Pros: Great V6 engine; available AWD; available manual transmission; strong resale and repair history
Cons: G25 models feel underpowered; no navigation or Bose option on G25; color choices a bit bland
Infiniti created the G sedan to take on an entire field of luxury competitors. But in truth, the luxury-car manufacturer was gunning for one in particular: the BMW 3 Series. Many have tried and failed to take down the reigning performance luxury sedan, but until the third-generation G’s debut back in 2003, none came close. Even now, Lexus cars are far too softly sprung to play on the same field, while Acura clings to a front-wheel-drive platform that is no match for the BMW’s rear-wheel-drive setup. But Infiniti got the formula just right, creating a sedan that can nip at the 3 Series’ heels all day long while surpassing it in ride comfort, price and overall quality, at least according to J.D. Power and Associates.
Fast forward nine years, and the G is still going strong. It has grown modestly in size, as has the 3 Series, but has retained its athletic ability while enhancing its luxury-car credentials. Available in two V6 variants-G25 and G37-the G sedan represents a remarkable value. It combines the attributes of a premium-brand car with an admirable reliability, repair and resale history. But beyond its sleek good looks and bountiful luxury options, the G is just plain fun to drive. For the driving enthusiast, that’s reason enough to plunk down the $35K asking price.
Comfort & Utility
The G sedan is a roomy and well-appointed car, with generous front and rear legroom and a fairly accommodating 13.5-cubic-foot trunk. The leather seats are firm and supportive, and the side bolsters are ample enough to hold you in place during spirited drives.
We like the G sedan’s dash and console layout. Unlike so many cars today, the G keeps things clean and simple even though it is packed full of the same high-tech gadgets as its competitors. The gauges are large and brightly lit, and the available high-mounted navigation system has a seven-inch LCD screen with all of its controls logically arranged around a single joystick controller.
The G sedan is, first and foremost, an entry-level luxury model. To that end, Infiniti has loaded it up with standard and optional equipment befitting its status. The G25 is the most affordable model, yet it comes standard with leather seating, an eight-way power driver’s seat, intelligent keyless entry and push-button start, automatic climate control and HID headlamps. That’s a pretty nice score for its $32,600 asking price. On the flip side, the base G25 doesn’t offer Bluetooth, a USB/iPod port, heated seats or a rear-view monitor. These omissions remove it from our list of recommendations. For just $1,400 more, you can move to the G25 Journey and get all the proper features that were left out of the G25, with the exception of navigation, which is not offered on any G25 model. To get it and a number of other high-tech goodies, you have to move to the V6-powered G37 lineup, which comes in Journey, Sport or AWD x trim.The G37 offers a number of upgrade packages. With them, you can get a 10-speaker Bose audio system, voice-activated hard drive navigation, a power sunroof, a power tilting and telescoping steering wheel and memory for the driver’s seat, mirrors and steering wheel.
The Sport package adds 18-inch wheels, a sport suspension, 12-way power adjustable sport seats and a limited-slip rear differential (RWD only).
The lion’s share of the G37’s technology can be found in the fittingly named Technology package. Topping the package’s offerings is Intelligent Cruise Control, which maintains a safe distance between you and the traffic ahead; Brake Assist with preview braking; rain-sensing wipers and an Advanced Climate Control system that purifies air entering the cabin.
Infiniti’s hard-drive-based navigation can be equipped with XM NavTraffic and NavWeather and offers voice recognition for navigation, audio and vehicle information.
Performance & Fuel Economy
Under the G25’s hood resides a 2.5-liter V6 engine good for an impressive 218 horsepower and 187 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission available is a seven-speed automatic with manual shift and Downshift Rev Matching. While we wouldn’t say the 2.5-liter engine is weak, it lacks the authority to move the G sedan in the way its reputation and price demand. Tack on the added weight provided by the all-wheel-drive system, and performance slows even more. The engine that best suits the G is the 3.7-liter V6, an engine shared with the performance legend Nissan 370Z. With 328 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque, the 3.7-liter has the muscle to make the G37 a contender. Plus, it’s one of the smoothest, sweetest-sounding V6s anywhere. Buyers of the G37 have a choice between the seven-speed automatic or a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission offered on the Sport trim.
Fuel economy for the smaller 2.5-liter is rated at 20 mpg city/29 mpg highway; those figures fall to 19/27 mpg when AWD is added to the mix. Surprisingly, the G37’s figures are not far from those of the less powerful G25, rated at 19/27 mpg for the RWD model, 18/25 mpg for the AWD G37x and 17/25 mpg for the Sport with the manual transmission.
The G sedan comes equipped with four-wheel ABS, electronic traction and stability control and six airbags (front, front side and side curtain). The G37’s Technology package adds enhanced braking technology that can prep the brakes before they are needed for quicker stopping response.
We’ll flat out say it: the G sedan is one of our favorite performance sedans. In its most basic form, the G25, the power may not be there, but the suspension is more than willing. Move up to the G37, and the package is complete, delivering exhilarating acceleration with razor-sharp handling. The G37 lives for the curve, exhibiting excellent stability and tenacious grip. AWD makes a great car greater, but it is the six-speed manual transmission and sport suspension on the Sport model that win us over. However, you really must be a purist to take on the Sport trim, because the ride is very firm, the seats are tight and the manual transmission, although a joy on winding back roads, is a true pain in the backside in congested stop-and-go traffic.
Other Cars to Consider
BMW 3 Series – The 3’s performance is still a bit sharper than the G37s, but it can get pretty pricey once you start adding options.
Acura TL – The TL has an excellent reliability and resale history, and its V6 engine easily rivals the G37’s. But the front-wheel-drive version just can’t match the G37’s handling, although you can get a manual transmission with the AWD TL.
Volvo S60 – The S60’s exterior is more modern than the G37’s, and its five-cylinder engine isn’t as smooth or powerful as the G37’s V6. Even the more powerful inline-6 on the AWD T6 can’t match the G37’s horsepower, although it whomps the Infiniti in torque.
Driving purists will always take a great set of sport seats and a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission. But for the average buyer, we’d go with the G37x with the Premium and Navigation packages. This car has great handling, a smooth ride, lots of luxury features and the added security of AWD.