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Is the Nissan Maxima a Good Car?

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For decades, the Nissan Maxima has been a staple on Canadian roads, offering drivers a compelling blend of style, performance, and affordability in the large sedan segment. This sleek and spacious four-door has carved out a niche for itself as a premium alternative to mainstream family sedans, providing an upscale driving experience without the luxury price tag.

Introduced to the Canadian market in the early 1980s, the Maxima quickly gained a reputation for its distinctive styling, powerful engines, and well-appointed interiors. Over the years, it has evolved from a sporty compact to a full-size sedan, growing in size and sophistication to meet the changing demands of Canadian drivers.

Today’s Maxima continues to embody the spirit of its predecessors, with a bold and aggressive design that sets it apart from its more conservative competitors. Its low, wide stance and muscular lines give it a distinctly athletic appearance, while premium touches like LED lighting and alloy wheels add a touch of luxury.

Under the hood, the Maxima packs a potent punch, with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers an exhilarating 300 horsepower. This power is channeled through a smooth and responsive continuously variable transmission (CVT), providing a seamless surge of acceleration that belies the Maxima’s substantial size.

Despite its performance credentials, the Maxima remains a practical and comfortable choice for Canadian families. Its spacious cabin offers ample room for five adults, with generous legroom and headroom in both the front and rear seats. The trunk is also generously sized, making it easy to accommodate luggage, sports equipment, or bulky cargo.

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Reliability Issues Plague Some Maxima Model Years

While the Nissan Maxima has a reputation for being a stylish and affordable large sedan, its reliability record is a mixed bag. According to Consumer Reports, certain model years have proven to be significantly less reliable than others.

The 2004-2008 Maximas were particularly problematic, with Consumer Reports ranking them as “worse-than-average” in predicted reliability. One of the most common and expensive issues during these years was transmission failure, often requiring an expensive rebuild or replacement.

The continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) used in early 2010s Maximas also had higher-than-normal failure rates. CVT issues like rough shifting, shuddering, and complete breakdowns were frequently reported by owners during this period.

However, aside from these troublesome model years, most recent Maxima generations have earned average or better reliability scores from Consumer Reports and other rating sources. So while prospective buyers need to carefully research specific model years, the Maxima’s overall reliability is not as poor as its worst vintages might suggest.


Ownership Costs: Affordable to Maintain

One of the major advantages of the Nissan Maxima for Canadian drivers is its relatively low ownership costs compared to other mid-size and large sedans. According to repair cost estimates from RepairPal, Nissan ranks as the 7th most affordable vehicle brand for maintenance and repairs across all makes. This means routine services like oil changes, brake pad replacements, and scheduled maintenance tend to be quite reasonable for Maxima owners.

For example, the average cost for a brake pad replacement job on a Maxima is around $300-400 including parts and labor. An oil change typically runs $100-150 at most Nissan dealerships or independent shops in Canada. These costs are on par with mainstream brands like Toyota and Honda, and far less expensive than premium German or domestic luxury brands.

Insurance is another area where the Maxima shines in terms of affordability. Thanks to the Maxima’s strong safety ratings (more on those later), insurance providers tend to view it as a relatively low-risk vehicle. This results in annual premiums that are hundreds of dollars less than similar-sized sports sedans or luxury models. Rates can be even lower for Maxima trims with advanced safety tech like blind spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking.

For budget-conscious buyers able to find a low-mileage, certified pre-owned Maxima still covered by Nissan’s factory warranty, ownership costs can be stunningly affordable for the first few years. Between having no out-of-pocket repair costs and discounted maintenance through Nissan dealers, a CPO Maxima can essentially provide luxury car amenities for used compact car operating costs during the warranty period.


Top Safety Ratings Make It Family-Friendly

When it comes to keeping your family safe on the road, the Nissan Maxima delivers top-tier protection. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has awarded the Maxima its highest 5-star overall safety rating for every model year between 2009 and 2022. This stellar safety performance is backed up by rigorous crash testing and the inclusion of advanced safety features as standard equipment.

