Category Archives: Infiniti

2010 Infiniti G37 Convertible (816)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Infiniti G37 Convertible. What a beautiful car with top up or down. The G convertible is available in two trim levels: standard and Sport 6MT which is available with a 6-speed manual transmission. There is also a Premier Edition featuring unique accents, such as Monaco Red seats and a Midnight Black grille. All versions come equipped with traction control and Infiniti’s Vehicle Dynamic Control.

With the top down it is surprisingly quiet allowing easy conversation with passengers and with well placed speakers the audio is as good as it gets and better than most. The design prevents wind entering the cabin even at highway speed.

The hardtop mechanics add weight which helps push the car up over 4,000 lbs. It gives it a solid ride, but tucked away in the trunk there is little room left for stowing anything. Another reason for the hard top convertible being attractive to me because I like the security of a hard top when parked. Some years ago I tested a Pontiac Convertible and  coming out to the parking garage in our condo the top slashed, all items removed from the car and it cost $3,800 to replace the top.

Opinion:

Handling & Performance:

Fast because of the 325 horses, solid ride because of the 4,000 lb., weight and fun to drive because of the wide low stance. I can do without manual shift paddles and find little need for them. I’m yet to hear anyone saying how great that feature is. I would drop the feature especially in light of the fact that you can’t shift as efficiently as the automatic mode allows. It’s a waste of money in my book.

Styling:

Sometimes it’s the simple things that distinguish one from another – anything… the Infiniti signature analog clock is an example that is such a subtle classy item. Mr. Critical – Merkel – surprised me in his approval of the styling / design of the hard drop top 3-piece sectional. I agree.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent.

Cost:

Pricey. But in class and competition with BMW 3 Series and Mercedes SLK it doesn’t look so bad.

Conveniences and comfort:

Smart key allows you to keep the key fob in your pocket or purse. It really spoils you and although you’d think women (notorious for losing their keys) would think ‘out of sight – out of mind’ would only worsen the problem… but the answer is no. you need only have the ignition fob on your person to enter the car and start it. This will be a common feature of all cars very soon.

The convertible top is great and it is so easy you will actually use it often. Of course there is a drawback in that it limits the trunk storage space and if you carry a lot of stuff this won’t work. The3-piece roof folds away in 28 seconds leaving a mere 2 cubic feet of storage space with the top down and 10.3 with the top up. The rear seat can serve as a place for your stuff but in a pinch it will also accommodate seating for 2 adult passengers.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you’re not a convertible kinda person, the coupe will save you a bundle… approximately $7,000.

Recognized Competition:

Infiniti G Convertible $44-47,000, Audi A5 $36-44,000, BMW 1-Series $29-40,000, BMW 3-Series $33-51,000, Chevrolet Camaro $23-34,000, Dodge Challenger $23-41,000, Ford Mustang $22-38,000, Hyundai Genesis Coupe $22-32,000, Lexus IS C $39-45,000, Mazda RX8 $27-32,000, Mercedes Benz SLK $47-67,000, Nissan Z $30-41,000, Saab 9-3 $29-45,000, Volvo C70 $40,000.

Good News:

Fast, ultra easy convertible top up and down device, and good fuel numbers for a performance car.

Bad News:

Small rear seat but better than most.

Standard Equipment:

3.7 liter 325 hp V6 engine, Rear wheel drive, 7-speed auto trans with sport drive and manual shift, independent front & rear suspension, 3-piece power retractable hard top with one button touch up and down, heated power folding mirrors, 18” aluminum alloy wheels, leather seats, 8-way power front seats, tilt and telescoping leather wrapped steering wheel with multi-function controls, intelligent key with push button ignition, 6-speaker audio system with CD player & XM Satellite, iPod connection, 7” color display with rearview monitor, cruise control, Bluetooth phone system, auto headlights, power windows, climate control dual zone, front and side airbags, pop-up roll bars, 4-wheel ABS power brake system with brake force distribution, vehicle dynamic control, traction control, tire pressure monitor, vehicle security system with Immobilizer.

Gas Stats:

$2.98/ Gal avg. October 25, ‘09

2009 Infiniti EX35 AWD Journey (729)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2009 Infiniti EX 35 AWD Journey. I have tested most cars manufactured around the world, and I’ve even tested them in much of Europe. Now I have to tell you I’m worried about the future of the auto industry in America. And the difficulty will not be limited to US car makers. Japanese car makers are also down in sales about the same as the Big Three.

The rumor is that Ford is considering chapter 11 bankruptcy. GM wants a $25 Billion bailout with a second round expected to be needed as well. Audi, BMW and Ford have all cut their press fleets dramatically. When they can’t afford free advertising from impartial reviewers you know they are in serious trouble. What it means for my column is that there will not be reviews on those car makers in the future.

An old boss of mine was very positive and would say that is a good thing. If one Ice Cream maker goes out of business the others will benefit since there will be fewer brands. Well I don’t believe anyone thinks there are too few car makers. And the survivor of the fittest is an important concept in the free market.

Will it break my heart to see Ford disappear? Indeed. I grew up with Ford and Chevy and I would miss them a lot.

General Info:

Parts – n/a

Assembly – USA

Class:  – Small Station Wagon

Cars: – EX, FX, G35, G37, M & QX56

Handling & Performance:

I have always been impressed with Nissan products and the high end Infiniti brand like this EX is special because of all the high tech controls in braking, steering and traction that set this level of sophistication way apart from the average car on the road. The sensing features can be annoying especially the lane change sounding / warning. Like OK, I know I’m changing lanes already!

Styling:

Ordinary in class.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent.

Cost:

Cost is on the high end if you opt for all the cool high tech stuff like the smart cruise control and sensing systems to make the driving experience extra special and you will fall in love with the sophistication of this car.

