Beauty is only skin deep; fortunately, so too is homeliness. Under that funky, futuristic sheetmetal, the sixth generation of Nissan's flagship sedan holds fast to its family values: a juicy engine driving the front wheels, a stylish and spacious interior, and a decidedly sporting relationship with the road. No longer a Japanese import, the Tennessee-built Maxima shares its platform with the smaller Altima (as well as with the new Murano SUV and the 2004 Quest minivan). It employs a 265-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, matched to a four- or five-speed automatic transmission or a slick six-speed manual. Newly infused with "Z-ness," the '04 edition of the "four-door sports car" has the goods to please the Maxima faithful, but its looks may make it a tough sell to the uninitiated.
Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand pricesubscribe