Premium midsize car; Built in Japan
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $3,700 – $7,800*


2000 Infiniti I30


2001 Infiniti I30


2000 Infiniti I30 interior


2002 Infiniti I35


2002 Infiniti I35 interior

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Navigation-system controls

Infiniti’s midsize sedan is a capable near-luxury performer that came well-equipped when new, even without options. It’s worth considering as a middle ground between the sportier Acura TL and the plusher but more conservative Lexus ES 300/330. Red-carpet Infiniti customer handling has been one reason for choosing the I30/I35 over the near-twin Maxima, but that advantage evaporates for secondhand models.

Overview

Nissan’s Maxima was redesigned for 2000, so the upscale Infiniti model that shared its platform and engine was as well. The new I30 is a front-drive, V6-powered near luxury sedan. In the 2000 redesign it gained 2 inches in wheelbase and 4.1 inches overall. The biggest interior gain was 2 inches of rear leg room. The V6 engine carried over from the ’99 model but was more powerful, this time making 227 horsepower. A 4-speed automatic was the only transmission.

Base and sportier Touring I30t returned, both with standard front head/chest side airbags and active front head restraints. Antilock brakes were standard and traction control was optional. Standard features included a power sunroof, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, and keyless entry. I30t added a limited-slip differential, xenon headlights, sport suspension and larger tires.

Yearly Updates

2001 I30
No changes were evident for 2001.
2002 I35
For 2002, the near-luxury sedan from Nissan’s luxury division got a larger engine, revised styling, and fresh features, transforming the previous I30 into the I35. Essentially an upscale Maxima, the I35 now used a new 3.5-liter V6 engine, which produced 28 more horsepower than the 3.0-liter in the I30.
New front styling aimed at visual kinship with Infiniti’s Q45 flagship sedan. Rear-end styling also was modified, along with interior details. Suspension revisions were introduced to improve ride and handling.
2003 I35
Except for revised interior trim details, the 2003 I35 was essentially a rerun. The I35 used the same 3.5-liter V-6 as Infiniti’s new rear-drive G35 near-luxury sedan. However, the I35 was a front-drive design with slightly less power and a four-speed automatic transmission, versus the G35’s available five-speed. In addition, while the I35 aimed at luxury-minded buyers, the G35 courted enthusiasts.
Options included antiskid and navigation systems, a power moonroof/rear sunshade package, and a Cold Weather group with heated door mirrors, steering wheel, and front/rear seats. The Sport Package remained available.
2004 I35
New standard equipment for 2004 included a sunroof, power rear sunshade, side sills, and prewiring for satellite-radio receiver.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

In 2000, the only engine was a 3.0-liter V6 with 227 horsepower. It mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission. In 2002 Infiniti enlarged the engine to 3.5 liters and upped horsepower to 255. Again a 4-speed automatic transmission was the only transmission.

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/181
Engine HP 227
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 217
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

20/28

20.9

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/214
Engine HP 255
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 246
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

20/26

18.1

Road Test

Acceleration ranks as just adequate for the I30/35’s class. A I35 test model ran 0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds, versus 8.2 for a Lexus ES 300–a close rival. Although the I30/35 feels strong in the important 35-55 mph midrange, passing power is occasionally stymied by the automatic’s reluctance to downshift. Fuel economy is acceptable. We averaged 18.1 mpg in an I35, which is credible considering that the test routine included fast city/freeway driving and gas-eating performance runs. Infiniti recommends premium fuel.

An I30t/35t suffers mediocre bump absorption, with more tire thump and patter than expected in this class. The standard suspension makes the ride less agitated and is far more agreeable in most driving. Even with a firmer ride, the “t” models are less agile than some rivals, but they do corner with assured stability and modest body lean. Simulated panic stops have produced little nosedive, but brakes may feel overboosted and touchy in routine use.

Quietness ranks as class-average at best, with coarse-surface tire thrum the worst offender. Little wind rush is evident above 60 mph, though. The V6 is muted in gentle cruising, emitting a tuneful snarl at full throttle.

Dashboard design is slightly dated, it works well enough. Several switches are hard to find and unlit, however, including crowded steering-wheel audio buttons. Navigation-system controls can be difficult to decipher. Interior finish and materials are pleasant, but not outstanding. Standard power seats enhance comfort for both front occupants, and the manual tilt wheel helps tailor a good basic driving stance. Expect good front leg room, but head room is just average for tall folks, who may also consider the seat cushions too short for best thigh support. Styling slightly inhibits over-the-shoulder visibility. Two adults fit in back without crowding, but the seat feels too firm–almost hard, in fact. It’s also high enough to limit head room for tall riders. Rear entry/exit is easy enough, and there’s more usable leg space with front seats fully aft than in an ES 300.

The usefully shaped trunk is not huge, but easy to load. Good in-cabin storage includes a handy “purse” hook on the right front seatback.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2003 Infiniti I35

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 4
40%
Ride Quality - 7
70%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 55

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
108.3 193.7 70.2 57.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
14.9 18.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.5 37.4 43.9 36.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Blower motor
Description: Humming and/or ticking noises from the blower are corrected with a revised insulator cover. (1996-2001)
Rough idle
Description: The engine may lack power or run rough or surge due to the mass airflow sensor failing. (2002-03)
Sunroof/moonroof
Description: The sunroof may have problems including opening spontaneously and trouble setting the switch to the proper position or cold weather damage. (2002)
Headlights
Description: The headlights may quit working because of a problem with the connector plug. (2002)

Recall History

2001-2003 I35
Description: Passenger-side frontal airbag inflator may rupture upon deployment and spray metal fragments at the passenger.
2002 I30/I35
Description: A faulty pin in the front suspension transverse link could cause difficulty steering. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2002 I30/I35
Description: A faulty accelerator pedal stopper may cause the engine malfunction indicator light to come on and speed may be severely limited. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2002-03 I30/I35
Description: Due to a faulty crank position sensor, the “service engine soon” light may come on and the defect may also cause engine failure. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.