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2005 G35

Overall rating:  Product Rating: 4.5

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The Improved 2005 Infiniti G35 Still Has Room for Improvement


by dkozin:      Apr 5, 2005 - Updated May 13, 2013


Product Rating: 5.0 Recommended: Yes 

Pros: Excellent power, handling, braking, looks, price, features, seats, safety
Cons: Fuel economy, speakers (standard or Bose), non-folding seats, slow MP3 navigation
The Bottom Line: The improved G35 is better than the last year model and I highly recommend it. Just make sure you are OK with less than good fuel economy and check...


I am currently driving a 2005 Infiniti G35 that I got from the Infiniti dealership I go to for service while my 2004 Infiniti G35 Sedan is there awaiting repairs. On one hand, I am happy to see the improvement that 2005 model has over my 2004 model, but on the other hand I wish I had a car with these improvements.

I will go over the car's features and performance as well as the improvements over the last year's model and the ownership/maintenance experience with 2004 model, which is relevant to both 2004 and 2005 models.

More Info

The 2005 Infiniti G35 Sedan is a rear-wheel drive car with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, which produces 280 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque (automatic transmission). The power in the model I got (Auto) is routed through the 5-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels. Also available are an AWD version (G35x) as well as a rear wheel drive model with a 6-speed manual transmission, which produces 298 hp but only 260 lb-ft.

The car features 52/48 weight distribution front to rear and has aluminum suspension components. The standard-issue G35 has zero-lift front aerodynamics and feels very stable at high speeds. It also features LED stoplights, which illuminate faster and last longer than conventional lights.

The front features HID xenon headlights (low beam) and I was a little surprised to find that the windshield washer jets are located on the wiper arms and no on the hood and provide clean hood look.

The brakes have electronic force distribution, ABS, vehicle dynamic control and brake assist. The G35 has front, side and head-curtain airbags as well as active head restraints (they move forward in rear-end collisions helping to prevent whiplash).

You can get more information elsewhere, but I just have to say that I believe that the G35 is a great bargain: the interior space of a BMW 530 with more power for the price of the stripped BMW 325. Of course, there are other variables involved, even aside from the BMW’s legendary handling and BMW free maintenance.

The car I am currently driving is a 2005 Infiniti G35 Sedan with so-called Premium Package C, which includes:
•Power Sliding/Tilt Glass Sunroof .
•Radio: Bose Premium AM/FM/MP3/WMA Playback/Radio Data System capability.
•Automatic On/Off Headlights.
•Driver's Seat Memory.
•Manual Reclining Rear Seat Backs.
•Dual-Zone Automatic Temperature Control.
•HomeLink Wireless Control System.
•Electrochromatic Auto. Anti-Glare Rearview Mirror.
•Power Windows.
•Power Tilt/Telescopic Steering Wheel.
•Intelligent Key.
•Rear A/C Vents.
•Full-Size Spare Tire.
•Includes auto entry/exit system.

Pricing

According to CarsDirect.com, the 2005 G35 Sedan has (including destination charge of $610) a MSRP of $31,460, an invoice price of $28,989 and can be bought in my zip code for $29,189 from CarsDirect. According to my experience buying a 2004 model, you can do a little better than CarsDirect. I got my G35 from only $500 over the invoice price, which would mean you should be able to get the 2005 G35 for about $29,489.

The Premium Package C costs $3,016 at CarsDirect, meaning the car I am driving currently would cost $32,205 if bought from CarsDirect.com.

Improvements Over the 2004 Models

I noticed improvements immediately. The exterior looks slightly more sporty and a bit more modern. The interior features better materials and easier to use controls. The volume and temperature controls are now rotating knobs as opposed to buttons in 2004 (rotating knobs are more convenient as you can change the temperature or volume quicker), but they are still on the side further from the driver. The buttons seem to have more solid feel.

The gauges and displays don't seem to suffer from backlight as much as they do in my 2004 model. This is a major improvement, since I really dislike the fact that in my 2004 model you cannot see the temperature or compass settings when the sun is hitting the car from behind. The gauges have more refined look to them and the orange backlight color for the gauges looks better now.

The steering wheel mounted controls for the stereo and cruise control are now backlit. I never look at them anyway and operate them by touch, so I didn't care for this "improvement". Besides, the backlight is a bit weak and the up/down rockers are now flimsier than before.

The steering wheel now not only tilts (with the instruments) but telescopes as well, even on the basic models with no power tilting/telescoping.

