Thumbs Up: The least expensive RWD luxury car we can name.
Thumbs Down: Won’t amuse enthusiasts, no folding rear seats.
Buy This Car If: An Infiniti G37 sedan doesn’t fit the budget.
Back in 2004, I nearly bought an Infiniti G35 sedan. I was impressed by the car’s power and handling, and remember thinking about what a bargain it represented compared to the BMW 3 Series or the Audi A4. Ultimately, I bought the BMW, which turned out to be the worst car I ever owned; in retrospect, I’d have been much happier with the Infiniti G35.
Fast forward to last year, when I got the keys to an Infiniti G37 Sport as a press fleet car. I loved everything about it, but the sticker topped the $40k price barrier. Even a less-well-equipped G37 will bump up against the $40k price point these days, and a loaded G37 will easily top $45k. Blame it on a weak dollar and strong Japanese yen, but the G37 just isn’t as much of a bargain as it used to be.
Infiniti is well aware of this, so for 2011 the automaker introduced the G25 sedan, borrowing heavily from the G37 playbook. The G25 still has a superb chassis, it’s still got the luxury amenities you’d expect from Infiniti, but it has a starting price that broadens its appeal to a much wider range of potential customers. My base Journey press fleet model, supplied by Infiniti for the review, starts at just $33,225, which is $3,470 less than the cheapest Infiniti G37 sedan.
The trade off is in horsepower. The G25 comes with a 2.5-liter V-6, good for 218 horsepower and 187 lb-ft of torque. That’s not a lot to work with, especially when you’re pushing around over 3,500 pounds of sedan. If the trade-off were stellar fuel economy such downsizing would make sense, but the G25 only delivers 20 mpg around town and 29 mpg on the highway. In other words, the G25 doesn’t have the horsepower to keep enthusiasts amused, and it lacks the fuel economy to satisfy environmentally conscious buyers.
That still leaves plenty of potential buyers who don’t care about going fast or getting the best mileage, but want a car that’s stylish, reliable and comfortable both cross town and cross country. If those are your criteria, then the Infiniti G25 excels and is worthy of a test drive.
From the outside, only the G25’s unique wheels and badging tell friends and neighbors that the Infiniti sedan in your driveway isn’t a G37 packing 328 horsepower. The same styling elements that separate other Infiniti’s from the rest of the luxo-herd are present and accounted for on the G25; there’s the chiseled front fascia that gives way to muscular front fenders, the flowing headlights, the low-ish beltline and the inverted Hofmeister kink at the C-pillar. As with other Infiniti models, the design tends to be a bit polarizing, but I say that’s a good thing. Infiniti sedans have always been tastefully styled, and they really don’t look like anything else in the parking lot.
Inside, the G25 is every bit as nice as its bigger brother. The front seats are identical to those used in non-sport package Infiniti models, and they’re wider than most found in import sedans. The ample bolstering reminds you that the G25 still has sport-sedan heritage behind it, and that it welcomes the occasional romp up a twisty road. Front seats are powered, heated and leather-wrapped, even on the entry-level Journey models.
Although the G25 gives you three seat belts in the rear, it’s best to think of the car as a 2+2. The transmission tunnel chews up a lot of rear seat floorspace, so center passengers won’t be happy on trips longer than cross-town. Outboard rear passengers, however, should have nothing to complain about. Read head room and leg room is decent, and about what you’d get from similarly sized sedans.
There are two odd quirks with the rear seats in Infiniti sedans: the head rests aren’t adjustable, which means you can’t easily fit a rear-seat cover. If you’re a dog owner, this could be a deal breaker since there’s no easy way to protect the leather upholstery. The rear seats don’t fold to accommodate oversized cargo, either, but there is a trunk pass- through for things like skis.
Dash layout is identical to the G37, which is to say it’s tastefully styled and well sorted. Even base models come with the Infiniti Controller for data input, which seems like overkill on models lacking navigation. Infiniti continues to get praise from me for providing redundant audio and HVAC controls, which makes setting the temperature or changing radio presets much easier than having to scroll through multiple menus.
Under the hood is the previously referenced 2.5-liter V-6, which I’d call the weak point of an otherwise well-sorted sedan. The engine is rated at 218 horsepower, but it simply doesn’t feel that powerful. It’s happy enough to rev to redline, and it’s smoother than the 3.7-liter V-6, but its leisurely power output will cross the G25 off of many buyers’ shopping lists. The run from 0-60 takes north of eight seconds, yet the car returns just 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. For reference, the 328 horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 used in the G37 returns a comparable 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.
A turbocharged I-4 would be a better choice, but Nissan really doesn’t have a suitable engine in their U.S. lineup. I’d think the partnership with Renault could pay dividends here, and the 2.0-liter turbocharged four from the Megane Renault Sport would completely transform the G25 (which would need to be renamed to the G20). It puts out 250 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque, weighs considerably less and would boost fuel economy along with performance.
Horsepower complaints aside, the G25 is still a great handling, well balanced car. It’s capable enough when the road gets twisty, but doesn’t beat up occupants with an overly harsh ride on normal pavement. Steering feels a bit artificial and unnecessarily heavy, but I much prefer this to an overly light steering feel, and I’d be willing to bet that the majority of drivers won’t even notice. I’d draw a parallel between the G25 and a non-sport-package BMW 3 Series; if you’re used to the ride and handling of the BMW, the Infiniti G25 will feel very familiar to you. When it comes time to write a check for one or the other, the G25 will be much friendlier to you bank account than a BMW 3 Series, which is one of the reasons that Infiniti continues to grow sales of their G Series sedans.
My 2011 Infiniti G25 Journey Sedan had a base sticker price of $33,225, including a destination charge of $875. The sole option on my press fleet tester was the $1,000 Power Moonroof, for a total sticker price of $34,225. For comparison, a similarly equipped Lexus IS 250 would sell for $35,340, while a comparable BMW 328i would sticker at $39,925.