2009 Infiniti G37 Journey Review


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MORE: Infiniti Specs, Prices and Comparisons-Infiniti Buyers Guide

DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS

2009 Infiniti G37s Journey Sedan

If Nissan's upscale Infiniti division had previously been in search of direction, it found that direction with the debut of the G35 in 2002. It was aimed squarely, and accurately, at the best from Germany, with a sport-oriented front-engine, rear-wheel drive chassis and fine 3.5-liter V6 engine -- the same "FM" chassis platform and VQ-series engine found in the Nissan 350Z. Ever wonder what a Z sedan would be like? There it was.

The second generation G35 sedan was introduced for model year 2007, with the updated second-generation FM chassis and new styling that was still immediately identifiable as Infiniti G. 2008 was the companion G coupe's turn, and it became the G37, with a new, more-powerful 3.7-liter engine befitting its sports-luxury status.

No real surprise, then, that the G35 sedan becomes the G37 for 2009. The 328-horsepower V6 is matched to a high-tech seven-speed automatic transmission in the G37, G37 Journey, and all-wheel drive G37x models. The G37 Sport 6MT has a namesake six-speed manual gearbox.

I've just spent a week with a well-optioned G37 Journey, and a most pleasant week it was. Not that the G37 sedan needs much in the way of options - compared to the others, the "base" model lacks automatic on/off headlights, dual-zone climate control, some adjustability of the front passenger seat, front seat heaters, and some option availability and interior and exterior cosmetics. Everything else that makes the G37 a fine sports-luxury automobile is included, and make no mistake, Infiniti has taken what, with the G35 sedan, was a great car and has made it even better.

APPEARANCE: The original G35 sedan's almost-coupe shape was so perfect that it could have been far too easy for Infiniti's stylists to ruin the second generation's looks by making it Longer! Wider! Lower! and more baroque. Such seems to be the fate of all too many cars -- but not this one. Yes, the body is more curvaceous and filled-out, but not overly so, and the roofline has changed little if any. It's still instantly recognizable as an Infiniti G. The rounded-rectangle grille under the "wave form" hood is flanked by bright L-shaped headlights, with, in Sport Package-equipped models like my test car, a sporty-looking lower fascia with faux brake vents and side sill extensions. At the rear, the LED taillights echo the headlight shape.

COMFORT: Inside, the G37 is, no surprise, a contemporary upper-middle class sport-luxury sedan in design and appointment, and an evolutionary development of the G35 in style and substance. It neatly fits between the traditional Teutonic precise austerity and the usual Japanese American-influenced opulence with simple geometric shapes and high-grade materials with a variety of surface textures and matte-finished aluminum trim. As always in FM-derived cars, the main instrument cluster is mounted on the steering column, so it tilts with the wheel (which is power-adjustable here for both tilt and reach and features cruise and auxiliary audio controls) for driver visibility. Here, the instruments are electroluminescent for easy visibility, and a trip computer/information display between the tach and speedometer adds useful information. All models have keyless start/stop operation and proximity-sensing door locks, so the "key" can be kept in the driver's pocket. The front seats are first-class in both comfort and adjustability, with power adjustment of everything except cushion length, which is manual -- and rarely adjustable in other cars. The rear seat is contoured for two, with very good head, leg, and hip room, and a third passenger can be carried in the center position, for a while. When not so occupied, a center armrest with cupholders and a little storage adds rear-seat convenience. There's a ski-passthrough to the trunk. Relevant interior options in my test car included the Premium Package, with a power moonroof, Infiniti's "Studio on Wheels" Bose audio system (AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3/and iPod compatible), seat and steering wheel memory, Bluetooth phone connectivity and more, and the voice-recognition Navigation Package with a touch-screen nav system with lane guidance and Nissan/Infiniti's "BirdView" perspective control, XM NavTraffic with real-time traffic information, a backup camera, and a 9.3-GB hard disk for music and a slot for compact flash cards with music.

SAFETY: Zone Body construction means that G37 passengers are surrounded by a strong safety cage with front and rear crush zones, side-impact reinforcement, and dual front, front-seat side, and full-length side curtain airbags. Brakes are four-wheel vented disc in all models, with four-channel antilock, brake assist, electronic brake distribution, and the Vehicle Dynamics Control stability enhancement system with traction control.

