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2006 Infiniti M35 Review

Luxury Values

In short: A well-crafted, sporty value luxury sedan.

Value. It’s a word that’s as American as apple pie, the Statue of Liberty and NASCAR. Whether you’re buying a house or ordering the sixteen pancakes and a bucket of eggs special from Denny’s, getting the most for your investment is something everyone shoots for. So why should buying a luxury car be any different? Manufacturers from a certain Teutonic country that borders Denmark often charge a premium for their cars simply because the buying public is willing to pay more for a little spinning blue propeller or three-pointed star.

For those who truly appreciate value, the Infiniti M35 is certainly worth a good kick of the tires or two. Our Sport-flavored tester rang in at $49,210 and included just about everything you’d ever want or possibly need in a car (except for maybe a Mr. Coffee and a toilet): Heated and cooled power seats, surround sound stereo with a choice of satellite carriers, voice-activated navigation, rear view camera, intelligent cruise control with lane departure warning, (inhale breath) 19-inch wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, key-in-pocket entry, air bags galore and about twenty other things that would make this sentence even longer. Throw all that on a BMW 530i and you’re looking at a price tag of more than 62 grand—not too mention the Bavarian has 25 fewer horses and is a second slower to 60 mph.

In fact, the 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 is the smaller of two engines offered. The 4.5-liter V8 is a beast, and after driving the base car, it’s hard to imagine why anybody would actually need more power. The torquey six—that’s essentially the same engine found in the 350Z and half of Nissan/Infiniti’s line-up—gets the 3,900-pound sedan from 0 to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, and never for a second did the words slow, leisurely, dawdling or "Dump-Truck-like" remotely come to mind. The point? Save money and especially gas, forget the V8.

The M35’s performance repertoire doesn’t end with its engine, either—it’s a handler too. Like the G35 that came before it, the M is based on the 350Z’s front-midship platform that positions the engine behind the front axle, greatly improving the car’s weight balance. Throw in rear-wheel-drive and steering that offers a great balance of effort and feel, and this is one big sedan that can certainly dance. It’s something BMW is famous for and something Infiniti has quickly been able to duplicate.

The Sport model’s 19-inch wheels are athletic and flashy, but not in an ostentatious bling-bling kind of way. They do a great job of gluing the car to the road and don’t detract from the ride, which is on the firm side but never jarring.

As mentioned earlier, the technology-crammed M35 is practically a Circuit City on wheels. It features Nissan/Infiniti’s first voice-activated navigation system that makes programming the thing infinitely easier (no pun intended). While a typical wheel-mounted button activates the microphone, a secondary voice button on the dash’s multi-purpose knob is a unique feature that allows the passenger to also program by talking. The voice commands don’t control as many functions as in the Acura RL, nor can the navi be controlled while driving—although for the safety of all on the road, that’s probably a good thing.

Speaking of being distracted while driving, the Technology Package includes a lane departure system that beeps whenever the tires drift over a white or yellow line. As initially ridiculous as this nanny technology may seem, considering cell phones, Blackberrys, iPods and the car’s own myriad of gadgets, this is also probably a good thing. On the other hand, the intelligent cruise control that automatically manages the distance from the car in front of you isn’t as beneficial—letting a computer have that much control is a little too HAL 9000 for comfort.

While Infiniti’s forced perspective, road-to-forever logo is pretty nifty, it’ll never garner the same envy from your neighbors that four horizontal rings or a star hood ornament will. But if you couldn’t care less and appreciate good value when you see it, the choice seems rather clear.

Warranty/Service: 4-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, 6-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty, 24-hour roadside assistance

Base Price: $42,700 / As tested: $49,210

Technical Specifications

Performance Data

Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower: 280 bhp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic

Curb weight: 3,880 lbs
Wheelbase: 114.2 in
192.6/70.8/59.5 in
Turning circle: 36.7 ft

Brakes: four-wheel disc with ABS and electronic brake assist
independent front and rear
traction control, vehicle stability control

Safety: front air bags, front side air bags, side curtain air bags, active head restraints, tire pressure monitor, optional rearview camera

0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds
Top Speed: N/A

EPA City: 18 mpg
EPA Highway: 25 mpg

Likes: Great bang for your buck; tons of tech; ample power; nice handling; beautiful wheels

Dislikes: Looks like a big Maxima from some angles; all that tech could break down

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(Updated: 12/15/11 NW)