2006 Infiniti M35
When we reviewed the in August, we found it a very capable sport sedan. With an all-wheel-drive system derived from Nissan's still-unavailable-in-the-U.S. Skyline GT-R, the M35x impressed with its all-weather performance, but we wished it had a few more bells and whistles.
We got our wish recently when a 2006 Infiniti M35 in Diamond Graphite (a color that looked like silver to us) arrived, this time in a rear-wheel-drive guise but including the Technology Package that the M35x had lacked. As one might expect, it upped the tech ante considerably with such features as lane-departure warning, intelligent cruise control, GPS navigation, and satellite radio for the top-flight Bose sound system.
When thus optioned--and with other tech offerings, such as a voice-recognition system that actually works, adaptive and self-leveling front headlights, and keyless operation--the 2006 Infiniti M35 is well rounded in the gizmo department. This trend extends to the chassis as well, where a series of electronic aids keep the car on the road and following its intended path.
Our car's MSRP was just north of $40,000, with the options packages and à la carte splash guards ($120) and trunk mat ($80) bringing the final tally to $48,400. The 2006 Infiniti M35 has stiff competition in the midsize luxury-cum-sport-sedan market but acquits itself well and represents better value than some of its flashier rivals.The driver's first clue to the breadth of technoconveniences in the 2006 Infiniti M35 comes even before entering the vehicle. With the intelligent key in pocket, you can press an unobtrusive button on the exterior handle, unlocking the door. Press it twice to unlock all the doors, as with the regular fob. There's one on the passenger-side front-door handle too, so opening from either side is possible.
Once you're seated, the impression is of understated elegance and ease of use. The four main gauges are proper analog types, with small digital displays in the speedo and tach faces. Our car's dark-leather and rosewood palette was very pleasing to the eye and added to the overall aura of sophistication. The key fob can remain pocketed or be inserted into a special slot to the left of the wheel. With one foot on the brake, a push of the starter button fires the engine as the seats, wheel, and mirrors return to the positions associated with the fob in use.
The 2006 Infiniti M35's seating, especially in front, maintains the technoluxury feel with full power adjustment, including lumbar, for the driver. The front seats are also heated and cooled through their perforated leather, and as part of the Bose Studio Surround 5.1 audio upgrade, they have small shoulder speakers. The 14-speaker system works well, with plenty of power and rich sound from both studio and burned discs. It plays discs in most CD and DVD formats, including WMA, still something of a rarity in factory systems. A technology Bose calls Centerpoint lets the system simulate fuller surround sound from regular stereo CDs. Six dedicated buttons change the discs, and two knobs control volume and tuning in time-tested fashion.
Infiniti continues to make the most effective standard rearview monitors we've come across. Using the crisp 7-inch LCD, the view out back is overlaid with fixed, color-coded grid lines to help with judging distances. A feature that wasn't present on the rearview monitor of thewe tested previously was the curving of these grid lines along with steering input to give an idea where the car is pointing. As previously found in the , we found this feature quite helpful.
The 2006 Infiniti M35's navigation system is indeed a welcome addition, and while part of a pricey package ($4,200), the equipment group also includes enough other technology to warrant the expense: the upgraded Bose six-CD audio system already described, intelligent cruise control, lane-departure warning, XM Satellite Radio, and input jacks for audio/video. Our car didn't have the optional rear-seat entertainment system, but we found the navigation system easy to control, as with the other Infiniti products we've tried.
The large, block-printed buttons and the knobby rim of the main click wheel aren't completely in keeping with the style of the rest of the 2006 Infiniti M35's cabin, but function correctly trumps form here, and the controls are easy to use. Most menus allow for either twisting the wheel or using one of four directional buttons for scrolling, and the overall experience is better for having lots of big, dedicated buttons, including all the climate controls. On the purely analog side, Infiniti's familiar chrome-ringed oval clock is a nice touch and is actually visible in the M35, as opposed to its placement at knee level in the QX56.
The navigation-system functionality of the 2006 Infiniti M35 sometimes let down its well-designed controls, however. A relatively well-known, if pretty remote, town off Highway 1 south of San Francisco wasn't mapped beyond the main two-lane highway, and other populated areas' surface roads didn't appear at all. More frustratingly, a popular hotel in a larger town was among a list of known nearby destinations, but the system apparently forgot where it was and instead directed us vaguely to the center of town, about 2 miles from the hotel. Because navigation systems rely on one of two companies for their mapping data, these map glitches are most likely common to other navigation systems as well. The system did score points with its bird's-eye view option and a split-screen mode that keeps a small map visible alongside a larger selection screen for making route changes while under way.
Also somewhat disappointing was the degree of Bluetooth integration. Our usual test phone, a Motorola V551, synced with the 2006 Infiniti M35 readily enough, but no address book information was read. This was perhaps forgivable, as the M35 offers a very useful voice-recognition setup that controls not only a Bluetooth phone but also the climate, audio, and navigation systems.