2012 INFINITI M37 Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
February 23, 2012

The 2012 Infiniti M sedans are true super-sedans, delivering sharp handling, scorching performance, and impressive comfort, with a beautiful but not overwrought design inside and out.

The 2012 Infiniti M sedans are the luxury brand's most powerful and luxurious four-doors, and they take aim at some of the finest sport sedans from Germany with subtle yet gorgeous looks, truly great handling and performance, and interior appointments that are just as plush as stodgy, comfort-oriented lux sedans.

The Infiniti M37 and M56 models were completely redesigned last year, and it's the most graceful, voluptuous Infiniti yet. Swelling fenders flow from the car's grille, and flex from concave to convex surfaces along its shoulder, ending in an abbreviated, sloping trunk. Overall, it's more expressive than just about everything in its class, even the ravishing Jaguar XF. Inside, the M models push Japanese tradition and technology into an opulent marriage, with wood trim, lots of leather hides, and on some versions, a special wood trim treated with silver dust. The center console sits up and out prominently, like a jewelry case, and wears buttons for audio and climate controls that sit under under a large LCD screen that displays their outputs.

With the addition of the M35h hybrid model this year, the M sedans are now offered in three flavors. The M37 is the more common (and more affordable) of the three, powered by a 330-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6. Meanwhile, the M56 has a 420-hp, 5.6-liter V-8 that delivers neck-snapping responsiveness, accompanied by one of the more hellacious exhaust notes in a luxury car. Both engines pair up with a seven-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode, rev-matching, and available paddle shifters. In either version, the transmission is happy to pound out quick, unobtrusive gear changes at your command when the automatic’s moved to manual mode.

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As for the new 2012 Infiniti M35h, it gets a Direct Response Hybrid system that's performance-oriented and delivers more than 350 combined horsepower yet is rated at an EPA 27 mpg city, 32 highway.

Most sport sedans sacrifice some ride quality for handling sharpness--or vise versa--but Infiniti nailed the calibration in the M37 and M56. Both have great handling, quick, responsive steering, and ride quality that's not quite supple but definitely not harsh or too noisy. supple ride--are an elusive mix, and Infiniti's nailed it. The steering has the right weight and turn-in feel. The rear-wheel-drive chassis is balanced and responsive for such a long car. You can get all-wheel drive on either as an option, (M37x, M56x), and it doesn’t dull the edge too much. Available Active Tracing Control manipulates power levels and anti-lock brakes to help the M sedan corner more quickly. And big, strong brakes on all versions come standard with lots of pedal feel. A Sport package adds 20-inch wheels, sport seats and steering wheel, and aluminum pedal trim to rear-drive versions, though there's no serious performance boost.

The key difference between compact sport sedans, like Infiniti's G37, and mid-sizers like the 2012 Infiniti M, is back-seat space. There's plenty of space for two adults in back in the M37 or M56--or a fifth on occasion--and the seats actually feel sculpted to the human form. In front, it's exceptionally comfortable; both driver and front passenger get ten-way power seats, and the front cabin has good head and shoulder room, minus a little width for the thicker center console. A big trunk rounds out this package that's surprisingly practical for a sport sedan.

Just as much as the BMW 5-Series or Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the 2012 M sedans are a rolling showcase of some of the world's most sophisticated, radar-driven safety technology. Dynamic cruise control is available, along with adaptive headlamps, a blind-spot warning system, and lane-departure warning. There haven't been many official crash tests done yet on the new M, but it has received a top five-star score from the federal government for side-impact protection.

Lavish standard equipment is the norm in Infiniti vehicles, and the 2012 M is no different. Base M37 models come with all the typical luxury features, while the M56 and M56x add Bose audio, a heated steering wheel, and ventilated front seats standard; they also gets standard Bluetooth streaming, voice-activated navigation, XM traffic and weather with Zagat restaurant guides; a music hard drive, and an in-dash DVD player—all of which are available on the M37. Other options will include ventilated seats; a heated steering wheel; real-time traffic; a power sunshade; and a premium audio system with surround-sound speakers mounted in the front seats.

