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2009 Infiniti M45

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Infiniti M45 Review: Atop the Infiniti lineup lives the mighty M. Available with a brawny V8 in the M45 or still strong V6 engine in the M35, and offering rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, it blends sporty performance with the luxury features buyers crave in a midsize premium car.

y Liquid Platinum M45 tester flaunted the potent 4.5-liter V8, with 325 horsepower and 336 lb.-ft. of torque. Its sophisticated engine features titanium valves, a microfinished crankshaft and slick single-stage cam drive chain, among other advantages, helping it run down the road in a big, silent hurry.

The Mís engine also uses variable length air induction and a continuously variable valve timing control system, all in the name of efficiency and smooth power delivery.

You get a lot, but itíll cost ya. I recorded an average of 15 miles per gallon, and the EPA rates the M45 at 16 City, 21 Highway. EPA Green Vehicle ratings are a midpack 6 for Air Pollution and 4 for Greenhouse Gas. But thatís not why folks buy an M45 anyway.

The M35ís smaller 3.5-liter V6 still puts out a generous 303 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. How far weíve come that a 300-horsepower sedan is now the lesser model.

All M45s use electronic automatic transmissions. This year they get the Drive Sport (DS) shift mode, adding more acceleration feel and what Infiniti calls a ďmore sporting driving experience.Ē If you want a manual in a car this size, it will probably have to be a BMW.

The other aspect of the M45 is its luxury package. My testerís black and silver interior featured sumptuous leather seating that offered heating and cooling settings. Thanks to the optional Sport Package ($1,650), they were deeply bolstered, too.

The Sport Package also bumps the wheels to 19-inchers, upgrades the steering wheel and shift knob leather, and puts aluminum on the pedals. Even more interesting, the package provides Rear Active Steer, which uses electric motors, connected to a series of sensors, to change the rear geometry of the suspension to enhance handling, making the big sedan especially light on its feet.

Speaking of technology, the optional Advanced Technology Package ($2,800) provides the Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) system. Some cars now will beep out a warning if they sense youíre wandering into the next lane but this one actually gently activates the brakes on the side opposite the lane departure to gently nudge the car back from the white lines.

ďMore than 55 percent of fatal auto accidents in the United States are caused by lane departures, including single vehicle and head-on accidents,Ē said Ben Poore, vice president, Business Unit. With the LDP system, the driver doesnít give up control, but the system still saves lives.

Thereís much to like about the Mís other safety features. The Vehicle Dynamic Control and Traction Control System automatically adjust brake pressure and engine torque to help you control the car in slippery road conditions. Together with four-wheel power-assisted vented disc brakes with antilock, electronic brake force distribution, and brake assist, youíre about as safe as youíre ever going to be on wheels.

Besides the safety benefits, the Advanced Technology Package also features a stunning Bose 5.1 Studio Surround audio system with 14 speakers, including pairs mounted in the shoulders of each front seat.

Also new for 2009, all M series cars get Scratch Shield self-healing clearcoat paint and automatic speed-sensing door locks.

In a fiercely competitive car market, what makes the M45 stand out? It looks completely modern, with an alert expression on its face, thanks to upwardly curved headlamp units on a smoothly integrated nose panel. The window greenhouse arches gracefully, and the wide taillamps push aggressively into the lower trunklid. Itís nice, but doesnít stand out in the crowd.

Of course, all of the expected luxury features are standard, from high intensity xenon headlamps, rain-sensing windshield wipers and a power moonroof. Inside you get driver seat memory, an intelligent keep-it-in-your-pocket key, dual-zone automatic temperature control, auto-dimming inside mirror and power windows, locks and mirrors.

Yet despite all these things, the two-ton M45 doesnít quite match the cool style of the original Q45. Despite handsome detailing in Graphite, Stone or Wheat, the ďFine VisionĒ electroluminescent gauge package and an unusually shaped table-like center console, the M has all the parts but doesnít sing in its luxury performance role. And Iím not sure why.

M35 prices start at $45,800. My M45ís sticker began at $52,150, but swelled to $60,765 with option packages and destination charges. For all-wheel drive, add $2,500 to the M45 and $2,150 to the M35.

By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

Byline: Infiniti Review provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net

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Column Name: Of course, all of the expected luxury features are standard

Topic: The 2009 Infiniti M45

Word Count:  839

Photo Caption:  The 2009 Infiniti M45

Photo Credits: Infiniti M45 Internet Media

Series #:  2009 - 52

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