stops, I want to ignore the noise. Besides, I rarely drive with my window opened; so, the brake noise only annoys people outside I guess.
ROOMINESS: I am not a big person but I read that this car can accommodate well-over six feet persons without problems, both front and rear. I buy that. Four doors are there for easy in and out for all passengers. Trunk space is adequate for this size car that it can carry two golf bags with two pull carts. (I wished for folding rear seats but couldnt get them not available.)
NOISE: For some reason, I believe automobile engineers want some engine noise in the cabin when it comes to performance/sports cars. Thats why, I think, this Maxima, especially the SE or sporty version, is slightly on the noisy side. However, not to a level that you cant tolerate. (One of my friends owned a Porsche 911. I swear I thought the engine was on a back seat. I dont know how he can drive the car without wearing a pair of earplugs. But then, he was all into ostentation; he was willing to sacrifice many basic things just to impress others. I am glad I am not him, and, he is probably glad he is not me.)
SOUND SYSTEM: Bose stereo system is better than any system I had in my previous cars. But, mine didnt have a CD player; so, I changed to an inexpensive Kenwood from Circuit City (I didnt touch the Bose speakers). CDs sound great. This car is equipped with slanted antenna that retracts when sound system, or engine, is turned off. I dont really care for this type of motorized antenna as it is just another thing that is likely to go bad. Fortunately, this is a Maxima we are talking about. It still works.
INSTRUMENT PANEL: I have to admit, those Maxima SEs white gages attracted me from the beginning. During the daylight, it makes sense to have the letters/numbers and the needles in black; so the background is white. At night, you can see the letters/numbers and the needles better in white; so the background reverses its color to black. Other car companies like Chrysler and Toyota now have these color-reversing gages. I guess they like them, too.
GAS MILEAGE: I only drive like a maniac only when I have to (or when certain music puts me in a livelier mood). All other times, I try very hard to be a law abiding, considerate driver. With 18.5 gallon tank, I usually put in about 13 to 15 gallons of premium gas. Between fill ups, my trip odometer normally shows 350 to 400 miles. Without doing quantum-physics type analysis, those numbers translate to about low 20s for city driving and high 20s for highway. The dealers rating was 19 and 25, respectively. By the way, when I am on highway, I almost never use brakes, and, I keep a very steady speed. Unless I am exiting highways for gas/meal or stopping for toll, I can probably drive from Maine to Florida without using the brakes single time unless there is an accident or something. Maybe, this has a lot to do with why I am getting better mileage than other Maxima owners. Wondering about how slowly I drive? I do stretch 5 to 10 miles over the posted speed limit, just to avoid tickets. Hence, I do usually move with the flow.
EXTRA GADGETS: Side-view mirrors fold inward, if anyone needs to squeeze through a tight garage without causing an embarrassing crunch. And these mirrors are equipped with defroster, a valuable feature when outside is very humid. How about turning lights. When turn signal is on, side light (next to parking light) turns on, supposedly to brighten the path youre moving toward. I dont see much need for it, but cant hurt to have it I guess. When I have my key in the ignition, whether the engine is on or off, I cannot lock the doors; a design feature that prevented me a few times from getting locked out.
One quirky issue with this car. For whatever reason, when I run the engine for, say, less than one minute or so, the engine tends to stall the next time I turn it on. I am thinking its caused by fuel starvation. Ive noticed this type of engine behavior about five times. For example when I have to move my car 30 feet away, so that other car can come out of the garage, the stalling problem appears the next time I try to start. In those cases, I intentionally drive a mile or two before cutting off the engine. Could be an annoying thing for some, but for me I dont get in that kind of situation often enough.
Oh, about styling? I like it. You can make your own judgment.
My wife and I are considering a new car in about a year. I love this Maxima but there is an age issue over 10 years old. Those gaskets, grommets, o-rings, etc. dont last forever you know. I do feel like (although its hard to recall my 10 years ago feeling) it does drive just like when I got it new; the gas mileage I am getting now seems to be approximately same as when it was brand new. Some rattling noise here and there cropped up over the years. My wife wants to get rid of 7-year-old Toyota Avalon, which was pretty reliable overall but it did have a few minor problems here and there. With over 135,000 miles on Avalon, it is a much roomier, quieter, and more fuel efficient than Maxima (with all else being worse). But both of us agree Avalon is getting kicked out the door first. Will we be getting a new 2005 Maxima? I would if I was a single. My wife believes in making progress in life. Buying another same model, you see, is not a progress, in her opinion. Hello, 2005 Acura TL. I hope she agrees.
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