by Kurt Gensheimer
- V-6 weight and fuel economy with V-8 power
- Dizzying list of whiz-bang features
- Easy to use navigation system
- Light and nimble handling
- FINALLY someone has figured out seat coolers!
- Fit and finish like a German luxury sedan
- Mind-boggling list of whiz-bang features
- Irritating Nanny Nissan Lane Deviation Warning system
- Rand McNally works better than the navigation system
- Transmission doesn’t compliment the smoothness of the engine
For those non-pretentious types looking to save thousands, the Infiniti delivers everything a German luxo ride does. Well, almost everything.
Back in the early 1990′s when I was in grade school, I had a buddy named Rick. Rick and I hung out a lot and often went on family outings, so I got to know his parents pretty well. Rick’s parents were cheapskates. Now they’d say that they were “value-oriented”, but we all know that euphemism. Rick’s parents squeezed a penny until Lincoln himself screamed for mercy. They bought the generic Frosty Flakes, wore the four-stripe Adidas sneaker knock-offs, and while all their neighbors drove either a BMW or a Mercedes, Rick’s parents kept it real – real cheap – and went with a new Japanese-made luxury car. It was called an Infiniti.
Since that time, the Infiniti brand has grown in stature, and MSRP. What was once nothing more than a glorified front-wheel-drive Nissan clad in leather and climate control has grown into a marque that competes on every level with the world’s finest German luxury sedans. Well, almost every level. To the value-oriented consumer, AKA cheapskate, and other well-informed buyers not hypnotized by the social status of owning a German luxury car, the Infiniti marque has become a mature brand which exudes luxury, quality and value. But still, there’s something missing.
Our test vehicle was generously provided by Frontier Infiniti. At a base price of about $40,000, our M35 had $8,000 in option packages including navigation, intelligent cruise control, a satellite-ready eight speaker Bose Studio Surround 5.1 system, and the completely useless Lane Deviation Warning system. When you first lay eyes on it, the elegant yet understated M35 doesn’t blow you away with its styling – perhaps one of the missing elements that German sedans have. However, once inside, the true character and draw of the Infiniti starts to reveal itself. Beautiful rosewood trim that doesn’t scream “Look at me! I’m not real wood!”, opulent leather seats with the marque tastefully embroidered on the seatback, navigation controls that don’t befuddle, and the essential Infiniti touch – an oval dial clock.
Although it’s got a V-6 under the hood, the M35 powerplant isn’t your typical V-6. This is a fire-breathing, launch-happy piston pusher that has better manners than Mr. Belvedere. With 280 horsepower at 6,200 RPMs and 270 foot-pounds of torque at 4,800, the only way you know the M35 isn’t a V-8 is by the less-frequent visits to the gas station. In fact, the legendary Nissan 3.5 liter VQ engine has made Ward’s 10-Best Engines list for 13 years in a row – the only engine to make the list every year since the award’s inception. Yes, this is the same “parts box” motor that Nissan dumps into all of its cars from the 350Z to the Quest. Hey, why mess with a good thing?
Unfortunately, I wish I could have the same praise for the M35′s transmission. Although not horrible by any means, the jumpy gear selection and inconsistent power application threw off the M35′s otherwise smooth and nimble handling in the twisties. When the tranny was switched to manu-matic mode, shifts were delayed, forcing me to give up and switch back to regular slush mode. For this editor, nothing replaces the feeling of a Getrag six-speed manual. Perhaps another missing element when compared to its Bavarian counterpart?
On the highway, the M35 was quiet. Eerily quiet. In fact, it was so quiet and relaxing I started to fall asleep. But wait, it’s more quiet than that. The M35 was quiet enough for me to actually hear the benign, gentle chime of the car’s Lane Deviation Warning system! It’s a useless windshield-mounted camera thought up by Nanny Nissan to alert drivers with a barely audible tone when they inadvertently drift into another lane. I mean seriously, its useless. If the point of the technology is to alert a sleeping or distracted driver, then why not make their ears bleed or shock them into consciousness with a vibrating seat? Nissan needs to converse with Mazda on this one. My 1989 RX-7 had a warning buzzer that would wake Rip Van Winkle. It was so irritating that I took it out and pulverized it with a hammer. Nissan, if you’re gonna play nanny, then do it with authority.
Wow. I don’t know where to begin. This car is equipped with more features than a NASA aircraft. For a guy who likes his cars with a horn, heater and the tach in the center, I was blown away by the M35 features list. Because my fingers have only so much endurance, I’ll stick to the highlights.
