2009 Infiniti M45X as tested: $62,915

PLUSH SEDAN, DESPITE BLAND BODY, QUIETLY EXCELS

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As fast, stylish, loaded with up-to-the-second amenities and fun to drive as the M45X is, it suffers from the same Achilles’ heel all the hair bands in the 80s who weren’t Motley Crue, Poison, Whitesnake and Bon Jovi did.

The M45X competes with the top in the midsize luxury sedan segment and in order to get buyers to ignore equally expensive but much more recognizable brands made by Benz, Beemer and Audi, it’ll need more than its utterly unimaginative name and blend-in body.

As Infinitis go, the car is a charm—comfy, swank, everything where you can find it, plenty of trunk room and 8 cylinders to rocket you in and out of situations as needed. It’s got sufficient head room for the basketball players among us but it’s a tad cramped to drive if you’re a big lad or lass—I’m not a big boy out front and I’m typing to you from the driver’s seat moved all the way back with laptop on the steering wheel—yet I’m squashed.

The interior's swank and plush, but a tight fit for the big and tall.
The interior's swank and plush, but a tight fit for the big and tall.

The controls—steering, gear changes, acceleration—are stiff, meaning it takes a lot of awareness in the feet and hands to get to that seamless car/driver merge that occurs naturally in other cars in this class, but eventually I found my groove and threw the car around, having fun and bonding over the weeklong test. All-wheel drive is available in this year’s model, a happy development from previously rear-wheel only models.

Some nice touches are the iPod interface with clear-to-read audio system controls, and the distressed leather on the doors shows attention to detail. It is also, happily, one of the few rides on the market that does without a seatbelt alarm, although Grandma’s still very much in evidence via the lane-drifting warning system that deploys if you veer and inch left or right of street lines. You can disable it, however—each and every time you climb behind the wheel. I’d like it better if you could deploy it at will, rather than having to shut it off repeatedly.

Mileage, as expected, is right down there with the worst of ‘em at 14 city miles per gallon, 20 on the highway, so you get socked with a guzzler tax and must feed it premium gas. Otherwise, it is a smooth, sweet ride, worth it if you have the money and aren’t aiming to bellow the size of your wallet to one and all.
m35-rearEngine 4.5-liter DOHC 32-valve V-8
Horsepower @ rpm 325 @ 6400
Torque, lb-ft @ rpm 336 @ 4000
Transmission, tested 5-speed automatic
Wheels, front/rear, inches 18 x 8.0/18 x 8.0
Tires, front / rear 245/45R18 / 245/45R18
Wheelbase, inches 114.2
Length, inches 194.1
Width, inches 71.1
Height, inches 60.0

Curb weight, pounds 4,004
Base price:  $54,650
Advanced Technology Pkg    2,800
Technology Pkg    3,350
Gas Guzzler Tax    1,300
Destination Charges    815
Total MSRP    $62,915

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