The seats have better shape and seemingly better leather. The steering wheel has smoother leather, which I am not sure I like better than the leather on my 2004 model. The shifter is not as stiff as in 2004 model and is easier to move.

I like the intelligent key feature, but you have to get a Premium Package for more than $3000 to get it. The feature was not available in 2004 model. The car seems to be quieter in both engine noise and the tire noise.

The handling also seems to be better, possibly due to the fact that the car has Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires as opposed to my car's Bridgestone Turanza EL42 (which I am replacing with something better as soon as they wear out). The steering has more heft to it (less power assist) and feels more precise because of that.

The interior now uses real aluminum trim and the door release handles are shiny chrome-colored pieces. The inside door handles are now covered in comfy leather (or fake leather), whereas previously it was harder plastic. The manual shifting now works better and the car even matches the revs when you downshift. I mostly use the auto mode however, as it works well.

The cupholders seem to be smaller than in 2004 however and the car has a slight rattle somewhere in the dashboard area and a slight squeak somewhere in the back.

The stereo now has no cassette player (a feature I only used a couple of times in my 2004 model), but can play MP3s and even WMA, unlike the previous model. Since it is a 6-disc changer, you can store a lot of music in MP3 or WMA format!

It plays CD-R and CD-RW. I recorded a couple of CD-RWs with MP3 music and discovered that the sound quality was very good (as good as if I burned CD-Audio from the same MP3s) but the fast scan within the song has a delay of about 2 seconds between the time you press the scan button and the time the scan begins. Also, it refused to play MP3s with 96 kbps bit rate (not a big problem as at this bit rate, the quality is pretty bad).

Brakes

The brakes have been redesigned for 2005. I have read a lot of complaints about 2003 and 2004 models brakes that would wear out rather quickly, sometimes supposedly by 10,000 miles. Indeed, the brake pads of my 2004 G35 wore out at 15,000 miles and I don't tailgate, even in heavy traffic and use lower gears going downhill in the mountains. Infiniti recognized the problem and offered free brake service for 2003 and 2004 models up to 3 years or 36,000 miles.

The discs were pretty small in 2003 and 2004 models and the brake pads featured a compound that worked really well but also would wear out fast. My front wheels were always covered in brake dust. Furthermore, my brakes would squeak slightly in cold weather.

Some complained that the brakes were too sensitive (grabby), but I actually liked that. The G35 would get consistently excellent baking results when tested by various car magazines.

For 2005, the car got new brakes with larger discs and different caliper design. I think the brake pad material is different also. I immediately noticed the difference: the brakes feel less sensitive and are easier to modulate, but require more pressure. I honestly liked the brake feel of the 2004 model better, but if the new design can reduce brake wear, it is a good improvement.

Not Good

First, the Bose stereo system sounds pretty bad. I know that in 2004 models, the standard audio sounded slightly better than Bose and it seems to be the case with 2005 models. Both the Bose-equipped cars and non-Bose cars use the same head unit made by Clarion.

The Bose speakers lack depth and imaging. They are definitely no match for the speakers in my girlfriend's S40 (speakers made by Philips).

The standard audio system has 4 6.5-inch woofers in doors and 2 tweeters in front doors. The Bose system adds and amplifier and a couple of 6x9 speakers on the rear parcel shelf. The Bose system is a complete waste of money as it sounds even worse than the standard system.

Both Bose and non-Bose systems have over-emphasized upper bass and treble and severely lack midrange and lower bass. Contrary to popular belief and the common sense, you have to adjust bass to about -3 dB and treble to about -3/-4 dB for sound to get semi-decent. Only then the midrange can be heard. Still, the lower bass is lacking, despite having a separate Bose woofer (not a real subwoofer).

The Bose system boosts upper bass, which makes the sound unnatural. The speakers on the rear shelf are added and they are called "super woofers" - they boost upper bass and lower midrange but do not produce any "real" bass. As is the lower bass, the upper midrange is also lacking. The Bose system is, scientifically speaking, pure crap and a waste of money. Unless you like lots of overboosted upper bass.

Also, although I have no problem with the way the power seat controls work (4 separate rocker switches), their location is not smart (inboard seat cushions). I would fear using front cup holders for the fear of spilling drinks on them and rendering them unusable.

Did I mention that I hate foot parking brakes? The G35 auto has one.

