2011 Infiniti M
Infiniti dealers have been begging for a new halo car ever since the ponderous Q-series was retired in 2006. While Infiniti had hoped the somewhat smaller M-series could play the part, it’s reviews as a showroom star have been lackluster at best. But now that may change. The M-series is again reborn, and it finally looks like it just might master the part. So let’s raise the curtain and see how it acts.
In Japan, it’s called the Nissan Fuga. Here in the States, it’s called the 2011 Infiniti M. Regardless of its badge, this redesigned, premium four-door sedan retains the swoopy, long hood, high rear deck form for which the M-Series is well known, but now adds sleeker design language to project a more expressive, upscale, and substantial image.
Wheelbase is unchanged, but the M-Series is now slightly longer, wider, and lower than before. A new low slung grille is flanked by swept-back crystal-look headlight clusters. The profile is defined by deeply sculpted fenders and flowing wave-style doors.
But the M’s brawniness comes from its chunky C-pillar area, which almost gives the car a jacked-up muscle car vibe, complete with sporty dual exhaust. Exhaling through those pipes are a pair of stronger engines. The M37 sports the G’s 3.7-liter V6. Horsepower is 330 – an increase of 27 over last year's 3.5 V6 - and torque is 270 pound-feet – up eight.
The M56 uses a direct-injected 5.6-liter V8. About a quarter larger than the previous 4.5 V8, it rates 420 horsepower – a big jump of 95 – and 417 pound-feet of torque – up 81.
The lone transmission is a seven-speed automatic with Adaptive Shift Control, feeding either the rear wheels or all four on "x" models.
Remarkably, even with a big boost in power, fuel efficiency is up too. Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 18/26 for the M37, and 16/25 for the M56. A new feature, Eco Pedal, provides feedback to encourage efficient driving. Infiniti claims a five-to-ten percent economy gain.
But a bigger increase comes in performance: the M feels much stronger. We judge the M56 to be capable of 0-60 in under 5.5 seconds. That puts it in the league of the Mercedes-Benz E550.
Still, after testing both engines, we found the V6 to be more than adequate for most buyers. With the V8, there's more power, but the front-end also felt heavier and less responsive. The new Drive Mode Selector adjusts throttle response and shift points to one of four settings; Standard. Eco, Sport, and Snow.
The front double-wishbone, rear multi-link FM chassis remains, but with a new back end geometry. The Sport Package, only offered with rear drive, brings tighter tuning with upgraded springs and new double piston shocks. It also adds Four-Wheel Active Steer for greater nimbleness. Infiniti's Intelligent all-wheel drive system is geared more for routine all-weather driving, unlike Audi's more performance-spec quattro setup.
Still, optional Active Trace Control, which adjusts engine torque and braking at all four wheels, does help to smooth out turn-ins. Brakes are enhanced, too, but only with the Sport Package, which brings larger rotors with four-piston calipers front, and two-piston rears. So, we judge overall dynamics to be both more sporty, yet still luxurious. Neither soft and Lexus-like or taut and BMW-like. Rather, the M is smack dab in the middle.
The interior also benefits greatly from the M's new design language. It now looks like a top drawer sedan. From the twin-hump instrument shroud, to the stepped center console, the look and feel is both athletic and luxurious.
The leather front seats have standard 10-way power, with optional heating and cooling. Sport Package brings added bolstering and a sport steering wheel with available heat. New comfort features include Active Noise Control, and Forest Air, which manages airflow and humidity to mimic a fresh breeze.
Higher-end options includes Navigation with satellite traffic and weather, a back-up camera, a 9.3 gig hard drive Music Box, and a Bose stereo. The rear seat is roomy for two adults, three in a pinch. The seats do not fold, but there is a pass-thru which leads back to a spacious 14.1-cubic foot trunk. For advanced safety technologies, the M offers Distance Control Assist, Intelligent Brake Assist, and Blind Spot Intervention. A world first, it uses selective braking to correct lane drift.
Pricing starts modestly for its class. $47,115 for the rear drive M37, $49,265 for the M37x. The M56 has a base of $58,415, while the M56x begins at $60,915. A V6 hybrid M is due for 2012.While it still takes up little less pavement than most flagship sedans, the 2011 Infiniti M-Series gives up nothing in style, accommodations, or performance to rivals. The curtain is up, and Infiniti's new star is more than ready for a command performance.
