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  • 2009 G37 Sedan AWD

    Posted on April 28th, 2009 ninarussin

    All-wheel drive gives Infiniti’s sport sedan four-season performance

    By Nina Russin

    2009 Infiniti G37 Sedan

    2009 Infiniti G37 Sedan

    After living with the G37 sedan for the past week, I’ve decided that it shouldn’t be driven below eighty miles-per-hour. This isn’t to say that Infiniti’s sport sedan lacks handling finesse at lower speeds: rather, that eighty is the point at which the car’s inner beauty and beast emerge.

    I’ve driven very few cars that stay glued to the pavement the way this one does. All-wheel drive makes the car weatherproof. But unlike some all-wheel drive systems, Infiniti’s active torque management doesn’t interfere with the sedan’s rear-wheel bias on dry roads.

    Infinitis are their own animals, in part because of the front mid-ship layout which locates the engine behind the front axle. The automaker’s production models bear the fruit of extensive F-1 racing experience, with aerodynamic enhancements above and below the chassis.

    Buyers who define sports car by the amount of growl out the exhaust, or the humpity, humpity, humpity a radical cam produces car at idle, won’t find the G37 very interesting. It isn’t a “race it on Sunday, run whiskey in it Sunday night,” kind of car.

    But enthusiasts looking for a sport sedan as close to high-revving, open-wheel race cars as possible will feel right at home in the G37. It’s not exactly a wolf in sheep’s clothing; more like a tightly-wound snake with a very long reach.

    New V6 engine and 7-speed automatic transmission

    The 2009 G37 sedan comes in four models, including the all-wheel drive G37x. All cars share a V6 engine rated at 328 horsepower, and choice of a six-speed manual or new seven-speed automatic transmission.

    The 3.7-liter V-6 produces 22 more horsepower and one foot-pound of torque over the 3.5-liter block it replaces. Engineers focused on enhancing the block’s rigidity and durability without adding weight.  The block is taller than the old engine, and features a drive-by-wire throttle system for more precise control. Iridium spark plugs maintain like-new performance over long periods of time. Infiniti’s variable valve timing system allowed engineers to raise the engine’s redline to 7600 rpm.

    The seven-speed automatic transmission does an excellent job of adjusting shift logic according to the driver’s style. Shifts are barely perceptible, and the transmission maintains the engine in its optimum power range.

    A snow mode starts the car in a higher gear to keep the wheels from spinning on slick surfaces. Available manual gear selection makes driving along twisting two-lane roads a lot more fun.

    Average fuel economy is 20 miles-per-gallon according to EPA estimates. My own test yielded slightly better results, despite burying the pedal on several occasions.

    Engineers minimized suspension weight through the extensive use of aluminum components. The suspension and 17-inch alloy wheels hug the road without beating up the car’s occupants. The ride is compliant yet responsive, thanks to front and rear stabilizer bars.

    Standard 12-inch vented disc brakes front and rear provide exceptional stopping power. Four-channel antilock braking is standard on all G37 models.

    The variable effort power steering provides plenty of assist at low speeds, while maintaining exceptional on-center response on the highway. A 36-foot turning radius makes it easy to do U-turns.

    Optional adaptive headlamps on the test car swivel in response to steering input to light corners of the road. They’re a great safety feature for anyone who has to drive on dark rural or suburban roads, especially those that see a lot of pedestrian traffic.

    Intelligent cruise control lets the driver maintain a preset distance from the car in front. It’s a great feature for urban commuters who rarely have the opportunity to use traditional cruise control.

    Scratch-shield paint, standard on all models, has a self-healing clear coat. It not only maintains the car’s appearance, but reduces the likelihood of rust damage in wet climates.

    Designers used the same rather small side view mirrors on the G37 sedan as they do on the coupe. While they look attractive and minimize wind noise, I noticed rather large blind spots to the sides of the car.

    Luxury interior

    Inside, the G37x seats four adults. The steeply raked roof limits headroom in back, but passengers should find ample leg and hip room.

    Two-position seat memory allows multiple drivers to share the car. Redundant audio controls, cruise control switches and Bluetooth interface on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction.

    The optional navigation system is controlled via a mouse-like device: it minimizes clutter and functions intuitively. The test car also comes with the Bose premium audio system that gives new meaning to the term, surround sound.

    Keyless entry and start, that allow the driver to enter and start the car keeping the remote fob in his pocket, is standard on the G37. The car’s perforated leather upholstery is also standard.

    One note for buyers who live in sun-belt states: beware of chrome embellishments on interior touch points. I realize that designers love this stuff, but in the summer, the chrome inside the car gets hot enough to give the driver third degree burns. In this case, touching chrome trim is unavoidable, since it’s on the shift lever, turn signal stalk and inside door handles. Composite doesn’t look as nice, but it’s a lot more practical.

    The front doors come with map pockets and bottle holders: there are two small cupholders in the center console. The center console bin has the iPod plug-in that comes with the premium audio package.

    Both rows of passengers get overhead reading lamps. A bin in the overhead console holds sunglasses or a garage door opener.

    Climate and audio controls in the center stack are intuitive and easy to reach from either front seating position.

    Rear passengers share a fold-down armrest with built-in cupholders.  The trunk is average size: certainly wide and deep enough for luggage, groceries and golf clubs. I wouldn’t want to try and load any large cargo inside, certainly not a bicycle.

    Ground clearance for the G37x is about five inches, enough to clear modest amounts of snow, but not sufficient for any off-road trails.

    Standard safety

    All models come with front, side and side curtain airbags, vehicle stability and traction control, four channel antilock brakes, and a tire pressure monitoring system. Infiniti’s four-year, 60,000 mile basic warranty includes 24-hour roadside assistance and complimentary service loan cars.

    Base price for the G37x is $35,750. Infiniti raised its destination charge on April 7 to $865. The test car, equipped with the technology package, audio upgrade, navigation, illuminated kick plates and rosewood interior trim has a sticker price of $43,015. The 2009 G37x is on display at Infiniti dealerships nationwide.

    Likes: An all-wheel drive sport sedan with exceptional handling and performance. On a scale of one-to-ten, steering response is an eleven.

    Dislike: Chrome embellishments on interior touch points get hot in the summer.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Infiniti
    Model: G37 AWD
    Year: 2009
    Base price: $35,750
    As tested: $43,015*
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: Standard
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Towing: No
    Off-road: No
    Fuel economy: 18/25 mpg city/highway
    Comments: Sticker price does not reflect the $50 destination charge increase. The manufacturer recommends the use of premium fuel.

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