• Oct 12th 2010 at 11:57AM
  • 49
Can Luxury, Technology and Style Win Your Soul?

2011 Infiniti M37 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Not too long ago, the Infiniti M was the lesser sibling to the flagship Q. It was the middle child. During the 2006 model year, when the Q was less than a year from being dropped from the lineup, Infiniti gave the M a strong shove in the back in the form of a 4.5-liter V8 and quietly told it to climb up on the soon-to-be-vacant throne. With the Q gone and unlikely to return anytime soon, the Infiniti M is now tasked with being the automaker's flagship sedan.

Completely redesigned for the 2011 model year, the Infiniti M is bigger and better than its predecessors ever were, but it still can't fill the Q's empty shoes. Shorted the substance and stature to battle the Lexus LS, the newest Japanese luxury sedan is relegated to fighting wars with the aged Lexus GS and Acura RL. But those two are the easy enemies. BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac are the ones fielding today's worthy adversaries.

We spent a week with the "entry level" Infiniti M37. While it isn't the range-topping M56, it does boast a proven 330-horsepower V6 and a luxuriously appointed cabin. Did we miss the eight-cylinder power? Should the Sports Package be a required purchase? What unique features does the gizmo-laden four-door offer? Most importantly, how well will it fare in this lion's den of a segment? Hit the jump to find out.

Photos copyright ©2010 Michael Harley / AOL

Basking in the warm glow of the sunset and waiting for its time in front of the camera, our Malbec Black over Java M37 sedan looks absolutely stunning – especially when compared to the quirky 2003 model (which itself was based on the Japanese domestic market Nissan Gloria). Modernly sculpted, with a very fluid shape, there is no denying its family resemblance or Infiniti character.

Our test vehicle, a 2011 M37, carried a base price of $46,250 (plus an $865 destination fee). Like most you will find on the dealer's lot, ours is fitted with several significant option groups.

The Technology Package:
  • Eco Pedal
  • Intelligent Cruise Control
  • Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Blind Spot Intervention (BSI)
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Departure Prevention (LDP)
  • Distance Control Assistant (DCA)
  • Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
  • Front pre-crash seatbelts
  • Active Trace Control
  • Adaptive Front lighting system (AFS)
2011 Infiniti M37, side2011 Infiniti M37, front2011 Infiniti M37, rear

The Deluxe Touring Package:
  • Bose 5.1-channel, 16-speaker premium audio
  • Forest Air system
  • Semi-aniline quilted leather
  • Wood trim with silver accents
  • Stitched upholstery instrument hood
  • Synthetic suede headliner
  • Power rear sunshade
The Premium Package:
  • Satellite Navigation with an eight-inch VGA touchscreen
  • Voice command recognition
  • Streaming audio via Bluetooth
  • 9.3GB music box hard drive
  • Climate controlled front seats
  • Heated steering wheel

The list didn't end there. Our M37 was also fitted with a trunk mat, trunk net, first aid kit and illuminated kick plates. After adding nearly $13,000 worth of options, the bottom line on our window sticker read $59,460.

That's a lot of money, but Infiniti wants you to realize that the M37 is a lot of car.

Like nearly all of the vehicles we test, the 2011 Infiniti M37 spent a week with us. While it wasn't fortunate enough to join us on any fancy road trips, the four-door was used as a photo platform for our recent Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup vs. Honda CR-Z comparison, and it did a whole ton of running around with the family. Suffice to say, there was plenty of time to put our arms around this sedan and figure out what parts we liked, and which ones left us a bit, well... frustrated.

2011 Infiniti M37 interior2011 Infiniti M37 clock2011 Infiniti M37 wood and leather2011 Infiniti M37 seat speaker

Without question, we were impressed by the luxury and passenger accommodations. The front seats, with their quilted-leather upholstery and climate controls, were very supportive and comfortable, although big hands might have a difficult time reaching the control switches on the side of the seat when the door is closed. The "silver powder accents" on the wood was stunning, and the rest of the industry cranking out wood that looks more like plastic should take note. And most importantly for those not sitting up front, the rear seats offered generous legroom made the 5 Series we recently reviewed look cramped in comparison.

