What's New for 2011
The 2011 Infiniti M37 is an all-new midsize luxury sedan model that replaces the brand's M35.
The luxury sedan game is a tough nut to crack. When someone is ready to pay $50,000 for a car, they expect a certain level of refinement and prestige associated with the established European contenders. It's not just brand snobbery either, as the sedans from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are superb automobiles. The 2011 M37 is the latest attempt from Infiniti to crack that nut, taking the more sport-tuned formula of its previous M sedan and applying a more striking design and up-to-date technology to the mix.
Along with its V8-powered sibling, the M56, the 2011 Infiniti M37 is a midsize luxury sedan available with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Like the BMW 5 Series, the M caters to buyers who are looking for an involving and rewarding drive from their luxury car, and this Infiniti certainly won't disappoint. Even though the M37 features the smaller of two available engines, 330 horsepower is far and away the most offered among its V6-powered rivals. In fact, you might consider sticking with the M37 even if you can afford the M56 -- the V6 is quick enough, plus we've found the M37's handling to be sharper.
Not only have the M's engines grown for 2011, but the entire sedan itself has hit the gym as well. Its curvaceous, muscular styling conceals a greater width and length, but also a shortened height to give it more aggressive proportions. The interior dimensions haven't changed much, which is fine, since the M was already one of the more spacious vehicles in the class.
It was also one of the most technologically advanced at one time, and that distinction has once again returned. The number of comfort, safety, performance and entertainment features that inhabit the standard and optional equipment lists would make "War and Peace" look abridged. Not only have new items like the Forest Air purification system and Active Trace Control (enhances the transition from braking to acceleration through corners) been added, but previous features like the navigation system have been improved. Perhaps best of all, many of these features reside in a cabin that is now more attractive and better made.
Still, the 2011 Infiniti M37 has a few detractors, the most notable being its firm ride quality that might be a bit much for some luxury sedan buyers. There are also a lot of worthwhile competitors to consider even if they're all more expensive. The BMW 5 Series has also been redesigned for 2011, and although it's not as fun to drive as the M, it's more well-rounded. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class was redesigned last year, and is once again the standard-bearer for those who value comfort and refinement over a sporty driving experience. The Audi A6 is also worth considering given its posh interior and classic styling. Meanwhile, Asian competitors like the Acura RL, Hyundai Genesis and Lexus GS match or better the M37's value-for-the-dollar advantage. As we said, this segment is a tough nut to crack, but for 2011, at least Infiniti is wielding a bigger hammer.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Infiniti M37 is a midsize luxury sedan available in a lone trim level, though there is an M56 discussed in a separate review that is essentially the same car but with a bigger engine and more standard equipment.
The M37 comes standard with 18-inch wheels, automatic bi-xenon headlights, foglights, power-folding heated mirrors, automatic wipers, a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated eight-way power front seats, driver memory functions, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rearview camera, Bluetooth and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player, auxiliary audio/visual jack, iPod interface and satellite radio.
The Premium package adds heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system (with voice control, real-time traffic and real-time weather) and a 10-speaker Bose stereo with streaming Bluetooth audio and digital music storage. The Deluxe Touring package adds a power rear sunshade, an in-car air purifier, upgraded leather upholstery and interior trim, and a 16-speaker Bose surround-sound stereo. The Sport package (not available with all-wheel drive) adds 20-inch wheels, summer tires, sport-tuned suspension and brakes, four-wheel active steering, sport seats and steering wheel, and unique exterior styling elements. This requires the Premium package and can't be ordered with Deluxe Touring. The Sport Touring package adds the surround-sound stereo, air purifier and power sunshade to the Sport package. The Technology package includes adaptive cruise control, a lane departure warning and prevention system, blind-spot warning system, forward collision warning system, adaptive headlights and the "eco pedal" that provides feedback to the driver to encourage fuel-efficient driving.
Powertrains and Performance
The Infiniti M37 is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 330 hp and 270 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but the M37x features all-wheel drive. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard and includes manual shift paddles and four different shift modes (Standard, Sport, Snow or Eco).
In Edmunds performance testing, the M37 went from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive, while the M37x gets 17/24/20.
The 2011 Infiniti M37 comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active head restraints. Included in the Technology package are a lane-departure warning and prevention system, blind-spot warning system and a forward collision warning system with intelligent brake assist. In Edmunds brake testing, the M37 came to a stop in an excellent 114 feet.
In the government's new, more strenuous crash testing for 2011, the M37 earned an overall rating of four stars out of a possible five, with four stars for overall frontal crash protection and five stars for overall side crash protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
Infiniti has given the new M37 a top-notch cabin design and high-quality materials. Like the car's exterior styling, their flowing design has a tautness to it, as if there were muscles trying to bulge their way through the many tactilely pleasurable surfaces. If you select the Deluxe Touring or Sport Touring packages, the seats are upgraded with diamond-quilted leather and contrasting piping, unique "silver-powdered" wood trim, a faux-suede headliner and enhanced materials are added to most primary touch points. In total, the M37 has an interior worthy of taking on its established European rivals.
It also has the space and technology to do so as well. The cabin is quite roomy, offering generous space for occupants and a relatively tall greenhouse that provides good outward visibility. As for technology, it's hard to think of a rival that betters the M37 for all the available entertainment, comfort and safety technologies that can be had once you check all the options boxes. In particular, Infiniti's navigation and audio interfaces are some of the most user-friendly in the business.
The 2011 Infiniti M37 is a big car, but it drives smaller than you might think. Its steering weights up less abruptly than in other Infiniti and Nissan sedans, and it exhibits a willingness to change direction that is downright feline for its size. The 330 hp from the V6 is more than abundant power for this car, and since the V6 is lighter than the M56's V8, the M37 feels even sprightlier through corners.
Should you desire an even more sharply tuned luxury sedan, the Sport package brings with it various performance upgrades that put the M37 in a position to embarrass its European rivals. However, the combination of a sport suspension and 20-inch wheels further spoils the M37's already firm and occasionally rough ride quality. We like a sporty car, but the M37 tends to be a little too frenetic even for our tastes.