Highlight: The M is outfitted with an optional eco gas pedal setting, which encourages the driver to drive green by applying additional force against the pedal to reduce jack-rabbit driving patterns.
Test vehicle’s MSRP: $59,375 ($49,850 before options)
Seating Capacity: 5
Standard Safety Features: front, side and roof-mounted airbags; front seat active head restraints; ABS; electronic brake force distribution; vehicle dynamic control; traction control system; tire pressure monitoring system; and a rearview camera
Standard Equipment: 18-inch wheels; 10-way power front seats; leather seats; power tilt/telescopic steering wheel; 2-position memory seats for steering wheel and front passenger seat; dual zone automatic temperature control; automatic entry/exit steering wheel; automatic headlights; lighted front door kick plates; push-button keyless starter; high intensity discharge headlights; and tilt-down power mirrors when in reverse
Standard Audio: a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD with satellite radio
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 60,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 6 years or 70,000 miles
Bluetooth Compatibility: standard
USB/iPod Capability: standard
Standard Engine/Horsepower: 3.7 liter, 6-cylinder/330-hp
Recommended Fuel: Premium
Standard Fuel Mileage: 18-city/26-hwy
What’s New: The big news is that a hybrid joins the line up for the 2012 model year. Other than that, Infiniti’s flagship vehicle, which was last reworked during the 2011 model year, has a new 18-inch wheel package and a few new exterior colors for 2012 model year.
Pros: The M is available in either a rear-wheel drive or an all-wheel drive configuration. Our athletic designed M with the bulging curves was loaded with a variety of luxury and easy-to-use high-tech features.
Depending on how the M is outfitted, one can expect such features as a lane-changing warning system to a radar cruise control to heated (and ventilated) front seats to semi-aniline leather seats to providing real-time traffic (and weather) info to a world-class, crystal-clear 16-speaker Bose audio system to adaptive front lighting which corners with the steering wheel to a blind-spot warning system and to a host of other collision warning systems.
Also this roomy, rear-wheel drive provides a variety of driving modes along with more than adequate power from its 6-cylinder engine. A gutsier 8-cylinder engine is also available in the M.
Cons: With this high-tech vehicle being equipped with every imaginable feature, we were unable to find a gas indicator gauge on the vehicle to inform us of the location of the gas tank. For a car that includes almost everything, how could the engineers forget this (or did we overlook it because it wasn’t in the obvious place)?
Moreover, like Infiniti’s midsize G-series sedan, the M does not ride (or drive) like what we expect from a luxury vehicle. The independent front and rear suspension seems to be too firm for our taste. We prefer the ride of the BMWs and the Audis. The German engineers have been able to find the perfect balance between performance and luxury.
Foremost, while the eco gas pedal we cited earlier was intriguing, it was quite annoying. Consumers yearning for fuel-efficiency should step-up to the hybrid and avoid the tease of the eco gas pedal.
The Verdict: The M rides like a stretch version of the midsize G series sedan. (Ironically, a long wheelbase model is being introduced outside of America). Like the G series, the ride of the M is extremely firm. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do a great job at finding the balance between being a luxury car and a performance sedan. Overall, we were impressed with the highly contented vehicle. Everything is within reach and fairly simple to use in Infiniti’s curvaceous flagship vehicle.
Competition: Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, Cadillac XTS (coming soon), Jaguar XF, Lexus GS and Mercedes E-class
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com. Follow him http://twitter.com/#!/JeffCars/.