First, I just want to say, THANK YOU Nissan for finally introducing seat coolers. I don’t know why it took so long for automakers to figure this one out. Gone are the days of showing up to your big executive luncheon with a grotesque lower back sweat stain. The M35 also has a very slick proximity key system which makes the traditional key and tumbler obsolete. The key fob has a chip in it, detecting your proximity so that you can unlock the doors with a button on the exterior door handle. You also start the car by pressing the brake pedal and simply pushing the start/stop engine button. What’s more, each key fob automatically detects the driver’s seat and mirror settings, and automatically adjusts upon entering the car.
The steering column tilts and telescopes four ways, proving to be more adjustable than the seats in my 4Runner. The navigation system features very large, easy-to-use buttons and a turnstyle wheel. I pride myself in being ignorant of navigation systems, but I found Infiniti’s system extremely intuitive. Unfortunately though, the actual operation of the navigation system leaves a lot to be desired. It misdirects you, takes you the “long way” and doesn’t realize where you’re going until you’re already there. In addition, the Nanny Nissan female voice grates on your nerves. Seeing as though I’m anti-navigation to begin with, my opinion of the system may be biased, but I’m sticking with Rand McNally.
Through the navigation system an optional rearview camera has unique guide lines in it to help recently rear-ended drivers in neck braces safely back into courthouse parking spaces without risking further injury or frivilous lawsuit. But seriously, although the camera is slick, I question its usefulness. The M35 is hardly a vehicle with poor visibility.
The sane instrument cluster layout, beautiful wood trim and comfortable leather seats make the M35 interior a real winner. Even for a six-foot tall driver, the back seat legroom is still very generous. The cavernous trunk is wiseguy approved for dropping associates off at the East River for their final fishing trip. The leather-covered armrests are slide-adjustable and offer plenty of storage space underneath. For navigation-equipped models, the DVD box is conveniently stored under the armrest for quick access.
Although not a knockout from a distance, up close the M35′s exterior has little details that make it very attractive. It sports those characteristically smooth and borderline bulbous Nissan contours, and it’s got an eye-catching chrome grille. But what is really most attractive about the M35′s exterior are its head and taillights. The headlights almost look like miniature tank bezels while the taillights have the appearance of a Gatlin gun. If Japanese filmmakers ever produce a James Bond knockoff and need a munitions-ready design, the M35 is it.
Now we come back to the whole “value-oriented” topic. Let’s not mislead, the Infiniti is in no way cheap – either in its MSRP or its build quality. Quite the contrary. The M35′s base price is about $40,000, and once you tack on the whiz-bang options, you’re pushing $50,000. However, when you consider the BMW 535i has a base price of nearly $50,000 and a high-maintenance, AKA expensive, twin-turbo V-6, and the Benz has a base of $52,000 for the V-6 E350, the Infiniti quickly looks like the bargain of the century. Infiniti pricing is more in line with the base Audi A6 3.2, but Infiniti has the Audi beat in the power plant department.
Who Should Buy It?
I’m not going to say cheapskates, because really, if you’re shelling out $50,000 for anything short of a house, you’re not a cheapskate. The M35 is for someone who is not so insecure or pretentious that they absolutely must have a German marque. The M35 is for someone who appreciates value, quality, reliability and luxury over social circle perceptions. The M35 is for someone who laughs hysterically at those who think they’re superior because they drive a German luxury sedan. The M35 is for someone who puts unmatched driving performance behind a feature-rich, quality car with good-enough driving performance.
The M35 is a terrific car. Infiniti has produced a refined piece of machinery that competes on nearly every level with other luxury makes in this overcrowded segment. Note that I said nearly. There is still no denying the magic of flogging a BMW on winding backroads, punching through the six-speed manual and feeling the road as if your bare hands were touching asphalt. The Infiniti cannot deliver like the BMW in this department. But is it worth $10,000 extra dollars? I’ll leave that one unanswered. I know it sounds insane, but for me, what really makes the M35 a winner is something so simple yet so overlooked. Seat coolers.
Editor’s Note: Cars similar in class with the Infiniti M35 are the Acura RL, BMW 5-series, Mercedes E-class, Audi A6, Lexus GS, and Cadillac DTS.
>> See all of the Infiniti M35 photos in our photo gallery
>> Read more Infiniti M35 reviews submitted by the CarReview.com community
>> Infiniti Vehicles: Official site for information on Infiniti cars, SUVs, and crossover vehicles
Demo car generously provided by Mike Janto and his team of professionals at Frontier Infiniti located in Santa Clara, CA
Is the Infiniti M35 a good car? ›
INFINITI M35 Ratings Overview
The average rating is a 4.5 out of 5 stars. The INFINITI M35 Reliability Rating is 3.5 out of 5.
