Infiniti G25 — Think G37 light, refreshing, less filling

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

If horsepower isn't everything in your driving life, but you crave luxury and style in your motorized transportation even on a modest budget, we have a suggestion. Give the all-new 2011 Infiniti G25 a test drive.

It's what you might call G37 light, Infiniti's answer to the Lexus IS250, the Mercedes C300, the Acura TSX and the BMW 328i. It has the same interior, exterior and similar standard features as the G37 and is available in three trim levels — G25, G25 Journey and G25x Journey AWD.

If you are looking Infiniti's way in an effort to move up the automotive ladder, than you know that the G37 sedan has earned considerable creditability when compared to the likes of BMW, Acura, Cadillac, Mercedes and Lexus. There have probably been more head-to-head comparisons of the G37 and the BMW 3-Series sedan than any other in the world of automotive publications.

Infiniti’s product planners, in their infinite wisdom saw a niche for this segment that would not only appeal to the female buyer but to any potential buyer who liked the looks and the attributes — navigation and a couple of other options are not available — of the G37 but with a more “sedate” powertrain, better gas mileage, and a lower price point.

The G25 has been outfitted with a refined 2.5-liter V-6 developing 218 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque and is mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission and carries an EPA estimated fuel economy of 20 mpg city/29 mpg highway. It’s also available in all-wheel drive (19/27 for the G25x all-wheel drive model).

Our concern with the G25 was performance. Would it live up to the "G" standard? It was an eye-opening experience driving some challenging northern California roads  immediately after taking the same stretch of winding asphalt in the stronger 330-horsepower G37.

Admittedly the G37 out powers the G25 but we discovered the smaller output G has nothing to apologize for; it took the curves and hills with the same boldness as its “big brother.” There was no body sway and even though the G25 is at a more than 100 horsepower disadvantage to its sibling there was only a reasonable drop off in performance, less than one would think, on our designated test road.

The G25 is extremely quiet and we’ve driven vehicles costing much more that didn’t have the road manners, lack of wind noise and etiquette this new vehicle has. For comparison purposes, performance has been measured by Car and Driver magazine in a very respectable 7.2 seconds from 0-t0-60. Quarter mile time was recorded at 15.7 seconds at 91 mph.

The Mercedes C300, with a starting price of nearly 35 grand comes with a 3.0-liter V-6 making 228 horsepower and has been measured at around 7.1 seconds 0-60. The Lexus IS250, to use another example, starts at about $33,500 and comes with a 2.5-liter V-6 making 204 horsepower. It has been measured at 7.5 seconds 0-to-60.

We use these examples simply to show that the G25 is very competitive in its price class, which starts at $32,000. (Destination charges are extra on all.)

The G25 lacks some options as noted above, and we figure Infiniti had in mind keeping the price point down and the more premium equipment reserved for the G37, which starts at about $36,695 (including destination). Unavailable in addition to navigation, is premium sound, 18-inch wheels, paddle shifters and limited slip differential.

We think Infiniti might be making a mistake by not offering the full plate of options. On virtually all of the competing vehicles, these options are available. We can surmise that there are people who are intrigued by the G25, but who also very much desire a navigation system. Infiniti is taking a real chance that they will have to wave goodbye to these potential buyers.

On the bright side the standard equipment on all G25 models is extensive and includes a seven-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, fog lamps, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, a four-way power passenger seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery and a six-speaker sound system with CD player, XM satellite radio (three month subscription included) and an auxiliary audio jack.

The Journey at $34,295 including destination adds automatic headlights, one-touch up/down windows — front and rear, heated mirrors, a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear-seat air vents, heated front seats, an eight-way power passenger seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth and an iPod/USB interface. Our Journey test car had one option, a moonroof which added $1,000 bringing the total to $35,295. Figure in another $1,600 if you want all-wheel drive.

Safety is very adequately covered with standard stability and traction control, full-length side-curtain airbags, antilock brakes and active front head restraints. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the G the highest rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset and side crash tests.

Inside, we found the front seats comfortable and well-bolstered. Rear-seat passengers will also find long-distance seat comfort, and most riders should have no complaint over available leg room.

The dashboard features the rather unusual Infiniti layout, which has been used for some years now, and has worn well with us over time. We have found the switchgear user friendly and the gauges clear and easy to read. At first glance you may be taken aback by the myriad of audio and climate controls, but they become intuitive after a couple of times around the block.

We like the G25's exterior styling, which is exactly the same as the G37, the stylish well-laid out interior and the sports-sedan driving experience. And we really like the excellent gas mileage that comes very close to the magic 30 mpg on the highway, and the starting price, which undercuts most of the competition.

Now if the Infiniti folks would allow the G25 buyer the option of adding navigation and an upscale audio system all would be right with the world.

Base price: $34,295; as driven, $35,295
Engine: 2.5-liter V-6
Horsepower: 218 @ 6.400 rpm
Torque: 187 pound-feet @ 4,800 rpm
Drive: rear wheels
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length: 187.9 inches
Curb weight: 3,550 pounds
Turning circle: 36.1 feet
Luggage capacity: 13.5 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 20 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 29 mpg highway, 20 mpg city
0-60: 7.2 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Mercedes C300, Lexus IS250, BMW 328i

The Good
• A G-Class Infiniti for a bargain price
• Rewarding driving demeanor
• Excellent gas mileage

The Bad
• Premium gas required for small V-6

The Ugly
• Desirable options unavailable