2010 INFINITI M35 Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
December 22, 2009

The 2010 Infiniti M sedans reward drivers with Germanic handling and acceleration, though it's hard to pick them out from a crowd.

TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the latest Infiniti M sedans and written this road test from hands-on driving impressions. Editors have compared the 2010 M with other luxury sedans to help you narrow your shopping choices. TheCarConnection.com also researched car reviews from other sources to bring you the most comprehensive full review possible.

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.

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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.

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2010 INFINITI M35

Styling

The 2010 Infiniti M's an automotive geode, with a brilliant interior hiding inside a subdued exterior.

While it's undeniably attractive, the 2010 Infiniti M's exterior design is maybe a little too plain. It doesn't stand out against the edgy new sedans at Mercedes and BMW. It's related to the sleek Infiniti G37 sport sedan, just not as daring. Edmunds calls this generation "more stylish" than the first M sedan; a 2010 update brings an "enhanced, cleaner appearance...including revised front and rear fascias, grille, rear fender panels, rear decklid and taillights, and updated 18- and 19-inch wheels," they add. Cars.com raves, "The 2006 original took the field by storm, and today's car is nine-tenths as terrific," while pointing out the M35 and M45 differ little from each other "aside from the badging." Cars.com asserts the latest Infiniti M is "a much more alluring and well-rounded midsize performance sedan with the form to match its already impressive function." The optional Sport Package has "unique alloy rims, more aggressive front and rear soft-trim contours, integrated side sills and charcoal-colored headlamp bezels," attests Kelley Blue Book.

The Infiniti M interior 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. The cabin has a "warm, upscale ambiance," coos ConsumerGuide, admiring its "satin-finish wood or real metal [aluminum], precise-movement switchgear, and ample soft-touch surfaces." 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. Edmunds feels "most shoppers will discover a spacious interior that's both warm and accommodating," but some small details could lead to "minor quibbles with cabin design." A distinctive interior accompanies the Sport-edition M sedans; Edmunds notes a "unique steering wheel and shifter stitching, exclusive front sport seats, aluminum cabin accents and bright-trimmed pedals."

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2010 INFINITI M35

Performance

Beneath the conservative appearance, the 2010 Infiniti M35 and M45 are driver's cars.

The 2010 Infiniti M35 and M45 look similar, but are 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; it's suitably swift for the class, and the V-6 emits an enjoyable growl when pressed hard. Cars.com reports the V-6 "churns out fluid power with no peaky burst or low-end sluggishness." 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. Kelley Blue Book provides the specifics on performance: "the V6 propels an M35 from 0 to 60 in just over 6 seconds-or slightly more for the heavier AWD M35x."

Edmunds calls the 2010 Infiniti M's powertrains "impressive" and proclaims, "the M35's V6 should provide more than enough power for most drivers." On the other hand, their editors "praised the Infiniti M45 for its explosive power." That propulsion comes from 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. Cars.com says the M45 "trades the M35's finesse for brute hang-the-tail-out power at pretty much any speed." Kelley Blue Book notes the M45's V-8 drops 0-60 mph times "into the mid-to-high five-second range." Fuel economy is rated at a low 14/20 mpg.

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. Underpinning the Infiniti M is an "advanced suspension design [that] responds with just the right mix of compliance and firmness," finds Edmunds. The M45 in particular has very responsive acceleration, and both cars have plenty of road feel in their steering. It's easy to hustle the big M through corners like a smaller car. "All Ms have a firm, composed ride," observes ConsumerGuide, pointing out the "base M35 and M45 absorb bumps best." Infiniti Ms with the Sport Package receive Rear Active Steer, which "varies the geometry of the rear wheels...to deliver even more immediate and positive reactions during spirited cornering," says Kelley Blue Book. As Cars.com sums it up, "at its limits the M displays good grip and even better balance."

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. Opting for the Infiniti M all-wheel-drive models will "sacrifice a bit of enthusiast appeal," warns Kelley Blue Book, though "Nissan's outstanding AWD system can seamlessly transfer torque from [rear-to-front] and side-to-side as...conditions warrant, making it a feature well worth considering for those who live outside of the Sun Belt." ConsumerGuide notes the AWD cars have "tauter suspension settings, resulting in a slightly less compliant ride," while adding, "a 50/50 front/rear power split can be locked in via the snow-mode button on the center console."

