2012 Infiniti M56x Review

For those who drive a lot and need V8 power and space, the M56x is the best sedan we’ve driven all year. That said, it can’t touch other luxury cars in terms of acceleration and tech features.
For those who drive a lot and need V8 power and space, the M56x is the best sedan we’ve driven all year. That said, it can’t touch other luxury cars in terms of acceleration and tech features.
For those who drive a lot and need V8 power and space, the M56x is the best sedan we’ve driven all year. That said, it can’t touch other luxury cars in terms of acceleration and tech features.

Highs

  • Lots of space for people and stuff
  • AWD system steps up handling
  • Just has that very refined feel

Lows

  • V8 wakes up at extra-legal speeds, except we don't live in Germany
  • Outclassed by rivals
  • Features that should be standard at this level are optional

DT Editors' Rating

If you could only use one word to describe the Infiniti M, it might be this: refined.

In the 2012 model, which we tested for a week, there were no improvements to the 420-horsepower V8 engine, no added luxury accoutrements, and no new interior changes. Yet, driving this luxury sedan for the first time (since we did not review the 2011 version) and comparing it against the Infiniti M37x (which we did review last year), there is a sense of refinement in how the car drives. Not quite as punchy as the BMW 5 series, or as tech-laden as the Mercedes-Benz CLS 63, the M56x has more in common with the Audi A7 in that some of the superior craftsmanship starts to reveal itself over time.

For starters, the M56x is not a blisteringly-fast car. In our tests, even in the sport mode, the 0-to-60 acceleration was right around 5 seconds, far off the mark set by the Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG we drove just a few weeks ago. In terms of handling, the M56x does not match the adaptive suspension in the Audi A8.

The exterior look of the M56x hints at being larger than the M37x, the latter of which has a more pronounced bubble shape and a longer wheelbase, but in fact they are the same size. The main takeaway we had from the car is that it provides an exceptionally smooth ride. Gliding over potholes is one thing, but the all-wheel drive felt sure on the road. (We only had one minor spin-out when we tried to get the rear wheels to lose traction.)

2012-infiniti-m56x-review-interrior-wheel-dash

The interior is reminiscent of the M37x, but without quite as much of a cocooning feel, mostly because the vehicle is larger. There are similar cockpit controls for changing the drive mode (you can use the normal mode, sports, mode, snow, and eco) and adjusting climate controls and entertainment.

A few times, we reached for the drive mode selector thinking it was the controller for the entertainment system, since that is the staple of a Mercedes or BMW. The Bose surround system was clear and loud, but not nearly as pristine-sounding as the CLS 63 or as loud as the Cadillac CTS.

Space and handling

What this luxury sedan provides is space, an incredibly smooth ride, and power when you need it. There is plenty of room in the back for passengers, even when the front seats are shifted all the way back. Unlike many European luxury sedans, there is room for three passengers to sit comfortably in the back. Cargo space (at 14.9 cubic ft.) is more than adequate – we stuffed in several sports bags and have room to spare. Headroom is a notch better than the C63, which is geared for fast starts and tight handling.

2012-infiniti-m56x-review-rear-tail-lights

The ride is smooth and refined without being sporty. You don’t feel like you want to race the person next to you, but everyone in the car will get a better nap on a long commute. The 7-speed transmission does a great job channeling power from the 5.6-liter V8, though, and you might not notice it right away for passing or acceleration. The M56x feels more than capable is at higher speeds, when you get anywhere near 80. The vehicle seems to unleash some hidden blast of energy beyond that point.

Tech features?

Infiniti ratcheted back the gee-whiz features on the M56x in favor of engine power and extra passenger space. On the model we tested, which retails for about $65,000 (base price is $57,000), there wasn’t an option for adaptive cruise control (slowing for the car in front of you), lane departure prevention (gently nudging you back into a lane), or even blind spot indicators. The M56x does provide a back-up camera, GPS navigation, heated steering wheel, and a fold-up privacy blind for the rear window.

The M56x has a few more hidden features which also seem less noticeable at first. The car has a standard feature for hill start assist, for those predicaments when you are perched at a stoplight and there’s a car right behind you. The vehicle will hold you in place when you take your foot off the brake. Another perk: The 10-way adjustable seats provide quite a few positions for a better driving view.

2012-infiniti-m56x-review-front-headlights

Of course, like any top luxury brand, the M56x also uses xenon headlamps that are super-bright for easier nighttime driving, a stability control system, and ABS brakes.

Infiniti offers a tech package for the M56x that has some of the extra tech features like blind sport warning and adaptive cruise control. Of course it will cost you: $3000 for the package. 

For mileage, the V8 power wins out over fuel economy. In our tests, we clocked in at about 22 mpg, which is just barely under the rated 23 mpg highway rating, and that was mostly highway driving back and forth to work and just a few miles of city driving. The M56x can dip well below 20 mpg if you tend to drive in start-stop situations. The smooth ride becomes most apparent at highway speeds, as does the smooth shifting of the 7-speed transmission. This is a traveller’s car, not as much intended for urban excitement.

Conclusion

In the end, the Infiniti M56x falls in the same league as other luxury cars we’ve tested recently, including the Audi A7, the BMW 5, and even the Mercedes CLS 63. The ride is arguably smoother. At high speeds, the power under the hood is superior to the BMW 5 for sure, and even gives the A7 something to think about. There’s no contest compared to the C63 – the M56x falters in that upper segment.

For those who drive long hours and need V8 power and space, the M56x is the best sedan we’ve driven all year. That said, it can’t touch other luxury cars in terms of acceleration and tech features.

Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.
Cars

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.
Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is a luxurious and quick SUV, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.
Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.
Cars

Pininfarina Battista is a 1,900-horsepower, 250-mph electric supercar

The Pininfarina Battista will be the first production car from famed Italian design firm Pininfarina. Named after company founder Battista Pininfarina, it has a claimed 1,900 horsepower and a $2.5 million price tag.
Cars

Tesla could show the electric pickup Elon Musk is dying to build in 2019

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself.
Cars

Allegro.ai is helping Hyundai mine the artificial intelligence gold rush

In November 2018, Hyundai invested in a startup named Allegro.ai. We talked to the company's founder to learn more about what that means for consumers in the not-too-distant futures.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Cars

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Cars

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.
Cars

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.
Cars

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.
Cars

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.