Cars don’t confuse me often, nor should they in my line of work, but this week’s review car had me shaking my head a little. The question was: what is it? The choices were:
• A performance car-it does after all, have 360-horses.
• A luxury sports sedan-it is large, has a great interior, and full of gadgets.
• An economy car-it is a hybrid so it has to be built for fuiframel efficiency, right?
The answer was all of the above. I know, it sounds strange to have a really sharp-looking car, fully loaded car, with 360-horses under the hood, that gets good gas mileage-but Infiniti pulled it off with the 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid.
Those of you who listen to every word of the Car Pro Show know I have questioned repeatedly how the automakers will get to a 35.5 miles per gallon average in just three years and still have large, luxury cars available. I think I am driving the answer to the question.
I reviewed the 2011 M37 earlier this year and loved it, commenting that it would be a “lock for one of my favorite cars of the year” so I knew I would love the car. It’s a great-driving car with a wonderful interior that will seat five people with no issues. The electronics of the car are super, as I have come to expect from Infiniti. I loved the performance of the M37; 330-horses and a 7-speed automatic, good gas mileage, and a hot-looking car.
So along comes this hybrid version and I did NO research on the car before I drove it. I just did not want any pre-conceived notions about the car, I was already skeptical in my mind since I have been critical of larger hybrids.
The first thing I did was nail the accelerator as hard as I could, fully expecting an anemic burst of nothing. Imagine my surprise when the car nailed me to the seat! My initial reaction was they sent me the wrong car…no way was this a hybrid. I finally accepted that it was indeed a hybrid, at the first stop I made the engine shut off and I was sitting there in comfort, running on nothing but batteries, but I was really questioning myself now, none of this made any sense (go back to opening of this review, it’ll be more clear now).
Maybe I dreamed that acceleration? Maybe I just caught some weird, electrically induced surge from the batteries? So, I nail it again, and once again, it almost put me in the back seat. So I am sold…it’s a performance car and there is just no way it can get any kind of good fuel economy. I had to shift my mind from performance to economy and start testing to see what kind of gas mileage this large, fast, so-called hybrid gets.
More confusion abounds when I look at the window sticker, the EPA says 27 in town and 32 on the highway. WAIT! This is a hybrid, it’s supposed to get better city mileage than highway mileage. I am betting this car won’t do 27 mpg in town, it’s too big, it is too heavy, no way! So I shifted from sport mode to eco mode on the center stack, reset all the fuel economy monitors, and set out on a 20 mile trek across Dallas in rush- hour, stop and go traffic. The car registered at 29.4 miles per gallon average. Still not sold this was accurate, the following morning I made the exact same trip back, exact route, more traffic actually, and the ending result was 29.6 miles per gallon.
Highway fuel mileage was dead-on 32 as the window sticker told me it should be. Although I still can’t explain why on this hybrid the highway mileage is better than the city, but I suspect the weight of the car is dragging the city mileage down some, and the 7-speed automatic and clever gearing is enabling the highway mileage. Whatever the case, both 29 city/32 highway works for me in this rear-wheel drive luxury sedan.
I can’t begin to describe all the wonderful options on this car, but the most notable include blind spot warning, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, collision warning, a terrific navigation system, and heated and cooled seats.
If you get a chance to look at the M, the interior will impact you with stunning luxury and Japanese White Ash wood trim. Outside, the lines of the M are classic Infiniti and unlike any other car out there. 18” aluminum alloy wheels are the cherry on top of this sweet ride. The only down side of the car is the trunk. The hybrid batteries take a lot of space away from the trunk area, it is ample at best.
From the “way-cool, never had this option before” department, this car has an Eco pedal. When turned on, this feature helps you maximize the fuel economy you are getting. If you push harder on the gas pedal than needed, the pedal pushes back against your foot. It is like it scolds you and tells you that you can get by without such a heavy foot. I never actually checked the mileage while this feature was on, I frankly found it too freakin’ annoying to use, but it was certainly novel.
Going green and getting better fuel economy comes with a hefty price; the M hybrid is not cheap. The way I look at, again going back to the opening of this review, you are getting three cars in one, so $22,000 and change per-car extra is not bad at all.
What I liked most: The combination of power, luxury, and fuel-efficiency.
What I would change: I would try to figure out how to get more trunk space.
Fuel Economy: Rated at 29 city/32 highway. I am getting 29 in town.
M hybrid in a few words: This is like having 3 cars in one!