2011 Infiniti M56 Long-Term Road Test

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2011 Infiniti M56: Cool Gauges

January 03, 2012

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I was driving home on the freeway the other day while it was actually moving freely. But I couldn’t shake a woman in another Infiniti who insisted on driving right next to me. I hate when people do that. It's so dangerous. You know that they 1) don't really know how to drive, or 2) are ignorant, or 3) are distracted or 4) are all of the above.

Because she was right next to me I couldn't get a look at the back of her car to see which model she was driving but it looked like a G35 sedan circa 2005. Her instrument panel was a wash of bright amber light. Perhaps it was clouding her vision and she didn't even realize I was there. I find amber lights tiring to the eyes.

It made the panel in our 2011 Infiniti M56 looks like the gauges in a space ship by comparison.

What is your favorite gauge light color?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor 20,214 miles

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2011 Infiniti M56: Not Hot Enough

December 20, 2011

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: Works For Me

November 08, 2011

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I drove the M56 up the coast yesterday from the office in Santa Monica to an event in Santa Barbara. The short drive was remarkably free of traffic and it was a clear fall day. Perfect to appreciate the view and the car.

It produced two observations:

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2011 Infiniti M56: LATCH Me Up, LATCH Me Down

October 21, 2011

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Every time I have to install my kids' car seats in a new car, before I open the car door, I pray to the patron saint of easy car seat installations and intact cuticles (I think it's St. Ashton) that the LATCH anchor points in the rear seats will be easy to get to.

Some cars tuck their LATCH anchors behind convenient doors or flaps that open nice and wide for easy access. Some LATCH anchors stick out from their spots just enough to help you out, but not so far as to cause discomfort to an adult sitting in the seat. Others are hidden treacherously deep behind the seat and require the sacrifice of knuckle skin during both installation and de-installation.

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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: Inelegant Console Container Lid

October 14, 2011

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I have never liked this detail in our 2011 Infiniti M56. The car has a huge, dual-tray container plus padded armrest combo that spans the width of its wide center console. But it is the least elegant component in this cabin.

Infiniti designers put a powerful spring-loaded opening mechanism on it so that you wouldn't have to exert what little force might be necessary to lift the lid yourself. But it's a really fat lid and it lifts high to give you access to both tiers of the console, and no matter how many times I open, there's never a good place to put my right arm during the process so it always gets bumped. Also, the plastic release lever/latch feels flimsy when you press it (to execute the opening procedure) and when you go to shut the whole thing, the lid shuts with an unsatisfying clack.

Here's how to fix this: Make the console container narrower. Use a slightly less aggressive spring-loaded mechanism. Use higher quality plastic for the lever/latch and the lid itself. And while you're at, source nicer vinyl for the armrest part.

Erin Riches, Possible Senior Editor

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2011 Infiniti M56: Timepiece

October 05, 2011

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Someone from Germany had just arrived and the first thing she says is, “That is a very nice clock.” It’s not something she sees very often in the land of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.

The dashboard clock has been a design element in every Infiniti since the introduction of the 1990 Q45, a signature of timeless elegance in a car meant to otherwise step beyond the traditional style of the day. As Infiniti has evolved since then, the clock has remained. And even though the clock itself is really not truly stylish, it’s arguably more notable now than then, as the digital readout of cell phones has almost completely replaced the timepiece, even an electronic one like this.

But as the woman from Germany reminds us, the clock still sets the M56 apart. Like the antiquated mechanical timepieces for the wrist that now are becoming fashionable again, the clock shows us that utility can be transformed into style and romance, just like the automobile itself.

No doubt there are plenty of other little devices that engineers would like to put into the space on the dash, probably some kind of port for an electronic connectivity device. But I think a clock is exactly what you want.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 16,645 miles

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2011 Infiniti M56: Girl Stuff

October 03, 2011

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Warning: This post is about purses. So, unless you are a female or a murse carrier, this probably won't interest you.

