By on June 20, 2014

Dear Mr. Lang,

Your most recent article put the final nail in the C4 coffin for me and for that, I’m everlastingly grateful.

The VW GTI is but a distant infatuation, another foolish pleasure set aside.

Onward to the Infiniti M35.

My wife, county librarian, needs a reliable safe car to visit her 34 branches.

The M35 sounds like just the ticket. It would also be a good road car for our forays to Las Vegas. Any recommendation on good/bad model years would be appreciated. We’ll find a good home for her ’03 Grand Marquis with 99k. It’s time to move on.

Thanks again for your help.


Steve Says:

Wow! 34 branches! Remind me to move to where you live after I get my kids through high school. One of my non-negotiables for what I hope will be the post-Dad phase is a library I can walk to.

Forget about the beach or the mountains. I want a quiet nice place where I can read.

As for your situation, the best way to approach this is to look at everything from the inside out. Let’s start with the M35.

The interiors on these vehicles are pretty much a love/hate affair. My advice is to find one. Let her spend some time inside (without you), and see whether she likes her surroundings.

I have always thought that the dashboard, seats and interior trim are far more important to most owner’s long-term happiness than the exterior design. Sexiness sells, but you will spend 98+% of your time looking at the car from the inside out. Those interior materials make an epic difference for a road warrior, and it sounds like your wife may need to become one.

Second, you are far better off visiting an enthusiast forum than to rely on the opinion of one guy. Let them tell you about the best years, worthwhile modifications, and unique challenges to your vehicle. Every vehicle has a weakness of some sort, and taking advice from actual long-term owners will give you a far better frame of reference than any other source in this business.

Here is the M35 enthusiast forum. Related to that, the M35 happens to also be the most reliable Infiniti car in my long-term reliability study. I recommended it not too long ago, and I think you are making a wise decision by considering it.

Do you a question? A rambling epiphany? Or even a hunch that is carried by nothing but thin air? Feel free to contact me at [email protected] .



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25 Comments on “New or Used? : Sadly, Infiniti Will Never Sell An M80...”

  • avatar

    I really like Infiniti’s M series. The new M37 had a nicer interior than the Mercedes E350, but the exterior looks too “aquatic” for me – like a fish.

    Strong V6 though.

    • 0 avatar

      I drive a 2011 M37x and it’s the best damn car I’ve ever owned, period. The interior has acres of sumptuous leather, real wood inlays, soft plastic and upholstery, and a very fluid, pleasing design. Lots of buttons on the dash, but it’s logically laid out and it is superior for controlling the info-tainment compared to many touch screen only solutions. The seats are ventilated and heated and offer excellent bolstering. My only complaints are the footwells are smaller than expected for a car in this class and there are only two front cup-holders.

      The engine has nearly limitless power for 99% of your commuting needs, and the Sport setting unleashes all 330 HP with a throaty roar and a willingness to rev. My mpg has been 17 city, 25 hwy, 20 combined, but I have a lead foot and mostly drive city streets.

      The trunk is large enough for most everything I use it for. The backseats are great for two but tough for three due to the high transmission hump in the center.

      Seriously, this interior rivals Audi for design and materials, and it won’t likely leave you stranded on the side of the road with a $3,000 repair bill.

      Highly recommended.

  • avatar

    I agree with Steve on the importance of an interior design you like. I am still cool to lukewarm on the Verano’s overly tall exterior design, but I REALLY like the interior design, which help sell me on the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      Evidence is mounting that I am not normal. If the car is fast and feels good when you thrash it, I don’t care if the dash is gutted, the AC does not work and only one instrument functions.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised that CoreyDL hasn’t jumped all over this one yet. I’ll give my input as the owner of an ’07 M45:

    The exterior is a clean, albeit generic design with slab sides provided that you can get past the ginormous brake lamps (seriously, they’re bigger than anything you would see on a bus or truck because the Altezza style version from Japan didn’t make the jump across the Pacific). The blacked out headlamps and 19″ wheels from the sport package are subtle, but effective visual upgrades at the cost of worse ride quality. The paint is very prone to scratching, I have found, resulting in more scratches in my 30k miles of ownership than the 140k mikes I had on my 99.5 Pathfinder.

