2011 Infiniti M56 Long-Term Road Test

Comfort


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2011 Infiniti M56: Not Hot Enough

December 20, 2011

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Being a native Californian (in addition to being of a tropical people) I HATE the cold. Hate it. And that's why I always need the seat heater on (and wish that my desk chair was equipped with one). So you'll understand why I was disappointed by the heating skills of our 2011 Infiniti M56's seat heaters.

As you can see I turned that sucker on full blast this morning when temps dipped way down to 45 degrees (BRRRRR!) and yet I didn't even start to feel heat until 10 minutes into the commute to work. AND what the Infiniti calls full blast, I call tepid. I kept feeling the seat to make sure it was on. But nope, that was all it got.

I know those who don't like their seat heaters to get too hot will be happy but I just prefer to have the option to crank my heater to scorching.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Infiniti M56: A Comfort Mode Away From Greatness

December 06, 2011

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Look at all of those glorious settings....

This is the interior of an Audi. It offers Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual settings that can modify the engine, transmission, steering, shocks and sport differential. It's way better than the Snow, Sport, dot and Eco setting on our M56. In fact, you can't even get adjustable suspension on an M56, let alone adjustable steering and diff.

And that's a real shame. After nearly a year with the M56 I'm finally used to the way the throttle works (sport and snow are the best settings), I love the interior and besides being a little high, I really like the seats. But I just couldn't put up with this car's ride.

Brent Romans offered this critique, "Again, I agree that our M56's ride isn't as good as a 5 Series or an E-Class, particularly if they're fitted with their optional adaptive suspensions. But my overall take would be that while the ride isn't quite as refined as what you can get from other mid-size luxury sedans, this deficiency is a pretty minor issue."

Not for me. Not for my commute. Not every day and certainly not for $67,225. I love this thing as a sport sedan when the road opens up and gets all twisty, but at 6:30am in bumper-to-bumper traffic I just want to be comfortable.

The GTR has Comf, why can't this?

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Edmunds.com @ 19,040 miles

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2011 Infiniti M56: Head and Shoulders

November 29, 2011

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It's been a while since I've been in our Infiniti M56, so when I saw it was available last night, I jumped at the chance. Once seated, though, I remembered a minor comfort issue I have with this car.

I ghosted back the image of myself to show you how the top of the seatback runs right through the middle of my shoulder blades. Normally, that's not a problem, but I can actually feel where the seatback stops and it presses me ever so slightly forward.

Then there's the headrest. It feels like it's canted just a bit too far forward, putting me in a mild slouch. Unlike other luxury sedans, the Infiniti's headrests aren't adjustable in this manner. I know that these issues aren't a big deal on my 40-minute commute, but on a road trip, I think this could really get on my nerves.

On a side note, as we get close to the one-year mark with our M56, the interior looks as fresh as it did when it arrived here. After almost 20,000 miles, there are few, if any scuffs, faded spots or evidence of daily wear and tear that you'd expect.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

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2011 Infiniti M56: Cut It Out

October 20, 2011

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This may seem like a small thing (and it's not like this is exclusive to this car), but I really appreciate the space they carved out of the backs of the front seats of our 2011 Infiniti M56.

Maybe it's hard to tell from this photo, but the cutouts are pretty deep, which is great for the knees of rear seat occupants with long femurs (especially since the back is made of hard plastic, despite being partially covered by the soft magazine pocket) .

It also increases the space between tiny, kicking, scraping toddler feet and the front seat, and I'll take any assistance I can get in that fight.

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 17,240 miles

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2011 Infiniti M56: Just Civil Enough

October 10, 2011

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Last night, I went out to dinner in our long-term 2011 Infiniti M56 with my boyfriend's family. There's just enough legroom and shoulder room for four adults to get comfortable in this car -- nobody had to scoot way up, but neither is there tons of room to spare.

His parents give me the benefit of the doubt in most areas, but I was still making an extra effort to be smooth with my inputs. I didn't even consider using the drivetrain's Sport mode. Still, the M's non-linear throttle response got me on two occasions, as the big V8 suddenly tugged hard on the leash as I was accelerating gingerly from a stop. "This car must have a lot of power," I heard from the backseat.

Uh-huh, it does. And that makes me want to cut the Infiniti some slack. This car is rated for 420 hp and 417 lb-ft of torque, and when you floor the throttle on a freeway entrance ramp, well, it gets exciting in a hurry... when did we start thinking of 400-horsepower sedans as docile creatures that should be as easy and smooth to drive as a Toyota Avalon? I think I'm going to blame Mercedes.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 16,765 miles

P.S. If you're in L.A. and hunger for Hakata-style ramen (wherein the broth is pork bone-based), Shin-sen-gumi is a good place to go.