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2012 INFINITI M37

Styling

The Infiniti M sedans are more expressive than just about everything in its class, even the ravishing Jaguar XF.

The Infiniti M37 and M56 models were completely redesigned last year, and it's the most graceful, voluptuous Infiniti yet. Swelling fenders flow from the car's grille, and flex from concave to convex surfaces along its shoulder, ending in an abbreviated, sloping trunk. It's a long, long way from the ungainly old Infiniti J30, for sure--though in person the M seems to sit a little tall on its tires.

Inside, the M models push Japanese tradition and technology into an opulent marriage, with wood trim, lots of leather hides, and on some versions, a special wood trim treated with silver dust. The center console sits up and out prominently, like a jewelry case, and wears buttons for audio and climate controls that sit under under a large LCD screen that displays their outputs.

The M exudes refinement and has a standout sensuality. it has more wood trim than a Jaguar XF; the silver-dust-buffed wood trim, sueded headliner and semi-aniline leather (meaning, it’s not buffed of all imperfections) are all Infiniti’s best yet.

Review continues below
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2012 INFINITI M37

Performance

The Infiniti M sedans offer strong acceleration plus a balanced responsive feel—no matter which model.

With the addition of the M35h hybrid model this year, the M sedans are now offered in three flavors. The M37 is the more common (and more affordable) of the three, powered by a 330-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6. Meanwhile, the M56 has a 420-hp, 5.6-liter V-8 that delivers neck-snapping responsiveness, accompanied by one of the more hellacious exhaust notes in a luxury car. Both engines pair up with a seven-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode, rev-matching, and available paddle shifters.

In either version, the seven-speed transmission is happy to pound out quick, unobtrusive gear changes at your command when the automatic’s moved to manual mode; there's really effective rev-matching for downshifts, too. Like the German competition, the Infiniti M automatic also adds an optional set of electronic controls for transmission shifting and throttle response, with four individual settings (Sport, Normal, Eco and Snow). You’ll be fine leaving it in Normal almost all of the time.

As for the new 2012 Infiniti M35h, it gets a Direct Response Hybrid system that's performance-oriented and delivers more than 350 combined horsepower yet is rated at an EPA 27 mpg city, 32 highway.

Most sport sedans sacrifice some ride quality for handling sharpness--or vice versa--but Infiniti nailed the calibration in the M37 and M56. Both have great handling, quick, responsive steering, and ride quality that's not quite supple but definitely not harsh or too noisy. supple ride--are an elusive mix, and Infiniti's nailed it. The steering has the right weight and turn-in feel. The rear-wheel-drive chassis is balanced and responsive for such a long car.

You can get all-wheel drive on either as an option, (M37x, M56x), and it doesn’t dull the edge too much. Available Active Tracing Control manipulates power levels and anti-lock brakes to help the M sedan corner more quickly. And big, strong brakes on all versions come standard with lots of pedal feel.

A Sport package adds 20-inch wheels, four-wheel active steering, sport seats and steering wheel, and aluminum pedal trim to rear-drive versions, though there's no serious performance boost. That said, it's out preferred setup, as it's not too hard, yet not overly soft like a luxury car. Available Active Tracing Control manipulates power levels and anti-lock brakes to help the M sedan corner more quickly. And big, strong brakes on all versions come standard with lots of pedal feel.

Review continues below
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2012 INFINITI M37

Comfort & Quality

The 2012 Infiniti M sedans are very roomy inside, and lavishly appointed, but some noise and vibration keep the experience from being what it could be.

The key difference between compact sport sedans, like Infiniti's G37, and mid-sizers like the 2012 Infiniti M, is back-seat space. There's plenty of space for two adults in back in the M37 or M56--or a fifth on occasion--and the seats actually feel sculpted to the human form.