When I first get into a car, I like to put my bag next to me while I get settled. I dig for my sunglasses, access card, camera, phone, etc. Whenever I do this in the Infiniti M56, my purse messes with the settings. It easily puts on the seat heaters or coolers. Yesterday, it put me in Eco mode. I have to make sure I reset everything before I take off. The designers obviously did not purse-test this car.

If you're still reading, I did warn you it was about girl stuff.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 16,325 miles

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2011 Infiniti M56: Felt Up

September 29, 2011

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The M56 has a two-tiered center console bin, which I like. What I like even more is the fact that the bin is lined with felt. Makes the bin look nicely finished and feels good to the touch.

A lined bin is one of those things that, for me, suggests attention to detail. Makes the car feel a bit more special. And you're seeing it more and more these days, even in cars that cost a lot less than the M56.

Which special details catch your eye?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 16,233 miles

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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: What's Wrong With This Picture?

September 12, 2011

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The manual shifting function, that's what. The direction you pull/push the lever is opposite from what makes sense.

I do like that the system gives big throttle blips on manual downshifts, but the lever operation should be push forward for downshifts, pull back for upshifts, and that's not the way it is here on the M56.

What boggles my mind that most manufacturers set up their manual-shifting automatics incorrectly.

So why is the direction you push/pull the lever important?

Most of the time when you're downshifting, you are decelerating and the force of that moves your body forward. Therefore it makes sense to push the lever forward. Why fight physics, right? And when you're accelerating (and therefore upshifting), your body is moving rearward, so it makes sense to pull back for the upshift.

But only a few manufacturers opt for the correct and intuitive operation, such as BMW, Mazda, Ford and Lincoln.

Pretty much everyone else does it wrong. Even Porsche, with its automatics and now their PDK dual-clutch systems, sets up their shifting in the wrong fashion, being pull back on the lever to downshift. The hilarious part with Porsche is that the sequential transmission in their 911 GT3 Cup race cars is push forward to downshift.

Ask an official from BMW or Mazda why they have their automatics set up the way they do and they'll tell you it's all about the way the body is moving during upshifts/downshifts. That's how they settled on push forward/downshift, pull back/upshift.

Ask any of the other manufacturers how they chose their shift direction, and they either a) have no idea, "It's just the way we chose to do it." or b) say it's the way the industry does it or c) say it's the way their customers want it.

For some reason, some people associate shifting down with pulling back. I just don't get that.

Now, if I owned the M56 I'm sure I would eventually get used to its incorrect operation. But it would still always be wrong.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 15,634 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: Touchy, Touchy

September 09, 2011

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After spending almost a week in a very off-road capable but not particularly sporting SUV, it was refreshing to hop in the Infiniti M56 and have real power at my disposal in traffic. I'm talking REAL power here. What a terrific V8. Good sounds, smooth, and did I mention its power?

But, the M56 does have a few faults, some that might actually keep me from buying it.

As you might have guessed, this is another throttle tip-in story. There's actually more to it than that, though. In sum, the M56 is kind of spastic. In Sport mode it's ridiculous how abrupt it is leaving the line. Switching to Normal is better and more manageable, but still jerky if you hit the throttle with any force. Of course you could try Eco mode, but that's just plain silly, as the throttle seems to actually put force back against your foot. Good way to give your right leg a workout, though.

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2011 Infiniti M56: Full Tilt

July 28, 2011

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A couple days ago, Kelly said that she was surprised to find an old-school parking brake on the M56. I was happy to find that the M56 has a new-school power tilt/telescope steering wheel. Here's the control for both functions -- sorry for the slightly blurry image.

Maybe I'm a short girl with long arms, but steering wheels often seem to be too high and too close for comfort. I really like being able to adjust both positions on the fly until I attain the perfect blend of reach and height.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor@ 13,538 miles

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2011 Infiniti M56: Parking Brake

July 26, 2011

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After a long drive yesterday, I was happy to finally get home and call it a night.

Pulled into my driveway, put the Infiniti M56 in park and looked down at the center console for the electronic parking brake lever.

And there wasn't one.

Instead my left foot felt for the emergency brake pedal, which was quickly engaged.

