2011 Infiniti M - First drive review
Artfully blending style, performance, luxury and value, the all-new 2011 Infiniti M packs quite the proverbial punch. Competing with the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Lexus GS and Audi A6, the M houses more horsepower under the hood - in V6 or V8 guise - than the competition, and still manages to return respectable fuel economy numbers. But, power aside, perhaps the biggest selling point on the Infiniti M is what you get for the money - standard features like iPod connectivity, a rearview camera, Satellite Radio, keyless entry and start and heated front seats -- all things that are usually sold as options on many other cars in its segment. Really, the Infiniti M could be boiled down into just a few words: value luxury with performance.
The Infiniti M is fully reinvented for 2011. With a dynamic new look inside and out, new creature comforts and a choice of two more powerful -- and more fuel-efficient -- engines, the newest Infiniti M is truly worthy of wearing the halo car crown for Infiniti.
It might be your favorite in the category if...
If you're a luxury-minded sedan shopper who appreciates craftsmanship and performance but is also looking for something that's a value buy, you can't go wrong with the 2011 Infiniti M.
It might not be your favorite in the category if...
Despite its thorough makeover, the 2011 Infiniti M still doesn't make the same statement as the sporty BMW 5 Series or the stately Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
Although the 2011 Infiniti M's overall look - long, low hood and high rear deck - have not changed from the previous generation's, this rear-wheel drive based sedan is longer, lower and wider. Its new look is also guaranteed to turn more heads than before, with a double-arch grille, crystal-look headlight clusters, 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and a "wave-like" trunk that acts like a spoiler to increase downforce. Those opting for the Sport Package will also get unique front fascia, a dark-finish grille and headlight housings and 20-inch wheels.
When it comes to interiors, the 2011 Infiniti M easily makes our list of segment standouts. It's rich-looking, comfortable and offers nearly everything you'd ever want in a car within reach. Amenities include genuine Japanese Ash wood trim, 10-way adjustable and heated front seats, active noise control to reduce engine noise, a rear view monitor, Bluetooth and a USB port. Also included is an intelligent key system that not only allows for keyless entry and start, but keeps a dual-occupant memory system for the driver's seat, steering wheel and outside mirrors settings and remembers the last-used climate, audio and navigation settings for each person. The Deluxe Touring Package adds even more niceties like semi-aniline leather seating surfaces, a Bose Studio Surround sound system with 16 speakers, a suede-like headliner, and, the striking but tasteful White Ash silver powdered wood trim, dusted with flecks of real silver.
What you get for about $47,500...
The 2011 Infiniti M37 comes standard with a 3.7-liter V6, a seven-speed automatic transmission, Infiniti Drive Mode Selector (Standard, Eco, Sport and Snow modes), rear-wheel drive, 18-inch wheels, leather seating, heated and 10-way power front seats, a six-speaker audio system with USB connectivity, Bluetooth, active noise control, XM Satellite Radio, dual-zone automatic climate control, a seven-inch color audio/climate/vehicle settings control display and keyless entry and start with driver memory settings. Moving up to the M56 adds a 5.6-liter V8, cooled front seats, a Bose two-channel, 10-speaker audio system, a navigation system with XM Traffic and real-time weather alerts, a 9.3GB hard drive for music storage and Bluetooth streaming audio. Safety equipment on every Infiniti M includes Brake Assist, a full complement of airbags, and electronic stability and traction controls.
What you get for closer to $61,000...
Regardless of powertrain, the M can be outfitted to your liking. Available creature comforts include a Bose Studio Surround System with digital 5.1-channel decoding and 16-speakers, power rear sunshade, semi-aniline leather seating, silver metallic wood trim and a "Forest Air" system with breeze mode, which cleans and modulates air flow into the cabin. If you'd like your M to stand out, opt for the Sport Package, which adds 20-inch summer tires, a sport-tuned suspension, four-wheel active steering, sport brakes, magnesium paddle shifters, sport seats and unique front fascia, grille and headlight surrounds. All of the latest and greatest safety technology offered by Infiniti is encapsulated in the Technology Package, with intelligent cruise control, lane departure warning, lane prevention, forward collision warning, blind spot warning and adaptive front lighting systems.
Although the outgoing Infiniti M was always a car we enjoyed driving, the 2011 M is truly a blast on the road. With two eager new powertrains, a comfortable and inviting interior and an impressive list of new and innovative technology to make your drive even better, we don't have much to complain about. Things like 4Wheel Active Steer on the Sport Package and downshift rev matching up the car's fun-to-drive quotient, while lane keep assist and blind spot intervention subtly help keep you safe. And the interior's a pretty nice place to spend some time - the seats are supportive, the dash intuitive and the iPod connectivity and searchability among the best out there. If we had to find something to complain about, it's that the V8 underhood in this M doesn't sounds quite as sweet as the V8 in the last generation - but, given all that we've gained in this new M, we're okay with that.
KBB value analysis
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2011 Infiniti M37 starts at just under $47,500, and approaches $61,500 when fully loaded. The V8-powered M56 begins under $59,000, and can reach $70,000. Adding all-wheel drive ups both prices by about $2,500. Both the M37 and the M56 are competitive price-wise with the BMW 5 Series, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Lexus GS, although the Infiniti offers more standard equipment and better fuel economy than either German competitor. To be sure that you're getting the best deal on your M, be sure to check out the vehicle's Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com. In terms of residuals, the M is expected to see above-average residuals over time, not quite as high as those offered by BMW or Lexus, but on par with Mercedes-Benz.
Features of note
4Wheel Active Steer
This feature --found in the Sport Package - makes the M feel like a much smaller car when turning and rounding corners. Essentially, the system controls the steering angle of all four wheels, allowing for less steering effort at lower speeds, and more stability at highway speeds.
White Ash silver wood trim
Using Japanese lacquer techniques, this subtle silver-dusted wood trim adds an extra touch of elegance to the Infiniti M's already well-executed interior.
The 2011 Infiniti M comes with a choice of two engines: a 330-horsepower V6 (same as in the G37) or a 420-horsepower V8. Both produce more horsepower than the previous-generation's engines, and both are mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and downshift rev matching. And, despite the increase in power, both also return better fuel economy. Adding all-wheel drive to the M brings with it a slight penalty in fuel economy.
330 horsepower @ 7000 rpm
270 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5200 rpm
EPA City/Highway Fuel Economy: 18/26 (RWD), 17/24 (AWD)
420 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
417 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA City/Highway Fuel Economy: 16/25 (RWD), 16/23 (AWD)