    I like the interior layout with the angled upper section for navigation and climate control, and the vertical lower section for audio controls and analog clock (which I actually use a fair amount). The drivers seat feels tight like a cockpit, which I like, but others may expect something more spacious on a car this size. I prefer the matte wood trim in the non-sport cars to the patterned aluminum-like trim in the sport cars. The materials are a step up from a G35 and G37, but a step below my wife’s RX350. The leather on my sport seats is very stiff and doesn’t feel very luxurious, which is only compounded by the stiff seat bottoms. They do blow cool air on my man parts on hot days, so there’s that. The orange gauges are generic and kinda cheap looking compared to their BMW gauges that I assume they tried to emulate. The gauges on the 08-10 versions should be nicer. The nav system has excellent map graphics and the voice recognition feature works very well (as opposed to the Lexus system which apparently isn’t a native English speaker). I’ve never tried the DVD system in my car, but it does take up half of the armrest storage compartment, exaccerbating the meager storage options offered up front. I hate the fact that the door handle doesn’t have a blind pocket because I can’t throw my phone in there. The Bose stereo system isn’t good, most aren’t. The Bose system in my Pathfinder absolutely came alive with an Alpine head unit featuring BBE processing, not sure if something similar would wake up my system and I’m not going to try given how integrated everything is in this car. The rear doors swing open almost a full 90* which is awesome for getting little ones in the backseat. There’s a great deal of room back there, too. The lack of fold down rear seats (ski pass through only … but I snowboard, damn you!) is a bummer at times but the trunk is decently big which softens the blow somewhat.

    To be continued …

    • 0 avatar

      One other quick note on the stereo – the best iPod/iPhone adapter for this car, from USA-Spec, is only available for the 06-07 version.

      Performance wise, the car is something of a mixed bag: lazy around town and when you’re trying to feather the throttle, and then positively frantic when you mash the go pedal – I’m talking about the 4.5L V8 here so YMMV. But it’s gotta be better than mine at 16mpg. The one constant is the nervous, jittery handling like the shocks are too stiff and the bushings are too soft or something. Or perhaps I’ve tired of sport packages and stiff suspensions on the crumbling CA roads that I drive. The RX’s ride is more my liking these days which makes me want to check out the current GS350 at some point. The transmission can get crossed up with any mid throttle hesitations and has a somewhat annoying tendency to downshift hard during braking. It does do an admirable job of holding gears and assuming a more aggressive shift pattern when it detects hard cornering or go pedal mashing though, to the point where it doesn’t revert to its normal pattern for a good 20 or 30 sec after hostilities have ceased, giving you a chance to deal with traffic or other driving impediments. The engine note is pretty muted within the cabin and isn’t all that alluring outside of it – not all V8s sound as good as a Mustang GT. Cornering is a lot quicker than one would expect of a car of this size and heft and I’m guessing that this is due to the four wheel steering (“why?” was the response that my alignment guy gave me when I informed him of this fact), with only the occasional mid-corner twitch to deal with. Steering is light and smooth at low speed and firms up nicely at higher speeds with no noticeable break over points – it feels natural to me at all speeds. My steering wheel may or may not be trying to communicate with me – I’ve never been a good judge of that quality in a car. Ultimately, this thing is a highway bomber and the big engine makes high speed passing maneuvers and uphill charges without a fuss.

      With regards to quality and reliability, I made my thoughts known above about the paint and interior materials. Shutting the doors or slamming the trunk or grabbing a door handle doesn’t have the same lightweight precision as my wife’s RX or even my old Pathfinder nor does it have the solid heft of a nice Mercedes, it feels a little cheap and hollow for this class of vehicle actually. Reliability has been acceptable with me having to replace a front wheel bearing (pretty common on these cars) and having the dealer fix a short at the fuse box that was causing odd AC behavior. I also had the accelerator pedal position sensor recall work done a couple of months back and noticed slightly better throttle tip in (but it’s still not great and I assume that’s by design for some sort of EPA gamesmanship). On the flip side, my M has the seat rocking issue (about a ¼” front to back during hard acceleration/braking) and the steering wheel position sensor seems to be getting worn out (doesn’t go to correct position upon startup and therefore the retract upon exit feature has been disabled). The former is annoying to me if I pay attention to it but I can mostly ignore it now.

      At the end of the day, I like my M but I don’t love it. I window shop cars a lot more than I did when I had my Pathfinder – I’m not sure if that’s a function of the car or my means – but it works well for my lifestyle having to occasionally schlep kids and stuff but generally just getting me to places as quickly as possible without boring me to death. Japanese RWD luxury sedans go unnoticed in the marketplace, so they definitely are a value proposition as Steven has stated and could be a good fit for you wife. My wife hates my car’s ride (basically refusing to ride in it during the last half of her pregnancy) and would have been better served by an ES350 if she had a lot of highway driving to do.