Features and Conveniences:

The Sonar System front and rear is very cool and addictive, Smart cruise control works great except when cars pull in front of you too close and then slow down – Why do they do that?

It is easy to get used to smart key that allows you to keep the key in your pocket or purse and just use the push buttons to open the doors and start and stop the engine.

Convenient storage nooks and crannies are everywhere.

Consumer Recommendation:

Resource – www.safercar.gov

Amazing how few cars you have to test drive in this class. I suspect that will stay this way for a long time. But consider this… when the Lincoln is thrown on the ash heap of history and BMW bites the dust all the rest are Japanese products. They were #2 and the “Try Harder”, as was the mantra of Avis Car Rental companies half a century ago. Wow, that is a scary thought if you were there.

Recognized Competition:

Infiniti EX 35 $32-37,000, BMW X3 $38,600, Lexus RX 350 $38-39,000, Acura RDX $34-37,000, Mazda CX-7 $23-28,000, Lincoln MKX $37-39,000.

Good News:

Technologically wonderful car to drive, comfortable, responsive V6.

Bad News:

Poor fuel stats.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 297 hp V6 engine, 5-speed auto trans, AWD system, adaptive shift control, 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes with brake force distribution, speed sensitive power steering, glass moon roof with sunshade, auto halogen headlights and fog lights, scratch shield paint, speed sensitive variable wipers, rear wiper / washer, green tinted UV glass windows, power mirrors, 17” aluminum alloy wheels, front and rear sonar system, leather seating steering wheel and shift knob, power folding 2nd row seats, aluminum accents,  intelligent key with pushbutton start, tilt and telescopic steering column, 8-way driver and 4-way passenger power seats, cruise control with steering wheel controls, remote keyless entry with power windows & locks, climate control, stereo with CD and 6 speakers & steering wheel audio controls, XM satellite radio, dynamic and traction controls, security system with immobilizer system, front side and curtain airbags, tire pressure system and LATCH system for children.

Options: Technology Package including lane change monitor and warning system and intelligent cruise control – $1,950; Premium package including Bose audio upgrade for added speakers and 6-indash CD system, iPod interface, heated front seats and mirrors, Bluetooth, memory system for driver, 8-way passenger power seat, 2-way driver lumbar settings, power tilt wheel controls – $2,150; Luxury package including 18” wheels, auto leveling headlights – $1,250; Navigation Package including Nav system with voice recognition, 9.3 GB music box hard drive / compact flash slot – $2,150; Wood trim $450.

Gas Stats:

$2.49/ Gal avg. November 11, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

16 City and 23 Highway MPG

www.safercar.gov   or   888-327-4236

Pricing:

MSRP $36,250 – With options $44,200.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2014 – An Automotive Love Affair.

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2008 Infiniti G35 AWD Sedan (694)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2008 Infiniti G35 AWD sedan. I really enjoyed the G37 sporty version better, but if I were in need of a more functional back seat this would appeal to me more. For one, you sacrifice very little in performance and get 4-door convenience for less money.

Some say the badge is not up to other luxury cars but I disagree. Over the years I’ve found Infiniti to be as good as the competition it goes head to head with.

General Info:

Parts – n/a.

Assembly – Los Angeles, CA USA

Class:  – Midsize cars.

Cars: – EX, FX, G35, G37, M and QX56.

Handling & Performance:

Performance wise this sedan is close to the G37 and of course a better all around car. The G37 provided a bit more hair raising speed but not as wild and crazy as the Corvette Z’s for example. If I need to get my heart started the Vette is the “E” ticket ride. But the G35 is still impressive with 0-60 in about 5.4 seconds.

It provides a confident handling feel and thus not only encourages spirited driving, it makes the whole driving experience more comfortable. Hard to place a value on that but I find it indispensable when comparing all the cars I drive. I have come to consider that a major element in the buying decision for me. We all spend entirely too much time in our cars so it may as well be a pleasant experience.

That reminds me, I need to look into one of those new comfortable mattresses that I slept in at a hotel in Vancouver, Washington recently.

Styling:

Generally the lines of the G35 follow those of the sport coupe G37 – which is a good thing.

Fit and Finish:

Infiniti quality is evident the first time you sit inside and your senses are aroused by the attention to detail and the overall look and feel.

Cost:

The competition is brutally capable but the G35 is in the hunt with correct pricing for the crowd.

Features and Conveniences:

Very good standard equipment package.

Consumer Recommendation:

This is one of the most closely matched groups of cars I’ve seen in a good long time. Virtually each one lights my fire. I’m particularly drawn to the Cad CTS; I love that car. I believe the final decision for most if you drove them all would still come down to personal preference and experience with a specific brand. My experience owning a foreign car repair facility for many years colors my thinking I must admit. Audi and BMW were expensive repair nightmares; Chrysler also used to have quality issues; Volvo and Saab are quality conscious but boring (to me). The German cars generally are all expensive to maintain and repair. So the CTS continues to come out on top for me because I have owned eight Cadillac’s over the years and always had good experience with cost to benefit. Good luck in your search; this one will be a tough decision.

Recognized Competition:

Infiniti G35 $32-34,000, Cadillac CTS $33-35,000, Audi A4 $29-48,000, Mercedes-Benz  C-Class $32-37,000, Acura TL $34-38,000, Saab 9-3 $28-46,000, Volvo S40 $24-30,000, Chrysler 300 $25-42,000, Lexus IS $31-36,000, BMW 3-Series $32-49,000.

Good News:

Roomy, fast, nice styling and great standard equipment.

