Compared with its sleeker sister, the Coupe, the G37 Sedan looks a bit frumpy from certain angles. Then again, in the shadow of a supermodel, I think we'd all fall a little short. Compared with other midsize premium sedans, the G37 Sedan is arguably one of the best-looking vehicles in its class and definitely one of the best-looking vehicles in the entirety of the Nissan/Infiniti lineup.
We spent some time with the 2011 Infiniti G37 Sedan Journey to see if that beauty goes deeper than the skin.
Under the sculpted hood is Nissan's workhorse 328-horsepower V-6 engine. A version of this engine (internally known as the VQ series) also finds its way under the hood of Nissan's Maxima, Murano, Quest, and 370Z and nearly every vehicle in Infiniti's lineup. This implementation displaces 3.7 liters and twists its crankshaft to the tune of 269 pound-feet of torque. Power is directed to the rear axle via a seven-speed automatic transmission with standard, sport, and manual modes.
Tapping the admittedly well-made optional magnesium paddle shifters felt rewarding to the fingertips. However, the manual shift mode itself left much to be desired and was actually rather annoying. The play-by-play went something like this:
As I approach a corner, I grab the paddle shifter for a downshift in preparation for the turn. Instead of immediately changing gear, the G37 hesitates for a moment while it decides what needs to happen. By now, I've slowed to the appropriate cornering speed and am easing off the brakes and beginning to turn the wheel. The gearbox decides that now is the perfect time for shifting and momentarily pops out of the current gear to match the revs for the downshift, canceling all engine braking and causing the car to lurch and toss its weight to the rear axle. As the sedan and I approach the apex, the gearbox pops back into the now lower gear and higher engine speed, suddenly reapplying an increased level of engine braking and causing the chassis to lurch forward and throw its weight back over the front axle, scaring the absolute crap out of me as I (and the traction control system) wrestle to keep the rear end of the sedan behind the front.
Drawing enjoyment out of the G37 Sedan turned out to be an exercise in the management of expectations. The standard and sport transmission modes are perfectly adequate for tooling around town or tackling a moderately challenging B-road, respectively. The latter mode is quite nice, allowing the engine's revs to rise slightly higher before shifting for increased power and even downshifts as the driver brakes in preparation for a turn. Leaving the G37 in this sport transmission mode and driving the sedan in a manner that's more Lexus GS than BMW 5-series yielded better results.
After a week of mixed casual and spirited driving, the trip computer reported 20.8 mpg. That's at the low end of the EPA estimated range of 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.
Scaling back on the sporty driving wouldn't be that big a deal if our G37 weren't loaded up with $2,520 worth of "sport" options. The $2,150 Sport Package upgrades the wheels to 18-inch aluminum rollers shod in summer performance tires, replaces the standard suspension with sport-tuned components, adds a viscous limited-slip differential, and upgrades the brakes to four-pot and two-pot calipers for the front and rear disc brakes, respectively. The package also adds the aforementioned magnesium paddle shifters as well as aluminum pedals, and swaps in a sportier body kit and sport seats. Those buckets are deeply bolstered, but with 12 directions of power adjustment for the driver's seat and 8 for the front passenger, they're more of a comfort addition than a true performance upgrade. Even the headlights become "Sport headlights," although we're not really sure what's so sporty about them, and a shiny red letter S gets affixed to the end of the "G37" badge on the rear decklid. Our sedan was also equipped with a $370 set of R-Spec high-friction brake pads.
The Car Tech staff was split over whether this Sport package was worth the dough. I think it's a bargain, but Editor-at-Large Brian Cooley seemed to think that the suspension was too stiff, too boy-racer for the upright G Sedan. (Check out the video at the top of this review to hear him explain this in his own words.) I welcomed the G's firm sport suspension setup and the levels of grip that it afforded. Admittedly, my idea of a "firm ride" may be slightly higher than many, but I liked that the G37's chassis communicated the bumps and imperfections of the road without crashing over them. Then again, the last car I drove before being tossed the keys to the G37 Journey was a low-specwith a suspension made of what I believe to be mashed potatoes, so perhaps I was just eager for a bit of fun.
What you end up with upon adding that Sport package to the G37 Journey is a sedan that accelerates, stops, and handles better than its gearbox can keep up with. Fortunately, Infiniti offers the G37 Sport 6MT, which rolls in all of the options of the Sport Package, but drops the seven-speed automatic gearbox for a six-speed manual transmission with a proper clutch pedal. If you're the sort of driver who cares about anything listed in the Sport package's list of options or wants to explore the limits of the G37 Sedan's capability, the Sport 6MT is the trim level for you. Otherwise, skip the Sport package altogether and be prepared to take it easy.
Comfort and safety tech
As it turns out, the G Sedan isn't a bad place to take it easy. With standard leather trim, automatic temperature control, and a spacious cabin that envelops up to five adults (four comfortably) with enough sound deadening to permit low-volume music and conversation without shouting in the middle of a rainstorm, I was more than happy to adjust the driver's seat to a more relaxed position and cruise. The wide tires and stiff suspension transmit a noticeable amount of road noise into the cabin at highway speeds, but not an unforgivable amount. Again, if a quiet ride is what you're after, you'll want to test-drive a G37 Journey sans Sport package.