I purchased this vehicle new one month ago, and have put 500 miles on it thus far. I have no regrets thus far, other than the fact that it is primarily my wife's car.
The engine is a marvel of design and technology. I only wish that it was driving the rear wheels; then we would have some fun. My wife commented that the engine compartment has everything related to maintenance, colored yellow. Nissan engineers have ensured that anything other than basic maintenance must be handled by the dealership. Then again, you don't necessarily want Johnny Dropout down at the Oil Change Express wrenching on your $30K car anyway, right?? The engine has a slight hesitation sometimes if you punch it at certain RPM's. I attribute this to the variable timing; certainly NOT a point of concern. The engine has good low-end torque, and pulls like a V-8, or turbo-charged vehicle without the lag. The traction control actually cuts fuel to the engine, so we'll see how well it works this winter. It feels like you let off on the accelerator if it begins to spin on the pavement.
The GLE we purchased had the Meridian package, with the sun-roof, heated seats, mirrors, and yes, STEERING WHEEL. I thought that it was kind of gimmicky however, it feels good! The leather interior(tan color equipped with our Sunlit Sand exterior)is rich and luxurious. The driver's seat adjust's well to even my wife's vertically challenged 5'2". The seat memory is a creature feature, and the driver's side moves back when you turn off the vehicle for easy access. Two recommendations for the Nissan engineers: Illuminate the steering-wheel controls, and give us a little more room between the accelerator and brake pedals. Overall, the Max had an edge in interior fit, finish, and quality of materials over the Altima that we considered.
The handling is competent, without being too cushy or rigid. The highway ride is firm, and you will feel a gentle bottoming of the suspension with four average adults in the car(no luggage) on only moderate dips in the road. The car maintains its composure even when encountering rough, uneven pavement while rounding a bend.
The HID headlights are impressive, and the auto-tinting mirror is functional and never annoying. The auto climate control is the first system that I have encountered that actually works well. It even adjusts the vents automatically to even-out the heat/air conditioning.
We are averaging 22.6 MPG in mixed driving with a new engine, and an eager driver at the wheel. Not bad for a car that has this kind of beans. The 17" wheel and tire package compliment the car nicely, and the Bridgestone Turanza's are a nice match to the car's performance characteristics.
Overall, the vehicle is a competent sports sedan with performance capabilities of a pure sports car with scaled back handling to make it more appropriate for real-life driving. It is very good at everything, as opposed to sacrificing ride quality or handling.
Amount Paid (US$):
2002Model and Options:
GLE w/Meridian Package/Everything but navigation.