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This year's model is essentially a carryover from last year's, so don't strain your eyes looking for the differences. A redesign is expected for 2014, which is overdue since the G37 hasn't had a major face lift since 2008, and has grown a little long in the tooth. Especially with the arrival of the new BMW 3-series. Prices start at $36,900 with three trims available: the base Journey, the all-wheel drive G37X, and the Sport 6MT with the 328-hp 3.7-liter V6 powering all three. This is easily the most powerful engine available as standard among it's competitors and is, without doubt, one of the key reasons buyers have looked it's way since it's introduction as the G35 in 2003. Claimed fuel economy is 19 city/27 highway, which is good for the engine's output, but it lags behind most of its competitors. The fuel economy is the price you pay for the extra horses under the hood.
The base model Journey comes well-equipped, with INFINITI's 7-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather-appointed seating, and Shodo aluminum trim as standard. You'll find Bluetooth, SiriusXM, and a USB port as standard, as well, and an available six-speaker sound system to make the most of it all. The available 7-inch color info display with rearview monitor is helpful when trying to squeeze into those tight spots on the street. All models also come with the Dual Zone Automatic Temperature Control so both driver and passenger can ride how they seem fit. Standard safety features include INFINITI's Advanced Air Bag System, Front-seat Active Head Restraints, and a 4-wheel Anti-lock Braking System. One drawback is the trunk's cargo space at 13.5 cubic feet. This has been an Achilles' Heel in the past and there is no change this year.
The newly redesigned BMW 328i is more efficient (23 city/33 highway), similarly priced ($36, 500) and about the same in the sprint to 60mph (5.9 seconds vs. INFINITI's 5.8), but it's 240-hp turbocharged I4 isn't quite as torquey as the INFINITI's and once you start adding accessories, it can get expensive. The Mercedes C-Class is very good-looking and luxurious, but if you want to even get close to the G37's 328-hp, you'll have to opt for the $41,400 C350 sport sedan. Even then, you fall 24 horses short of the mark. Not to mention that you get even less cargo space than the INFINITI with 12.4 cubic feet. The Acura TL is also great value with the price starting at $35,905. It stands apart as the only front-wheel drive offering in the comparison group and also comes with a V6 that is a little more efficient than the INFINITI's at 20 city/29 highway, but it only produces 280-hp. With it's spacious interior, similar wishbone suspension, and competitive price, it may be the sleeper of the bunch. The Lexus IS250 is perhaps the competitor with the most to prove. It's 2.5-liter V6 gets similar mileage (21 city, 27 highway), makes far less power, and has the smallest amount of interior space.
The $36,900 base model RWD Journey is powered by INFINITI's 328-hp 3.7-liter V6. The 7-speed automatic transmission comes as standard as do the 17-inch alloy wheels. For a base model, the Journey is very well-equipped. As well as leather, you get heated and powered front seats and dual power mirrors as standard. The 7-inch info display is available, as is the RearView Monitor which allows you to see objects behind you and alerts you when you're too close. Some features that also come as standard are hands-free Bluetooth, SiriusXM, a USB port and the aforementioned safety appointments. Handling is crisp with the Journey's double-wishbone multi-link suspension and speed-sensitive power steering. This trim is for the buyer who wants the smooth power and easy-riding luxury that they expect in the G37, but has no need for all-wheel drive and no desire to upgrade the performance of the vehicle by sharpening it's edges.
The Sport 6MT model shares all the standard equipment of the other two trims, but gets a host of performance upgrades, as well as a few asthetic ones. The performance upgrades include a 6-speed manual transmission (hence, the name 6MT), brakes that have been upgraded to 14.0 x 1.3-inch ventilated discs, a limited slip differential, 18-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension and sport-tuned steering that shortens the gear ratio in the column to 14.7:1, allowing for increased precision in the corners. Some interior upgrades include a moonroof, a sound system by Bose, the INFINITI Navigation System, and INFINITI Voice Recognition. All of this brings the price up to $41,500, a full $4,600 over the base model and $3,000 more than the AWD G37x. But, if you want the performance, you'll pay the price. This is the choice for the more performance-minded buyer who doesn't mind sacrificing some of the other trim's cushy ride for a sharper edge.
With a brand new design and the drivability everyone expects from a BMW, there's a reason the 3-series has been at the top for so long.
Powerful, well-equipped, spacious, and the most affordable of the bunch, the Acura is the sleeper that is worth trying.
Nice interior and a good looking car, but it lacks interior space, is the least powerful of the group, and it costs more than the INFINITI.
Like BMW, Mercedes knows the how to build a luxury sedan as well as anybody and the C-Class has been around awhile for a reason.