2011 Infiniti M37

October 21, 2011

When I reviewed the 2009 Infiniti M35x, I wrote that it struck "the perfect balance between practicality and luxury." Redesigned for 2011, the M37x sedan keeps that balance, and it can function as a serious family car with its mix of comfort and space.

The M37x is an improvement over its former self with a more powerful engine that gets better gas mileage. It's also added a few inches to its body, which is something we may scoff at when it happens to our own bodies, but it makes us smile when it happens to an automobile.

Infiniti's M sedan is available as the M37, which has an upgraded 3.7-liter V-6 engine or the M56, with a 5.6-liter V-8. Both are available in rear- or all-wheel drive. I test-drove the M37x, the all-wheel-drive version of the V-6-equipped sedan. The car drove brilliantly and offered a slew of extra safety features. At 330 horsepower,f I was plenty happy with this smaller engine's performance. I drive a minivan in my real life, so anything over 300 hp causes me to twitch with glee.

The seven-speed automatic transmission that's matched to this engine is fun, especially when you flip it into manual mode. The Infiniti Drive Mode Selector was great. It's a simple knob between the driver and passenger seats that gives you the option of switching the car into Eco, Snow, Standard or Sport mode as you see fit. The throttle and transmission respond to maximize performance based on what you choose, and the results are impressive. While it didn't snow during my test week with the car, I was able to experiment with all the other modes.

The M37x has a starting MSRP of $48,650. With a sticker price of $59,960, my test car wasn't exactly a bargain, but Infiniti is a luxury brand, after all. If I were in the market for a luxury car, I'd make sure to check out the M. In this segment, Infiniti continues to quietly prove itself to be a serious contender.

EXTERIOR

The M37x looks good from any angle. The standard 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels catch the eye, and the front grille gives the car a roaring visage instead of the normally dull sedan front. The dual exhaust pipes look sporty and belie the power of the redesigned car's engine.

The standard bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights are impressive. They illuminated the night to make driving easier for this night-vision-impaired reviewer. My test car's headlights were also adaptive. This optional feature allowed the headlight to swivel in the direction of a turn, making driving on some curvaceous mountain roads spectacular. There's also a standard power moonroof and power-folding heated side mirrors that tilt down when the car's in Reverse.

One thing to note is that the back window is well slanted as a part of this car's curvy, sleek styling. This could cause taller people to knock their heads on the ceiling when in the backseat. Of course, if you're tall and buying this car, I would hope you remain in the driver's seat. It's more fun there.

The M37X has a 330-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 and uses premium gas. This translates into a car that's fun to drive and handles well with a fuel-efficient bent. The M37x gets an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg city/highway, which is a step in the right direction from the 16/22 mpg that the 2009 M35x I last tested got.

SENSE AND STYLE

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent):Fair/Great

Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On):Groove-On

INTERIOR

I have two words to describe the M37x's interior: stylish and comfortable. There's plenty of room for everyone. Well, not for a third child in a child-safety seat, which I happen to have. The M37x seats five as long as they're out of car seats.

I loved the M37x's entry-and-exit assist for the driver. The sedan chivalrously moved my seat and steering wheel when I was getting in or out of the car. It has two standard memory seat settings, which also controls the side mirrors, steering wheel and audio settings. The standard power leather seats were comfortable. While heated front seats are standard, cooled seats, which my test car had, are part of the optional Premium Package ($3,350).

As part of the Premium Package, my test car had a navigation system with real-time traffic and a Zagat restaurant guide, Bluetooth streaming audio and a heated steering wheel.

My test car also had the Deluxe Touring Package ($3,800) and included an upgraded 16-speaker Bose audio system that rocked, buttery-smooth semi-aniline leather seating, beautiful Japanese white ash wood trim with genuine silver accents, and a power rear sunshade that helped keep my children from complaining on several sunny Colorado days.

Though test-driving this car made me realize how necessary in-car restaurant reviews and a heated steering wheel actually are, you may choose not to go for the options packages. In that case, the list of standard features is impressive on its own right. With everything from 10-way power front seats with memory to a power-tilt steering wheel to a push-button start, the M37x's standard equipment is sure to please.

When it comes to storage, the M37x offers plenty of options. The center console is pragmatically tiered to keep snacks, lip gloss and diapers organized; the trunk pass-through is great for skis and other long, thin gear; and the trunk offered lots of storage space for strollers, groceries or your third child (kidding).

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

SAFETY

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has named the 2011 M37 and M37x a Top Safety Pick. To earn this safety award, a car must receive the top score of Good in front, side, rollover and rear crash tests and have standard electronic stability control.

The M37x's other standard safety features include four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, all-wheel drive, traction control, active head restraints, a rear backup camera and six airbags, including side-impact airbags for the front row and side curtains for both rows.

The M37x offers several optional safety features through its $3,000 Technology Package. It includes blind spot and lane departure warning systems, a Lane Departure Prevention system, which uses light braking to keep the car from drifting into another land, and a Blind Spot Intervention system, which also uses light braking to keep the car in its lane if it detects another car moving toward the driver's blind spot. The package also has adaptive headlights and adaptive cruise control.

There are two sets of lower Latch anchors in the outboard seats. They were buried under the seat cushions but easy to access with the Latch connectors. My children's car seats – rear-facing infant-safety seat and a forward-facing convertible – both fit easily in the backseat. The backseat's bolsters held a high-back booster in place. However, a rear-facing convertible took up a lot of room and the front passenger seat had to be moved really far forward to accommodate it. As I said, two car seats fit easily in the M37x, but three won't fit.

SECTION: {section=cars, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, moderationrequired=false, display_more=true, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=3, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, includepause=true, display_ugc_photos=false, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=3, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=15, max_items_to_display_top=3, moderation_required=false, stream_id=}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, moderationrequired=false, display_more=true, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=3, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, includepause=true, display_ugc_photos=false, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=cars, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, moderationrequired=false, display_more=true, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=3, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, includepause=true, display_ugc_photos=false, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=3, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=15, max_items_to_display_top=3, moderation_required=false, stream_id=}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, moderationrequired=false, display_more=true, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=3, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, includepause=true, display_ugc_photos=false, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Show Comments