Used 2003 INFINITI M45 Review

Edmunds expert review

A capable Japanese sedan that makes a worthwhile alternative to Germany's midsize stalwarts.

What's new for 2003

The M45 performance sport sedan comes standard with class-leading V8 performance and a long list of world-class amenities.

Vehicle overview

It seems as if automakers have been devoting the lion's share of their resources toward developing vehicles that target the hormonally charged and adventuresome lately, cranking out a spate of crossovers and hot rod hybrids in an effort to curry youth-market favor. But what if you're a consumer who didn't just recently graduate from zit-faced adolescence, and aren't interested in street racing or trailbusting in the mountains? If this older and less rambunctious buyer is you, take heart: Infiniti has a vehicle that may strike your fancy. Its powerful new front-engine, rear-wheel-drive M45 performance sedan boasts styling that's sedate as opposed to splashy, and seems built to satisfy those with quieter, more mature tastes.

The M45 offers the sort of sheetmetal that would never get accused of walking on the wild side; viewed head-on, it calls to mind the infinitely unobtrusive Ford Crown Victoria, with a front end that's broad and low. Wide rectangular high-intensity discharge xenon headlamps light the way, flanking a prominent, chunky grille. In back, rear overhang is significant. Should you wish to give the vehicle a sportier feel, large 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels and high performance tires are available.

Inside, the vehicle offers sport-contoured, leather-swathed front bucket seats, with an 8-way power-adjustable driver seat. The vehicle also offers optional climate-controlled seats designed to optimize passenger comfort by utilizing both heating and cooling functions. Genuine wood trim (colored, unfortunately, in a not-found-in-Nature smoke-graphite hue) puts the emphasis on luxury. A performance-oriented instrument cluster features orange lighting that silhouettes the gauges. The M45 also offers a Vehicle Information System governed by a multi-function LCD screen, with a DVD-based navigation system and Infiniti Voice Recognition offered as options. Standard goodies include a 240-watt seven-speaker Bose audio system with a six-disc CD changer, automatic dual-zone temperature control and a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel. Optional on the M45 is an intelligent cruise control system that, says Inifinti, uses lasers to sense vehicles ahead and adjusts speed to maintain a selected distance; a voice recognition system and a tire pressure monitor are also optional. Safety is addressed via dual stage front supplemental airbags, front seat side-impact supplemental airbags, front and rear curtain side-impact supplemental airbags and active head restraints for the front seats.

The M45 is powered by an aluminum-alloy, double overhead-cam, 4.5-liter V8 that generates 340 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque, mated to a five-speed automatic tranny with manual shift mode. Performance features include brake assist and traction control systems, as well as a vehicle dynamic control system that improves stability in understeer, oversteer or adverse road conditions. In front, the M45 rides on an independent strut suspension with coil springs, with an independent multi-link suspension bringing up the rear.

If you'd like to nab an M45 for yourself, you've got the choice of several equipment packages. Included in the Comfort and Convenience Package are memory seats, electrochromic mirrors and heated outside mirrors; the fully loaded Technology Package includes the Infiniti Navigation System and intelligent cruise control. Finally, the Premium Package includes all the features offered in the Technology Package, plus climate seats and a voice recognition system. Available factory options include sunroof, chrome wheels and natural-color maple wood trim.

Once you get past its generic looks, the M45 proves -- with a host of useful safety and comfort systems -- that it has quite a lot to offer. And at this point, the sedan seems positioned to sell for fewer bills than the competition -- which makes it very attractive indeed.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.