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2011 INFINITI M56 Overview

The belle of the Japanese automobile ball is here in the form of the 2011 Infiniti M56. This reinvention of the popular M45 luxury sedan features a sculpted torso that’s added a few inches of length, height, and width, yet manages to look trimmer than ever. Aggressive yet elegant curves and a softening of its once staid, predictable look hide these extra inches to present a leaner, meaner appearance well suited to its increased power and performance. This tech-heavy sedan-in-coupe-clothing is available in two trim levels, the rear-wheel-drive (RWD) Base, and the all-wheel-drive M56x AWD. Though still trailing Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi in this upscale market, Nissan expects its refined Infiniti M series will lure those on a stricter budget away from the more expensive, Euro-dominated luxury sedans to sample a bit of the exotic orient.

A potent 5.6-liter V8 powerplant replaces the 4.5-liter V8 of the previous M generation, adding some 95 extra horses and 81 more lb-ft of torque for a total of 420 hp and 417 lb-ft. The standard seven-speed auto-manual transmission has been tweaked with a transmission hill-holder feature, while the M56x AWD uses a center-mounted, mechanical limited-slip differential to provide full-time AWD traction and security. Mileage is estimated at 15/25 in the RWD Base M56, while the M56x AWD is expected to get 16/25. As with the previous generation of M series sedans, the new M56 uses only premium unleaded gasoline.

Still tech-savvy, spacious, and upscale, the 2011 M56 has a more refined cabin atmosphere, with premium leather upholstery, and genuine wood, leather, and alloy accents tweaked and reconfigured for greater ergonomic efficiency and a more comfortable interior ambiance. Heated, power-adjustable front seats with power-adjustable lumbar supports, split-folding rear bench seating, remote power door locks, power-retractable heated outside mirrors, telescoping tilt-wheel steering, steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, universal remote garage door opener, keyless ignition, dual-zone climate control, memory for driver’s settings, a single-CD player with 10 Bose premium speakers and 5.1 surround sound, XM satellite radio, voice-activated DVD navigation, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, and a USB connection are all standard amenities with the M56. Options, meanwhile, consist of a number of packages featuring upgraded audio components, additional cabin accents, and Infiniti’s unique Forest Air cabin air purification system, while 18-inch spoked aluminum alloy wheels and illuminated kick-plates are among the stand-alone options.

Safety equipment is not neglected on the new M56, with four-wheel ABS, traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags, front and rear head airbags, active front headrests, a remote anti-theft alarm, front fog/driving lights, self-leveling xenon HID headlights, and a post-collision safety system all standard. The optional Technology Package adds radar-interfaced Intelligent Cruise Control, a front collision warning system, active stability control, and blind spot and lane intervention warning systems, with a vehicle impact alarm sensor also available as a stand-alone safety option.

Though the 2011 Infiniti M56 tries hard, many owners feel intimidated by what one describes as “technological overkill”; this vehicle includes far too many buttons, controls, gizmos, and gadgets for the average driver to assimilate. The lack of a park-assist feature, as well as the unavailability of a power-closing trunk lid, cheapens this snazzy sedan in the minds of some, while others complain that ride quality deteriorates and the interior gets significantly noisier when encountering rough pavement. For the most part, however, owners are well-pleased with the reworked exterior and interior, while many laud the M56’s generally comfortable yet firm ride characteristics, reasonable mileage figures, and its overall value. Doubtless to Nissan/Infiniti’s delight, many current owners of the M series luxury autos seem to have, indeed, been weaned from their Euro-sedan complacency.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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