Bad News:

Only fair fuel economy.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 306 hp V6 engine, five speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, independent front and rear suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars, brake assist, four wheel anti lock brakes, vehicle speed sensitive Power steering, auto on off headlights, Trunk release button, power heated side view mirrors, 17 inch five spoke aluminum alloy wheels, leather appointed heated eight way power drivers and front passenger seats, intelligent key with push button ignition, XM satellite radio, six speaker audio system, in dash six CD changer and MP3 CD-ROM playback, audio system auxiliary input, 7 inch color display, cruise control with steering wheel controls, power Windows, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, manual tilt and telescoping steering wheel, analog clock, steering wheel audio controls, dual zone temperature control, rear window defroster, vehicle dynamic control, traction control, advanced air bag system with supplemental side airbags, lower anchors and tethers for children, remote keyless entry, tire pressure monitoring system and vehicle security system with immobilizer system.

Gas Stats:

$3.60/ Gal avg. Mar 24, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

17 City and 23 Highway MPG

www.safercar.gov    or    888-327-4236

Pricing:

MSRP $34,100.

2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe Journey (693)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe Journey. The all-new 2008 Infiniti G37 is also available in Coupe and Coupe Sport 6MT. Powered by a larger and more powerful 3.7-liter 330-horsepower engine that produces 270 lb-ft of torque, the G37 is lower, longer and wider than its predecessor. The second-generation coupe’s ride and handling is enhanced by a stiffer platform, optional 19-inch wheels, standard Vehicle Dynamic Control and optional 4-Wheel Active Steer system. The updated exterior styling features an expressive front fascia, L-shaped HID bi-xenon headlights with integrated fog lights and wave-style hood in the front while the rear features broad fenders, large LED taillights and large dual exhaust outlets with chrome finishers. The interior features an all-new design as well.

General Info:

Parts – n/a.

Assembly – Los Angeles, CA USA

Class:  – Sub compact cars.

Cars: – EX, FX, G35, G37, M and QX56.

Observation:

We often hear negative things about the auto industry but it really takes a bad rap. Car salesmen are untrustworthy, many would echo, dealer repair is a rip off, etc. all the way to the top where salaries are way too high. But these same folks are the salt of the earth, grass roots people and average Americans as well. Now, if you’re interested in the really bad people look to companies in the news like Enron and Bear Sterns.

In any case, when you’re a Goliath you attract a lot of attention. But you know what; unlike the brokerage houses car makers ACTUALLY make a product. And as bad as they seem sometimes you need to consider the car you’re driving. Pretty fantastic, eh? Also consider all the small businesses they support – Thanks, GM, Chrysler and Ford. Consider all the mom and pop aftermarket businesses that have been spawned and sprout up over night because of the car. And finally, consider they have done it for the past 100 years.

Handling & Performance:

If you don’t like to feel the road you won’t like the ride in this G37, but you can’t NOT like the power, acceleration and handling characteristics of this car. I like the feel much better than the BMW (especially the 3-series that competes directly with this G37).

I knew this was a special performer the minute I drove it for the first time. Then when on the Crest Test some wise ass didn’t like that I passed him / her and hot on my tail after speeding up significantly faster than before my pass. So I left that one in my dust with much more performance than either of us expected. When you’re the new kid on the block everyone must challenge you. Guess I would have done that too as I was growing up IN HIGH SCHOOL… Sorry didn’t mean to yell.

If paddle shifters, tiptronic or manual auto shift (whatever you care to call it) is your thing the Infiniti guys finally got it right with long enough paddles for effective use. That was most noticeable in the mountains where lots of turns in the middle shifting can be distracting in many other applications. Nice touch and kudos to Nissan.

Styling:

Sometimes you gotta wonder what these design folks are thinking when they design anything. That’s the first thing I thought when I sat in the car, closed the door and then proceeded to adjust my seat. I was frustrated by the fact my hand wouldn’t fit between the door and the controls. Huh? What’s this all about? I had to open the door to adjust the seat settings.

Friend Merkel asked me just yesterday, “Don’t these guys drive the cars before they put them out for sale?” I’ve thought that same thing often and wonder why they don’t have us test them BEFORE they actually pump them out like cookies. Go figure.

Fit and Finish:

Outstanding.

Cost:

Priced about 5 grand less than the 3-series BMW similarly equipped. Now that’s aggressive sales.

Features and Conveniences:

More than you need and just enough in today’s world. Today it is arguable that you need traffic warning alerts, lane monitors that beep at you when you drift into the next lane and laser sensors that keep you from getting too close to the car in front of you with intelligent cruise control.

Hey, before you know it these smart cars will be driving themselves and we’ll just be along for the ride.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you’re looking at BMW in particular, you’ll want to test drive this Infiniti coupe. Very nice and I prefer it over the German options.

Recognized Competition:

Infiniti G37 $35-36,000, Cadillac CTS $33-35,000, Jaguar X-type $34,330, Lincoln MKZ $31-33,000, Audi A4 $29-48,000, Mercedes-Benz  C-Class $32-37,000, Acura TL $34-38,000, Saab 9-3 $28-46,000, Toyota Avalon $27-34,000, Volvo S60 $31-34,000, Chrysler 300 $25-42,000, Lexus IS $31-36,000, BMW 3-Series $32-49,000.

Good News:

Lots of power and magnificent handling, classy styling and very nice electronics.

Bad News:

Only fair fuel economy, rear seat entry and exit is a struggle and the trunk is rather small.

Standard Equipment:

3.7 liter 330 hp V6 front engine with rear wheel drive, 5-speed automatic transmission, independent front and rear suspension with stabilizer bars, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist 4-wheel ABS brakes, vehicle speed sensitive power steering, Zero-lift front aerodynamics, auto high intensity headlights with built in fog lights, 18” aluminum wheels, chrome front grill, leather 8-way power driver’s and passenger seats, intelligent key with pushbutton starter (love it), XM satellite radio, 6-speaker audio system with 6-in-dash CD changer and MP3 playback, 7-inch color display, cruise control with steering wheel controls, power windows, leather wrapped steering wheel & shift knob, manual tilt and telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, analog clock, dual zone climate control, vehicle dynamic control, traction control, air bag system with front side impact bags and roof mounted side curtain bags, child LATCH system, tire pressure monitoring system and vehicle security system with immobilizer.

