Used 1999 INFINITI G20 Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1999

The G20 returns to the Infiniti lineup after a two-year hiatus. This entry-level compact is based on the European- and Japanese- market Primera, which has garnered a great deal of acclaim from the foreign automotive press.

Vehicle overview

Infiniti has had a pretty thin lineup for the last couple of years. The original G20 departed the ranks in 1996, leaving a hole in Infiniti's entry-level slot, and was followed to pasture in 1997 by Infiniti's small-but-luxurious sedan, the J30. With the badge-engineered I30 and the slow-selling Q45 flagship as Infiniti's sole offerings, the company needed a quick fix to bring people back into showrooms.

The new G20 is the car designed to breathe some life back into an Infiniti lineup that, along with its parent company Nissan, has been in serious trouble for most of this decade. Like the original G20, the new model is based on the Nissan Primera, a compact sedan sold in Japan and Europe. Also like the old model, the new G20 comes with the same 140-horsepower DOHC engine found in lesser cars like the Nissan Sentra SE.

The main thing that separates the new G20 from its predecessor is its increased wheelbase, which gives the car a slightly larger passenger compartment and cargo area, and the solid beam rear axle that replaces the former car's fully-independent front and rear suspension. This backward step for the rear suspension is a result of the cost controls instituted to keep the G20's production expenditures down.

Infiniti is aiming at the young, affluent 25- to 35-year-old demographic that snaps up hordes of Audi A4s, BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class models every year. This small Infiniti promises shoppers a stimulating and luxurious experience. Prospective buyers, however, may be concerned by the fact that this entry-luxury model has the lowest horsepower and torque figures in its class, the slowest acceleration times in its class, and one of the stingiest standard equipment lists in its class. Leather upholstery, power seats and power moonroof- all of this costs extra, which pushes the G20 over $25,000. This is not what the young, style-conscious crowd in our neighborhood is likely to find appealing.

The new G20 is an attractive set of wheels with uninspired underpinnings. There is nothing wrong with the car itself, but the marketing and hype that surrounds it may leave buyers nonplused when they find that the G20 has little to offer over the Nissan Sentra SE, which has the same engine, suspension and steering, while costing substantially less than the Infiniti. We know that the Infiniti dealer body is respectful and courteous to the consumer, and that the warranty coverage at Infiniti is better than at Nissan, but we can't help thinking that better deals can be had elsewhere.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.