During the 2005 model year automakers willsell over fourteen different models of allwheeldrive (AWD) four-door sedans. Somewill be more family oriented, some willhave more performance, and all will offer more safetythan their two-wheel drive counterparts.
For 2005, Infiniti's G35 AWD sedan may lead thepack with an intelligent, well-made package. The G35starts life as a rear-wheel drive car with very spirited performance.To maintain the rear drive performance feel inthe AWD model, over 70% of the power normally goesto the rear. At the flick of a switch, you can transfer 50%of the power to the front wheels.
Strong Body and Engine
A great car starts life with a solid unit body structure.Adding appropriate subframes creates a very rigid platformthat allows for a sensitive and compliant suspension.Solid structure also allows for more precise steering.Behind the steering rack you'll find an outstanding3.5-liter, V6 engine that offers 260 horsepower and 260foot-pounds of torque, more than its competitors. Thevariable valve timing gives the engine a powerful elasticfeel. Most of the other AWD competition is availablewith a manual transmission, but manuals sell in such alow volume that Infiniti decided to offer only a 5-speedautomatic with a reactive shift feature.
The power distribution allows you to push this carthrough turns in a more aggressive fashion than the rear-wheeldrive because the front wheels pull you throughthe turn in the direction you steer them. The ride isnoticeably luxurious in part due to the unusually longwheelbase, yet the four-corner independent suspensionreveals its direct link to its little brother, the Nissan 350Z.
Lavish Interior Styling
The long body length provides a generous interior.Supportive seats make getting in and out of the InfinitiG35 easy and add to ride comfort. The perforatedleather seats offer two stages of electric heat. Power seatcontrols are placed in a natural position on the side bolsteradjacent to the center console.
The steering wheel has touch controls for cruise controland entertainment systems, and the driver's instrumentcluster cleverly moves up and down with the steeringwheel. Dual orange-shaded dials for tachometer andspeedometer are pleasant to read. We liked the gearposition symbol loud and clear in the center and the lowtire pressure warning just left of the tachometer.
For the top of the center console, you can purchasethe DVD-based navigation package for about $2000.Beneath the navigation system are two clear rows ofclimate control buttons, and beneath that a Bose audiosystem with a six-disc, in-dash CD changer. Front andrear side curtain air bags that cover the glass in the eventof side impact or rollover are standard, along with dualfront side-mounted air bags.
Looking through the windshield at night, the road isclearly lit with well-focused xenon headlamps for moreclarity. At the back are high-output, fast-responding,light-emitting diodes instead of incandescent bulbs.
For 2005 the exterior of the G35 has been refinedone more step with a new hood, bumpers, grille, sidesills, taillights, and wheels. For around $3000, theAerodynamic Body Kit gives the car a tight, racy lookand actually makes the car more slippery in the air.
When compared with the equally equipped yet lesspowerful BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, and Mercedes C-Class,the Infiniti G35 is an especially good value, comingin at about $3000 to $5000 less. A well-equippedmodel including XM or Sirius Satellite radio and navigationsystem will be available for below $41,000.
Jean Swenson and Ashly Knapp are independent research reporters
and the founders of AutoAdvisor.com.