Interior

The car is roomy inside and I find the seat very comfortable, due in part to the adjustable lumbar support. There is plenty of leg room up front and in the back seat. The wheel tilts together with the instrument cluster - a feature I don't mind but don't care much about. The Premium Package gives you the power tilting/telescoping and the wheel automatically moves up when the door is open to ease getting out.

The car has an automatic climate control (the premium package adds dual climate control and rear vents), which is easy to use.

The display in the middle of the dash has an electronic compass, climate control display and the outside temperature gauge with a signature Infiniti analog clock in the middle.

Make sure you set the proper "zone" for the compass to show the correct reading. The proper zone for Southern California is "3", whereas the car I drove was somehow set to zone "8" and the compass reading was a bit incorrect.

There is a cigarette lighter and 2 power outlets (one of which is in the armrest compartment).

The audio control buttons on the steering wheel make it easy to control the CD playback or radio without even looking.

The model I am driving had the light colored interior that looks nice, but still not up to VW/Audi or BMW levels of finish. It is clean and functional however. The sun visors still feel pretty cheap though. They have the weight and surface of a thick eraser-rubbed cardboard. But they are also functional, having sun visor extensions and illuminated vanity mirrors.

The steering wheel is convenient and has buttons for cruise control as well as for audio control functions. The back seat does not fold, but has a pass-through with an arm rest for the back passengers, which doubles as the cup holders and a first aid compartment. The rear seats of the Premium package equipped cars recline.

The pedals are well-spaced overall, but I would like just a little more space between the brake and the accelerator. The interior has several storage compartments (all of them small): center armrest compartment, 2 little glove boxes (one taken by DVD-based navigation system if so equipped), the compartment in the center top of the dash (taken by the LCD screen for navigation system, if so equipped).

The sunglass storage compartment on the headliner is too small to hold 2 of my sunglasses. The glass sunroof on the so-equipped cars is easy to use.

The auto-dimming rearview mirror (part of Premium Package C) worked well. The automatic headlight feature (part of Premium Package C) was a bit annoying. I passed a couple of short tonnels in the mountains one after another. There was a delay after entering tonnels and the headlights turned on just as I was about to exit the tonnel and then stayed on for several seconds. Then, just as I was about to enter the next tonnel, they turned off and the situation repeated itself. They also stay on for a while at night after you leave and lock the car. This waists gas (as it slightly discharges the battery).

Surprisingly, the Premium Package C for more than $3,000 does not include the feature than tilts the passenger-side rearview mirror down when the car is in reverse.

Intelligent Key

The Intelligent Key feature (part of Premium Package C) is pretty cool. You don't have to insert a key in the ignition, but rather just push in and rotate the knob that is on the steering column where the key hole normally is. If you have the Intelligent Key in your pocket, the car will start.

The Intelligent Key itself looks like an egg-shaped remote control. It has buttons to lock/unlock doors, lock the trunk or sound panic alarm. If the Intelligent Key system malfunctions, you can pull the small key out this remote and use it to open the car or start it.

You can lock/unlock the car or unlock the trunk by pushing buttons on the remote. Alternatively, you can unlock the trunk by pushing a body-colore button on the rear of the car, left of the tunklid while having the IK in your pocket. In the same manner you can lock/unlock the front doors by pushing a small black button underneath the outside door handle (the car will beep).

I have discovered the small annoyance here. If the car is locked and you push this button on the passenger side first, the passenger door unlocks (but not the driver's door). If you then push the button on the driver's side, insead of unlocking it, all locks will become locked.

Exterior

The standard 17-inch aluminum wheels look nice (nicer than the 2004 design) and are fitted with 215mm V-rated Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires (the sports package equipped cars get W-rated tires in 235/45-R18 size on 18-inch wheels).

I already mentioned the windshield washers located on the wiper arms. The outside power heated mirrors can be folded.

I must admit that I didn't really like the car's exterior when it was released, but now I like it a lot, even the new rear styling with circular taillight design.

Trunk

The trunk is roomy and has a cargo net. The opening is quite large and the trunk lid has gas-filled struts. The trunk can be opened from the cabin or by pressing a button on the remote. You can lock it (prevent it from being opened from the cabin) by flipping a switch in the glove box and locking the glove box.

The trunk lid has a handle on the inside to close the lid without having to touch the outside (possibly dirty) surface, as well as the glowing-in-the-dark release handle. The effort required to close the lid is difficult to modulate however. The difference between being able to close the lid and slamming it is pretty slim.

Handling

My 2004 G35 handles really well, but the tires (Bridgestone Turanza EL42) are disappointing (I later replaced them with much better Yokohama YK520) and it doesn't handle as a BMW 3 series I drove in BMW performance driving school.