We also liked many aspects of the M37's driving dynamics. The 3.7-liter VQ six-cylinder engine, rated at 330 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, is the workhorse of the Nissan/Infiniti lineup. Rightfully so, as the all-aluminum powerplant seems tireless. It pulls aggressively from all over the tachometer, only seemingly winded as it approaches its high redline (an impressive 7,500 rpm). Down on power compared to its eight-cylinder brother in the M56 (loaded with 420 horsepower), the rear-wheel-drive M37 still sprints to 60 mph in less than six seconds. Its growl is enjoyed from the cabin and the annoying vibrations we've come to accept from Nissan's VQ-Series engine seem to be finally isolated. The standard brakes are strong, and they feel easily up to any task, and brake dust didn't seem to be an issue with the wheels still appearing clean after a week of driving.

2011 Infiniti M37 logo2011 Infiniti M37 V6 engine2011 Infiniti M37 gear shift2011 Infiniti M37 wheel

Even without the Sport Package (which adds 20-inch alloys, performance tires, 4-Wheel Active Steer and more), the M37 handles very well. Thrown into a corner, its sport sedan underpinnings (Nissan's shared rear-wheel-drive FM platform) come alive. It's not a track star, but on public roads it's much more capable than 99 percent of its drivers will ever require. Interestingly enough, we deliberately dove late into a tight bend and cranked the steering wheel over to see how the sedan would handle being severely unsettled. When the tail end came around, the front seatbelts automatically reeled us firmly against the backrest.

Sporty driving behind us, the M37 provided a soft side. At normal cruising speed, the cabin is hushed and peaceful (the car is fitted with "active noise control" as a standard feature, and it seems to work effectively). Highway cruising also gave us an opportunity to "play" with the electronic wizardry – which is overwhelming. We like the AFS, ICC and LDW, but the LDP, DCA, IBA and FCW drove us nuts (as do the acronyms). The "Eco Pedal" is designed to help save fuel by pushing back against your throttle foot when you are a bit too aggressive. In practice, it increased 0-60 mph times to about 20 seconds and feels eerie... almost like a little animal is pressing back to prevent itself from being squished. We got the heebie-jeebies and quickly turned it off.

2011 Infiniti M37 headlight2011 Infiniti M37 door handle2011 Infiniti M37 chrome trim2011 Infiniti M37 taillight

We were also bothered by the vast array of buttons on the dashboard. Regardless of how many times we drove the M, they really never became intuitive. The round multifunction dial, designed to control most of the electronic features (navigation, vehicle settings, audio, etc...), is up high on the dash, making it a stretch for tall drivers. Why not place it down where the transmission setting dial is located, on the console between the front seats? We'll never know.

Our other biggest gripe was the transmission, which will drive your average enthusiast mad. The seven-speed automatic seems to take whole seconds between gear shifts. When tooling along at 60 mph and a quick pass is required, a stab of the accelerator pedal causes the transmission to dawdle for precious moments before it shifts. By that time, we have our arms out the windows flapping our hands for more speed.

2011 Infiniti M37 rear 3/4

A sports sedan connoisseur will not enjoy the M37. But, don't let that dissuade you. This entry-level M isn't targeting enthusiasts. Instead, this sedan is configured for those who appreciate modern styling, cutting-edge technology, world-class luxury and enough sport to prevent embarrassment in a canyon. If that is your aspiration, this may be your ride.