With the level of refinement and tech in the Infiniti, I was kinda suprised to find an old-school brake.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 13,459 miles

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2011 Infiniti M56: Gas Door Urban Legend?

July 10, 2011

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I had never driven the 2011 Infiniti M56 before, so when I pulled into a gas station to fill up I checked for the little triangle indicator that points to the side the fuel door is on. Being a classy and understated luxury sedan the tacky indicator was missing. No problem. I just looked to see which side of the gas pump the nozzle was positioned and I knew that meant the gas door was also on that side.

For the M56 it turned out to be true. But is this the case on all cars?

According to Snopes.com this isn't true. It's an urban legend that began circulating on the internet in 2007 often entitled, "The World's Best Kept Auto Secret." It would be nice if there was always a way of telling which side the fuel door was on without sticking your head out the window. For instance, maybe they could put a little triangle next to the gas pump symbol.

Philip Reed, Edmunds.com senior consumer advice editor @ 12,732 miles

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2011 Infiniti M56: Cabin After Dark

July 07, 2011

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So maybe you've been wondering what the M56's cabin looks like when the sun goes down. Or maybe not. Either way, another nighttime look at the car's cabin follows after the jump.

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2011 Infiniti M56: Macho Leather

June 29, 2011

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The leather on the seats of our M56 looks a bit different from that seen in your typical luxury car. It's as soft and sumptuous as it should be, but it also has a vaguely distressed quality to it, reminiscent of what you'd see in a slightly worn leather bomber jacket.

And yes, the seats have always been like this. The effect isn't the result of all that time spent cradling the backs and backsides of our editorial staff.

The car's seats feature semi-aniline hide; this type of leather is available only with the $3,800 Deluxe Touring package. Other perks of this package include the Forest Air system, a 16-speaker Bose sound system, suede-like headliner and a power rear sunshade.

Anyway, this slightly more assertive leather fits pretty well with the M56's personality, which is obviously more sporting and testosterone-fueled than that of your typical luxury sedan.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Infiniti M56: Interior Harmony

June 27, 2011

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Seems like we all have a collective crush on the M56's interior. Warren recently praised its bum coolers and James enthused on the audio system, including the two personal speakers in front seat shoulders. Several readers also commented on their fondness for the interior.

I hadn't been in the M56 for quite awhile. In between, I'd put some miles on the 528i, Equus, and TSX, and sat shotgun for awhile in the new A6. But the M interior is something else.

Maybe I'm a sucker for that cascading center stack and the convex audio faceplate, which looks both totally modern and minimalist retro. Or the wavy leather-wrapped hood shading the gauges.

What's most striking is how Infiniti designers made something cohesive out of this asymmetrical riot. Check out how the elements in the front passenger compartment -- the soft-touch material, chrome strip and ash trim -- meld into the door panel and an elongated, fading teardrop. It really looks like the last flourish of a complex kanji, coming off a brush dipped in ash and aluminum. Even the stitching pattern of the seat bottoms reminds me of undulating kelp.

Only complaint? The branding in the seat backs. I already know what I'm driving. If I wanted everyone else in the cabin to know, I wouldn't hide it between my shoulder blades. Just this side of tacky, but forgivable when enveloped in so much other aesthetic love.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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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: Against the Grain

June 01, 2011

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It's my third time in our 2011 Infiniti M56. I'm sitting at a stoplight, still amazed by the car's acceleration in Sport mode and mystified (or is it mist-ified?) by the Forest Air feature. Then I look to my right and realize that the Japanese white ash center console is roughly as big as my coffee table. Granted, this plank is beautiful and it's the real thing. The finish is amazing and the grain begs for a caress.

But I find myself wondering why there's so damn much wood in this car. In addition to the console, why is there a ribbon of ash encircling the cabin, suggesting the prow of a chariot? Why is a car that's nominally about 21st century power and technology paneled in a material that's better suited to the top of a George Nakashima table?

What do you think? What effect are designers trying to invoke with this generous helping of forest product?