      Hope this helps.

      • 0 avatar

        Interesting perspective. I’m always excited to see an M45, because they are extremely rare around Louisville, KY. Plenty of M35s, but no one had the gumption to up the ante to that glorious monster that is the VK! On that note, I think I’ve only ever seen one M56 on the road.

        My beef with the M35 in particular is that it looks suspiciously like a 6th generation (2004-2008) Maxima with better body cladding. Same dual exhaust with quad tips. Similar lines. Same trunk pass-through. M35 is nearly the same size, just a bit smaller. (Nearly the) Same options. One comes with a longitudinal engine, the other transverse.

        And that is an option, if you’d like slightly better fuel economy with slightly fewer moving parts and slightly more highway noise. Heck, the SL trim Maxima might have a better ride with its 17″ wheels.

        2004-2008 Maximas can come with a host of Infiniti-esque goodies: Heated steering wheel and mirrors. Rear powershade. Power folding mirrors. 4 leather buckets for 2+2 seating (why is that not an option in the G3Xs?). A similar BOSE system, only lacking DVD/5.1 surround sound support.

        Both the Maxima and the Infinitis have a little-known feature that’s more interesting than power folding mirrors, though: Hold the unlock button on your fob as you’re walking out to your car and it rolls down all the windows. Very nice. (Can also be done by twisting the key in the door to unlock, for some inexplicable reason)

        The VQ35 in the M35 is better than the one in the Maxima, though. The FWD VQ35s in the Quest/Altima/Maxima/Murano use too much plastic for the timing chain guides and a crucial part of that plastic can break off, letting the guide fall and maxing out the main tensioner. That’s a costly repair: Opening the timing chain cover to replace 3 guides? Ouch.

        The Z, G/FX/M35s all use more metal on their guides and are not susceptible to the same failure.

        Overall, the engine’s strong, but some of the automatic Nissan transmissions from that era mated to V6s can let you down if you don’t maintain them. Way more reliable than a Chrysler product, but not like a mid 90s Toyota’s ability to keep working without being cared for.

        With a little QuietCar or mass-loaded vinyl, you can probably approximate the Infiniti’s stillness at speed.

        Of course, it goes without saying, you can theoretically buy a 2004-2006 Maxima with a 6MT, which is lacking on all Ms. :(

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t answered because I just now noticed this post! I shall read the comments and formulate my response(s), ha.

    • 0 avatar

      I think what I’ll do is reply with my brief comments, since you summed it up well, but I do have disagreements.

      -Agree with sticking to the 3.5 versions, as the 4.5 is overkill and has even more horrible MPG. This is especially true if you’re going 08+ where the 3.5 increased in HP from 275 to 305. You can get better economy if you want to go 09+ with a RWD version, so you can have 7-speeds. The 5-speed in mine makes me wish for just one more gear so I can lower the RPMS while cruising.

      -I get 18mpg in the winter in full town driving, and 20 in the summer. I got 22 when I spent quite a bit more time on the highway. It’s just very heavy and thirsty, and really gets about the same MPG as my prior GS430.

      -Agree on the 08+ for stylistic reasons, interior and gauges very improved. The orange looks very dated nowadays (same as in the FX if you check those out). The smaller tail lamp cluster helps with styling greatly.

      -I feel the ride is plenty firm in the normal version. I didn’t like the aluminum trim in the S, so I never checked out one of those.

      -The paint must have improved per color or something, because mine doesn’t have any scratches, save for one door knick scratch on the passenger side.

      -Nice loud engine/exhaust noise, if you’re into it. My dad remarked he could hear it from inside his Ram truck, when I met him at a restaurant recently.

      -Agree on the cockpit seats. They’re firm and tight-fitting, and im 6′ tall and just under 150lb. I feel a heavy person wouldn’t like them, or someone with large legs/hips. I have the regular seats of course, which IMO have nice leather on them. Pretty soft.

      -Voice recognition and nav are lightning quick and responsive (Lexus nav was comparably very slow and dim witted) with very nice and not dated graphics. You can use the dial or the touch screen, or make a combo attack. Bluetooth hooked up easily, decent quality and the person I called couldn’t tell I was on a car speaker.

