2011 Infiniti M56: Wide Console
January 04, 2011
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