2011 Infiniti G37 Sedan Review

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If you’ve seen the banner ads sprinkled all over the Web, you know the Infiniti G37 is one of the most heavily marketed cars around. Over the past several months, Infiniti has pushed this elegant and sleek sedan as an business-class sedan for those who have stayed away from the BMW and Mercedes-Benz nameplates due to cost or some pent-up agitation with German cars.

Curves in all the right places

Nissan-Infiniti, the third-largest Japanese automaker, has the resources to make sure you know about the G37 sedan and its various incarnations: the sporty two-door version and the G convertible. We finally had a chance to spend a week driving the G37 sedan in a variety of conditions: on curvy roads in the country, on a long four-hour drive, and in everyday commuting conditions. The biggest takeaway: this is one of the best-handling sedans on the road, with a sleek styling that hints at the Infiniti M37x, but in a smaller package that’s fun to drive and has plenty of acceleration power.

As with any Infiniti, there’s a fine balance between elegant styling and a sporty drive, and the G37 seems to cater to both equally. Our all-black model had a hint of purple in the paint that glimmers a bit more in direct sunlight. There’s a slight curve to the front toward the grill, which on our model was beefed up a bit in a Limited Edition package (total price: $44,875). It’s interesting to compare the styling to one of our other favorites, the sleek Hyundai Elantra, because both cars have a similar front slope, although they are night and day difference in terms of price and handling.

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Inside, Infiniti has pulled out all of the stops: The firm leather material that covers most surfaces (Monaco Red in our version) is comfortable and elegant. The re-designed cockpit for the G37 reminded us of the M37x in its cocooning effect, except that the M37x is much more spacious. There’s a slide out thigh support on the M37 that provides a little more comfort, especially on long drives. On the long drive, the cocooning seat felt a bit cramped and caused some back strain, but provides a sure driving experience because you feel nestled into the seat and can easily reach the controls and feel curves in the road.

No yawning

In terms of handling, the G37 has some serious spunk. On the open road, the G37 feels like most of the other small sedans we’ve tested recently, including the 2012 Ford Focus and the Elantra. Yet, when you need the power, it suddenly reveals itself. Our G37 had a 328-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 engine with 269-lb-ft of torque, and we felt every horse when we decided to zoom past a slow-moving Ford F-250 on a two-lane highway, and in several passing situations on a longer drive. There’s enough head-snapping punch to draw evil stares from passengers.

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The automatic transmission has a few extra perks. There are paddle shifters you can use to control shifting, and the G37 uses a special Downshift Rev Matching feature to make sure you get some extra juice if you decide to downshift in a precarious situation. The 7-speed transmission was incredibly smooth at all speeds, but the G37 is not really intended for drag-racing with a Corvette: Expect a nice burst off the starting line and great passing ability but nothing like an Audi A6. In other words, there’s enough speed to get you out of a jam on your commute, but this is not a car meant for jack-rabbit starts. Infiniti does use independent front and rear suspension and the power steering responds differently depending on your speed level. What this meant on our test drives was that the G37 handled smooth around corners, and the smaller size meant the car felt like it was going faster than it really was.

Turn it up

For tech features, there’s not that much beyond what you will find in an upper-end Nissan. The cruise control does not change speeds when the car senses another vehicle, and there are no blind-spot detectors. Sensors on the back fender do warn you if you get too close to another car when you back-up. We found out from personal experience that there are no front sensors, because we got a little too close to a curb in a stadium parking lot and, fortunately, just bumped a tire.

The G37 has a primo sound system, though, thanks to the Bose speakers. It’s not horrendously loud, but we tested several songs by the band Army Navy and could hear distinct synth parts and vocals. Other small sedans tend to make your music sound like it is mixed in a blender. In several tests with a USB thumbdrive, an iPhone, and an iPod Touch, both connected to the USB port and over Bluetooth, we never had any problems with the stereo system reading the music correctly. We switched seamlessly between Bluetooth streaming audio and phones calls without any glitches. The G37 we tested also had a 10GB music box storage disk for recording CDs, and a 7-inch touchscreen for DVD playback and nav.

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The G37 has a few extra features we found almost by accident. At a robotics fair, we loaded the car up with several raw materials including six PVC pipes to make a robot. There’s a compartment between the rear seats that we opened to stick the pipes through; the trunk had plenty of room for a large bin and pieces of wood. On our long drive, we finally sat back and noticed that the cushy headrests were about the best we have ever used in any vehicle – they are almost too soft if you need to stay awake.

For efficiency, the G37 is adequate; we locked in at about 23mpg during our long driving sessions. We ended up having to fill the tank twice, which was a bit surprising for a small car, but we also appreciated having the extra V6 power in several driving conditions and the 23 mpg is still respectable. Infiniti rates the G37 at 18 mpg for city driving and 25 mpg for highway.

More than a nice profile

The overall impression is what counts here. No, the G37 is not going to compete with an Audi A7 for fast acceleration, and this vehicle is notably superior to the Ford Focus and Elantra. It’s not nearly as spacious as the big sibling, the M37x, or as sporty for fast starts off the block. But we came away from the test thinking this is an all-around solid business-class sedan with luxury appointments. It’s a good buy at just under $45,000 and has the chops to propel you past slow-moving cars in a blink. We became big fans, even after being inundated with a plethora of banner ads on the Web.

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