Options: technology package – intelligent cruise and adaptive front lighting, Premium package – moonroof, Bose audio upgrade, iPod interface, memory seats steering wheel and mirrors, blue tooth hands free, power tilt & telly. Sport package – paddle shifters, limited slip differential, 19” wheels, sport tuned suspension. Navigation package – hard drive nav system w/touch screen, lane guidance, XM Nav traffic with real time information, voice recognition, 9.3 GB music box hard drive to replace 6-in-dash CD changer, Compact flash slot for MP3 files, rear view monitor and front and rear active Steer system.

Total options $9,700.

Gas Stats:

$3.60/ Gal avg. Mar 17, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

18 City and 24 Highway MPG

www.safercar.gov    or      888-327-4236

Pricing:

MSRP $35,000; with Options $44,700.

2008 Infiniti M45 Sedan (690)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2008 Infiniti M45 Sedan and it is a very streetwise car that is easy to get used to even if the payment would be tough to take for most of us. But I have to tell you all the neat toys will suck you in. Like what’s not to fall in love with – the Keyless fob in your pocket or purse and you press a small button on the door handle to open the doors, and then start the car with the fob still in your pocket or purse. Or could it be the other 21st century gadgets like satellite traffic alerts, cruise control with a distance sensor to monitor the car in front of you so it can apply the brakes or accelerator to maintain a pre-set speed.  Another new innovation is a sensor to detect drift from lane to lane. Clearly it won’t be long before our cars drive themselves and we’ll just be along for the ride.

Although the Navigation system is very nice, I still think I would buy a portable Garmin for much less money. On the other hand, the tire monitor is best purchased as optional equipment if it is not standard, especially with the very popular low profile tires. It doesn’t take much to peal them right off the rims if they are run low. By the way, aftermarket tire monitor systems are available.

In short, people who must have the latest and greatest electronic wizardry will buy this Infiniti M45.

General Info:

Parts –  n/a

Assembly – Los Angeles, CA USA

Class:  – Large Cars

Cars: – EX, FX G35, G37, M & QX56

Observation:

I saw a great personalized license plate 20Y MAKR. It took me a while but I finally got it. How about you?

Handling & Performance:

Lots of power and good handling for a sedan.

Styling:

Very similar to most of the competition in appearance. And even though it is pricey, this is some kind of luxury car. It is very relaxing to drive with all the pampering high tech features.

In fact, when I stepped into the next test car without all the neat features, I found myself reaching for the high tech stuff on this M45 which is when you find out how much you miss NOT having such conveniences.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent.

Cost:

Pricey… but competitive with those listed here

Consumer Recommendation:

If you like high-tech gadgets you’re going to want to look at the Infiniti line.

Recognized Competition:

Infiniti M45 $43-52,000, BMW 5-Series $44-59,000, Acura RL $46-54,000, Mercedes Benz E-Class $51-85,000, Saab 9-5 $37-38,000, Audi A6 $43-56,000, Volvo S80 $39-49,000, Lexus GS $44-53,000.

Good News:

Fantastic technology, luxurious nice handling powerful sedan.

Bad News:

Pricey, disappointing fuel economy.

Standard Equipment:

4.5 liter 325 horsepowerV8 engine, variable intake valve timing control, five speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, rear wheel drive, double wishbone suspension power assist four-wheel ABS disc brakes, brake force distribution, vehicle speed sensitive power steering, fog lights, rain sensing windshield wipers, five spoke aluminum alloy wheels, power sliding glass moon roof, heated power mirrors, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, climate control including driver and front passenger seats, leather wrapped steering wheel with controls for audio Bluetooth and cruise control, analog clock, leather appointed seats, memory system for drivers seat, mirrors and steering wheel,  power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, 10 way power front seats with power lumbar, dual zone automatic temperature control, folding rear center armrest with pass-through, HomeLink universal controller, XM satellite radio, audio system with 6 disc CD and MP3 & WMA playback, Radio data system,  vehicle dynamic control, traction control, brake assist, advanced airbag system with supplemental front side air bags and roof mounted curtain side supplemental bags, child LATCH (lower anchors and tether system, vehicle security system and immobilizer and tire pressure monitoring system.

Options:

Advanced technology package including Bose surround sound with 14 speakers, intelligent cruise control, Lane departure warning system & prevention system, DVD audio video drive –  $2800; Sport package including rear active Steer, sport tuned suspension,  aluminum trim, 19 inch aluminum alloy wheels, sport steering wheel and shift knob -$1650; Technology Package including hard drive navigation system with touch screen, Lane guidance, XM real-time traffic information 9.3 music box hard drive and compact flash slot for MP3 and WMA files (replaces 6-CD changer),  rear view monitor interface system for iPod and Infiniti voice recognition – $3350.

Gas Stats:

$3.18/ Gal avg. Feb 18, ‘07

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

16 City and 21 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $49,350.

2006 Infiniti G35 Coupe 6MT (612)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2006 Infiniti G35 Coupe 6MT (for 6 speed manual transmission). Why, because it is a really sweet car, said a young man at the Acton market. He looked like he was in the market for a car, and a nice looking lad he was. Just then a couple of pretty ladies passed by and greeted him. “You don’t need this car to attract the girls”,

I said to him, but he appeared to be more interested in the car. He has a lot to learn but I can understand his love affair with the likes of the G35. It is truly easy to look at.

