Infiniti's midsize sport sedan comes in M35 and M45 versions, denoting the 3.5-liter V-6 and 4.5-liter V-8, respectively, that power them. The car comes in rear- and all-wheel-drive variants, the latter called M35x and M45x. This report specifically covers the M35 and M35x; M45 and M45x are listed separately in Cars.com's Research section. Competitors to the M include the Lexus GS, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
New for 2009
The M35 and M35x receive a drivetrain upgrade this year, with 28 more horsepower than last year's cars. In the M35, a seven-speed automatic replaces last year's five-speed auto; the M35x keeps the five-speed. Also new is Infiniti's Scratch Shield paint, a clearcoat resin that can self-repair minor scratches.
Infiniti promotes the M's "low, aggressive hoodline [that] flows into the anchored shoulders." The body has short overhangs and a long, 114.2-inch wheelbase. Lightweight body components include aluminum-alloy inner and outer door panels, hood and deck-lid panels. A rear spoiler is available. The optional Sport Package adds unique exterior trimmings, though it's only available on the rear-wheel-drive M35.
- Standard 18-inch alloy wheels
- Standard xenon headlights
- Standard keyless access with push-button startup
- Sport Package adds unique bumpers, headlights and side sills, plus 19-inch wheels
- Rear Active Steer angles rear wheels during turns to improve handling (Sport Package)
The M sedan seats five in a well-appointed interior with textured wood or aluminum trim. Interior volume, at 105.2 cubic feet with standard equipment (103.1 cubic feet with the Premium Package), ranks between the GS and Infiniti's less-spacious European competitors. Cabin features include:
- Power-adjustable front seats
- Heated and cooled front seats
- Dual-zone automatic climate control
- Six-speaker, six-CD stereo
- Available eight-speaker, two-channel or 14-speaker, 5.1-channel surround sound stereos, both by Bose
- Available backseat DVD player
- Available navigation system and backup camera
- Available heated and power-reclining rear seats
Under the Hood
The M35 and M35x have a standard 3.5-liter V-6; it's been upgraded over last year's 275-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6. The M35 gets a new seven-speed automatic, while the M35x keeps last year's five-speed auto. With either one, a new Drive-Sport mode allows higher shift points and more aggressive kickdown than regular Drive. Both of the gearboxes employ a clutchless-manual mode.
- 303 hp, 262 pounds-feet of torque
- Seven-speed (M35) or five-speed (M35x) automatic with Drive-Sport and clutchless-manual modes
- Rear- or all-wheel drive
Infiniti's optional Lane Departure Prevention system applies individual antilock brakes to steer the car as necessary to keep it in its lane. The system uses a camera to recognize lane markings, and it calculates the vehicle's speed and distance from them. It can be switched off. There's also a Preview Braking option that scans the road ahead for potential obstructions, including rapidly slowing cars. In such situations, it pre-loads the brakes for sharper response and alerts the driver with an audio chime. Other safety features:
- Six airbags, including dual front airbags, side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags for both rows
- Electronic stability system
- Traction control
- Active head restraints
- Adaptive headlights that swivel several degrees to illuminate oncoming turns
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