All modern Maximas come equipped with essential safety technologies like anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, and a comprehensive array of airbags. These features work together to help prevent accidents and protect occupants in the event of a collision. Nissan has also made blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert standard on recent Maxima trims, giving drivers an extra set of eyes on the road.

For families seeking even more peace of mind, the Maxima offers a suite of advanced driver assistance systems as optional equipment. Forward emergency braking can automatically apply the brakes to avoid or mitigate a frontal collision. Lane departure warning and lane keep assist help prevent dangerous lane drifting. And adaptive cruise control maintains a safe following distance without driver intervention.

With its strong construction, cutting-edge safety tech, and perfect crash test scores, the Nissan Maxima provides Canadian families with one of the safest vehicles in its class. Whether navigating city streets or open highways, the Maxima’s robust safety features deliver confidence and security for drivers and passengers alike.


Resale Value Takes a Hit

The Nissan Maxima’s resale value is one area where it struggles compared to rivals like the Toyota Avalon and Honda Accord. Due to concerns over reliability, especially with problematic model years, Maximas tend to lose value at a faster rate than the competition.

Edmunds data shows that a 3-year-old Maxima will have retained only around 50% of its original MSRP on average. In contrast, a Toyota Avalon of the same age typically holds over 60% of its value, with the Accord sitting in between the two.

The steeper depreciation curve for Maximas is directly tied to the reliability issues that have plagued certain model years. When shopping for a used Maxima, it’s crucial to carefully research problem years and avoid models known for expensive repairs like transmission failures.

Buyers willing to take a chance on a well-maintained, lower-mileage Maxima from a decent model year can find exceptional value. Since the original owner took the biggest depreciation hit, a 2-3 year old Maxima represents a cost-effective way to get a stylish, powerful sedan loaded with features.

However, those looking for maximum resale value and worry-free ownership will likely be better served by a used Avalon or Accord. Toyota and Honda’s reputations for reliability allow their vehicles to retain more of their original value over time.


Reliability Issues Plague Some Maxima Model Years

When it comes to reliability, not all Maxima model years are created equal. Some generations have been plagued with issues that make them less desirable on the used market for Canadian buyers.

According to Consumer Reports, the 2004-2008 Maximas rank as worse-than-average in predicted reliability. Expensive transmission problems seem to be a common issue with these model years. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) found in early 2010s Maximas has also exhibited higher-than-normal failure rates.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for the Maxima. Most other model years tend to be about average in terms of reliability based on rankings from Consumer Reports and other authorities. So while you’ll want to steer clear of the problematic 2004-2008 and early 2010s models, other Maxima generations can make smart used purchases if you find one that was well-maintained.

When shopping for a used Maxima, your best bets are to target either a newer model still covered by some of Nissan’s factory warranty, or an older Maxima from the early 2000s or mid-to-late 2010s. Avoiding the problematic transmission models will help improve your chances of getting a reliable example.


Impressive Performance and Luxury at an Affordable Price

One of the standout reasons to consider the Nissan Maxima is the impressive blend of performance, luxury, and value it offers. Under the hood, the Maxima packs a punch with its standard 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers an exhilarating 300 horsepower. This potent powertrain provides the Maxima with spirited acceleration and passing power, making it a thrill to drive on the open road or around town.

Yet the Maxima isn’t just about raw power – it also delivers a refined and comfortable driving experience worthy of a luxury sedan. The cabin is appointed with premium materials like leather upholstery, wood trim accents, and a sleek, driver-focused dashboard design. Heated and ventilated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a premium Bose audio system are just a few of the upscale amenities that come standard on higher trim levels.

What truly sets the Maxima apart, however, is how much you get for your money. With a starting MSRP in the mid-$30,000 range for the base model, the Maxima undercuts many mainstream midsize sedans while offering more power, more features, and a more premium driving experience. When you consider everything the Maxima brings to the table, it represents an immense value proposition for Canadian drivers seeking an affordable taste of luxury and performance.