The 2005 model with Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires seems to handle better (maybe due to the tires and less-assisted steering) but I keep the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) on, even though there is an off switch because the car lift-throttle-oversteers and sometimes power-oversteers with the VDC off.

The car has rear-wheel drive, which was a requirement for me. Sure, you can get the Infiniti I35 (with the same, but slightly detuned engine and 4-speed automatic) with more standard equipment and standard Bose sound system and wood trim for thousands less. But it, being a front-driver, torque-steers, is slow exiting turns while spinning its front wheels and brakes worse because of the front-biased weight distribution. Plus, its structure is not as solid as the G35's.

The G35 does feel solid. It also (in non-sport trim) has reasonably compliant suspension. And it corners and brakes quite flat. I now wish I had this 2005 model instead of my 2004.

On Sport Package

Update: Recently (after the original review was written) I got a chance to drive a 2005 G35 with Sport Package while my car underwent a speaker replacement. The sport package features modified suspension as well as nice-looking 18-inch wheels with 235/45R18 tires (Bridgestone Turanza ER33 in my case). I got to drive the car from Pasadena, CA to Idywild, CA (a small town in the mountains, 120 East of LA).

The handling on the mountain road was unbelievable. The car stays glued to the pavements at speeds approaching unreasonable without even a squeak. There is no slack in the steering and the on-center feel is exemplary. In addition, the ride is very smooth and is never harsh, even on the broken pavement, despite my suspisions. I definitely recommend the Sport Package!

This particular car had no squeaks or rattles in the cabin, unlike the other 2005 model I drove earlier. I wish I had this one instead of mine!

Brakes

As described above, the brakes are now less sensitive and easier to modulate and are supposed to last longer. I like the 2004 OEM brakes better, but it is a matter of personal preference.

Transmission

The 5-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and does not hesitate to downshift. The shift seem to be even smoother on 2005 model than on 2004, perhaps the engine now matches the revs better/faster. The G35's transmission works well enough in the full auto mode. Plus, the car is available with the 6-speed manual transmission.

The manual shifting is available as well. You choose the gear, not the range of gears. The car even shifts to 1st gear once you come to a stop. The shifting is pretty fast and the car matches revs almost instanteniously - a feature that was handy in the mountains.

As for its durability, I checked my 2004 model's never-replaced fluid (same transmission) at 50K miles and it is perfectly clear. Fron what I read on online forums and from personal experience, these transmission last forever.

Maintenance

Unlike BMW, Mercedes, Volvo or Audi, which provide you with free scheduled maintenance for 3-4 years, you have to pay for your maintenance with Infiniti. BMW and Mercedes cars have flexible service system which tells you when to change the oil (on average 15,000 miles).

The G35 has 3 service schedules, with driving in ideal conditions requiring oil changes every 7,500 miles. Two other schedules - preferred (for people who are paranoid or have OCD) and severe (for all others) - require oil changes every 3,750 miles.

The manual explicitly states that Infiniti recommends mineral-based oils. In my 2004 G35, I followed this recommendation up to 48K miles, even though I like synthetic Castrol and Mobil 1 oils. But now I switched to Shell Rotella T Syn 5W40, Pennzoil Platinum 5w30 and Quaker State Q Horsepower 5w30.

The reason is I mostly drive in city traffic, short trips of 6 miles. Not only this kind of driving bad for the oil, the VQ35DE engine is also known as being unkind to any oil. Various used oil analysis results suggest that the oil shears pretty badly in this engine, probably due to its valvetrain design with no rollers on cams. Engines of this design usually like oils with ZDDP and this one is no exception, according to UOA results posted online.

According to them, the engine reacts ver favorably to German Castrol Syntec 0W30, Mobil 1 0w40 and Shell Rotella T Syn 5w40 (RTS). I bought the latter after seeing UOA of it used in a VQ35DE engine for a year in short-distance driving for over 6,100 miles with plenty of life still left in the oil. This is in contrast to some oils that get to the end of their useful life in this engine in as little as 3,500 miles.

After putting RTS in the engine, it seems slightly smoother, which might or might not be subjective. In any case, I know that this is the oil that provides the best possible protection for my engine, albeit at a [small] potential expense of decreasing the fuel economy. But the next oils I will try are the Q Horsepower and PP (Pennzoil Platinum).