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2011 Infiniti M56: High H Point

September 20, 2011

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Our 2011 Infiniti M56 has some seriously comfortable seats. They're well trimmed, have nice thigh support and are pretty stylish, too. If not for one little thing, I could sit in these for hours and hours on end.

Unfortunately, there is one little thing that keeps this from being an Infiniti seat love fest: the high H (hip) point.

Like a number of men, my +- 6-foot frame is made almost entirely of torso and when I sit in the M56, I feel like I'm sitting ON the car and not IN the car. It's a small but crucial difference, especially in a sport sedan. Reclining the seat back doesn't really help and makes me look foolish, so that's out. The low roof ( thanks sunroof) doesn't help, either.

Now, it's understandable why they do this: People (mostly women if we're being honest) want a tall, commanding view of the road ahead and the more they get this from a sedan, the less they need an SUV. Feeling small does not encourage shopping. Still, in a sport sedan, there should be some sense of being one with the vehicle.

Me? I just want the 9,054-way power seat to go down another 2-inches so I don't feel like I'm riding a stool on top of a rocket ship.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Edmunds.com @ 15,998 miles

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2011 Infiniti M56: Cooled Seats Are Cool

September 10, 2011

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I don't know about you, but I don't give a crap about heated seats. I have no use for them in southern California, ever, even during what people here term "winter." I'm sorry, but where I come from, a 65-degree day can't ever be termed winter. Not saying no one needs or wants heated seats, just that they aren't on my radar.

What I do care about, though, are cooled/air conditioned/ventilated seats, or whatever you want to call them.

It was especially hot the other morning as I was rushing to get to the airport. Had just come back from a run and was still pretty toasty even after my shower.

But the Infiniti M56 and its ventilated seats saved me from showing up to the airport with swamp-back syndrome. In terms of recent inventions, two near the top of my list would be: 1) the DVR and 2) ventilated seats.

As much as I appreciated the M56's seats, they could be even better. Setting number 3, the highest, should be stronger. And the seat back fans need to go further up the seat so that they hit more than just your lower back.

Mike Monticello, Super Hot Editor @ 15,552 miles.

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2011 Infiniti M56: Passenger Point of View

August 08, 2011

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I, too, spent a lot of time on the 101 this weekend, more than I should have had to. But that's life in sunny southern California. Traffic jams on the freeways even on the weekends.

The girls and I headed north to the outlet stores in Camarillo. Lots of good shopping, lunch, talk -- you know, girl stuff. As always I'm the designated driver and my friends look forward to seeing what car I'll turn up in. My passengers were very pleased with the Infiniti M56. It has a spacious interior, soft touch surfaces, and lots of comfort features like heated/cooled seats and a strong air conditioning system with rear vents for backseat passengers. Satellite radio provided uninterrupted entertainment, an insulated quiet cabin didn't interfere with good conversation, and a roomy trunk held all of our goodies.

My friend Bonnie really liked the paint color. It's silvery gray but she detected a touch of a brown undertone to it. She thought it was unusual and that the interior color of the leather was also an interesting combination that made for an elegant presentation.

I ended up not using the navigation system. It is easy to use but slow going when inputting your destination. It tries too soon to guess what you are typing and is often wrong. No, I don't want to go to Ventura Blvd in Oxnard, I want to go to Camarillo. You also can't use it while the car is moving, so my shotgun passenger couldn't work it on the fly. And it gave us strange directions. So I cancelled the route guidance.

The placements of the seat heater/cooler controls could be better. I accidentally bumped on the seat heater with my purse. You know I like my heated seats but not on a hot sunny day. And my passenger accidentally bumped on her seat cooler. It kind of freaked her out a little until she realized what it was.

All in all, it was a good day and we got loads and loads of new clothes. As a bonus, here is a picture of Bonnie's beautiful puppy, Mickey.

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2011 Infiniti M56: Fish Out of Water

July 11, 2011

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I had requested the 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor for a trip to the Sierra but it was already taken. Instead, I took the 2011 Infiniti M56 and headed north to Lone Pine, about 230 miles north of Los Angeles. Saturday, we drove to a trailhead north of Bishop, elevation 9,300 feet. The luxury sedan handled the road just fine in the sport setting and the 5.6L V8 had plenty of power even in the thin air. Parking at the trailhead I felt a bit sheepish like a city slicker at a rodeo. But really, for driving paved roads to any trailhead, the M56 was great, even though it didn't fit the image of the rugged outdoorsman that I try to cultivate.

My hiking buddy owns a QX56 and he had a few comments comparing the two vehicles.