      -Do not agree on the door or trunk closing sounds. I think they sound very solid, and the door handles (solid metal, by the way) make a nice thunk actuation sound.

      -I haven’t had any reliability issues since I purchased in November, save for a slight leak at the radiator around the “crimp” part at the top (my mom’s 08 Pathfinder had the same issue). Fixed with some radiator stop-leak.

      -There’s too much variability allowed in the cruise control. Going uphill it will let your speed fall almost 5mph, before it over-reacts and then has to kick down to bring you back up. Both Audi and Lexus have better cruise control.

      -Special thing: Cooled seats are amaze, and very hard to find in any other car in your price range. The heated seats are not as strong as Lexus or Audi.

      -Color: I think the dark blue metallic is the best color, honestly (my profile image). I actually prefer the beautiful bronze color, but all of those have hideous air hostess orange leather. Stone or tan interior is preferable to the black – which seems not to age as well. If you don’t get the black, you get a more two-tone effect inside as well.

  • avatar

    Just wanted to say great write up GiddyHitch. I always love reading what actual owners think of their cars after driving them for a couple years.

  • avatar

    I currently own a 2010 Infiniti M35 (V6) with the Advanced Tech./Nav. Package. Liquid Platinum (very bright/light silver) with the very light butter-colored parchment interior. It is NOT an “S” model, nor is it AWD (here in Florida it’s a non-issue). It is the refreshed version of the 2006-2007 (many nice upgrades/refinements).

    I absolutely love the car. Zero issues since new. I can hardly think of anything I don’t like about it. It is fast, quiet, handles great for it’s size. Quality and refinement are top notch. Seats are heated and cooled. The 15 speaker Bose is outstanding. The built-in music hard drive is awesome. The nav. system is intuitive and is built into the dash instead of having the silly plopped tablet look. The Smart-Key/Push Button Start is really nice. The V6 and 7-speed automatic with rev-matching and manual control is a pleasure. Nothing is missing.

    It’s the little things that I appreciate the most: heated and cooled seats, memory seats plus auto tilt/telescope wheel, carpeted exterior wheel wells to stop road noise, beautifully lined headliner and pillar trim, satin-finished genuine African Rosewood, HID headlites that pivot to illuminate in turns, great backup cam with moving path lines, exquisitely finished trunk with non-intrusive hinges, the really nice stubby shifter that falls right to hand, solid door sounds… etc, etc. You get the picture.

    My car is the refreshed version (as mentioned above) and has the much nicer violet/white/red electroluminescent gauges, smaller and better styled LED tail lamps/trunk lid, nicer grille and fog lamp housings, better nav. system, and nicer 18″ alloy wheel design.

    I skipped the “S” model because the ride was overly harsh on the 19″ wheels and stiff suspension, the rear trunk spoiler looked kind of silly on a luxury car, the wheels looked too “aftermarket” for my tastes, and the silver interior trim looked dull and downscale. Really, the terrible ride quality was ultimately the deal-killer on the “S” for me.

    I do wish the car had either a power-assist trunk opener/closer or at least an automatic pull-down. I also miss a powered rear sunshade, but that was only available on the almost $10,000 Premium package. Oh well.

    I really appreciate the styling… I like straighter lines instead of the blobbish, overtly curved/droopy side detailing that is in fashion at the moment. For example, I love Audi design (think A3) instead of Mercedes design (think CLA- Ugh). I love my M35’s tall hood, aggressive front, and perfect RWD side proportioning (long wheelbase/short overhangs).

    My advice: if considering the second generation model (2006-2010) make sure to thoroughly test an “S” model before committing to one, get a later refreshed model M35 (2008-2010), and skip the V8 M45.

    Trust me, your wife will love it.

    Good Luck!

  • avatar

    My favorite topic, last-gen Infiniti Ms. I think these are an amazing deal, especially considering they are some of the very few full-sized luxury cars with great reliability statistics. I mentioned in Derek’s thread this is my pick for sleeper cheap craigslist cars, for !$15k you can get a five year old model with AWD.

    For comparison’s sake a used 2009 Lexus GS with nav is $28k+.

    Keep in mind prices are higher in Canada and this was >$60k new.

    My only reservation is that this would be a family car and I’m not sure about the practicalities of trunk size, baby seats etc.

    @Eiriksmal OK I don’t get it. Why is rolling down all the windows while walking to your car desirable/useful?

