Thursday, November 24, 2011

Infiniti M Hybrid - Save Gas in Style

I just stepped out of a week with one of the most luxurious hybrids I've ever driven. Yes, I did spend time with the Lexus LS 600h L a couple of years ago ($112,000) but this new Infiniti M Hybrid coddles while it sips the fuel. An EPA rating of 27 City, 32 Highway (I averaged 25.8 miles per gallon) is excellent--for a 4,200-pound luxury sedan.

The standard M35 without the hybrid is rated at 18 City, 26 Highway, so there's a significant difference in economy. The price is about $6,000 more for the M Hybrid, so it could take quite a while to make up the difference on cost alone.

The M Hybrid uses a powerful 3.5-liter V6 plus an electric motor to generate 360 horsepower (a lot) and 457 lb.-ft. of torque (huge), all through a 7-speed automatic. So, you can at one hand be rolling slowly through a parking lot or in commute traffic using no fuel at all--electric motor only--or be accelerating onto the freeway like a rocket with the engine.

There are simple, understandable graphic displays to understand where the power is coming from and when the battery is being used or charged, so you can monitor your consumption and behavior.

Being the Infiniti flagship, the car is loaded with comforts, starting with the leather-wrapped seats and continuing with silvered Japanese Ash trim (see photo). The design of the car is soft and voluptuous, from the sweep of trim across the doors and twin-cupped "bustier" over the gauges to the Jaguaresque curve of the fenders--visible through the windshield as you drive.

At $67,565, my fully loaded car was much more expensive than anything I'm every likely to buy--you could get two 50-mile-per gallon Prii for that. If you hold off on the extra fancy options you can get it down to $53,700 (base price). But then you'd miss out on the Bose 10-speaker premium audio system and the gorgeous wood.

Now that I'm back in a "normal" Nissan Rogue I remember the way the Infiniti transported me. Now, if it could get 40 mpg...

Photo by Chris Kidwell.

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