I always enjoy driving cars of this quality because they are flat fun to drive and behave so well. This reminds me a lot of the Nissan 350Z as to handling but it is roomier than the Z. I had just given it the Crest Test through the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California that helps to acccc-centuate the handling characteristics of any car. In this case the experience was extremely positive. Ya gotta just fall in love.

General Info:

Parts – n/a

Assembly – Los Angeles

Class: – Compact

Cars: – FX, G35, M, Q45 and QX56

Handling & Performance:

It’s like driving on rails which is the most revealing of feelings as you zip around the hairpin turns through the mountains. I tried something new – I set the cruise control at the speed limit and found I could negotiate the turns without slowing down. The 6-speed manual trans is marvelous mainly because it is driven by 298 horsepower that allows you to pull all the hills in higher gears with fewer shifts. But when you do shift you’ll notice how well it guides you through the gears with spring loaded short throw movement. It doesn’t get much better.

Friend Ron who had just bought the new Corvette that sports 400 horsepower and 6-speed trans reminded me of my recent test and review of it and the 500 hp Z06. Flashbacks of the Crest Test of that Vette helped me to compare this G35 and put it quickly into perspective. It prompted me to caution him to watch the radar traps through the mountains. Those California cowboys ruin the thrill of such roads where there is no better place to feel the exhilaration of how wonderful that Vette handles the curves. But to really satisfy the need for speed and the G-forces possible in such cars you need to go to neighboring states to California where there are less limits on speed and wide open spaces. Boy I’m glad my kids didn’t go into politics or law enforcement or I’d have to disown them.

On the track, where I test most of the cars I review you can get your heart pumping as you quickly accelerate to 120 mph on the straight-a-ways. To eclipse those speeds you need to go to Europe ‘s Autobahns where 140 mph is commonplace. Now that’s driving and drivers are aware and polite and generally the best drivers in the world.

Styling:

The G35 looks and feels the part of the true sports car that it is. But it does provide seating for 4, in a pinch. It’s better than a Porsche for rear seating but not much, plus the G35 provides a small trunk large enough for a regular size golf bag. My large PGA style bag wouldn’t fit. But if you’re not transporting a 4-some you can fold down the rear seat and even my clubs fit in the pass through.

Sometime little things make a big impression and the analog clock takes you back in ‘time’, so to speak. Nice touch. The instrumentation is classy and a mark of more expensive cars. And the leather seating, steering wheel and shift knob is a must in this car and the aluminum pedals add to the sports car theme.

Fit and Finish:

Very nice as is customary for most Japanese cars but some wider gaps on the interior than expected.

Cost:

Pricey for a small car, but not bad for a luxury sports car.

Conveniences:

I love cruise control and believe it should be standard on all cars to improve the smooth flow of traffic on crowded highways. But I did notice an annoying jerkiness on the down slopes.

Seatbelts are more than a convenience and should fit better than those on this G35. It hits you right on the collarbone and is quite uncomfortable. I’m sure there must be a fix for this problem. If I think of it I will let you know.

The auto one-touch windows are great. I suspect there are reasons why most automakers shy away from this great feature. Cost can be the only reason because otherwise all cars would include them in their power windows.

Consumer Recommendation:

Here’s some info to blow you away. Toyota sales in California reach 23.4% of total auto sales. Honda accounts for 12% so that doesn’t leave much room for US competition. Pearl Harbor was just a prelude of things to come from Japan . I’m all for competition but America should ramp up and get Rosy the Riveter back on the US production lines. Perhaps we’d be able to better compete. As the old ad tells us, in her own words … \”I can bring home the bacon Fry it up in a pan And never let you forget you\’re a man \’Cuz I\’m a woman – W – O – M – A – N!\”. Sexist, but that has been the mantra for the past 40 years.

Recognized Competition:

Infiniti G35 $31-34,000, BMW 3-Series $31-45,000, Lincoln Zephyr $28,995 Subaru Legacy $22-34,000, Mazda 6 $19-28,000, Audi A4 $28-45,000, Saab 9-3 $26-42,000, Volvo S40 $24-29,000, Mercedes Benz C-Class $29-54,000, Cadillac CTS $29-51,000, Volkswagen Passat $23-32,000 Jaguar X-Type $32,330, Lexus IS $30-35,000, Acura TSX $28-30,000.

Good News:

Affordable sports car, great handling, fun to drive and one touch up/down power windows.

Bad News:

Uncomfortable seat belt restraints, less than stellar fuel performance.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 298 hp V6 front mounted engine with continuous variable valve timing control (a mark of more expensive engines), 6-speed manual transmission, rear wheel drive, independent multilink front and rear sport tuned suspension, power assisted 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, Viscous limited-slip differential, engine speed-sensitive power steering, VDC (vehicle dynamic control), traction control, cruise control, zero lift front aerodynamics, fog lights, 19” 5-spoke forged aluminum alloy wheels with Y-rated performance tires, power heated mirrors, audio with 6-in dash CD with MP3 playback, illuminated steering wheel audio controls, Infiniti signature analog clock, leather seats, 8-way power heated driver’s seat and 4-way power heated passenger’s seat, aluminum trim and pedals, power one-touch auto up and down windows with auto reverse feature, climate control, o/s temp gauge and digital compass display, folding rear seat with trunk pass through, cargo net and tie downs, dual stage air bags and front seat side air bags, child rear anchors and tethers, remote keyless entry, security system with immobilizer system, 1st aid kit and tire monitoring system.

Gas Stats:

19 City and 26 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $33,650.

2006 Nissan Infiniti M45 4-Door Sedan (591)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2006 Nissan Infiniti M45 4-Door 5 passenger Sedan . This Nissan company high end product line brand has earned a place among several other snob appeal brands.

You know, those are the cars that make you feel special even if you aren’t. Why else would the “badge” add so much to the cost of this class of automobile? And why else would people be willing to pay more for the bragging rights to own what many others are unable to afford or at least are unwilling to give up other luxuries or necessities to have.