First, my friend said that being in a sedan made him feel like his butt was scraping on the ground. Still, he loved the front seat leg room (and the rear seat occupant didn't complain when he slid the seat back). And he admitted that his Infiniti SUV's fuel economy is only in the high teens. On the drive from Los Angeles to Lone Pine the M56 got 21 mpg and on the return trip we saw 28 mpg using cruise control set at 70 mph.

My friend spent a lot of time playing with the nav system and said the downloads in the M56 were slower than in his SUV. Also, we both noticed that the small icon of the speed limit sign, visible on the nav screen, disappeared when we left the interstate. Driving U.S. Highway 395 through the small towns in the Owens Valley the speed limit is frequently changing and the highway patrol is out in force. Easily seeing the speed limit would be very helpful.

The only thing that put a damper on the trip was the Gatling gun noise coming from the window shade malfunction. When you put the M56 in reverse it sounds like you under attack from about 20 seconds. It will be visiting the dealership soon to have that repaired.

Philip Reed, Edmunds.com senior consumer advice editor @ 12,763 miles

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2011 Infiniti M56: Climate-Controlled Seats

June 21, 2011

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I've experienced ventilated seats before and they work okay. They aim to prevent your butt, thighs and back from becoming a sticky, swampy mess in sultry weather, and they accomplish this by pushing ambient air from the seats.

Our Infiniti M56 has climate-controlled seats. It's an approach that takes the whole ventilated-seat concept and does it one better.

Instead of ambient air, the M56's seats send blasts of cold air into your butt and back area.

I cranked it all the way up and it did such a good job of keeping things chilly that it left the back of my pants feeling almost damp. Felt like I was sitting on an Igloo cooler, and when the mercury rises, that's a lot more pleasant than it might sound.

All in all, this feature is a pretty sweet antidote for oppressively hot days.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 11,388 miles

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2011 Infiniti M56: Fine Commuter, But Not Feeling It

June 06, 2011

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There's no denying that our 2011 Infiniti M56 has an exciting engine once you get past the halting throttle response. The torque hits hard after that, yet the V8 likes to rev (and I like engines that like to rev), so assuming you have a big enough gap in traffic, you can just keep on going before easing up on the throttle and letting the transmission upshift.

Ride quality is pretty good without the Sport package, as the big sedan is compliant and forgiving over most surfaces, and road noise only gets excessive over the truly bad sections of freeway. So with the standard setup, the Infiniti M56 is up to par in ride comfort for a midsize luxury sedan.

Yet, I'd take the Sport package back if I could.

Because I'm a glutton for punishment? Yes... because I know how this car rides with 20-inch summer tires and the more aggressive spring and damper calibrations. But I miss how the M56S feels -- the more immediate turn-in response, the exaggerated steering feel. Nah, it's unlikely I'd really make use of the 3-mph difference in slalom speed between this M56 and the last M56S we tested during a commute.

But the M56S drives like a more interesting car -- it's the kind of car I'm motivated to take on a back road and, at this price level, what's another $3,650 for a sport package? I'm planning a road trip to Montana later this summer, and I'd choose an M56S for that adventure with no hesitation (it's a solo trip so no worries about others' ride-related discomfort). But the M56? It feels a bit too much like a Honda Accord with a V8 engine.

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2011 Infiniti M56: Forest Air

May 10, 2011

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See that button with the pine trees on it? That's the button used to activate a feature that Infiniti calls "Forest Air." And they're thinking of clean, bracing forest air, not the skunk-sprayed kind.

Forest Air includes a high-tech air purifier that deodorizes bad smells and Infiniti says it even works to deactivate viruses and bacteria. So the next time an editor comes down with a cold, this is the car they're getting. There's also a humidifier designed to tweak and optimize the air's moisture levels.

I couldn't tell you if the air purifier and humidifier are doing their jobs, but there's another aspect of Forest Air that's easier to gauge: its air delivery, which is designed to mimic that of a gentle breeze. The air from the M56's vents is modulated, so it feels more natural and less mechanical. It's a nice touch, one that adds a measure of refinement to an already pleasant cabin.

Does your car have an air purifier and/or humidifier? Have these features made a big difference for you?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Infiniti M56: Automatic Retractor Seat Belts

May 10, 2011

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This hasn't really bothered me but whenever I've had a passenger in our long-term Infiniti M56, they've been freaked out by the seat belts.

As soon as you unfasten them, they recoil automatically. They move pretty quickly and you have to get your arm out of the way or else you'll get tangled up. Here is a short video of them in action.

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2011 Infiniti M56: More On The Ride Quality

March 31, 2011

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Back in January, James wrote a post about our M's ride quality. His basic premise was that luxury sedans like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class are superior in the way they deal with bumps in the road. While I agree with that basic premise (and in general James and I have pretty similar takes on cars), my overall opinion on our M56's ride isn't nearly as negative as his was.