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @10,967 miles

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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: Reflections, Everywhere

April 29, 2011

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A few weeks ago Josh criticized the chrome accents on the steering wheel of our 2011 Infiniti M56 for distracting the driver. The steering wheel is by no means the only problem. Glare from the central retina searing tower is equally intrusive. And whatever you do, don't look down.

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2011 Infiniti M56: Luxe Detailing

April 25, 2011

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Here's a tactile detail in our 2011 Infiniti M56 that is frequently overlooked, even among luxury car makes -- steering wheel stitching. Roll your eyes if you will.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

Done? Okay.

First off, the leather on the M56's wheel is as supple as lambskin. Really nice stuff. Were it stitched with your typical thread in a typical fashion, you'd feel the discontinuity every time you touched the wheel. Definitely uncouth.

It might be difficult to see here, but that stitch you see above results in a very slight raised portion of leather between the rows of thread. This way, all you can feel is said soft leather rather than the thread, which is never anywhere close to as pleasant to the touch as the cowhide. It feels almost as though the thread isn't there. I'm sure there's some impossibly esoteric description for this type of seam. Any tailors out there?

Whatever it's called, this type of seam makes a noticeable difference. As such I made a point to check out the seams of the last two luxury cars I drove. Our Equus' stitches are as coarse as horsehair and protrude significantly. They're actually quite poor. Next was the current Mercedes S-Class. Guess what? It, too, has a rougher feel at the stitches than the M56.

I'm not crazy about the secondary controls on the M56's steering wheel, but Nissan's leather-wrap department scores an A+.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2011 Inifiniti M56: Seat Adjusters

April 19, 2011

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Hey, check this out: The M56's seat adjustment controls are on...wait for it...the seat.

Why this matters after the jump.

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2011 Infiniti M56: Gallery of Textures

April 12, 2011

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When I got behind the wheel of our 2011 Infiniti M56, I was struck by the variety of textures, made me want to touch everything. Which I did. But check it out. I wanna touch that speedometer! And you probably can't tell by the picture but it looked like the clock had some raised surfaces. In any case a very luxurious-feeling interior, nice details. What say you?

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2011 Infiniti M56: Really Like The Interior Design

April 08, 2011

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Besides the V8, my favorite thing about our M56 is its interior. The color scheme is a bit too dark for my tastes (you can get others, obviously), but otherwise it's just really well done. In particular, I like the sweeping look of the dash and the ergonomics.

For the latter, I've just noticed that most of the controls fall readily to hand and are easy to use. I particularly like how the center stack is close to the driver; I never feel like I have to stretch for any of the buttons. In that sense, it's like driving a smaller car, like a Miata. I'm also keen on the tactile feeling from the nicely contoured door releases and sensible steering wheel controls.

Other than perhaps display screen graphics, I prefer our M56 to our BMW 528i in regards to interior design.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2011 Inifiniti M56: Distracting Details

March 23, 2011

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I love almost everything about our long-term M56. It's fast, comfortable, intuitive to use, big enough and good looking. I even love its interior. Except for one detail.

Can you guess what it is from this photo? Revelation after the jump.

Chrome.

It doesn't belong in interiors. Especially on surfaces as close to the driver as the face of the steering wheel. Although the photo doesn't capture it perfectly, it does give you some idea how distracting and powerful the reflection from even the smallest piece of chrome can be.

And on certain stretches of my morning commute, this thing is absolutely blinding. Hits me right in the eyes. As long as I'm on that trajectory there's little I can do but squint or cover the emblem with my hand.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2011 Infiniti M56: Buttons

March 17, 2011

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These are the buttons which adjust the driver's climate control temperature in our long-term M56. They work fine. But there's one way they could be better.

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2011 Infiniti M56: Yes, You May

February 17, 2011

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Such an arcane feature, I hardly noticed it. Our M56 features door-mounted ashtrays for rear-seat passengers. A real ashtray, too. One that doesn't tell you with an icon of a circle-slash overlaid on a cigarette that it's not really an ashtray. Not a stashbox for coins and gum wrappers.

