I own a SE with a 5-speed manual that I love to drive hard. I've owned this car for nearly six years and drove it over nearly 98K miles, and have never needed any mechanical assistance. No matter how hard I've driven it, its never left me on the side of the road or begged for anything more than the routine oil change. The car is just a joy to drive and still performs like few cars under $30K can. When I bought it in '96, no family/sports sedan under $30K could.
I dubbed this car "The Poor Man's 5-Series" because for those of us who would give their right arm for an M5 (if you didn't need it to shift) but can only afford about $26K worth of car, the Maxima makes for a decent consolation.
Hydraulic clutch and well defined shift gates.
Independent rear suspension and a new exterior design team.