Sporty/performance car; Built in Japan
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door hatchback
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $7,200 – $20,000*


2005 Nissan 350Z


2004 Nissan 350Z


2004 Nissan 350Z


2004 Nissan 350Z

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Roadholding
  • Steering/handling
  • Brake-pedal feel
Cons:
  • Rear visibility
  • Ride
  • Road noise

Nissan’s Z revival holds true to tradition: serious performance and high style at a bargain price, though relatively good resale value of some models may keep secondhand prices higher. Five distinct models allowed new-Z buyers to tailor the car to their needs, though used-car lots won’t have every version. Overall, the 350Z blends performance and livability as well as anything in the class. High noise levels and a rough ride are tradeoffs for outstanding acceleration and smooth-road handling. Convertibles add some open-air fun to the mix.

Overview

Nissan revived its storied Z-car for 2003 as a new, performance-focused rear-drive sports car with V6 power. The 350Z went on sale in late summer of 2002 as a two-door, two-passenger hatchback coupe.

Lighter and less expensive than the last Z sold in America–the 1996 300ZX–the new Z rode a wheelbase equal to that of the Chevrolet Corvette, but with a body 10 inches shorter. Based on the platform of the G35 near-luxury sedan from Nissan’s Infiniti division, it also borrowed the G35’s 3.5-liter V6, retuned to make 287 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission was standard, and a five-speed automatic with manual shift gate was available (depending on model).

Five models were offered: base, Enthusiast, Performance, Touring, and Track. Base, Performance, and Track versions came only with manual transmissions. Traction control was unavailable on the base model, but standard on the others. An antiskid system was exclusive to Performance, Touring, and Track editions. All 350Zs came with antilock four-wheel disc brakes and the same suspension settings. Track models got special Brembo-brand brakes and a rear spoiler.

Optional on all were torso side airbags and curtain side airbags in a package. A DVD navigation system was available on Performance, Touring, and Track models. Rivals included the BMW Z4, Chevrolet Corvette, and Honda S2000, as well as the Mini Cooper and Pontiac GTO.

Yearly Updates

2004 350Z
A two-passenger Roadster (convertible) joined the 350Z coupe for 2004. Offered only in Enthusiast and Touring trim, the convertible had a power cloth top with a heated glass rear window. A rigid tonneau cover and a wind deflector were included. Optional ventilated-net seat inserts were exclusive to the Touring convertible. All 350Zs shared identical suspension settings. Torso side airbags were standard on the Touring convertible, and optional on all other Zs. Satellite radio was a new Touring option. At midyear, a 35th Anniversary Edition debuted with a 300-horsepower engine and unique wheels.
2005 350Z
Little changed this year, except for a newly standard tire-pressure monitor. All Zs now had heated mirrors and manual driver-seat height adjustment.
2006 350Z
Appearance and features were revised for 2006, and a Grand Touring model debuted in both coupe and convertible form. All manual-transmission models now held a 300-horsepower engine. Gauges and climate controls were restyled, and LED taillamps installed. All models gained standard bi-xenon headlights and speed-sensitive power steering. Base, Enthusiast, and Touring models rode on 18-inch wheels, but 19-inch tires were now standard on Track and Grand Touring coupe. The Performance model was dropped. Torso front side airbags were standard for Touring and Grand Touring models, and optional otherwise. A navigation system and satellite radio were optional only on Touring/Grand Touring Zs.
2007 350Z
This sporty car gets more power and subtle exterior styling changes for 2007. All models have a 306-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine. It replaces a pair of 3.5-liter V6 engines of 287 and 300 hp. All models have revised front-end appearance.
2008 350Z
The 2008 Nissan 350Z lineup gained a new sport-themed, NISMO model. The NISMO coupe featured unique exterior styling, specific suspension tuning, Brembo-brand brakes, forged-alloy wheels, and specific exhaust tuning.
2009 350Z
The 350Z convertible continued virtually unchanged for 2009, while the coupe was redesigned and carried the 370Z moniker.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

Originally, only one engine was available in the 350Z: a 287-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, mated to either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. A 300-horsepower engine went into the 35th Anniversary Edition of 2004, and by 2006 was standard in manual-shift models. For 2007, all models have a 306-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine, which replaces a pair of 3.5-liter V6 engines of 287 and 300 hp.

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/214
Engine HP 287
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 274
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
5-speed automatic
20/26
19/26
19.1

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/214
Engine HP 300
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 260
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual

19/25

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/214
Engine HP 306
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 268
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
5-speed automatic
20/27
19/26

Road Test

Nissan’s lusty V6 provides ample acceleration at any speed, with either transmission. Nissan promised 0-60 mph in under 6.0 seconds, which is exactly what a manual-shift Enthusiast coupe managed to achieve. Some testers consider the short-throw manual transmission a joy to operate, but others have said it’s too stiff and heavy. Automatic often slurs downshifts, smoothing acceleration at the expense of drivability.

A manual-gearbox Enthuiast coupe averaged 17.8 mpg, including gas-eating performance runs. Touring coupes have averaged 18.8 to 19.3 mpg, while Touring convertibles got 21.4 to 22 mpg in mostly highway travel. Nissan recommends premium fuel.

