Thursday, July 05, 2007

Test Drive - Round #1

As you have seem from my previous post, a number of cars were eliminated at first sight and didn't make it to the test drive round (The Acura TL, VW Passat, and The Hyundai Azera).

Test Drive Round #1 - Lexus GS 350 AWD vs. Infiniti G35x
I am sure you may be asking, why are these automatics on the list? Well they made the cut because they each brought something special.

Lexus IS 250 AWD 204hp - I started looking at the IS 250 AWD, however at the Audi A4 price with a small interior (and no rear leg room) I couldn't pick this car over another Audi A4 so it was eliminated before driving. Also the hp just didn't cut it.

Lexus GS 350 AWD 303hp - At $10,000 above the Audi A4 the Lexus GS 350 AWD goes 0-60 in 5.8 seconds. The "Chardonay Pearl" color pictured here is the color we drove. It couldn't scream "florida retirement" any louder. As a positive, It is full of luxury features, and a lot of attention was paid to hide the buttons and controls away which is pretty awesome. It's a little bit like James Bond where you slide the arm rest back and there are rows of buttons and controls. I really enjoyed the ventilated seats! They are awesome! The back seat is roomy. The front dash left much to be desired as it is 80% rubber. I didn't like the look, the salesman said it was for safety. Overall the car didn't impress me on performance. It came across a little big and slow, but that could also be because I drove it AFTER the Infiniti G35.

Infiniti G35x AWD 306hp - Loaded with options the G35x Sedan is about the same price as an Audi A4 and looks like a fighter jet inside. Seriously, it has an awesome interior, the picture doesn't do it justice, go sit in one. The best interior on the list by far! The G35x goes 0-60 in 5.3 seconds. And it is fast! In the Lexus I was flooring it, in the infiniti I was "feathering" the acceleration because I felt like I could spin out (I'm sure it wouldn't with AWD). But needless to say it was plenty fast enough. However, I did notice the lag from the automatic (can there be lag at 5.3 s from 0-60). I guess I am used to a manual where the car responds so much faster. The infiniti was missing the iPod adapter but the nav system has a 9.3 GB harddrive that you can put all of your MP3s on as your own personal jukebox. While every other car give you a 4 yr / 50,000 mi warranty, Infiniti throws the 4 yr / 60,000 mi curveball.

The Results:
The Lexus GS 350 AWD is eliminated.

The Infiniti G35x survives. It will be driven again after the Audi, BMW and Volvo. If the Infiniti G35x AWD was a stick, it would be a no-brainer. It is a sharp looking car with killer performance for it's price.


Dale said...

Tom... you should make a tourney like bracket with these cars, March Madness style!

Karen said...

LOVE the review! As a fan of automatics (too much city, stop-and-go driving to ignore the convenience) i appreciate your comments. Keep up the good work, Ebert!

Ivette said...

My husband has the Infiniti in the 2 door and ever since we had the baby I've been dying for him to get the 4 door one because I love it so much!

KJ said...


Stick Shift is going the way of the dodo. It sux, plain and simple. I had to sacrifice about 70hp when I bought my car because the 6cyl model didn't come manual. DO NOT give in to the automatic. You will regret it everyday. If you DO give in....DO NOT...UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES....suggest that the "auto-shift" is a replacement (as you previously highlighted).

Driving stick has become the new "changing your oil". People love to explain why they don't drive stick (sorry, karen), while maintaining the image that they actually would prefer to do it. It's the same with changing your own oil. Men, especially, will never say that they don't actually want to change their own oil. "It's messy....I have nowhere to put the old garage isn't big enough...yada yada." Just say that changing your oil is a pain in the butt and you'd rather pay $25. You don't need to justify why you don't do it as if I'll record in my logbook that you are WANT to do it...but you "can't". (BTW, I do NOT change my own oil.) This trend is identical with manual transimission. People always have to explain why they don't have a stick. Just say "stick's annoying....I hate it". That is fine.

OK, back to the cars. You are gonna be mad at the end of this. It's like looking for luxury cars that only come in polka dots. You've made a restriction which does not fall in line with the general populous. 5% of Lexus drivers want's not worth the manufacturer bothering. And...if you DO find a car with stick that you like....then you'll have to deal with not having all of the other extras you want......because you've effectively limited the selection to such a small subset across the country.

I was looking at small pickup trucks (Tacoma) and I had the same issue. They have like 6 models...for chrissakes. So, I pick the model, engine, color.......and then manual transmission. Yep...number of cars available goes to zero. So, you end up having to sacrifice something else. SUX!!!

I just have a bad feeling about this. I think you might get cornered. I hope it works out. Just remember this: If you are spending top dollar for a sporty car which is fun to drive....and then you eliminate 50% of it's fun by going it worth it?


Tom S. said...

KJ - great comments! Unfortunately the BWM guy said the same thing, sticks are becoming harder and harder to get, even in a BMW, but I was encouraged by seing the BMW, Volvo and Audi because they have sporty manuals, so I feel like I wouldn't have to compromise (other than price!)

The big manual drive-off starts this weekend!

rachel said...

stick sucks. it's annoying. i hate it. and dave won't teach me how to drive it.

Tom S. said...

Rachel - too bad you don't like stick, make dave teach you, you're missing out - it's a whole new world!

I think if you like to have fun and enjoy driving, once you drive a stick you will NEVER GO BACK. Driving a stick makes you part of the car, and the car is actually doing what you want, driving an automatic is like constantly making requests for the car to do what you want and waiting to react to the car eventually getting to your request. I know we are talking about split seconds but the feeling of control with a stick makes you part of the car instead of just the driver.

Plus eventually you don't even realize you are shifting, it's just becomes part of driving, you don't even think about it.

Not to mentions if you can drive a stick it makes the car faster for the same engine.

Dale said...

I want to be a stick driver.

And I drive a stick.

And holy cats that's a long response.

Dave said...

I opted for the stick Passat w/o AWD, in Ohio maybe only 2 days a year do I wish I had it.

Then we hedged by getting Rachel an AWD automatic SUV.

Did you see any VW Farenheits?