Datsun (predecessor name for Nissan) was the first Japanese car we bought back in the mid 1960s. That little 4 cylinder putt-putt was very stingy with fuel and at about 50 cents per gallon in the US at the time it was still a welcome change from the 7 mpg American V8’s powered cars. Datsun was one of the first but would soon have a lot of company in competition with the big three automakers in the World. Today Toyota is challenging GM for top dog.

The automobile continues to be the most convenient form of transportation yet all the while it takes away as much as it gives. Consider the following statistics and you’ll see what I mean. In 2003 there were 48 alcohol related fatalities every 30 minutes in the US alone. That translates to 17,520 every year. If that isn’t bad enough that number is accompanied by 20,735 alcohol related injuries from collisions. 4,749 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes and 70,000 were injured during the same period. 622 bicyclists were killed and 46,000 were injured. When you consider the total deaths from all auto related accidents is about 43,000 every year in the USA it puts several other causes of death in perspective.

If those opposed to war used the same energy to take issue with so much death and maiming on our highways the car would be abolished. We’d all be riding bicycles. Ok so it would be a healthier alternative. Those in opposition are in an uproar over 2,300 soldiers killed in the Iraq war over three years or about 700 per year. And cars kill 43,000 every year. The number one killer of all age 3-33. Pretty interesting eh?

Source: DMV statistics and California Highway Patrol and US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Well we can’t seem to avoid wars but we have the technology and ability to end nearly all highway deaths right now. You can see a paper written by Merkel Weiss at my website www.atthewheel.com under Point/CounterPoint – Editorials – “WHY ARE THERE SO MANY ACCIDENTS”.

General Info:

Parts – n/a

Assembly – Japan

Class: – Large Cars

Cars: – FX, G35, M, Q45 and QX56

Handling & Performance:

Outstanding comfort and control consistent with cars of this quality and high tech control devices listed below. The M35 gives you a V6 and this M45 is powered by a V8. The M comes with either a rear wheel drive or all wheel drive.

Styling:

Consistent styling to fit the luxury car mold that Infiniti seeks to be a part of. There are five trim levels: M35 (V6, rear-wheel drive), M35 Sport (V6, rear-wheel drive), M35x AWD (V6 and all-wheel drive), M45 (V8 with rear-wheel drive) and M45 Sport (V8 with rear-wheel drive).

Fit and Finish:

Outstanding attention to detail.

Cost:

Pricey as equipped.

Conveniences:

One of the most popular conveniences – keyless entry is embellished yet again so you can leave the key fob in your pocket or purse. The car senses the keys presence and unlocks the doors and trunk and allows you to start the car with a touch of a button on the dash. It is more gimmickry than practical but has caught on and now found on an increasing number of brands.

Consumer Recommendation:

Volvo is my pick, dollar-for-dollar, out of the competition noted here.

Top Recognized Competition:

Infiniti M $41-50,000, Mercedes Benz E-Class $50-82,000, Lexus GS $43-51,000, BMW 5-Series $43-57,000, Chrysler 300 $24-40,000, Cadillac CTS $29-51,000, Lincoln LS $39,285, Volvo S60 $31-38,000, Audi A6 $41-54,000, Jaguar S-Type $45-63,000, Acura RL $49-53,000.

Good News:

Great handling, smooth, comfortable ride, beautiful rosewood trim interior. Well appointed with high tech devices to make the car handle more safely.

Bad News:

Common design for many luxury cars.

Standard Equipment:

4.5 liter335 horsepower V8 engine with continuous variable valve timing control, 5-speed auto transmission, rear wheel drive, 4-wheel power ABS braking system, EBD Electronic Brake force Distribution, VDC Vehicle Dynamic Control, TCS Traction Control System, auto on-off halogen headlights, fog lights, 18 inch 8 spoke aluminum alloy wheels, power sliding glass sunroof, audio with in-dash 6-disc CD w/ MP3, voice recognition, Bluetooth, leather wrapped steering wheel w/ controls, intelligent key with pushbutton ignition, leather seats, power10-way driver and 6-way passenger seats, rosewood trim, power windows and locks, dual climate control, visors with extensions and vanity mirrors, folding rear armrest and pass through, cargo net with tie down anchors, front, side and curtain air bags, security system with engine immobilizer system and tire pressure monitor system.

Gas Stats:

17 City and 23 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $52,110.

2005 Infiniti G35 4-Door Sedan (562)

Overview:
This week I had a Nissan Infiniti G35 4-Door Sedan and from the good old days of Datsun to the good old days today Nissan has been a great product. Being in the foreign car repair business for many years you get a sense of what cars slip under the radar. This is one of those cars. You don’t hear a lot of talk about repairs needed for Nissan products.

So I guess you have to begin paying attention to what you don’t hear. You know, like when a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there does it make a noise?

This car immediately felt like a BMW inside controls, for example, to me – and outside lines are classy. Since buying that 66 Datsun in 65 I have watched them and like what I see. Toyota – Look out!

Public Service driving observation: Always give yourself ample room between you and the car in front of you. Smart cruise control on some cars gives you a good sense of what we too often forget because of all the distractions – something a computer doesn’t have.

General Info:

Parts – n/a

Assembly – Japan

Class: – Compact

Cars: FX, G35, M, Q45 and QX56

Handling & Performance:

Really great because not only is it fast it is smoothly fast. This is a fun car to drive. Vehicle Dynamic Control uses an array of sensors to determine your steered path and help keep you in control. If you understeer or over steer (fishtail) it applies appropriate brake pressure to individual wheels and control engine output to hold your intended direction. Traction control senses wheel spin and reduces engine output to the slipping wheels. Amazing! The limited slip differential enhances overall traction by managing the speed and torque differences between drive wheels to minimize wheel spin that is most important in rain, snow or mud conditions.

