*** Specifications and prices contained in this article are based on US products ***
Good points: Value for the money, service, handling, engine power, transmission
Needs improvement: Gas mileage, storage space, interior noise, brakes, slow heater
We have never gotten a year old model to test, but that is what happened when the G35 x arrived with 14,000 miles on the odometer and a full tank of gas. So this review is not on the 2005 model that has a much more refined ride, more power, a better instrument panel and console, and some tidy styling revisions, but on the 2004 model. (For both new 2005 Infiniti and resale prices check www.nada.com)
So where does that leave us? Well, the G35x is a good choice if you need a sedan with all wheel drive, a significant amount of power, and room for five, However, unless you live where inclement weather is a problem, that all wheel drive option is not worth the thousands extra you are going to pay, plus the reduced gas mileage. On a positive note, the harsher ride on the 2004 model had not loosened any interior pieces and it was a fit, tight, eager to please sedan that would please an aggressive driver or just those who want to putt around town. Of course, either way you are hauling around 200 extra pounds with the all wheel drive model.
At present, there isn't too much competition for an entry-level luxury sedan with all wheel drive. If you want more room, a softer ride, all wheel drive, and don't mind a huge turning radius, the Ford Five Hundred is well priced almost $10,000 less the G35. If you truly worry about snow the low 14 centimeters ground clearance of the G35 is going to be a problem and so we recommend a ride in the less expensive, but just as fast Subaru Legacy sedan or Outback with the turbocharged engine option. They cost thousands less and have both more room and a higher ride height. If you want more luxury, but a lot less performance, the Jaguar X is priced similarly. Volvo also has a competitive S80 2.5T AWD, but it is not as responsive as the Infiniti. BMW's 330xi AWD is more expensive and has better handling, but can't compete engine wise. If you interested in all wheel drive sedans, it would make a fun day to test all of these after a fresh snow fall to find out their real merit. Be careful, though, many of them have very poor bumper crash scores. And, before you make any hasty decisions, Lexus is bringing their GS sedan to market with all wheel drive and Mercedes also has them ready to roll in various forms. If we can scrape enough gas money together we can do a shoot out in the future, but for now our recommendation is to be objective about your needs for all wheel drive and its financial costs.
Gas mileage for all of these vehicles is about 22 mpg. One reminder to anyone considering the Infiniti G35x, is the potential for much higher insurance rates some companies add for all wheel drive.
Mom's view: I didn't mind the firm ride or the limited amount of interior space the G35x offered, but I just couldn't figure out why the interior noise was so much greater than with the rear wheel drive model we tested last year. The 2005 model has even more horsepower with 280 driving the five speed automatic transmission than the 2004 we assessed. That is a lot of propulsion from a 3.5 liter V6 engine and so acceleration was never a problem. However, if you feel tempted to dip your right foot a little too frequently into the joy juice, you are going to be hard pressed to get 16 mpg. Our test car was essentially a base model, but still came well equipped with automatic climate control, power and heated front seats, heated power mirrors, steering wheel ancillary controls, and high intensity xenon headlamps that are superb.
The one option we did have was the $3,000-plus Premium package that included a sunroof, 200-watt Bose premium audio system with eight speakers and dash mounted six CD changer, driver's seat memory with entry/exit assist, steering wheel memory, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone climate control with micro filtration, auto on/off headlights, electrochromic auto-dimming inside mirror, one-touch open/close rear windows, HomeLink transmitter, and a full size spare tire. That pushed the price to $35,000 (US).
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