2002 INFINITI I35 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Paul Wiley Cockerham Paul Wiley Cockerham Editor
April 15, 2002

Dear Marty:

After reading your recent review of Infiniti’s new G35 and driving the I35, I feel like the Keanu Reeves character in that tearjerker where he gets totally involved with Charlize Theron before finding out she’s going terminal on him.

Infiniti’s I35 is a fine sedan, but as you noted, it’s hard seeing a future for it in the lineup from the “new” Infiniti. We know Infiniti’s consolidated Maxima and Altima platforms for construction at the Smyrna, Tenn., plant, that the I35 is based on the Maxima yet is still being built in Japan, and that the company is “committed” to keeping the I35 in the lineup through the 2003 calendar year. Whether an Infiniti extension of the “Altimax” platform is worth maintaining is a discussion best left to bean counters, but personally, I can’t see it.

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Nissan/Infiniti seems destined to reclaim the edginess that first defined it through offering an all rear-wheel-drive lineup, and why shouldn’t it? With advances in traction control and ABS, rear-wheel-drive vehicles no longer have any real inherent dynamic evils, are better balanced than front-wheel-drive offerings and have that nice, enthusiast “feel.” The time when every new offering from Japan had front-wheel- drive only has obviously passed—and you know how much I hate torque steer.

Liking things

Still, there’s a lot to like about the I35. It was redone for 2002, with the big news being a bored-out version (to 3.5 liters) of Nissan’s world-class VQ V-6 that boosts horsepower 12 percent (to 255) and torque 13 percent (to 246 lb-ft). And the Consumer Reports guys have named it their best “upscale” (whatever THAT is) sedan, which no doubt will help boost sales of what has always been Infiniti’s best seller. It’s like a good Irish wake—throw his best suit on the stiff, have everybody over to party hearty, recollect how fine a gent he was and proclaim how natural he looks, and then close the lid for the last time.

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