Infiniti's Simple, Sophisticated iPod Interface

Last week, I was impressed with the lowly Chevy Cobalt’s new USB input and interface for MP3 players. This week, I was reminded just how well other companies manage similar tasks. Now, there’s a big difference between a $17,000 Cobalt and a $44,000 Infiniti G37 coupe — well more than one big difference — but the interface in the G37 has been around for a few years not only in the Infiniti lineup, but in a few Nissans, too. And it is really a terrific way to play your music.

I’ll forgo describing the 11-speaker Bose sound system because it isn’t available in all models.(Briefly, though, I’ll just say it’s responsible for one of the few times I haven’t wanted to get out of the car and head into work. Well, one of the few times I’ve felt that way because of how good my music sounded.)

But I digress. When the car is moving, the iPod interface really shines. Despite having more than 550 artists stored on my 120GB iPod classic, the Infiniti’s steering wheel switch lets me scroll through them all, either one at a time, slowly, or by leaping through dozens at a time by holding the switch up or down for a few seconds. Found the artist you wanted? Press the same switch. Yep, it depresses, similar to how Audi’s steering-wheel controls work. All the confirm or enter commands work that way.

There’s also a nice big display showing artist, song and album title, along with the song’s duration in very big numerals. The touch-screen also works, so if your passengers want to take control they can.

The optional system also comes with a compact flash drive, which still baffles me. Mercedes and Audi have slots for SD memory cards, which are much more common and less expensive than compact flash. Still, it’s an added option. If you order the nav system, you also get a 9.3GB hard drive for music, and you can rip CDs directly to it. While this was once a neat trick, in today’s all-too-portable times, who wants to bother ripping CDs in their car?

Unfortunately, you can’t get the iPod interface without getting the premium sound system, which is wrapped up in a $3,200 Premium Package, which also includes a moonroof and heated seats. That's a bit more than GM's $100 option isn't it? The navigation system is another $2,200. Even without nav, though, you still get the nice big LCD screen.

There isn’t much more you could ask for in an entertainment system if you’re a digital music lover. Except maybe that SD card slot.  

Infiniti G37 Infiniti Car Gadgets

Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon.  Email David