Nope. A real ashtray for real smokers -- most likely Japanese businessmen of legitimate endeavor or otherwise -- who will use and appreciate it. A small flip of the bird to hyper tobacco morality. The M56 even has one up front with a real lighter coil. I can't remember when I last saw a lighter/ashtray in a current American or import car.

Can American automakers get away with this anymore, without getting skewered as irresponsible? No examples come to mind. If they do include a receptacle, you're implored not to use it as such. Sometimes it's lined with felt. I'm curious to see how far Fiat/Chrysler will push Italian leisure principles into its future product.

Dig that chrome accent on the auto window control, as well.

But forget smoke and fire. This car owns. It's butter. The seats, the steering, the technology, the throttle. It parts traffic for you. You hardly notice the V8 until you summon it. Then it's impossible to get off your mind.

Dan Frio, 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: Now That Is Some Serious Door Design

February 01, 2011

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Listen to an automotive designer talk about his or her latest creation and they'll likely tell you all about how "sculpted" the shapes and lines are throughout the car. More often than not, I look where they're pointing and see nothing but straight lines and flat panels.

That's not the case on our M56. Just look at that door panel, it's gorgeous, at least as door panels go. The shape of the wood trim, the creases in the leather folds and the simplicity of the controls are all beautifully combined into one cohesive panel design. It's striking and yet still perfectly practical, a design job well done.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Infiniti M56: No-Default Knobs

January 21, 2011

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In a day when every feature of the modern car is reset per single key cycle, it's refreshing to see these knobs in the M56.

Both Ed and Mark have beaten the always-stays-in-sport-mode thing to death already so I won't bother with that. The real point here is that I enjoy setting these knobs where I want them and knowing they'll be in the same position the next time I start the car.

And as a hidden bonus, it means I can leave the seat heaters cranked up to ass-fry for the next sucker who drives the car. Nice.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2011 Infiniti M56: Poor Placement of the Seat Controls

January 14, 2011

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See that narrow opening between the seat and the door? That's where you have to shove your hand to get at the seat controls. Not sure why it seems so tight on the M56, probably just my seating position. I'm sure the designers asked to put the controls down there so the buttons wouldn't clutter up the curves of the door panel. Can't blame them for that, but they should have done a better relocation job.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Infiniti M56: Nice Interior Details

January 13, 2011

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It shouldn't be surprising that the M56's cabin is a nice place to spend time. And I've already come to appreciate some of the details on display inside this sport sedan. Following is a little tour of the finer points.

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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: Wide Console

January 04, 2011

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Some of my family rode in the 2011 Infiniti M56 over the New Year's holiday, and one of my relatives immediately noted that he felt cramped riding shotgun in the midsize sedan.

This didn't surprise me, because there's a definite cockpit-like feel in the M56. The dash and console kind of wrap around the driver, and even in our non-S long-termer, the front seats have defined lateral bolstering. I'll run some numbers after the jump.

To start, the Infiniti is a touch narrower than some rivals in this class. It measures 72.6 inches across, compared to 73.2 inches for the 2011 BMW 550 and a whopping 75.9 inches for the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E550.

Even so, the Infiniti offers comparable shoulder room if you believe the published specs -- 58.4 in the M56, 58.3 in the 550i and (apparently) just 57.8 in the E550. I suspect, though, that there's a more obvious difference in the hiproom, but unfortunately, neither German manufacturer has published that spec. The Infiniti is listed 54.3 inches of front hiproom.

Then, I looked up specs for my family member's car, the 2003 Toyota Avalon. It's only 71.7 inches wide, but its published front shoulder room is exactly the same. Look at the hiproom spec, though, and it's more telling: The Avalon offers 55.2 inches of front hiproom. So that's why my relative felt cramped. (And yes, yes, this is an unfair apples-to-oranges comparison.)

Obviously, there are different packaging issues in the rear-drive M56 (drivetrain bits and all), versus the front-drive Avalon, but the Infiniti's curvy center console design certainly reduces available hiproom even as it contributes to the sedan's sporty feel.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 2,330 miles

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