IMG_3185If you’re in the market for a used vehicle and have $20,000, the G37 is the best bang for your buck. No doubt about it. No, I’m not endorsed by Infiniti nor did get the car for free. I paid good money for the car and owned it for a year. Here are my thoughts on the vehicle and what it was like to drive.

When I was looking for a car last year, I was leaning towards a BMW 335i. It was well-priced, fuel-efficient and fun to drive. But it was plagued with reliability issues. So I found myself heading towards Passport Infiniti of Alexandria after watching Motortrend’s test of the two vehicles.

Aesthetically, the car is quite appealing, but that’s somewhat controversial. From my eyes, it’s a classic shape that’s easy on the eyes and will look good a couple years down the road. The four-door looks like a regular sedan – unless you get the Sport version – while the coupe looks good in any trim.

But I didn’t buy the car just because of the looks. As a young, hormone-enraged adult I was after power and, for me, the G37 didn’t disappoint.

The 3.7-L VQ37VHR engine produces 328 hp and 269 lb.-ft of torque. While the power figures are on par with other vehicles in its class, its gross weight of 4700 lbs. is a little high.  Even with its heavy diet, the grunty engine still manages to propel the car to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds – some have even claimed lower times, but high 5s is average.

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Like most cars, numbers only tell half of the story. Others in its class may have more power and get better fuel economy – I averaged an abysmal 19 mpg for the entire year – but none offer the same reliability, sound, or value for money.

The engine may only make 330 hp, but it sounds like an irritated lion in the lower revs and a pure songbird in the higher revs. Listening to the bark of the engine throughout the rev range is something that I will sorely miss.

At the end of a long day, there was nothing better than shifting the seven-speed automatic transmission into ‘sport’ and hearing the engine rev out. Unfortunately, the seven-speed automatic transmission is the Achilles heel of the G37.

In the ‘normal’ drive mode, it’s dim-witted, lazy and dumber than a fifth grader. Mash your foot to the floor and power doesn’t come on for a few seconds, but it feels like an eternity. In ‘sport’ mode, the whole car tightens up. The engine produces a blimp on downshifts, holds gears longer, increases throttle response and has a manual option for the driver to change their own gears. I liked ‘sport’ mode, but not the bipolar nature of the automatic transmission.

Some of you may be thinking, why not just get the manual transmission? I tried. But the AWD versions don’t come with a manual transmission. The G37XS (AWD Sport) comes with the same transmission, but has silly paddles on the sides of the steering wheel that do something to the transmission.

So if you need AWD, you’re stick with the automatic transmission and I think that’s absolutely stupid. Unfortunately, that’s what Infiniti did and there’s no way to change it.

I can, however, ignore Infiniti’s fault when the car gets going. No, it’s not the sharpest canyon-carver, but it is quite good around corners. The steering wheel is sized appropriately and it’s just a little thicker at 10 –and-2, which is the ‘optimal’ driving position.
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Since it is the AWD model, there is a copious amount of grip. I pushed the car, or at least what I call push, and I never felt compelled to back off. Turn into a corner and the car will understeer slightly, but can be sorted out with a little bit of trail braking. Getting on the power hard out of a corner results in minimal oversteer and a small amount of tire squeal.

The G37X is by no means a hardcore sports car, or even a sports car for that matter. While it’s predictable, there is a little bit of roll into the corners, the brakes are soft, the suspension isn’t hard enough and the weight becomes a huge factor as there is a large shift of momentum in immediate back-to-back corners.

The fact that it also comes with mud and snow tires doesn’t help its cause, but this means that the car should work well in the snow, which it does.

Last year, Northern Virginia was hit by a decent amount of snow. While my girlfriend’s 2013 Kia Optima Hybrid got stuck, the G37X kept chugging on. In fact, I don’t remember using the available ‘snow’ button and have no idea what it does. It was fun to get sideways in the snow, but the AWD system never let me get into too much trouble, which is nice.

So the G37X is great in the snow, okay in the twisties, has a Jekkyl and Hyde transmission, and is pretty quick. But what it really excels at is being a grand tourer.

Get on the open road and the miles rack up quickly in an effortless fashion. The interior is almost on par with the Germans – has just as much rattles as a Nissan with nicer materials – and is a nice place to spend a lot oIMG_3198f time in.

The G37X that I owned had the premium and technology packages, which included: navigation, heated seats, rearview camera, a hard drive for music, Bose speaker system, sunroof, and wood trim. High quality leather was everywhere and every touch point was nice. The analog clock in the middle of the dash even lit up at night and there was a small light that projected onto the gear lever – it’s always the little things that you remember the most.

Overall, the interior was a nice place to be and it rivaled some of the nicer three-star hotels that I’ve stayed in.
It was my daily driver and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Yes, I could’ve gotten a sportier vehicle, but then it wouldn’t have been as comfortable or had the same extravagant features as the Infiniti.

So, if someone were to ask me what the best car they could get for $20,000 would be, I’d ask them an exhausting list of questions and tell them to go buy a VW Golf GTI or a Mazda 3 as I scurry off to buy a G37S – for the proper manual.

It’s not the best, most fuel efficient, easiest to live with, cheapest, or funniest, but it is the best all around vehicle and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another one if I got the chance.

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