2011 Infiniti M56 Long-Term Road Test


2011 Infiniti M56: You Ain't Goin' Nowhere

October 27, 2011

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Apologies for the poor grammar in the headline, and stealing the title from a Bob Dylan song. But that's exactly how I felt when I went out to the Infiniti M56 in a hotel parking garage in San Diego this week and found that the battery was dead.

Of course, I checked to make sure it wasn't due to user error, like leaving the headlights on (the switch was in the Auto position). And I since I was comparing the car's in-dash nav system to a portable and a smartphone nav app for an upcoming test, I made sure not to leave the two 12-volt power cords for them plugged in.

A call to AAA got me going, although it didn't solve the mystery of why the battery was out of juice. But the minor inconvenience pretty much ruined the rest of my afternoon.

I was in San Diego to moderate a panel discussion on car technology at an event organized by the people who put on the Consumer Electronics Show. After the morning panel I was sequestered in my room, cranking to meet a 5 o'clock copy deadline -- and wishing instead I could just go drive around to see how the nav systems worked in an unfamiliar city. But mostly just to get out and drive.

I finished a half hour early and headed for the door and a cruise along the coast. But it was not to be. By the time the AAA guy got the Infiniti fired up with a jump, it was almost dark. He advised that I drive the car for at least 45 minutes to charge the battery. So I set all three nav systems to find a school named after my surf buddy and glass artist Steve Correia in his old stomping grounds on Point Loma, and got there at dusk.

The cause of the dead battery? The only clue was a warning light in the dash for the Intelligent Key system, and the AAA guy mentioning that he's seen problems like this before with the technology.

I made sure that the engine cranked after shutting it off when I returned to the hotel an hour later. And as I walked up to the car the next morning to drive back to LA, I was relieved to see the courtesy lights in the driver's door handle greet me. And that it started without a problem.

Doug Newcomb, Senior Editor, Technology

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