2011 Infiniti M37
Base price: $48,565
As tested: $56,480
MPG: 18 city/26 highway (Premium fuel)
- Classy inside and out
- Strong performance, outstanding handling
- Long list of high-tech features
- Ride may be too firm for some
- Annoying lane departure system
By Jim Prueter
Newly redesigned M37 is nearly perfect
For 2011, Infiniti redesigned its flagship M sedans and changed its numeric moniker from 35 to 37 and 45 to 56 for the V-6 and V-8 versions, respectively. The M37 tested here uses a 3.7-liter V-6 pumping out 330 horsepower (up from 303 in the 2010 model). The M56 has a new 5.6-liter V-8, upping the horsepower to 420 from last year’s 325. We found the M37 has more than enough power, leaving us to wonder why anyone would spend an additional $5,410 for the V-8. Of course that money also goes toward features that cost extra on the M37, including a Bose stereo, a navigation system, and heated and cooled front seats.
While the redesigned 2011 Mercedes-Benz E Class barely nudged out the M37 as our AAA Top Pick in luxury sedans, there is no shortage of compliments due to the Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury brand.
The Infiniti M has everything you could ask for in a midsized luxury sedan, offering a near-perfect blend of style, comfort, technology, safety, and performance. But with a starting price north of $48,000 including shipping, it ought to be close to perfect.
The M37 test car’s window sticker of $56,480 included such options as the Sport Package ($3,650) with 20-inch alloy wheels, firmer sport suspension, 4-wheel active steer, and high-end brakes, seats, steering wheel, and shift knob. It also came with the optional Premium Package ($3,350) that includes a navigation system, Bose premium audio system, heated and cooled front seats, and a heated steering wheel.
Both M models are offered with the optional all-wheel drive. A 7-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode is standard but we didn’t think it performed as well as transmissions in other luxury brands like Audi, Mercedes-Benz, or Lexus. Shift points were overly noticeable, especially when downshifting.
The M37 delivered a smooth, quiet, and controlled ride with quick steering, agile handling, and little body lean, but the ride may be too firm for some, especially with the sport suspension. The engine is powerful but felt less refined and was noisier than last year’s 3.5-liter V-6 model. According to the car’s trip computer we recorded 20 mpg overall in a mix of urban, suburban, and interstate driving using the required premium fuel.
Inside the M’s interior is rich-looking with a full complement of high-quality, upscale materials including a suede-like headliner, comfortable, supportive leather seats, faux-leather stitched dash panels, and available wood or brushed aluminum trim.
There’s good head, shoulder, and legroom and it’s easy to find a comfortable seating position. A power tilt and telescoping steering wheel is standard and we liked the easy entry-and-exit assist where the driver’s seat and steering column lifts out of the way as the driver gets into and out of the car.
There are two standard memory seat settings that automatically adjust the positions of the side mirrors, steering wheel, and the audio settings. The remote proximity key also remembers the stereo, navigation, and climate-control settings.
The rear seat is roomy and comfortable with a large pull-down center armrest. In the back seat has enough room for two people to sit comfortably, and the center of the rear seat will accommodate an adolescent or very small adult. The trunk is large and there’s a lockable rear-seat pass-through to handle long objects.
The dash is loaded with buttons and knobs that, while exceptionally attractive from a design perspective, look intimidating. However, unlike other vehicles in this class, namely Audi and BMW, controls are intuitive and easy to use, with separate buttons for the climate control and audio systems. Most functions also can be controlled through a touch screen or by the voice command feature.
The Infiniti navigation has long been our favorite and is also the easiest to use. The screen is large and offers a choice of flat, non-dimensional, or 3D-like bird’s eye view. The Premium Package also includes a Zagat restaurant guide and Bluetooth audio.
Infiniti also offers an optional technology package on the M sedans, adding a variety of safety aides. The package includes a lane departure warning system, which beeps if you wander out of your lane. We found it overly sensitive and annoying. There’s a switch under the dash where you can turn the feature off, but it resets each time you re-start the car.
There’s also “blind side warning” detection that triggers an amber warning light in the affected side-view mirror when cameras sense a vehicle is in the driver’s blind spot. Once you drive a vehicle with this feature you won’t want to be without it.
The optional active cruise control system has autonomous braking as well as a forward-collision warning system. Braking was excellent overall .
Standard safety gear includes front, side and roof-mounted curtain side-impact air bags, antilock brakes, traction control and vehicle dynamic stability control, antilock brakes, brake assist, electronic brake force distribution, and a tire pressure monitoring system.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2011 Infiniti M37 a Top Safety Pick for 2011, giving it the highest possible “Good” rating for crash test safety results. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration gave the M37 four out of a possible five stars overall for crash test results, with four stars for frontal crash tests, five stars for side crash tests, and four for rollover.
The M37 sedan delivers in every way a luxury sedan should. This car has power everything, a nice stereo, pleasant leather and wood trim, performance, and no lack of luxury all wrapped in a beautiful package. If you’re in the market for a luxury sedan and your budget can handle it, there really isn’t any reason the M37 shouldn’t be on your “must test drive” list before deciding to go with an established German brand.