- Engine: M37 3.7-Liter V6m56 5.6-Liter V8
- Horsepower: M37 330/m56 420
- Torque: M37 270/m56 417 Lb Feet
- 0-60 MPH: M56 5.5 Seconds
- EPA: M56 16 MPG City/ 25 MPG Highway
2024 Mazda CX-90
A Force To Be Reckoned With
If you’ve been following Mazda lately, you’ll know they’ve been fielding some serious new designs; you could even say, they’re latest efforts are 10-times better than before. After all, the CX-3 became the CX-30, then CX-5 became the CX-50, and now it’s the CX-9’s turn. So, let’s find out if this all-new CX-90, their largest SUV yet, is a real multiplier or if it’s all just a numbers game.
Don’t think of this 2024 Mazda CX-90 so much as an updated version of the CX-9, as it’s more of a complete rethink of their 3-row crossover, the first built on an all-new, large vehicle platform for the brand. And this platform carries a host of surprises. Not only does it make the CX-90 bigger by every dimension, but it’s a rear-drive architecture, and features all-new powertrains, including the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, and even an inline-6 engine.
Why an inline-6 to replace the CX-9’s turbo-4? Well, in general terms, I6s are better balanced, run smoother, and can deliver more torque at lower RPM. Just ask the BMW faithful, or any of the truckers you see going down the road hauling more than 20-tons of cargo with their inline-6s.
There are 2-versions of the longitudinally mounted 6, both assisted by turbocharging and a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Output for the base Turbo is 280-horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque; this Turbo S cranks it up to 340-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. The PHEV, on the other hand, is based on a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I4, working with a 100-kW electric motor to deliver 323-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. A 17.8-kWh battery delivers 26-miles of EV driving.
It’s not the prettiest SUV, but it does have very smooth body work; plus, the longer hood and 7½-inches of wheelbase stretch over the CX-9, give it more stately proportions. All CX-90s come with i-Activ all-wheel drive and the brand’s first 8-speed automatic transmission; the longer wheelbase allows tow ratings to step up from 3,500-lbs. to 5,000.
At the test track, our Turbo S launched effortlessly with good grip on the way to a 6.4-second 0-60. The smooth vibes continued throughout the ¼-mile, with refined power delivery, seamless shifts, and a noticeably more solid and stable feel at speed than the CX-9. Our best time was 14.7-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour.
Through the cones, it still behaves like a Mazda, with very good steering feel and a solid presence in corners at low to moderate speeds. Some understeer and body roll will show up when pushed hard, but Mazda’s Kinematic Posture Control uses subtle selective braking to help the vehicle rotate, and safety systems will step in well-before it gets out of sorts.
There’s a nice firm feel to the brake pedal, delivering good stopping results of 118-feet from 60 miles-per-hour. You can feel a lot of weight transfer, but nosedive was well contained.
Another unique element the CX-90 brings is seating arrangements for 6,7, or 8. It’s the 8-seater that’s standard with 3-across bench seating for 2nd and 3rd rows. 7-seaters get either captain’s chairs in the 2nd row, or more contoured seats for the 3rd; 6-seaters sport 2nd row captains and the contoured 3rd row. Cargo capacity varies with seating, but is at best 15.9 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 40.1 behind the 2nd, and 75.2 with all seats folded.
As far as what it’s like to actually live with, the CX-90’s cabin is a clear step up, including on some trims suede-like materials, intricate stitching, and real wood, all consistent with what we’ve seen from the brand lately. A 10-inch dashtop touchscreen is standard for infotainment, with upper trims getting a larger 12.3-incher. We applaud Mazda’s inclusion of plenty of old-school manual controls for radio and climate, which keeps menu diving limited to secondary functions. PHEVs get a few unique controls and readouts to monitor drive modes and battery level.
Overall, the CX-90 is highly functional, entertainingly sporty to drive, and will be more competitive in the ever growing 3-row family crossover segment; and its posh interior may even attract luxury buyers on a budget.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the Turbo S are 23-City, 28-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a good 26.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Pricing begins with the base Turbo at Select trim for $40,970, PHEVs are available in Preferred trim and above starting at $48,820, and the Turbo S starts at $53,125.
Force multiplier is a military term for when strategic elements come together to produce results greater than would have been possible without them. Well, no high-level math skills are necessary here to see that the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is clearly more than just a much better CX-9; it’s now a force to be reckoned with in the 3-row family crossover segment.
- Engine: 3.3-liter I-6
- Horsepower: 340
- 0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 118 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 26.5 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 369 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.7-seconds at 98 mph
- EPA: 23 City / 28 Highway / 25 Combined
- Starting Price: $40,970