- Spacious, comfortable interior
- Straightforward interior styling
- Firm yet comfortable ride
- Smooth, responsive powertrains
- Too much road noise
- Bland exterior styling
- Requires premium fuel
The 2009 Infiniti M Series represents a compromise between sport and luxury—but a pleasant one that many shoppers should contemplate.
Infiniti’s M sedans are big, spacious vehicles, with more of a focus on technology and sporty driving response than on outright comfort. The M’s exterior design doesn’t especially stand out, although there’s no denying that it’s a longer (yet less aggressively styled) sibling of the G37 sport sedan. Inside, the M35 and M45 feel much more luxurious than their smaller siblings, with plush appointments and a more conservative appearance.
The Infiniti M35 and M45 models are virtually identical in appearance, except for their different engines. The Infiniti M45 continues with last year's 325-horsepower 4.5-liter aluminum-alloy DOHC V-8 and five-speed automatic transmission, while the M35 houses the new VQ35HR 3.5-liter V-6 engine. The new V-6 has 303 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque; fuel economy is rated at 17 mpg city, 25 highway—a 1- and 2-mpg decrease in fuel consumption from last year.
The new seven-speed automatic is available on rear-wheel-drive M35 models, while the all-wheel-drive 2009 Infiniti M35x receives a five-speed automatic transmission. Both transmissions feature a manual shift mode, Downshift Rev Matching, and Drive Sport (DS) mode.
Though the M35 and M45 look quite conservative, they’re among the best-handling and most enjoyable-to-drive vehicles in their class. Very responsive acceleration is on tap from either engine, and the steering allows more of a feel of the road than is typical in larger sedans, permitting the big M to hustle through corners like a smaller car. That nimble personality does carry a downside, as the M35 and M45 permit more road noise inside than most of their peers. The ride is quite firm yet absorbent, and the M sedans are especially buttoned-down and comfortable for long-distance highway hauls, with plenty of space in front and one of the larger, well-appointed backseats. All the while, the supple leather upholstery and nice wood veneer trim, with the prominent oval clock and wide center console, contribute to an interior feel that’s more conservative and at odds—though not in a negative way—with the M’s real driving personality. All-wheel drive is available with either the V-6 or V-8 (M35x, M45x), and it doesn’t dull handling responses like the systems on some other sport sedans.
Each of the 2009 Infiniti M models are available with a Sport Package that brings Rear Active Steer (a system that helps improve stability in tight corners and quick lane changes), 19-inch five-split spoke wheels, sport-bolstered and trimmed front seats, a sport steering wheel and shifter, aluminum trim, and pedal accents. All models come standard with stability and traction control, anti-lock braking, and roof-mounted side-impact curtain airbags. High-intensity discharge lamps are now standard, as are climate-controlled seats and new instrument panel lighting.
All of this equipment adds to an already excellent sedan that editors at TheCarConnection.com count among their favorites. The M also features a number of electronic active safety measures, including Infiniti's LDP system, which can gently nudge the M back into the lane if the driver drifts to either side.