In front, it's exceptionally comfortable; both driver and front passenger get ten-way power seats, and the front cabin has good head and shoulder room, minus a little width for the thicker center console.In back, the only caveat is that the tall doors and rear deck can give the rear occupants a closed-in feel. The tallest passengers might find it a little light on headroom, but the 2011 M doesn’t sacrifice rear-seat comfort for its looks, as do the Jaguar XF.

A big trunk rounds out this package that's surprisingly practical for a sport sedan; it's useful though not all that long; otherwise there's good cabin storage, with a shallow-ish console augmented by a deep glovebox.

Ride quality is very good, although as with the somewhat smaller G37 there's a bit more road noise inside the cabin than you might expect for a sedan that emphasizes not just performance, but luxury.

The V-6 version has the noticeable, vibration-ridden feel of a modern-day Nissan, and it needs to improve. At wide-open throttle the M37 is loud and transmits a lot of unwanted shake into the steering column and floorpan that’s sure to be noticed by any buyer in the $50,000 sedan segment.

Review continues below
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2012 INFINITI M37

Safety

The 2012 Infiniti M sedans offer strong safety—including some advanced accident-avoidance options.

Just as much as the BMW 5-Series or Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the 2012 M sedans are a rolling showcase of some of the world's most sophisticated, radar-driven safety technology.

Dual front, side and curtain airbags are standard, along with anti-lock brakes; active headrests; and traction and stability control. A rearview camera and parking sensors are standard.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the M sedans have earned top 'good' results in every category, and they've also earned the Top Safety Pick accolade. And in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing, they've been given four stars overall, including a great five-star rating for side impact.

As for safety options, dynamic cruise control will be offered, along with adaptive headlamps. There’s also an advanced, optional blind-spot and lane-departure warning system designed to alert the driver if another vehicle is detected in an adjacent lane during an intended lane change, and then help assist the driver in returning the vehicle toward the center of the original lane of travel.

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2012 INFINITI M37

Features

Performance and luxury features are the 2012 Infiniti M sedans' mission, and there are plenty of chances with options to give them an over-the-top set of either.

Lavish standard equipment is the norm in Infiniti vehicles, and the 2012 M is no different.

Base M37 models come with all the typical luxury features, while the M56 and M56x add Bose audio, a heated steering wheel, and ventilated front seats standard; they also gets standard Bluetooth streaming, voice-activated navigation, XM traffic and weather with Zagat restaurant guides; a music hard drive, and an in-dash DVD player—all of which are available on the M37.

Other options include ventilated seats; a heated steering wheel; real-time traffic; a power sunshade; and a premium audio system with surround-sound speakers mounted in the front seats. The audio systems have stunning clarity, plus Bluetooth audio streaming.

A Sport package adds 20-inch wheels, sport seats and steering wheel, and aluminum pedal trim to rear-drive versions.

Review continues below
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2012 INFINITI M37

Fuel Economy

While the 2012 Infiniti M37 and M56 models are surprisingly thirsty, the M35h does make a very green statement with its fuel-stingy hybrid powertrain.

Most of the 2012 Infiniti M sedans aren't especially green in any way. With fuel economy ratings that range from 16 to 18 mpg in the city, and 23 to 26 on the highway, neither the V-6 M37 nor the V-8 M56 are particularly frugal. The all-wheel-drive models lose up to 2 mpg, as well, with the M56x at the bottom of the numbers, at 16/23—in other words not really any better than a large, three-row crossover.

Gas mileage is 16/25 mpg with the V-8 and rear-wheel drive, 16/23 mpg for the V-8 AWD—decently improved figures for a car that weighs between 3858 and 4224 pounds.

Until this model year, Infiniti didn't have any hybrid or diesel model for more green-conscious shoppers; but new for 2012 is the M35h, an advanced hybrid sport sedan that achieves EPA ratings of 27 mpg city, 32 highway, without a significant loss in performance.

On the other models, there's also an "Eco Pedal" feature that gives haptic feedback when it senses the chance to save fuel—but most drivers who know enough to buy an Infiniti will know how to best the city fuel-economy numbers.

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