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The current generation Maxima was recently released as a 2004 model. There have been many reviews of the car as well, but most are in fully equipped cars that push the price tag into the low $30 thousand range. The test car I received probably represents the lowest retail price one would pay to get into a new Maxima. The only option on my Maxima SE test car was the floor mats, which are really considered accessories not options. Let's see what we get for the $27,500 base price, not including destination and taxes, over the course of the next few days.

The first thing that jumps out is the styling. The Maxima?s profile is very sweeping, with a long hood and short rear deck. It is very much patterned after a coupe. With the Maxima?s legacy as a four door sports car (4DSC), the styling is fitting. The styling is very typical of Nissan?s latest offerings, and it has cues of the 350Z with the wrap around headlights and rear tail light treatment. The exterior is either love it or hate it for many, but I find the car to be very attractive. The Maxima once had a very unique appearance in its class, but now Toyota seems to emulate the Maxima with their new Avalon.

AG 2005 Nissan Maxima 3.5SE front

For the most part, the ?Red Opulence? test car?s exterior is attractive, but I do have some problems with it, mostly in the details. First of all, the grill itself is almost a work of art, but the huge Nissan emblem gives the front end a pig-like visage. My other gripe is with the door pulls. For this much money, I expect the door handles to feel better than this. When you pull on them, they feel hollow, and the plastic on plastic friction is very noticeable. There are plenty of less expensive cars that have more substantial door handles. A minor gripe I guess, but you?re paying $27,500+ for a car not a toy.

AG 2005 Nissan Maxima 3.5SE door handle

On the other side of the coin, the 18 inch wheels with performance tires give the Maxima a nice stance. With such a dramatic body, the larger wheels visually support the Maxima. The dual exhaust also adds to the sporty nature of the exterior. This car looks particularly good from the rear three quarters view, with the flat sides, curvy profiles, and large wheels. Also, the SkyView glass panel roof adds some interest to the top of the car, but we?ll get to my roof impressions tomorrow.

AG 2005 Nissan Maxima 3.5SE SkyView ext

Over all, the exterior is dramatic to say the least. We will see how that dramatic exterior translates into the interior details and the driving dynamics.

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