If you select a quality model, the average Infiniti will last about 200,000 miles.Is the Infiniti M35x a sports car? ›
|Curb Weight||4,004 lbs|
In the snow and ice, the car sends power to all four wheels. Despite the wide tires, the Infiniti M35x drives with reasonable assurance in the snow and ice of a Boston winter. Top speed is limited by a governor to 140 miles per hour.Is it worth buying an INFINITI car? ›
Although INFINITI cars are costly, they are worth a lot. The company has made some of the best cars globally, and it continues to improve its vehicles.Do infinitis hold their value? ›
They Are Very Reliable
The used INFINITI also has a very high resale value. In fact, INFINITI is known to have one of the highest resale values in the industry. That's because their cars and SUVs are durable and reliable, making them a great investment.
The average annual repair cost is $605 which means it has average ownership costs.Are infinitis good reliable cars? ›
For several years, they've been named one of the most reliable car brands by J.D. Power and Associates and Consumer Reports magazine, which does extensive surveys on new cars every year from actual owners of those vehicles over extended periods.Does Infinitis take premium gas? ›
If you're at the pump of one of our Eden Prairie gas stations wondering, “Should I use regular or premium gas for my INFINITI automobile?”, we're here to tell you the answer is yes. INFINITI recommends using fuel with at least 91 octane, so that your vehicle will function the way it was designed.Is Infiniti considered luxury? ›
INFINITI cars are considered luxury cars because they are made with high-quality designs and parts. This is probably the reason why these cars are more expensive compared to other brands. There have been several models of INFINITI cars that have been manufactured throughout the years.
Is Infiniti made by Honda? ›
INFINITI is a division of the Japanese automotive manufacturing company, Nissan Motor Co., which handles the production of Nissan's luxury vehicles.Are INFINITI cars Toyota? ›
INFINITI vehicles are made by Nissan. Nissan is a Japanese automaker, and INFINITI is their luxury brand. For that reason, some INFINITI vehicles are based on Nissan's lineup.Do infinitis break down a lot? ›
INFINITI Reliability Rating Breakdown. The INFINITI Reliability Rating is 3.5 out of 5.0, which ranks it 16th out of 32 for all car brands. This rating is based on an average across 345 unique models. The average annual repair cost for a INFINITI is $638, which means it has above average ownership costs.Do infinitis break down? ›
Are Infinitis reliable? Generally, yes, but some Infiniti models are more reliable than others. Overall, they tend to be known for having strong powertrains. Infinitis tend to get a good amount of positive feedback from their drivers and can last longer than the average car with the right maintenance.How many miles can an INFINITI go? ›
As long as it gets regularly scheduled maintenance and isn't driven too roughly, you can expect the Infiniti G35 to last more than 200,000 miles and up to 13 years.Are Infinitis reliable after 100k miles? ›
Infiniti's Life Span
In the case of the Infiniti, there are cars out there with over 100,000 miles that are still running strong. According to Nissan, the vehicle can last for over 200,000 miles, provided that it's well taken care of.
With routine maintenance and service, you can expect your Infiniti auto repair cost to average around $600 a year.Is INFINITI as reliable as Lexus? ›
Lexus Outshines INFINITI in Dependability, Reliability, and Value. When you consider all of the advantages Lexus holds over INFINITI, it's easy to see why smart shoppers continue to choose Lexus. Lexus vehicles outperform INFINITI in terms of safety when comparing 2021 IIHS Top Safety Pick awards.Why does Infiniti lose value? ›
Infiniti is considered a premium car brand, but it's not as prestigious as Mercedes-Benz or Lexus. The demand for used Infiniti models is low, resulting in fast depreciation. Car experts often argue that Infiniti hasn't found its identity and often call it a “wannabe luxury brand”.Which car keeps its value best? ›
- 2022 Honda Civic. Resale Value: 49.8% Type: Compact Car. ...
- 2022 Honda Accord. Resale Value: 42.5% Type: Midsize Car. ...
- 2022 Chevrolet Corvette. Resale Value: 59.5% Type: Sports Car. ...
- 2022 Lexus IS. Resale Value: 39.0% Type: Entry-Level Luxury Car. ...
- 2022 Lexus LS. Resale Value: 35.0% Type: Luxury Car.
What car brand loses the most value? ›
|Top 10 Vehicles With the Highest Depreciation – iSeeCars Study|
|Rank||Vehicle||Average 5-Year Depreciation|
|3||BMW 7 Series||61.5%|
- Brake Master Cylinder and Pump Seal Failure. A malfunctioning braking system is a big safety hazard. ...
- Premature Brake Wear. Brake pads can last for more than 50,000 miles. ...
- Tires Wear Out Too Quickly. ...
- Engine Seizure. ...
- Won't Start. ...
- Car Running Hot.
If you're at the pump of one of our Eden Prairie gas stations wondering, “Should I use regular or premium gas for my INFINITI automobile?”, we're here to tell you the answer is yes. INFINITI recommends using fuel with at least 91 octane, so that your vehicle will function the way it was designed.