It will be a while before other carmakers put important technological features that are standard on this car.

Styling:

This is a lovely looking automobile. I liked the wheels and was pleased to overhear some young men saying “Nice Wheels”. Not to me and they didn’t know I could hear them and that’s what was cool – knowing others had the same opinion. I guess we like to be validated. Thanks guys.

The signature analog clock is a nice touch – Funny how you notice the small things when they are classy and unique. Everyone else is digital this and that, but the departure from a digital clock is smart.

Fit and Finish:

Wonderful. This product just gets better every time I test drive one. My friend Sergio works at Nissan and I get the sense it is also a good company to work for. And it stands to reason that people who work for the company will do a better job if they like the team. That’s what makes winners. Kudos’ to all the Nissan team.

Cost:

I guessed it right on the nose. After a while I can pretty much guess within a thousand or two what the car will cost. This one was easy and I feel it is worth the money.

Conveniences:

You won’t see all the great stuff but you’ll feel it in the ride and handling. This is a very well appointed car befitting its overall quality. It’s obvious they pulled out all the stops.

Consumer Recommendation:

This has been a favorite of mine and now the styling improvements in my opinion make it one of the cars of the year in my book.

The Competition:

2005 Infiniti G35 $30-33,000, 2005 Subaru Legacy $21-29,000, Mercedes Benz C-Class $26-54,000, Lexus ES 330 $32,000, Audi A4 $26-44,000, Saab 9-3 $27-43,000, Volkswagen Passat $22-30,000, Lexus IS 300 $30-31,000, Jaguar X-Type $30-31,000, Nissan 350Z $27-37,000, Acura TL $33-35,000, Acura TSX $27-29,000, BMW 3-Series $30-36,000, Chrysler 300 $24-40,000, Cadillac CTS $31-51,000,Volvo S40 $24-28,000.

Good News:

Great design, well put together, fun to drive, just the right size, a bunch of standard stuff that is really cool and not bad fuel economy either.

Bad News:

Ok, so this may be a car with too many things and too smart for its own britches. I had a little glitch in the electrical … like the car quit running. But it was something simple.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 298 hp V6 front engine with continuous variable valve timing control, 6-speed manual transmission with rear wheel drive, independent front and rear sport tuned suspension with 4-wheel power assisted anti-lock braking system, electronic brake force distribution (EBD), viscous limited slip differential, engine speed sensitive power steering, VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control), traction control and Cruise control. Xenon headlights with integrated fog lights, 18 inch aluminum alloy wheels, power heated outside mirrors, audio system with 6-in dash CD with MP3 playback, illuminated steering wheel audio controls, leather seats with heated front seats and 8-way power adjustments on the drivers seat – 4-way on the passenger seat, aluminum trim, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, power windows with auto up and down, climate control, temp and compass display, illuminated visor mirrors, folding rear center armrest with pass through, cargo net and tie down anchors, dual front and side air bags, roof mounted curtain side impact air bags front and rear, child anchors and tethers, remote keyless entry, security system with immobilizer and tire pressure monitor system with warning light.

Gas Stats:

19 City and 26 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $30,600.

2003 Infiniti G 35 Sport Coupe LTHR (446)

Overview:
This week I tested the Infiniti G35 Coupe to round out the Infiniti line. What better way to close out the lineup than with a great sport vehicle? Yes, the Nissan 350Z, a close cousin, is a more traditional sports car and some feel if it isn’t convertible it isn’t a sports car anyway. I disagree, and although I like both the Z and this Coupe,

the coupe is more practical. It has a useable rear seat, albeit if you’re over 5 feet 6 you’ll have a problem bumping your head.

It has awesome speed for a V6 and I am fortunate to be able to test these cars on the racetrack at Willow Springs, California up by Edwards Air Force Base. Most drivers never have that opportunity so they get caught by Highway bandits we’re told are traffic cops there to “Protect and Serve”. The problem is that speed laws are antiquated and behind the times. They reflect the needs of the past as to safety, but now only serve to generate revenue for control freak politicians. The motoring public is the fall guy here. I have news for those old foggy legislators about today’s technology. I wonder if they ever heard of Traction Control, ABS, Disc Brakes, and all the other handling control features on cars today. One such control system is the VDC -Vehicle Dynamic Control that is described below.

One wonders whom our elite “SS” are “Protecting and Serving”. It surely isn’t “We, the people…” who pay exorbitant extortion in the guise of traffic fines that hardly fit the crime of 50 in a posted 35 that is about $160 in California. Listen up Highway Patrol and lesser city police and especially the brain dead legislators responsible to the folks who elected them.

General Info:

Parts – n/a

Assembly – Los Angeles, CA, USA

Class: – Compact

Cars: – FX 35/45, G35 (coupe and sedan), I35, M45, Q45 & QX4.

Handling & Performance:

A wonderfully enjoyable ride. Thanks Nissan, even if the politically incorrect French have a hand in this great auto company turn around. The 280 hp V6 is the same as in its sibling FX35, but this G35 is about 1,000 lbs. lighter, so you’ll experience impressive acceleration.

VDC like the one on this sport coupe provides 2-dimensional control by sensing the transversal movement of the vehicle and its yaw (rotation around the perpendicular axis). It uses these data to predict the vehicle\’s direction in 2 dimensions and to control it within safe limits. The system recognizes the course a driver wishes to take from the steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. It detects the current driving conditions from the wheel speed sensors, longitudinal and transversal G sensors and the yaw velocity sensor, and simultaneously estimates the coefficient of friction (potential loss of traction) of the road surface. It uses this information to predict the actual direction of the vehicle, and minimizes the difference between the desired and predicted course by controlling the driving and braking forces. When a potentially unstable situation is predicted because the desired course and the cars actual course differ, the braking and driving forces are controlled to regain stability. Vehicle speed is also limited if necessary by reducing engine output and torque.