High-Tech Cabins Loaded with Features

Recent Nissan Maximas come loaded with the latest tech and infotainment features that Canadian drivers demand. The centerpiece is a large touchscreen display, ranging from 8 inches on lower trims up to an expansive 9-inch widescreen on higher models. This infotainment system offers seamless smartphone integration with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Navigation is available, providing turn-by-turn directions through the crisp display. Higher trims add advanced features like a WiFi hotspot and wireless charging pad. The top Platinum Reserve trim gets treated to a truly premium Bose audio system with 11 speakers for an immersive sound experience.

Nissan’s latest infotainment software is intuitive and easy to use, with quick response times. Physical knobs and buttons provide alternate control methods. You’ll also find plenty of charging ports and available rear seat entertainment screens to keep all occupants connected on long Canadian road trips.

While the Maxima tech offerings may not be cutting-edge compared to luxury rivals, they provide a comprehensive suite of the latest convenience and connectivity features that most drivers desire. The large displays and straightforward interfaces make the Maxima feel modern and upscale inside.


Fuel Economy is a Weak Point

While the Nissan Maxima delivers strong acceleration from its powerful V6 engine, that performance comes at the expense of fuel efficiency. The Maxima’s city and highway fuel economy ratings trail most midsize sedan competitors by a few miles per gallon.

For example, the 2023 Maxima is rated at 20 mpg city and 30 mpg highway with front-wheel drive. The Toyota Camry, in comparison, achieves 28 mpg city and 39 mpg highway with its base four-cylinder engine. Even the V6-powered Camry outperforms the Maxima, managing 22 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.

The Maxima’s poor fuel economy is the tradeoff for its robust 300 horsepower V6, which provides rapid acceleration and an engaging driving experience. However, for buyers prioritizing fuel costs over performance, the Maxima’s thirst for gasoline may be a deal-breaker.

It’s worth noting that the Maxima’s fuel economy is about average among V6-powered midsize sedans. But many competitors offer turbocharged four-cylinder engines that strike a better balance between power and efficiency. If you don’t need a V6, you can likely find a more fuel-efficient alternative to the Maxima in the same price range.


Impressive Ride and Handling for a Large Sedan

One of the standout qualities of the Nissan Maxima is its engaging driving dynamics. Despite being a large, roomy sedan, the Maxima delivers a surprisingly sporty and confidence-inspiring driving experience on Canadian roads.

The Maxima’s rigid chassis and well-tuned suspension provide excellent body control through corners. The car feels planted and composed, with minimal body lean. Steering is nicely weighted and communicative, giving the driver a connected feel rare for this class of vehicle.

Nissan’s legendary 3.5L V6 engine, found in multiple Maxima generations, provides abundant power and a satisfying exhaust note under hard acceleration. While not a pure sports car, the Maxima has no problem getting up to highway speeds swiftly. The available manual transmission is a delight for driving enthusiasts.

Ride quality manages to strike an impressive balance between comfort and control. The Maxima soaks up bumps and road imperfections admirable, but still transmits enough road feel to the driver to feel engaged. Cabin noise levels are commendably low for such an affordable large sedan.

Compared to key rivals like the Toyota Avalon, Honda Accord, and Hyundai Sonata, the Maxima stands out with its athletic, almost sports sedan-like driving manners. It simply feels more planted, responsive, and fun to drive than you’d expect from a mainstream family hauler. For drivers seeking an affordable midsize sedan without the boring driving experience, the Maxima delivers in spades.


Spacious and Versatile Interior for Canadian Families

One of the standout strengths of the Nissan Maxima is its spacious and versatile interior, making it an excellent choice for Canadian families seeking a roomy and practical sedan. With generous head and legroom in both the front and rear seats, even taller passengers can stretch out and enjoy the ride in comfort.

The Maxima’s cabin boasts an impressive 14.3 cubic feet of trunk space, providing ample room for luggage, groceries, and other cargo. For those occasions when you need even more hauling capacity, the 60/40 split-folding rear seats allow you to extend the cargo area and accommodate larger or bulkier items with ease.

Beyond its sheer spaciousness, the Maxima’s interior is thoughtfully designed with family-friendly features. Multiple cup holders, generous storage compartments, and well-placed USB ports ensure that everyone’s beverages, snacks, and devices can be kept within easy reach. The available dual-zone automatic climate control system also allows the driver and front passenger to personalize their temperature settings, promoting a comfortable environment for all.

