- Roomy, cozy cabin
- Pliant, controlled ride
- Gutsy, smooth powertrains
- Bland exterior styling
- Drinks premium gas
- Excessive road noise
The 2010 Infiniti M sedans reward drivers with Germanic handling and acceleration, though it's hard to pick them out from a crowd.
The 2010 Infiniti M35 and M45 (referred to here as simply the M) are Infiniti's largest luxury sedans. Big, spacious vehicles, the 2010 M sedans are more focused on technology and sporty driving response than on outright comfort. With a replacement coming in the 2011 model year, this year's M is a carryover model, save for new paint colors. At a base price of about $46,000, the M's prime competition comes from the Lexus GS, the BMW 5-Series, and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
While it's certainly attractive, the 2010 Infiniti M's exterior design is maybe a little too plain. It doesn't stand out against the edgy new sedans from Mercedes and BMW. It's related to the sleek Infiniti G37 sport sedan, just not as daring. The interior, however, is a pretty marvelous destination. The M35 and M45 exude luxury in a way the smaller G37 does not; it's as plush as the E-Class, the 5-Series, and the Lexus GS, more so than the like-sized Volvo S80 and Acura RL. There's sumptuous leather seating, a wide band of wood trim, crisp white-on-black gauges, and soft metallic trim that blend seamlessly with its conservative sheetmetal. The Infiniti M35 and M45 models are virtually identical in appearance.
However, they're starkly different under the hood. The 2010 M35 is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 303 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, and it's suitably swift for the class; also, the V-6 emits an enjoyable growl when pressed hard. Its fuel economy is rated at 17/25 mpg, down from previous years. A seven-speed automatic shifts gears in the rear-drive M35; the all-wheel-drive M35x sticks with a five-speed automatic. Both transmissions feature a manual shift mode, Downshift Rev Matching, and Drive Sport (DS) mode. The Infiniti M45 soldiers on with a 325-horsepower, 4.5-liter V-8 teamed to a five-speed automatic transmission. It feels more responsive, even when the all-wheel-drive option is specified.
Sedate from the outside, the Infiniti M sedans handle as well as any German competitors short of the vicious BMW M and Benz AMG sedans. The M45 in particular has very responsive acceleration, and both cars transmit plenty of road feel in their steering. It's easy to hustle the big M through corners like a smaller car. The ride is quite firm yet absorbent, though the smart handling means you'll push them harder-as a result, more road noise will intrude. The optional all-wheel-drive system doesn't dull the 2010 Infiniti M and its handling response as much as AWD setups on competitive vehicles.
The 2010 Infiniti M is especially comfortable for long-distance highway hauls, with plenty of space in front for adult passengers and lush fittings facing them from every angle. Supple leather upholstery and nice wood veneer trim, with a handsome oval clock and wide center console, contribute to an interior feel that's more traditional than you might expect. It contrasts nicely with the M's real driving personality, as do the larger, well-appointed backseat and the swell amount of trunk and interior storage. The M's assembly and material quality could hardly be better, and aside from tire and engine noise, it's a quiet, well-insulated sedan.
All 2010 Infiniti M35 and M45 sedans come standard with dual front, side, and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; and traction and stability control. High-intensity discharge lamps are standard on all models except the M35x. Lane-departure warning and smart cruise control systems are available, along with a rearview camera, for cautious drivers who appreciate electronic assistance while driving. The M's lane-tracking system will actually apply a brake to steer the car gently back in place-a feeling that can take some getting used to.
As standard, you'll find all power features; a crisp-sounding AM/FM/XM/CD changer with auxiliary input; Bluetooth; automatic climate control; keyless entry and push-button ignition; a sunroof; and leather upholstery. Options include climate-controlled seats, DVD navigation, and 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.