2012 Infiniti M Review

2012 Infiniti M - Infiniti covers more bases with its flagship M sedan line.


The 2012 Infiniti M flagship sedan is comparable to handsome, upscale sports sedans from any country.

The "M" never sold as well as Nissan's upscale Infiniti division felt it should have. So the 2011 model was blessed with superior styling, more-powerful engines, advanced safety equipment and a more attractive interior. Sales quickly picked up.

Changes were so major for 2011 that there are few enhancements for 2012. They include a new 18-inch wheel package, combining the previous M56 Sport and Sport Touring packages into a single Sport package-and availability of the Graphite Interior for models with the Deluxe Touring package.

The M comes with front-drive or an all-wheel-drive system. Carried over from 2011 are the M37 model with a 3.7-liter, 330-horsepower V-6, which is strong enough to satisfy most, and the really fast M56. It has a 5.6-liter V-8 kicking out a neck-snapping 420 horsepower that propels the car from 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds.. All-wheel-drive versions of the M have an "x" designation.  

New for 2012 is the M Hybrid (M35h) rear-drive hybrid model. It develops 360 horsepower with a 3.5-liter V-6, electric motor and battery pack, which work with a seven-speed automatic transmission. It reportedly does 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds and can drive on electric power alone at speeds up to 62 mph. It delivers an estimated 32 mpg on highways.

The M35h highway economy figure handily beats the estimated 23 and 26 highway mpg figures for the V-8 and V-6, respectively.  The M35h delivers 27 mpg in the city, which also easily tops the 16 (M56) and 18 (M37) city figures.

List prices for the the M lineup are $47,700 to $61,600, with the new M35h at $53,700. The M is Infiniti's flagship sedan, so it's packed with comfort, convenience and safety features.

I tested the $61,600 M56x with all-wheel drive. As with all M models, it's heavy, at approximately 4,000 pounds, and feels large. But it's nimble, and stability and traction control systems can help out in a pinch.

Steering is nicely geared, with the right amount of assist. The ride is firm, but compliant. The responsive seven-speed automatic transmission in all models has an easy manual-shift feature, and braking is strong.

The solid, precisely built M is a fast, genuine grand touring (GT) car. It's handsome, but drivers should keep in mind potential damage to its low front end, which helps allow very low aerodynamic drag for a quieter interior and better fuel economy.

Doors have large outside handles for quick entry to the quiet, decidedly upscale interior, and rearview mirrors fold against the front window glass to avoid damage.

Gauges can be read at a glance, although a small digital "mpg" gauge in the instrument cluster seems rather odd. Controls are easy to use. There's even ashtrays, which are in few cars these days. However, I found it impossible to partially stop  the power front windows from racing down or up after they were activated.

The M is roomy, both front and rear. Front seats provide good support, and a large front arrmrest helps keep occupants comfortable. But front door pockets don't hold much. There are no rear door pockets, but storage pockets are on the rear of the front seats. The hard center of the back seat is best left to the fold-down large center armrest.

The trunk is large, but has a rather high opening, and rear seatbacks don't fold forward to enlarge the cargo area. Rather, the rear seat in the regular M37 and M56 has a small center pass-through area from the trunk.

The hood raises on struts to reveal a large plastic engine cover. Most fluid areas are easily reached.

The new Infiniti M covers all three bases, with the addition of the M35h, and promises to score higher.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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