    • 0 avatar

      No need to have reservations about using it as a family car. As I mentioned in my comment above, the backseats are huge and the rear doors open almost 90˚, greatly simplifying entry and egress. The latter is one of those little things that I never paid attention to before but now having experienced it and finding it so useful with kids, it’s something that I will use to judge future car purchases. It’s better than any of the CUVs out there at the end of the day. The trunk is big and while it’s not as cavernous as a current Passat’s, it can easily swallow our Uppababy Vista stroller and other family gear.

    • 0 avatar

      If you live in a hot climate, then rolling down the window after your car has been baking in the sin will allow the interior to vent to the outside, dropping the internal temperature by 30 degrees or more. You’re still going to need to use the airconditioner to cool off the car, but letting the heat escape first before starting the engine makes it quicker to cool down the occupants as you get underway.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, it’s one of those quirky features that at first you scratch your head about, then you realize it’s brilliant. Another addictive feature is automatic/one-touch up/down power windows that the Maxima and (all?) Infinitis offer. DaveInCalgary got addicted to that feature and noted it in his review of that 6MT Buick he’s whipping around these days.

      I know some VWs offer the same fob-rolls-down-windows feature, with the added bonus that they will open the moonroof _and_ roll down the windows.

      From the research I can grab, the inside of a car stays about 20-25* hotter than the outside of the car. So when I’m walking out to my car in summer, the inside is about 125 degrees. Uncomfortably warm, I’d say. Since the fob’s got decent range, I can roll down all the windows and start the cooling process before entering my car. The first minute or so of rolling the windows down releases a ton of hot air, before the law of diminishing returns kicks in.

      (A bonus feature is that, since I walk up to the passenger side of my car after work, I can put my stuff onto the passenger seat through the open window first, then walk around to the driver’s side, giving it slightly more time to cool and making ingress easier.)

      • 0 avatar

        My 93 Audi 90S did this with the key in the door.
        My 97 I30 did this including sunroof with remote or key.
        My 00 A8 did this.
        My 01 GS did this including sunroof with remote.
        Current 09 M does it.

        I don’t think it’s quirky or unusual.

        • 0 avatar

          The I30 rolls the sunroof back? Interesting as the ’95-’03 Maximas would only roll down the front windows.

          I learned after writing that comment that a coworker’s optioned-out 2014 Fusion hybrid rolls them all down and vents the sunroof, whereas I’m pretty certain my old man’s optioned-out (non-Limited, though) 2012 Taurus doesn’t.

          Maybe I’m used to driving non-lux’d vehicles, but not many of the cars I’m familiar with do that, even ones that come with leather + HID packages.

  • avatar


    I have an ’09 M35.

    There were quite a few refinements in 2009, so I would recommend buying the latest model you can afford.

    truly a spectacular car, big, comfortable, fast, though not much of a handler since it is big with somewhat numb steering.

    Better nav than a lot of newer cars, with great touch screen and voice activation.

    Superb reliability, lots of rear leg room and a big trunk. Went with wife and toddler for a week and trunk was just fine. Cannot recommend this car enough really….I look around at new cars and you have to spend $60,000+ new to get something that is actually nicer than this.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    I’m not sure how a strange luxury sedan that doesn’t even have a Nissan sibling is going to be more reliable than a Grand Marquis.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a Nissan Fuga in Japan – does that qualify?

      I first became smitten with the M35/45 after seeing them in taxi livery in Tokyo in a sea of old, boring Toyota Crowns. Japanese taxi operators don’t seem to screw around with unreliable vehicles, so that speaks well of the M’s long term reliability to me. I just saw a second-gen Fuga taxi last week, actually, and have seen numerous third-gen Fugas as well. Priuses seem to be taking over the Japanese taxi trade though, even at the small city level – second gen Priuses in the case of the small city that I was in last week for the majority of my stay in Japan.

  • avatar

    My brother had an M35X 2006 I think He ran it to over a 100K miles. It was a nice car and I thought it was fun to drive. He had a couple of expensive suspension repairs and decided even Japanese luxury cars were to expensive out of warranty and went with a fully loaded Legacy for his next car (he didn’t want to give up on AWD he told me the other day he won’t buy another car without it.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m at 115k miles on my M45S and considering doing a suspension refresh but I’m guessing it wouldn’t do much to smooth out the inherent harshness of the ride, especially since KYB seems to be the only non-OEM shock option out there and I have found them to be overly stiff in their own right (used them twice on my Pathfinder).

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