2003 Infiniti I35

2003 Infiniti I35 Prices
Blue Book® Suggested Retail Value
2003 Infiniti I35 Fuel Economy
Fuel Economy (city/hwy)
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2002 Infiniti I35

This 2002 review is representative of model years 2002 to 2004.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

Revised "I" is made lots more competitive as near-luxury market heats up.
Pros:
  • Sleeker styling
  • Bigger engine
  • Competitive pricing
  • Fast
Cons:
  • Stiff steering
  • Soft brake pedal
  • Tricky option pricing

Nissan's upscale Infiniti division is among automakers that are scrambling to offer cars with more pizzazz for the growing near-luxury car market.

One such auto is Infiniti's front-drive I35 sedan, which is based on Nissan's top-line Maxima model. The I35 is the upgraded successor to Nissan's top-selling I30 sedan, with slicker styling, new features and more power.

The I35 gets its name from its new 3.5-liter V6, which generates 255 horsepower and is the most powerful standard engine in its class. The previous model—the I30—had a 3-liter V6 with 227 horsepower and less torque.

The I35 also has different front and rear styling. Its grille resembles the one on Infiniti's larger flagship Q45 model, and the revised interior looks more upscale with its soft leather and nicely simulated wood accents.

Among changes are better brakes and a revised suspension with larger (17-inch) alloy wheels for improved ride and handling. The I35 has more standard equipment than its predecessor, including traction control and powerful Xenon headlights.

Lower Price
Despite all that, the $28,750 I35 costs about $1,000 less than the standard I30 because significantly revised near-luxury models such as the Lexus ES 300 and new models such as the Mercedes-Benz C230 coupe are heating things up.

The I35 comes only in a Luxury trim. It replaces two I30 trims: a standard $29,715 trim and sportier $31,790 I30t trim with a sport suspension.

Although the I30t is history, the I35 can be ordered with a $1,700 Sport Package. It contains a firmer sport suspension, stability-control system, wider tires, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and side sills for a racier appearance.

Despite the suspension and tires, the I35 still has a soft-edged feel, which many car buyers expect in the near-luxury market.

Tricky Option Pricing
But I35 option pricing is a little tricky. For instance, you can't get the Sport Package without ordering the $1,380 sunroof and power rear-window sunshade package. You can get a $500 rear spoiler—if you order the Sport Package.

Don't want to contend with a mini spare tire if there's a flat? Then order the $180 full-size spare tire. But—surprise!—you can't get that spare without ordering the sunroof-sunshade package.

Even the $2,000 navigation system package, which includes a trunk-mounted 6-disc autochanger, can't be had without the sunroof-sunshade package.

The I35 is easy to safely drive fast. Its quick steering has good road feel, but feels a little stiff with the Sport Package. However, the ride is smooth even with that option, and stopping distances are short despite a rather soft pedal. The all-disc brake system has anti-lock and brake-assist features, along with electronic brake distribution, for surer emergency stops.

The I35 has more standard equipment than its predecessor, including traction control and powerful Xenon headlights.

Fast
The I35 is considerably faster than the I30, which was far from slow. The new model hits 60 mph in a brisk 7 seconds and is more responsive at all speeds. Its smooth dual-overhead-camshaft V6 makes the I35 a relaxed highway cruiser. The 24-valve engine is hooked to a strengthened 4-speed automatic transmission, which has an easily used manual shift feature.

Fuel economy is decent for a fast, 3,342-pound car: an estimated 19 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway.

Roomy
The large doors open wide, and chromed doorsills are a nice touch. The quiet interior allows good room for four tall adults and has a Bose 200-watt, 7-speaker premium audio system with an in-dash 6-disc CD player, cassette, steering wheel audio controls and speed-sensitive volume control.

The reshaped front seats are large and provide good support. The back-seat area is especially roomy. Front cupholders are strategically located on the console to avoid spills, but the console storage bin is small. The back of the console contains strong pullout cupholders for rear occupants, but rear windows don't go all the way down.

A big windshield provides excellent forward visibility. The deftly designed dashboard has easily read gauges and even an artfully revised Infiniti signature analog clock.

Dual side-impact airbags up front are among safety items, as is an emergency inside trunk release.

Large Trunk
The big trunk's opening is low and wide, and rear seatbacks flip forward to allow more cargo room. However, the pass-through area between the trunk and rear seat is just moderately large. The trunk has manual hinges that eat into cargo space and can damage luggage. But the hood has hydraulic struts instead of an old-fashioned prop rod.

The I35 offers a lot more for less money, which is a formula that usually results in higher sales in any segment of the car market.

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BB02 - 9/2/2014 2:22:45 AM