Whether you’re running errands around town, embarking on a road trip, or simply tackling the daily school and activity run, the Nissan Maxima’s spacious and versatile interior provides the room and flexibility that active Canadian families demand from their vehicle.


Trim Levels and Pricing for Canadian Maxima Buyers

For Canadian drivers considering a Nissan Maxima, it’s important to understand the different trim levels and pricing options available. The Maxima is offered in four core trims for the 2023 model year:


SV ($41,998 MSRP) – The base SV trim comes well-equipped with features like 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, and an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

SR ($45,998 MSRP) – Stepping up to the SR adds sportier styling cues like a rear spoiler, unique wheels, paddle shifters, sport seats, and aluminum interior trim pieces. It also includes heated front seats and remote start.

Platinum ($48,498 MSRP) – The luxury-oriented Platinum trim adds a panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, premium leather upholstery, driver’s seat memory settings, and a premium Bose audio system.

40th Anniversary Edition ($51,998 MSRP) – For 2023 only, Nissan is offering a special 40th Anniversary Edition with two-tone leather upholstery, unique badging, and exclusive exterior and interior styling touches.


All Maxima trims utilize the same 3.5L V6 engine producing 300 hp and are available with Nissan’s advanced all-wheel drive system for an additional $2,000. Canadian buyers should budget for additional fees like freight, PDI, and taxes on top of these MSRP prices.


The Benefits of Nissan’s Certified Pre-Owned Program for Maxima Buyers

For Canadian drivers looking to maximize value and minimize risk when buying a used Nissan Maxima, the automaker’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program offers compelling advantages. Nissan’s CPO vehicles must meet stringent age and mileage requirements, undergo a comprehensive 167-point inspection by factory-trained technicians, and have a clean vehicle history report. Any necessary repairs or replacements are made using genuine Nissan parts.

Perhaps the biggest draw of Nissan’s CPO program is the extended warranty coverage. CPO Maximas receive an additional 6 years/120,000 km of bumper-to-bumper coverage from the original in-service date, giving buyers years of worry-free driving. The warranty is also fully transferable, enhancing resale value down the road. Other perks include 24/7 roadside assistance, a free CARFAX report, rental car reimbursement, and a three-month trial subscription to Nissan’s connected services.

While CPO Maximas command a premium over non-certified used models, the price difference is often well worth it for the added peace of mind. Nissan dealers thoroughly inspect and recondition each CPO vehicle, ensuring it meets like-new condition standards. Any glaring mechanical or cosmetic issues are addressed upfront. For shoppers willing to pay a bit more, a CPO Maxima eliminates many of the risks and unknowns of buying a used car from a private party.


Reliability: How the Maxima Compares to Rivals

When it comes to reliability, the Nissan Maxima has had its ups and downs over the years. Compared to segment leaders like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Toyota Avalon, the Maxima often trails in predicted reliability ratings from trusted sources like Consumer Reports and J.D. Power.

The Camry and Accord consistently rank among the most reliable midsize sedans, with the Avalon also earning top marks. Certain Maxima model years, however, have been plagued by problematic transmissions and other issues that hurt their reliability scores.

For example, Consumer Reports data shows the 2004-2008 Maximas suffered from frequent and expensive transmission failures, leading to a “worse than average” used car prediction. The continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) used in early 2010s Maximas also had higher failure rates than the conventional automatics in the Camry, Accord, and Avalon.

That said, aside from those troublesome model years, the Maxima’s reliability is about average for a non-luxury midsize sedan. More recent Maximas haven’t exhibited the same transmission woes and earn average or better ratings from consumer organizations.

So while the Maxima can’t quite match the bulletproof reliability of a Camry or Accord, it remains a decent choice for the budget-conscious buyer who does their research on which specific models to avoid. Buying a certified pre-owned Maxima with remaining factory warranty coverage is one way for Canadian drivers to mitigate potential repair costs.