Styling:

Hard to believe this nice looking sport car has any connection to the design folks responsible for the Infiniti FX 35/45. On the other hand, give credit where credit is due. Designers have shared well between cars of this brand to keep cost down since they use many of the same parts.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent.

Conveniences:

The entire lineup of Nissan Infiniti cars is similarly equipped, as you’d expect. You’ll find little differentiation moving from one to the other.

Cost:

The MSRP isn’t cheap, but the car will carry this price because of all the high tech features and wonderful performance.

Consumer Recommendation:

If in the market for a sport car, this is a great option to give that sporty look, feel and handling with a lot of the conveniences of the larger G35 Sedan. I strongly recommend the auto trans.

The Competition:

Infiniti G35 $28-32,000, Acura TL $29-33,000, Audi A4 $25-42,000, BMW 3-Series $30-44,000, Cadillac CTS $30,000, Jaguar X-Type $29-36,000, Lexus IS300 $29-31,000, Mercedes Benz C-Class $25-50,000, Saab 9-3 $26-40,000, Volvo S60 $26-33,000.

Good News:

Fast, great handling, clean lines, and 4-seater sport coupe.

Bad News:

Rear seat is a little tight if you’ll want to transport taller folks.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 280 hp V6 engine, 5-speed auto trans, front engine rear wheel drive, traction control and VDC – Vehicle Dynamic Control, 4-wheel power ABS disc brakes, speed sensitive power steering, cruise control, fog lights, 17 inch aluminum alloy wheels, power mirrors, climate control, leather seats with heated front seats, 6-way power driver seat and 2-way passenger seat, power windows and door locks, leather wrapped tilt wheel and shift knob, audio system with cassette and 6 disc CD autochanger, remote keyless entry, folding rear seat with pass through, security system, dual front and side airbags.

Gas Stats:

19 City and 26 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $31,400.

2003 Infiniti FX 35 (445)

Overview:
This weeks test car is the Infiniti FX 35 SUV – yet another entrant into the vast arena of SUV’s. How many ways can the horse be designed? Give it a break guys…

It must be really profitable for the likes of Porsche to get into the fray with their Cayenne. I like this FX 35 but have reservations about the styling. Where do they find these “Style Jockeys”? What possesses them to assume we’d like these odd shapes? Is it shock effect they rely on? Are these concept cars? Who made the decision to go into production?

Anyway, other than the questionable styling the car is comfortable, very quiet and elegant inside. The only real noticeable glitch is the overly stiff suspension. You’ll notice a jolt on bumps in the road that are harsher than you’d expect.

General Info:

Parts – n/a

Assembly – Japan

Class: – SUV

Cars: – FX 35/45, G35 (coupe and sedan), I35, M45, Q45 & QX4.

Handling & Performance:

A real well mannered gentleman that likes speed. The bumpy ride didn’t quite require a Kidney Belt.

Both FX 35 and 45 come in all wheel drive or two-wheel drive, as did my test car. The V8 model scoots from zero to 60 mph in just 6.3 seconds, and the V6 was very close to 7 seconds on my stopwatch. That is also impressively faaast.

Styling:

Odd shape with large snout and chopped off back end. It’s kinda like they took the concept car from the show and accidentally put it into production. The looks you get I believe are more curiosity than looks of passion or desire to own one. But it’s not ugly; not really… is it?

The odd shape contributes to an odd rear view vision. Picture emerging from the tunnel (if you’ve been there) entering Yosemite National Park in California. You view from a dark tunnel an arched light at the end, and as you emerge you see Half Dome’s famous profile. Well, that’s what the rear view window reminds me of. It droops low at the top and the view is smaller than I like.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent as usual with Japanese carmakers.

Conveniences:

Oodles of goodies and all classy in their application. I like the tilt wheel that brings the gauges with it which is a first to my recollection. The “move out of the way” seat and wheel is smooth and quiet. The rear hatch opens exceptionally well, up and out of the way. Well-done Nissan/ Infiniti.

Cost:

The price surprised me. I expected it to cost more, even if I haven’t warmed up to the design. Lexus is close in feel to me, but the Nissan Murano is a great option to these pricier luxury SUV’s.

Consumer Recommendation:

You’ll need to test drive those of interest if you’re searching for this class vehicle. They are all classy SUV’s but “for the money” the Murano is my first choice in this group. My racing buddy David Murry tells me the Porsche is very impressive but I haven’t tested it yet. Plus he drives for Porsche and may be just a little biased. With that exception, and “money being no object”, my choice would be between the M-Class Mercedes and the Lexus RX 330.

The Competition:

Infiniti FX 35 5DR $34-44,000, Acura MDX $36-42,000, BMW X5 $40-67,000, Lexus RX 330 $35-36,000, Mercedes Benz M-Class $37-66,000, Nissan Murano $28-31,000, Porsche Cayenne $56-89,000, Toyota Highlander $24-31,000.

Good News:

Fast, classy, top quality, sporty handling.

Bad News:

Odd design with large snout and chopped off rear end, bumpy ride, small cargo area.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 280 hp V6 engine, 5-speed auto trans, front engine rear wheel drive, traction control, 4-wheel power ABS disc brakes, power steering, 18 inch aluminum alloy wheels, power mirrors, rear wiper, 5-passenger seating, climate control, information computer, cruise control, 8-way power driver seat and 4-way passenger seat, power windows and door locks, leather wrapped wheel and shift knob, audio system with cassette and 6 disc CD autochanger, remote keyless entry, security system, dual front and side airbags.

Gas Stats:

17 City and 23 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $34,200.