I am also starting to use better oil filters. OEM oil filters (Nissan-branded) are similar to Fram, replete with carboard end caps. Lame. I am now using Bosch 3300 (really a Purolator Pure One inside) and already have a stash of oversized Purolator Pure One PL14610 filters (smaller PL14612 are recommended by the Purolator's web site) for future oil changes. These filters have silicone anti-drainback valve (ADBV), which is more durable than OEM's nitrile rubber, better (synthetic blend) filtering media, larger filtering area and overall better construction. And they are cheaper than $6-8 the dealership charges for OEM filters. I got the Bosch for $5 and Pure Ones for $3 after rebate.

Based on experience with my 2004 models, the maintenance costs at the dealership are pretty high. Although I payed $20 for oil changes at my dealership since I bought car there, I paid $130 for 7.5K mile service, which includes only oil change, tire rotation and a couple of inspections. This is not counting the annual (or 15K miles, whichever comes first) in-cabin air filter replacement that dealerships normally want about $100 for.

When I bring my own oil and filter, the cost of an oil change decreases to about $30 from about $60. Basically, delaerships charge you full list prices for oil and filter, so you pay $30 for an inferior filter and mineral oil, whereas you can get an excellent filter and synthetic oil for less.

Do It Yourself (a.k.a. DIY)

I do some maintenance items myself. Replacing the in-cabin microfilter normally costs $80-120, but you can do it yourself for about $15-25 (price of the filter, depending on where you get it and the type particulate/activated charcoal). You have to remove the lower glove box (same design for 2005 G35), but it is not difficult, especially after you do it once and gain experience in this procedure.

I do it myself every year and the filter is always quite dirty. It takes me a little less than half an hour as the design of the glovebox requires you to remove the entire lower section with the glove box cover as well as the side kick panel.

Some items require less maintenance than in other cars. The platinum-tipped spark plugs are supposed to last 105,000 miles. The engine uses long-lasting timing chain rather than timing belt, which would need replacement every 60-100 K.

Unfortunately, some items are a bit more difficult than they should have been. To check the oil, you have to remove and reinsert the dipstick, which has more bends and twists than the mountain drive to my hiking location of choice. I have never seen the worse-designed dipstick.

There is no tube to re-insert it into, just a hole in the engine block with a little "guide", which is useless at best. The hole itself is all but invisible, even in the daylight and sometimes requires a use of a flashlight, as it is surrounded by the intake pipe, the black engine cover and an additional attachment to the engine block right in front of the dipstick.

The aforementioned cabin air filter could have been made so that it is easier to replace. On 2000 Mitsubishi Galant you just have to pop the glove box out and unscrew the filter (1-minute operation). In 2004 Volvo S40, you remove the panel under the glove box (only 2 screws hold it) and open the trap door. In the G35, you have to peel the door sash thim, remove the side kick panel, remove the panel under the glove box, unscrew four screws that hold the entire glove box assembly and then (while holding it on your lap since several wires are attached to it) remove the filter compartment door. Installing the filter itself is a pain as the aforementioned wires are interfering.

The engine air filter on most cars can be replaced without tools in about 2 minutes. On this car, you have to use tools and it will take about 30 minutes. And since it is a front-facing design, it gets dirty pretty fast.

One of the reasons that the filter becomes dirty so quick seems to be the fact that the filter faces the front of the vehicle and is directly exposed to whatever is being splashed on the front of the car.

At least it is visible through the air intake so that you can inspect it with out removal. I replaced it at 15K and 16K, but will wait for 30K now since the dirty fitler filters better and I saw a paper on improving engine wear with air filter loading.

Fuel

The manual recommends Premium (91-octane), but permits operation on Regular 87. I am sticking with the Premium. With current high gasoline prices, the 20 cent difference between Premium and Regular is less that 6% of the gas price. The fuel tank holds 20 gallons. The car is rated at 18 MPG city, 25 MPG highway (2004 model was rated 18/26). I was getting about 19-25 MPG in my 2004 G35 and averaged about 19-20 MPG in the 2005 model (in 50/50 city/highway driving).

Safety

The car was crash-tested by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and was named "Best Pick" in the frontal crash test.

Bottom Line

The improved G35 is better than the last year model and I highly recommend it. Just make sure you are OK with less than good fuel economy and check the car for rattles before buying. And don't forget your Sport Package.
Amount Paid (US$): N/A
Model Year: 2005
Model and Options: G35 Automatic with Premium Package C
Product Rating: 5.0
Recommended: Yes 
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