The Bottom Line: Great Value, Spotty Reliability

The Nissan Maxima represents an appealing blend of style, performance, and affordability for Canadian families seeking a large sedan. Well-equipped Maximas offer a near-luxury experience at a mainstream price point, with comfortable interiors, powerful V6 engines, and a long list of available tech and safety features.

However, the Maxima’s Achilles heel has long been inconsistent reliability, with some model years plagued by transmission issues and other mechanical problems. Buyers considering a used Maxima need to carefully research potential trouble areas for their desired model year. Avoiding problematic vintages is essential to getting good value and lower ownership costs.

For shoppers willing to roll the dice on reliability, a well-maintained, lower-mileage Maxima can represent an excellent value proposition. The depreciation curve is steeper than rivals like the Toyota Avalon, so savvy buyers can find gently-used Maximas at attractive prices. Just be sure to get a pre-purchase inspection and stick to model years with better reliability ratings.

Overall, the Maxima remains a smart choice for Canadian drivers who prioritize bold styling, a powerful driving experience, and generous features over bulletproof, Toyota-like reliability records. With some due diligence on the used market, the Maxima can provide an affordable taste of premium sedan luxury. But those seeking hassle-free, no-drama transportation may want to stick with perennially reliable options like the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry.

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Questions About The Nissan Maxima

Nissan Maximas are generally considered reliable cars, although reliability has declined in recent model years. The 2004-2008 Maximas score average to above average in predicted reliability according to Consumer Reports. Common issues include transmission problems, steering system leaks, and electrical issues. When properly maintained, a Nissan Maxima can easily last over 200,000 km.

Used Nissan Maximas from the early to mid 2000s are typically reliable, while those from 2009 onward score below average in reliability according to Consumer Reports. Key problem areas on used Maximas include the CVT transmission, steering system, fuel system, electrical components and in-car electronics. Thoroughly inspecting service records and conducting a pre-purchase inspection can help avoid major issues down the road.

The most common Nissan Maxima problems by model year are:


– 2004-2008 Maximas: Transmission issues, steering leaks, electrical glitches

– 2009-2014 Maximas: Loss of power, CVT transmission failure, steering lock issues

– 2016+ Maximas: Transmission shuddering, infotainment screen failures, suspension noises


Overall, the CVT transmission and steering/suspension systems tend to be problem areas on many Maximas, particularly once they surpass 100,000 km.

Compared to other midsize sedans, Nissan Maximas have average maintenance costs. On average, owners can expect to budget approximately $450 per year for routine maintenance based on a 15,000 km annual mileage. The most expensive scheduled maintenance visits occur at 120,000 km or 72 months. Major repairs involving the transmission or suspension can cost upwards of $2,000-4,000 in some cases if out of warranty.

In Canada, the average Nissan Maxima lasts between 200,000-250,000 km when properly maintained – comparable to other midsize sedans. Models equipped with the manual transmission tend to be the longest lasting. Factors that determine Maxima longevity include regular maintenance habits, climate, driving style and average annual kilometrage. With regular upkeep, it’s not uncommon for a Nissan Maxima to reach 300,000+ kilometres.

The 2004-2008 Nissan Maximas are considered the most reliable model years by Consumer Reports and owners. These years improved upon earlier transmission and engine issues while avoiding the newer CVT transmission introduced in 2009. The 2016+ Maximas offer the latest tech and safety features but may cost more to maintain long term. For the best value, a well maintained 2008 model is a great option.

Nissan Maximas consistently earn high safety ratings thanks to standard safety features like side curtain airbags, vehicle dynamic control, traction control and antilock brakes. The 2021 Maxima earned a 5-Star overall safety rating from NHTSA, while the IIHS awarded a 2021 Top Safety Pick+ rating – their highest honour. Safety tech like automatic emergency braking and blind spot monitoring became standard on Maximas beginning in 2020.

Compared to rivals like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, Nissan Maximas have similar resale values in the Canadian used car market. On average, a Nissan Maxima will retain around 45% of its value after 5 years. Properly maintained models with lower kilometres can retain over 50% residual value. Factors like trim level, kilometres, condition and demand for used vehicles impact resale value the most.

