What's New for 1996
New luxo-sport sedan based on the Nissan Maxima arrived during 1995. Slotted between the G20 and the J30, the I30 competes with the Lexus ES 300, BMW 3 Series and the new Acura TL-Series. If you like big chrome grilles, this is the car to buy.
What happens when you put a garish chrome grille, bright cast aluminum turbine-bladed wheels, a conservatively styled taillight arrangement, and a wood-trimmed interior onto a Maxima? Infiniti's excuse to charge a premium for Nissan's excellent sport sedan. In fact, we can't much reason to buy the Infiniti over the Nissan, aside from the quality treatment that Infiniti dealers bestow upon their customers.
So, what are the real differences between the two cars, aside from the prestige of the Infiniti nameplate? The I30 offers standard goodies such as a power driver and passenger seats, a better warranty, ABS, simulated wood interior trim, automatic climate controls, variable intermittent wipers, keyless entry and security system, heated outside mirrors, and cargo netting; all stuff you can get on the Maxima at extra cost. Exclusive to the I30 are items like speed-sensitive steering, viscous limited slip differential, chrome accents, simulated leather door trim, integrated HomeLink transmitter, dual map lights, automatic anti-glare rear view mirror, map pockets, cellular phone pre-wiring, and green tinted glass.
Base prices for the Standard I30 start at $28,420, while a top-of-the-line Maxima GLE begins at $26,279. The GLE has leather and an automatic transmission -- add cowhides and an automatic to the I30 and you're looking at $31,120, which places the I30 just below the cutoff for the dreaded luxury tax. Add options to the GLE and you max out at $28,376. Want the sporty I30? Pony up $32,720 for a five-speed model, plus applicable luxury taxes. The Maxima SE with a stick can't be optioned beyond $28,000.
So, basically we're looking at a $5,000 price difference across the line. Is the I30 worth the extra expenditure? We don't think so. However, we tend to be more practical than most buyers in the near-luxury segment of the market. If the Maxima's styling turns you off, and traction enhancement is an absolute must, the I30 is probably right up your alley. Not only will the premium paid get you better service and a few extra convenience items, but you'll have more peace-of-mind knowing that your new "I" is covered by one of the best warranties in the business.