A larger V-6 engine went into the midrange I30 sedan after the 2001 model year, transforming it into the I35. Several refinements have arrived for 2003, which include a newly available satellite radio system. Wood-tone trim on the center console has been expanded, and the front seats now hold an embroidered Infiniti logo.
Evolved from the Nissan Maxima, the midsize front-wheel-drive I35 sedan was last redesigned for 2000. Infiniti is Nissans luxury division, and the I30 has been the most popular model, which competes against the BMW 3 Series and Lexus ES 300. For 2003, Infiniti has introduced a new G35 sport sedan, which is priced below the I35. Topping the Infiniti line is the plush Q45, but a new M45 sedan is also being introduced.
Despite their close relationship, no body panels are shared between the I35 and Nissan Maxima, apart from the roof. The styling for the I35 was done in Japan, while the Maxima was designed at Nissans California studio. The I35s hood creases are prominent, and a Q45-style titanium-colored grille sits between xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights.
With a 108.3-inch wheelbase, the I35 is just under 194 inches long overall, which is 2.6 inches longer than the Lexus ES 300 and almost 18 inches longer than BMWs 3 Series sedan. The I35 is 70.2 inches wide and 57 inches tall. Alloy wheels hold 17-inch tires. An optional Sport Package includes Vehicle Dynamic Control, a sport-tuned suspension, special eight-spoke alloy wheels and side sill spoilers.
Five occupants fit inside the four-door I35. The 60/40-split rear seatback folds for additional cargo space. Leather upholstery and a 200-watt seven-speaker Bose sound system with an in-dash six-CD changer are standard. The radio operates using Radio Data System (RDS) technology and includes a cassette player and steering-wheel audio controls. The driver changes gears using a serpentine-style gate. Standard equipment includes automatic-temperature air conditioning, an eight-way power drivers seat and a four-way power passenger seat. Heated front and rear seats are available.
The seats are upholstered with Sojourner leather and flank a wood-accented center console. A classically styled analog clock in the center of the dashboard is an Infiniti hallmark. A power-operated rear-window sunshade is included in the Sunroof & Shade option package. Nissans Birdview navigation system is also optional. Trunk capacity is 14.9 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
The 24-valve, 3.5-liter dual-overhead-cam V-6 engine produces 255 horsepower and mates with a four-speed-automatic transmission. An electronically controlled throttle is used.
Side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard. Active head restraints for front occupants move up and forward in rear-end collisions to reduce the chance of whiplash injuries. Traction control and antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and Brake Assist are standard. Infinitis electronic stability system, called Vehicle Dynamic Control, is part of the Sport Package and comes as an option.