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2010 INFINITI M35

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Infiniti M sedans spoil occupants with lavish room and fine materials, with maybe more sporting noise than you'd find in other four-doors.

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.

Cars.com notes of the 2010 Infiniti M, "Four of the five M's seats offer ample legroom and headroom, but the bulky floor hump in back means a fifth passenger has to share foot room." They like the fact that "after you park, the steering wheel automatically powers upward to ease exit and entry-and does so much faster than in some of the M's crankier peers." According to Edmunds, "the Infiniti M35's large cabin seats five comfortably," and "its seats are firm, highly adjustable and comfortably bolstered."

Passengers have it good, but cargo gets less love in the 2010 Infiniti M. "Interior storage is OK," says ConsumerGuide. "[There's] good trunk volume and lid hinges don't intrude, but short aperture means drawer-like access." Kelley Blue Book points out "a pull-down center armrest [in the rear] conceals a modest pass-through opening to the M's 14.9 cubic-foot trunk."

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. Cars.com notes, "There are leather wrappings around the door pulls and chrome runners along the steering wheel." However, Edmunds warns that in its experience, "the quality of materials is a bit uneven, and we find that the layout of the center stack controls isn't as clean and intuitive as it could be." ConsumerGuide finds that noise is a problem in this Infiniti, saying the 2010 M35X and M45 "thump more loudly over cracks and bumps." Edmunds agrees, "It is somewhat less peaceful than other performance luxury cruisers," and "at highway speeds, the Infiniti M35 also exhibits a noticeable amount of engine and road noise." Cars.com reminds enthusiasts, "under hard acceleration its high-pitched whine should be music to any gearhead."

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2010 INFINITI M35

Safety

The 2010 Infiniti M35 and M45 are safe, secure sedans-especially when you factor in all of the available active-safety options.

The 2010 Infiniti M offers an abundance of standard safety features and unique safety technologies, along with mostly good crash-test results.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded "good" scores for both frontal offset and side impact tests of the Infiniti M. The Infiniti 2010 M35 rated an overall "poor" rating in the IIHS's seat-based rear-impact test, however. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not tested this Infiniti.

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 but one M sedan; Kelley Blue Book reports, "Bi-xenon adaptive front lighting is optional in the M35x but standard on all other M models...[and] their brilliant blue-white beams...provide an even better look at what lies ahead."

Lane-departure warning and smart cruise control systems are fitted, along with a rearview camera, for cautious drivers who appreciate electronic assistance while driving. Cars.com reports a Technology Package adds "adaptive cruise control, Preview Braking and Lane Departure Warning" to the M. In addition, the bundle includes Lane Departure Prevention, which "applies individual brakes to nudge the car back on course"-a feeling that can take some getting used to.

Visibility from the driver's seat of the Infiniti M isn't addressed much in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, save for Cars.com's mention of the RearView Monitor, which "shows the view behind the car when the transmission is in Reverse."

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2010 INFINITI M35

Features

The 2010 Infiniti M is luxuriously equipped; high-tech options will appeal to geeks and gearheads with deep pockets.

The 2010 Infiniti Ms come well equipped with standard features, while options packages increase technology, luxury, and comfort to new levels.

Standard features include 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. Cars.com adds to that list "voice recognition" for the radio, HVAC, and phone; Bluetooth; and "XM satellite radio (subscription sold separately)." Kelley Blue Book notes there's also "a power tilt and telescoping steering column," and points out the steering wheel has "switches to operate the audio, cruise control, phone and vehicle information functions."

Options on the 2010 M35 and M45 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. The Technology Package, says J.D. Power, "adds an upgraded Bose stereo, DVD-based navigation with voice recognition, a RearView monitor and a 9.3 gigabyte Music Box hard drive." The Advanced Technology Package, also according to J.D. Power, "upgrades the Bose [stereo] to a 5.1 channel Studio Surround system, Lane Departure Prevention system, and adds a DVD-video [sic] to the center console." Cars.com reports that the Studio Surround system comes with 14 speakers and can play DVD-Audio discs. Kelley Blue Book reveals the Premium Package adds "dual-screen rear seat DVD video systems, heated and power-reclining rear seats and rear air conditioning."

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8.6
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Styling 8
Performance 9
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 8
Features 10
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