2012 Infiniti M Hybrid Review
Test drivers love the 2012 Infiniti M35h’s combination of power, fuel economy and luxury. Motor Trend says, “While Infiniti may be fashionably late to the luxury hybrid party, this technology-stuffed, sporty hybrid sedan certainly looks as though it will be a green machine worth keeping on the guest list.”
New for 2012, this hybrid version of the Infiniti M offers the same high-quality interior and tech features seen on its non-hybrid siblings, but offers improved fuel economy thanks to its 3.5-liter V6 and 50kW electric motor. Together, the combination is good for 360 horsepower and test drivers report that the M Hybrid is nearly as quick as the V6-powered M37.
A seven-speed transmission adds power to the rear wheels, but unlike its gas-powered siblings, the M Hybrid is not available with all-wheel drive or Infiniti’s Sport Package, which improves handling with an upgraded suspension. Still, test drivers say that the powertrain offers smooth shifts, and that the transitions between the electric and gas motors are barely noticeable.
Like most hybrids, the M35h uses regenerative brakes to recharge its batteries. These types of brakes are often disliked by the automotive press, and on the M Hybrid, reviewer opinions vary. Some say that they feel fairly natural, while others comment that there’s a synthetic feel to the braking system. Still, most test drivers are pleased with the way this hybrid rides, saying that the handling straddles the middle ground between softly-sprung and more-nimble competitors.
Since the hybrid powertrain is the big news, reviewers haven’t said much about the M35h’s interior. However, it’s basically the same cabin as the non-hybrid Infiniti M, which most reviewers like for its comfortable front seats, intuitive electronics and top-notch materials. Yet some reviewers note that the gas-only M’s back seat is too small for adults to be comfortable. Since both versions share the same body style, this concern probably applies to the M35h.
Other Cars to Consider
If you’re looking for a luxury large car with a hybrid drivetrain, there’s currently only one other option, the Lexus GS Hybrid. Starting at $58,000, the GS Hybrid isn’t as fuel-efficient or as powerful as the Infiniti M35h. Its 3.5-liter V6 and electric motor put out a combined 340 horsepower, which is 20 less than the M Hybrid, and its EPA-estimated 22/25 mpg city/highway fuel economy can’t match the Infiniti’s 27 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. In addition to being less powerful and using more fuel, the GS Hybrid also costs about $4,000 more than the Infiniti M Hybrid.
There are options that sip less fuel than the GS Hybrid, however. At slightly less than $51,000, the Mercedes-Benz E350 Bluetec comes closest to matching the Infiniti M Hybrid’s fuel economy. Its clean diesel powertrain gets 22 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, and although it’s not as fuel-efficient, it does cost about $3,000 less than the M35h. If diesel’s not your thing, the BMW 528i might be a decent compromise. Starting at $45,000, the 528i is nearly $9,000 less than the Infiniti M Hybrid and gets 22/32 mpg city/highway fuel economy.
Infiniti M Hybrid: The Details
The 2012 Infiniti M35h offers all the luxury of the non-hybrid Infiniti M, but with best-in-class fuel economy among luxury large cars. Starting at less than $54,000, the M Hybrid features a 3.5-liter V6 that’s paired to a 50kW electric motor. Standard features include a moonroof, dual-zone climate control, push-button start, heated front seats, backup camera and a six-speaker stereo with satellite radio, Bluetooth and USB connections.
If you’d like to add some additional comfort and tech features to the M35h, the $3,350 Premium Package adds seat ventilation, a heated steering wheel, navigation with traffic and weather updates and a Bose 10-speaker stereo with a 9.3GB hard drive.
- "Let’s face it: At its price, the M35h isn’t going to sell like hotcakes. A few well-heeled buyers interested in technology and talking about being green will take home this wonder widget of advanced technology, and their neighbors will likely never notice.” -- Car and Driver
- "On paper, the M Hybrid handily one-ups the GS 450h -- the Infiniti's got 369 combined horsepower to the Lexus' 340 and is expected to turn in better fuel economy, particularly on the freeway.” -- Edmunds
- "There's a lot to like about Infiniti's M sedan. As something of an unsung hero in the midsize luxury performance segment, it offers a plush interior with topnotch ergonomics, a uniquely swept body shape, and a leading array of state-of-the-art technology.” -- Popular Mechanics
- "The 2012 Infiniti M35h pushes the envelope with its hybrid system and its driver assistance features, making for one of the most economical luxury sedans, without sacrificing power.” -- CNET
- "Compared to its closest rival, the Lexus GS 450h, the M35h provides comparable acceleration but without the numbing (and boring) continuously variable transmission power delivery. The stepped gearbox simply makes the M feel sportier in nearly every driving situation -- it's genuinely fun and engaging to drive. Finally, and most important to everyone in the green segment, the Infiniti absolutely slaughters the Lexus when it comes to fuel economy.” -- Autoblog
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