Ride quality depends on the model and road conditions. Solid structure and a relatively long wheelbase–second longest in the sports-car class–help the suspension retain laudable composure over all but the worst roads. Still, Zs pound over bumps and ruts. Ultra-stiff 18-inch tires on Track and Performance models, and manual-shift Touring coupes, are unsuited for daily driving, turning the ride disturbingly harsh.

Sharp, precise steering is a plus, though some testers would have preferred more road feel. Zs track resolutely through the sharpest curves and bumpiest corners. Upgraded tires glue the Track model to the road, at the expense of ride comfort. Wide tires can “wander” along road grooves, but Zs are stable and grippy through the sharpest curves–provided the pavement is unblemished. Bumpy corners at speed can send the tail skittering sideway, reducing control. Rear tires slip easily on damp pavement, even with traction control. Brake performance and feel are confidence-inspiring–more so with Brembo calipers standard on Track models.

Passenger-car tame at low rpm, the engine gets loud during full acceleration, but its prominent exhaust note befits a sports car. Wind rush is modest, but road noise is bothersome at highway speeds–especially with 18-inch tires. On wet pavement, tires create pronounced “whooshing” in the coupe’s open hatchback area. The convertible top allows more wind rush and ambient noise into the cockpit, but its design reduces audible back-tire noise.

Clearly marked gauges move with the tilt steering column. Audio and climate controls are within easy reach, but radio buttons are undersized. Cabin materials are a step above typical Nissan, and equal most like-priced competitors. Available leather upholstery feels rich, but the cabin is otherwise a stew of lightweight plastic panels and undistinguished switchgear. Such cost-cutting penalized the Z against more opulent rivals from Audi, BMW, Porsche, and even Honda.

Among the more spacious sports cars, the 350Z provides ample head and leg room for large adults. Supportive seats suit long drives, but high door sills and a low seating position yield a closed-in sensation. Seats have good lateral bolstering, though not necessarily ideal comfort on long hauls. Vision to the rear in coupes is compromised by the body shape. The combination of headrests and a small rear window mar top-up views in convertibles. Par for the class, entry/exit is hampered by the low-slung design, and assist handles are absent because of the curtain airbags.

The coupe’s hatchback design increases utility and maximizes room, compared with most sports cars. But loading large items is hampered by high liftover and intrusion from the crosswise strut-tower brace bridging the cargo bay. Interior cubbies and bins abound, though no glovebox is installed and door map pockets are tiny. Front seatbacks tip for access to storage bins. The pop-out dashboard cupholder is flimsy. Convertibles get a smaller, shallow trunk.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2005 Nissan 350Z Touring conv., man

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 - 8
80%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 9
90%
Quietness - 2
20%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - --
--0%
Cargo Room - 1
10%

Other

Value - 8
80%

Total: 47

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.3 169.4 71.5 52.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
4.1 20.0 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 42.6
2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.3 169.6 71.5 51.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
6.8 20.0 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.2 42.6
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 203 350Z 2-door hatchback

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

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

Airbags
Description: Air bag warning light may illuminate signaling failure of the system due to water intrusion in the front crash zone sensor and a campaign was issued to vehicle owners in salt states. (2005-09)
Brake noise
Description: Using brake pads other that the original non-asbestos organic linings (even OEM Nissan “Key Value” brand) may result in brake noises or difference in feel. (2003-06)
Clutch
Description: There was a voluntary campaign to replace the clutch slave cylinder. (2007)
Cold-starting problems
Description: The engine may not restart after a short trip (less than 10 minutes) in very cold weather (less than 10 degrees F), requiring replacement of the power distribution module. (2004)
Cold-starting problems
Description: In very cold weather (10 degrees F or below) following a cold soak, the starter may not work after a short trip requiring replacement of the intelligent power distribution module. (2003-06)
Dashboard lights
Description: The tire pressure warning lamp will glow steadily when the car is started if the long-term storage fuse (also called electronic parts fuse) is temporarily removed. (2003-04)
Engine knock
Description: Knocking or ticking noises coming from the engine compartment at idle may be due to pulses in the fuel line for which a revised damper and hose are available. (2003-06)
Engine temperature
Description: The idle speed may become too high after normal service to clean the throttle body because the computer has learned the old idle air value so the computer’s values must be reset. (2002-05)
Vehicle noise
Description: Clicking noises from the rear (one or both sides) may be due to premature wear of the rear constant-velocity joints at the outer axle ends. (2003-04)
Vehicle noise
Description: A tapping noise (like a pencil on a table) may come from under the dash due to debris in the heater core which must be flushed out. (2007-09)
Vehicle noise
Description: A buzzing or whining sound from the front of the 4.0L V6 engine is likely due to the timing chain(s) which should be replaced along with its tensioner(s). (2005-07)
Windows
Description: The power windows may quit working if the battery is disconnected or if the window fuse blows requiring reprogramming the windows. (2003-08)
Windows
Description: The auto-up feature may not work if the battery was disconnected or the power window is cycled numerous times without going fully up or down and must be reinitialized. (2007-09)
Hood/trunk
Description: The rear hatch may not pop up when the release is activated due to weakened lift springs near the gas charged supports. (2003)

Recall History

2003-04 350Z
Description: Fuel filler hose on some cars may crack, resulting in leakage while refueling.
2007-08
Description: Sensor in passenger seat cushion may fail, preventing the air bag from deploying in a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

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.