James wrote: "The M56 doesn't absorb impacts with the sophistication of a proper $50,000 luxury sedan. It hits a bump and it feels like the giant wheels are smacking against it, sending jittery vibrations throughout the car." I've been driving our M56 for a week straight and haven't noticed anything "jittery" about the ride. In my opinion, the car deals with bumps in a perfectly acceptable manner.

Again, I agree that our M56's ride isn't as good as a 5 Series or an E-Class, particularly if they're fitted with their optional adaptive suspensions. But my overall take would be that while the ride isn't quite as refined as what you can get from other mid-size luxury sedans, this deficiency is a pretty minor issue.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2011 Infiniti M56: More on the Heated Steering Wheel

February 03, 2011

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I know this isn't the most important feature on the car, but you know how I get obsessed with all things heated.

I've been spending the entire week in the Infiniti M56. We've had some beautiful warm days in the 70s and some chilly mornings in the 40s and 50s. I've noticed that the steering wheel heat adjusts intensity to the outside temperature.

If it is a warm day and I turn on the steering wheel heat, it only gets lukewarm and eventually shuts itself off. If it's cold out, it gets nice and toasty, fades, gets really warm again, then fades to a lukewarm. It never stays on for my full commute home.

The seat heaters stay consistent throughout my ride.

Some of you mentioned you have heated steering wheels in your cars. Do they behave the same way?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Infiniti M56: A Suitably Luxurious Ride? Nope

January 21, 2011

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The Infiniti M56 checks off most of the luxury car boxes. Lots of leather? Check. Handsome styling? Check. Is my butt heated and/or cooled? Check. Wind and road noise abated? Check. More technology than the Lunar Module? Check. Squishy interior materials? Check. Abundant power? Oh yeah. Silver dusting on the wood trim? You betcha.

How about the ride? No way, certainly not at this price point.

This isn't about me thinking a luxury car should waft down the road like a '65 Cadillac with marshmallow pumped into the springs. No, the M56 doesn't absorb impacts with the sophistication of a proper $50,000 luxury sedan. It hits a bump and it feels like the giant wheels are smacking against it, sending jittery vibrations throughout the car. The M56 Sport model only exaggerates this to the point of being maddening. In contrast, the 5 Series or E-Class feel like they are mashing those bumps into submission while keeping its body motions in check. "I am German, I vill crrrush you!"

I compare it to catching a baseball. I was taught to "have soft hands" and cradle the ball, pulling gently back as the ball enters your glove. This dampens the impact against your hand and prevents the ball from bouncing crudely out. Other luxury cars feel like this when making contact with road imperfections, but the M56 has the hands of a 41-year-old DH manning third for the first time in seven years.

While I'm not a fan of the new 5 and think it suffers from being too isolating, the old 5 managed to be both engaging and compliant. The M56 just isn't there yet.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 3,165 miles

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2011 Infiniti M56: Heated Steering Wheel

January 11, 2011

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Now I have something new to obsess about. Our Infiniti M56 has a heated steering wheel. It came in really handy this week. I've had some early morning starts when the temperature outside was only 40 degrees F.

I know that's not freezing, especially when compared to the rest of the country. But a heated steering wheel can be really comforting. This one warms up quickly, gets pretty hot, then fades and eventually shuts itself off.

By contrast, the heated seats in the Infiniti get warm, not hot, even at their highest setting. You activate them by turning a dial and they stay on until you turn them off.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Infiniti M56: How Low Can You Go? Not Low Enough.

January 06, 2011

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My first impression of our 2011 Infiniti M56 is generally quite positive. Besides looking gorgeous on the outside, I find the interior to be simultaneously beautiful, well made and utterly functional. In motion, it's quick, balanced and responsive. Infiniti puts out some quality stuff.

But I may never drive it again. Why? It's the driver's seat. I can't stand sitting in it.

Oh, It's comfy enough as far as the shape goes, the leather is nice and it has heating and ventilation. But none of that matters because I simply cannot make the seat bottom go down far enough to suit my 6' 2" frame. I feel kinda like I'm sitting on a high perch, looking through the windscreen's tint band and peeking under the sunvisor, or something. It's not a headroom issue, it's a seeing-out-the-front-properly issue.

Yes, the power adjustable seat cushion can be adjusted up and down both at the front and back ends, but it's that back edge -- the business end cradling my "sit-upon" -- that stops well short of low enough. And I can crank myself down a little farther by lowering the front some more, which, unlike the back, has plenty of range. But when I do that I lose all thigh support and start to feel like I'm sitting at the top of a slide, waiting to hurtle over the edge.

OK, I probably will drive it again. But there's no summer Oregon trip in this one's future -- short hops only for me.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 2,649 miles

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