This is probably the best car I've owned up to now. I was sufficiently impressed that I just traded it in for a G35 M6. The Maxima is relatively fast (with manual transmission) and has good handling and a very compliant ride (especially compared to the G35). It is also well optioned (SE manual model) with power windows, locks, mirrors, seats and sunroof, leather, Bose stereo, climate control, and so on.
In the 6 years I owned it there was not a single rattle or squeak, and the car always had good power, even though I used regular or mid-grade gasoline. Most of the problems I've had with the car could be considered "routine maintenance" items, including tires, brakes, exhaust, axle seals and CV boots. The airbag sensor warning light ($500 to replace a sensor!) is the one major annoyance with the car, breaking twice over 6 years. Otherwise it is a great car, especially for the price.
Two problems I did NOT have with this car were clutch and throttle body failures, the latter being reported as a recurring problem with this car. The clutch was fantastic and the Maxima was the easiest standard to drive I've had (compared to 7 other cars I've owned with manual transmissions). The shifter is a bit like a stick in a bowl of porridge, but it was still hard to miss a shift.
Cost of ownership is another major feature of this car. The brakes and exhaust are a bit more expensive than North American cars, but are cheaper than the cost of these parts for European cars I've owned (all Volkwagens). The good reliability of the car helped keep costs down. Another advantage of this car is that it is not a true "high performance" car, with insanely expensive tires, brakes and upkeep costs. Gas mileage is also decent (though not great), averaging about 18-22 mpg (imperial).
Overall, I would strongly recommend the Maxima, and particularly the SE with the manual transmission, if a low mileage SE can be found. Such cars can currently be found for $3,500 - $6,000, which is a great deal.