Photos copyright ©2010 Michael Harley / AOL

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I cant believe you guys dont like this car. Infiniti did a great job on this one and you know it. Obviously most of you are "german car enthusiasts" ashamed to say you go every month to your local dealer for repairs. We could have endless discussions about what car is better or worse, everyone has a diferrent opinion. Statements like ''horrible'' ''mediocre'' ''cheap feeling interior'' are just for kids. When you say that, please explain - compare it to what? - BMW, MB, Lexus or Bentley, Buggati and Maybach??? Excuse me but BMW for example looks much cheaper than any of the competitors. The dashboard on a 2010 3 or 5 series looks the same like 1983 models...Oh yes now you will tell me its not about the dashboard...dont start, i can go over and over. Infiniti is doing great, it is a matter of personal taste in this case. Its funny how we always express the negatives first...enough said
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have to agree with JoJo777. The vast majority of posters here are clearly BMW enthusiasts, and that's fine. However, I think it's clear that most of you have not seen this car in person. It is a stunner, and turns heads (yes, yes, in a good way). Looks are subjective and personal, to be sure, but I can speak from years of practical experience having owned two 5 Series sedans until leasing my first M in 2007. Today, I own an M37X after long and detailed research.

      1. I really like the 2011 5 Series. But then I drove it. The sportiness of the previous version is gone. It is gone. This thing drives more live a 7 Series, which does not interest me. And the interior? I guess it's what you BMW enthusiasts would call timeless...because it never changes. Not in years. Boring. I do love the new lower end and sculpted sheet metal. A big improvement over the "flat" and boring sheet metal of the past decade.
      2. The test car used for this review is atypical, about as far as one would get from an actual out-the-door model. I bought my M37X with the Premium package. Stickered at $52,975, and out the door (less tax) at $48,500. This thing is so loaded with features....by the time you load up a comparable 5-Series you're well up into the 50K range.
      3. Reliability. My 2007 M never knew what a service department looked like. Can't say that for my previous two 5 Series. Under warranty, fine, but there was always something to be tweaked, adjusted or fixed. And out of warranty? German car owners know what that wonderful experience costs them. And the dealers thank them!

      The engines in these cars are very different. BMW relies on Turbo (higher end models) and Infiniti relies on VVEL technology. You really can't compare them. Note that until you get to a 535, the engines in BMWs weak and paltry. Not so in the M. Want power in a BMW? It'll cost you...dearly.

      Personally, I've found my car. Infiniti's are strong and bulletproof. They simply run and run and run. And, I like running an underdog. Want to look like everyone else? Drive a BMW.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What do you expect from the makers of the Cube,Juke,Versa....Looks like Nissan never got rid of their ugly stick since the Stanza , Micra & Multi days !!

      I hope Nissan/Infiniti fails !! With styling like this,in a few years they will be out of business !!

      And aweful reliability...Nissans are un reliable,I love the Altima...pulled out of dealer lots when new,because they burned oil/destroyed the engine from the get go !!!

      Nissan/Infinit you are the laughing stalk of the auto world !!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Not much of info in this review.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow, the headlining article photo surely doesn't show the car's good side. WOOF!

      It looks curvy and lumpy in all the wrong places.
        • 4 Years Ago

        Unlike the Essence concept, Infiniti put too many curves in the wrong places - making the M ungainly instead of sexy, curvy.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Pretty sweet
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is the ugliest sedan ever !! Besides many other older ugly Imports...

      I'd take a base model Sebring over this anyday !!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Isn't this the Maxima, the new one that has the plough front-end hanging way out in frontr?
      I am amazed that this car is priced to compete with the BMVAY-that is which it is not....
      • 4 Years Ago
      If by "style" you mean insipid and banal, then no, it can't win my soul, or my cash.

      Ten years from now this car will have all the charm of a random minivan.

      • 4 Years Ago
      That was barely a physical description, much less a review. There's so many wonderful things about this car you didn't even talk about, and instead complain about buttons you'll never use in normal every day driving?

      Can we get a real review, please?
      • 4 Years Ago
      This car has the abilty to look good and FUGLY at the same time.

      I cant get over how boring and dull that rear end looks... In the photos of the interoir the wood looks like shinny plastic. Where the shift gate is.. that whole section could have used a bit more creatyivly.. 3 round twist knobs, cup holder door and boring looking shift gate which infinit could have been more creative with IMO.

      But the rest of the car is good... the base wheel really make this car look fat and lazy.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This > 2011 5 Series
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