2006 Infiniti M35x
Infiniti claims the 2006 M35 is its most technologically advanced car to date, and looking at its mechanical and especially electronic specs, we can't disagree. The sports-luxury-class M35 is powered by a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6. Most M35 models use a rear-wheel-drive architecture, but our test car, the 2006 Infiniti M35x, was an all-wheel-drive (AWD) model. That AWD system is meant for sporty performance as much as all-weather traction--it was developed from the one used in the legendary Nissan Skyline GT-R. Rear-drive models come in Luxury and Sport specifications, with Sport versions featuring Rear Active Steer, a computer-controlled, variable active-rear-suspension geometry that changes to assist steering depending on steering input and vehicle speed.
The 2006 Infiniti M35x has a base price of $43,140. Our test car was equipped conservatively with only the Journey Package, which includes a Bose two-channel, eight-speaker audio-system upgrade, climate-controlled front seats, the HomeLink universal transmitter, the RearView monitor, automatic-leveling Xenon HID headlamps, front precrash seat belts, and a compass in the inside rearview mirror for $2,750. Add a $610 destination charge for a total of $46,500. Much more is available: We recommend the Technology Package, which adds the nav system; a Bose surround-sound 5.1 audio system; intelligent cruise-control and lane-departure systems; and your choice of XM or Sirius satellite radio for an additional $4,200. But even without the extras, the M35x is a pleasant, sporty, and roomy luxury sedan with all-weather ability.The 2006 Infiniti M35x, like all Infiniti M models, uses an Intelligent Key transponder instead of a regular key for access, with push-button starting, and is Bluetooth-enabled for hands-free cell phone operation. Anything that can be power-operated is, and it is simple for drivers of any size to find the combination of seat and steering-wheel positions for optimum comfort.
With a 4-inch increase in wheelbase compared with the G35's, the 2006 Infiniti M35x's interior is comfortably spacious, with very good head and knee room in the front and rear. The perforated leather covering the front and outboard rear-seating surfaces is good for more than looks, since, with the Journey Package, it hides the workings of the climate-control seat system in front. Cabin air is drawn in from under the seat, then passes through a thermoelectric heating and cooling element in the seat back before being fan-forced through passageways in the foam and out through the ventilation holes. The cooling effect is pleasantly comfortable on a hot summer day. The seats themselves provide the comfort and support we expect in a luxury car.
The instrument panel has two centers of attention--the four-gauge main instrument cluster, enhanced by its orange-backlit Solar Eclipse lighting scheme, as well as the centrally mounted controls for the audio, climate, and information systems. These are controlled through well-marked buttons and the rotary controller or by voice, with information displayed on an LCD screen. Control is simple, logical, and mostly intuitive, with high marks to the voice-recognition system for ease of use. Unfortunately, the screen is not well protected from glare and can be hard to see in some light.
The 2006 Infiniti M35x's audio system has MP3 CD and WMA playback capability. The upgraded Bose two-channel, eight-speaker system that is part of the Journey Package produces fine-quality sound, which is adjusted automatically to compensate for ambient noise.
Another part of the Journey Package is the RearView system. It improves upon earlier backup video systems in that the wide-angle display is overlaid by colored dashed lines, which indicate an area that's the width of the car, as well as solid lines that display the car's projected trajectory and are calculated by the amount of steering lock. It is much more useful than systems that merely display the area behind the car, given that the straight, wide-angle perspective is confusing when you compare it to a normal visual perspective.