For a Nissan Maxima, high mileage is typically considered anything over 225,000 km. At this point, the engine and transmission may be nearing the end of their lifespan. However, with proper maintenance and gentle driving, Maximas are capable of reaching 300,000+ km. Be extra vigilant with service intervals, fluid changes and suspension/steering inspection around this kilometrage.

Nissan has utilized continuously variable automatic transmissions (CVTs) in most Maximas since the 2009 model year. Unfortunately, these CVTs have proven problematic – requiring expensive repairs or replacement prematurely. Issues typically emerge around the 100-150K km mark. Some model years have extended CVT warranties offered. While inconvenient, swapping the CVT for a traditional automatic improves reliability.

For buyers seeking an affordable midsize sedan with some luxury, the Nissan Maxima offers:


– Sharp, sporty styling that stands out

– Strong V6 performance and handling capabilities

– Available cutting-edge safety technologies

– Upscale interior materials and features

– Good passenger and cargo space

– Reasonable ownership costs


The Maxima strikes an excellent balance between affordability, comfort, driving enjoyment and peace of mind.

In Canada for the 2023 model year, the Nissan Maxima has a starting MSRP around $39,498 before fees and taxes. Standard equipment includes the 300 hp V6 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, 8-inch touchscreen, forward collision warning, automatic high beams and more. Fully loaded Platinum Reserve models retail for approximately $50,498 before any current incentives or negotiations.

Used Nissan Maxima pricing varies considerably based on factors like model year, mileage, condition and location. Here are average asking prices in Canada:


– 2010 Maxima – $5,000 CAD

– 2015 Maxima – $12,000 CAD

– 2018 Maxima – $22,000 CAD


Carefully compare vehicles using free online price guides before negotiating the best possible deal. Private sales usually offer better value over dealers.

Shoppers considering the Nissan Maxima may also want to cross-shop:


-Toyota Camry (reliability, value, MPG)

-Honda Accord (safety, handling, resale value)

-Hyundai Sonata (warranty, tech features, comfort)

-Kia K5 (value, style, performance)

-Subaru Legacy (AWD, visibility, safety tech)


Test driving top competitors can help determine the best large sedan to suit your needs and preferences.

Whether buying or leasing a Nissan Maxima depends on factors like budget, driving habits and ownership plans. Buying tends to make more financial sense if keeping the car over 5 years or driving 20,000+ km annually. Leasing allows lower monthly payments while enjoying the latest Maxima under warranty – but strict kilometrage limits apply. Review all ownership costs before deciding to buy or lease.

The most common complaints reported by Nissan Maxima owners over the years include:


– Rough shifting or transmission failure, especially with CVT models

– Excessive oil consumption

– Steering lock or power steering failure

– Check engine light and electrical glitches

– Excessive rust/corrosion issues in cold climates

– Reduced fuel economy compared to published ratings

– Seat comfort issues on long drives


Reviewing customer complaints can reveal potential trouble areas to inspect closely when purchasing used.

Popular accessories that Nissan Maxima owners in Canada choose include:


– Remote starters (for extreme cold weather)

– All season floor mats

– Cargo liners and trunk organizers

– Dash cams and backup cameras

– Heated steering wheels

– Performance air intakes

– CarPlay/Android Auto head unit upgrades

– Window tinting

– Sport pedals and shift knobs


Consider how you plan to use your Maxima before investing in certain upgrades or accessories.

Thanks to a smooth ride, quiet cabin and comfortable seats, the Nissan Maxima can handle road trips and highway driving with ease – provided proper maintenance has been kept up. Features like cruise control, adaptive cruise control, and a large fuel tank also make the Maxima an ideal road trip vehicle. Just be diligent with fluid changes, tire condition and inspections before extended driving. Carrying emergency roadside accessories is also a smart precaution.

Yes, absolutely – with a powerful 300 horsepower V6 engine, responsive steering and capable suspension, the Nissan Maxima is praised by owners and reviewers for being genuinely fun to drive. The Maxima feels noticeably quicker and nimbler than many rivals, while avoiding a harsh ride. Just don’t expect fuel efficiency to match 4-cylinder competitors. Driving enjoyment is a key reason loyal Maxima fans keep coming back.

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