RIDE AND HANDLING: The second-generation FM platform as used in the G37 improves upon the original in rigidity and with other detail improvements. My Journey had the Sport Package, which added a stiffer tuning to the springs and shocks in the fully-independent, aluminum-intensive double-wishbone front, multilink rear suspension, four-piston front and twin-piston rear calipers gripping large ventilated discs, a viscous limited-slip differential for optimum traction, and 18-inch alloy wheels with differentially-sized low-profile performance tires. It does the trick, with good handling characteristics and a minimal loss of luxury comfort. Not to mention improved braking, always good.

PERFORMANCE: The latest development in Nissan's acclaimed VQ series of engines, the dual overhead cam, 24-valve, aluminum alloy 3.7 features a multitude of internal improvements and hydraulically-controlled variable cam phasing on all camshafts, with variable valve lift on the intake cams to increase horsepower (to 328 at 7000 rpm) and torque (to 269 lb-ft at 5200 rpm) while improving efficiency and decreasing emissions. The seven-speed automatic brings out the engine's smoothness and wide power band while still allowing enthusiastic driving in manual-shift mode, helped by the Sport Package's magnesium shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel. In normal operation there's enough torque everywhere that shifting is best left to the transmission's control computer. Unusually for its class, but keeping the Bavarians directly in the sights, the G37 sedan is offered with a six-speed manual transmission.

CONCLUSIONS: With the addition of a new engine and transmission, Infiniti has further improved its G sedan.

SPECIFICATIONS
2009 Infiniti G37s Journey Sedan

Base Price			$ 33,700
Price As Tested			$ 43,235
Engine Type			dohc 24-valve aluminum alloy V6 with
				 variable cam phasing and Variable Valve 
				 Event and Lift control
Engine Size			3.7 liters / x cu. in.
Horsepower			328 @ 7000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			269 @ 5200 rpm
Transmission			7-speed electronically-controlled
				 automatic
Wheelbase / Length		112.2 in. / 187.0 in.
Curb Weight			3590 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		10.9
Fuel Capacity			20.0 gal.
Fuel Requirement		91 octane unleaded premium gasoline
Tires				Bridgestone Potenza RE050A
				F: 225/50R18 95W  R: 245/45R18 96W
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc, 4-piston calipers /
				 vented disc, 2-piston calipers,
				 ABS, EBD, BA, VDC, TCS standard
Suspension, front/rear		independent double wishbone /
				  independent multilink
Drivetrain			front engine, rear-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		18 / 26 / 21
0 to 60 mph				5.5  sec


OPTIONS AND CHARGES
Technology Package - includes:
  Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC), Adaptive Front
  Lighting System (AFS), front pre-crash seat belts	$ 1,100
Premium Package - includes:
  power sliding moonroof, Infiniti Studio on Wheels®
  premium audio system by Bose®, interface system
  for iPod®, memory system for driver's seat, steering
  wheel, and outside mirrors, power driver lumbar
  support, power tilt and telescope steering wheel, 
  auto-dimming inside mirror, HomeLink® universal
  transceiver, Bluetooth® hands-free phone system,
  one-touch auto up/down rear windows, heated front
  seats and outside mirrors				$ 2,500
Illuminated kick plates					$   350
Rear deck spoiler					$   520
Sport Package - includes:
  solid magnesium paddle shifters, viscous limited-slip
  differential, 18-inch sport aluminum alloy wheels
  with summer performance tires, sport-tuned suspension,
  sport brakes with 4-piston front and 2-piston rear calipers,
  unique front fascia and side sills, 12-way driver and
  8-way front passenger seats, aluminum pedals	$ 2,100
Navigation Package - includes:
  Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation System with touch-screen,
  Lane Guidance, 3-D building graphics and Birdview(tm),
  XM NavTraffic® with real-time traffic information,
  Infiniti Voice Recognition, 9.3-GB Music Box hard drive
  and CompactFlash® slot for MP3 playback (replaces
  6-disc autochanger), RearView monitor		$ 2,150
Destination charge					$   815

MORE: Infiniti Specs, Prices and Comparisons-Infiniti Buyers Guide

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