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    2012 Infiniti M Hybrid



    William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    September 4, 2012

    Hybrid vehicles usually fall into two completely different categories. The first category is filled with vehicles whose main purpose to use a hybrid powertrain is to eek out every drop of gas, which typically means they lack the fun to drive factor. The second category is the opposite; vehicles which use their hybrid powertrain, using a smaller engine, to produce the power and fuel economy of a larger engine.

    There are a few automakers who have figured out how to balance these polar opposites with a hybrid powetrain. The latest automaker who thinks it has got the balance correct is Infiniti with the hybrid version of the M sedan. But did Infiniti get it right?

    Next: The Outside


    Exterior

    The M Hybrid follows the same design doctrine of other M models. The front end of features a long hood that curves downward from the middle and rise back up before sitting next to the front fenders. A large, rectangular chrome grille and a set of projector headlights don the fascia. Around the side, the front and rear wheel wells are pushed out to cover the standard eighteen-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. The roof line slopes down to the trunk where in turn it gradually rises back up to the lip of the trunk lid. The short rear end has a curved trunk lid, a chrome bar hiding the trunk release and rearview camera, and a set of polished exhausts.

    gallery_10485_465_1077424.png

    The overall look of the M Hybrid is very daring and elegant to my eyes. I would put it in the same category as the Jaguar XF and Lexus GS as being my favorite mid-size luxury sedan designs.

    Next: The Inside


    Interior

    The M Hybrid’s interior is an exercise in the details. That’s very evident when you look inside and notice how the metal trim flows along with the leather and wood trim in the dash and door panels. Also, the M Hybrid doesn’t skimp out on the stitched leather, using a good amount on the seats, door panels, and dash. The wood used in this M Hybrid was the optional Japanese White Ash wood trim which has a silver powder finish to make it really stand out. All of these little details make the M Hybrid feel very special.

    gallery_10485_465_176729.png

    For the front seat passengers, the M Hybrid comes equipped with supportive, powered leather seats. Back seat passengers sit on a very comfortable leather bench seat. Legroom is very good throughout the M Hybrid, while headroom is somewhat tight for backseat passengers due to the sloped roof. Trunk space is also on the tight side, measuring 11.3 cu.ft , due to the large lithium-ion battery pack.

    Our Infiniti M Hybrid came equipped with two massive option packages. The $3,800 premium package adds a eight-inch touchscreen, hard-drive based Navigation system, 9.3 GB music jukebox, XM NavTraffic and weather, a 10-speaker Bose sound system, Bluetooth audio streaming, climate-controlled front seats, and a heated steering wheel. The other option package on our test vehicle was the $3,350 Deluxe Touring Package which adds the Japanese White Ash wood trim, semi-aniline leather-appointed seats, suede-like headliner, forest air system, power rear sunshade, and a 5.1-channel, 16-speaker Bose sound system. Both packages are very much worth it as they add some needed features for the class and add on to the specialness of the M Hybrid’s interior.

    Next: Power!


    Powertrain

    The heart of the M Hybrid is Infiniti’s Direct Response Hybrid system. The system is made up of a 3.5L all-aluminum V6 producing 302 HP and 258 lb-ft of torque, a 50kW electric motor producing 67 HP and 199 lb-ft of torque, and a lithium-ion battery pack. Total output of the Hybrid system is 360 HP.

    gallery_10485_465_612904.png

    How the M Hybrid delivers its power depends on the circumstances and how much the battery is charged. Leaving a stop with the battery fully or half charged, the M Hybrid will enter EV mode. Using only the electric motor, the M Hybrid able to sustain speeds in urban areas for a good distance. When the battery gets depleted, the 3.5L V6 seamlessly kicks on. If you need to merge onto a freeway or make a pass, the V6 and electric work together to provide more than enough power to get you through.

    The seven-speed automatic transmission does a very good job of making sure it is in the right gear as the situation demands. Also, the shifts are very quick and smooth.

    The M Hybrid also has Infiniti’s Drive Mode which allows the driver to change the throttle response, engine and transmission behavior via a knob in the car. Four settings are available: Snow, Eco, Standard, and Sport.

    • Snow: Softens throttle response even more to reduce wheel spin in snowy conditions
    • Eco: Softens the throttle response to help improve efficiency
    • Standard: Sets throttle response and shifts points to provide a balance between responsiveness and fuel efficiency
    • Sport: Increases throttle response and holds gears longer when driving aggressively

    Fuel economy for the M Hybrid is rated at 27 City/31 Highway/29 Combined. Our average for the week was 27 MPG, mostly on suburban and rural roads.

    Next: The Drive


    Ride & Drive

    The M Hybrid’s suspension is the same one used on the standard M37 and M56. Double wishbones are used up front and a multi-link setup in the rear, with stabilizer bars at both ends. The only difference between the regular M and the Hybrid is a set double-piston shock absorbers that have been tuned for the M Hybrid. The ride is soft and comfortable, no matter the road surface. Road, wind, and engine noise are kept to a minimum, making the M Hybrid a perfect long drive companion.

    gallery_10485_465_148275.png

    But what if you want to have a little bit fun? The M Hybrid is a very willing partner. The suspension is very surefooted on curvy roads. Steering is very good, providing good feel and response. One surprise is the M Hybrid’s brakes. Most hybrids exhibit the mushy pedal syndrome, which doesn’t inspire much confidence and could cause you to have a longer braking distance. The M Hybrid differs from this by having a brake pedal that doesn’t feel as mushy, which gives you more confidence and shorter stopping distances. Despite the extra weight and soft suspension tuning, the M Hybrid can be very fun.

    Visibility for the M Hybrid is good for the front and side. Rear visibility is a little bit tricky due to the smallish rear window. Infiniti has included a rear-view camera as standard equipment, making it a bit easier.

    Next: The Verdict


    Verdict

    So has Infiniti figured out the balance of performance and economy with the M Hybrid? In a word, yes. Infiniti’s Direct Response Hybrid system delivers the same performance as a V8 and delivers some impressive fuel economy numbers. Add in a well-appointed interior and a distinct exterior shape, and the M Hybrid stands on its own.

    Aside from some rear headroom and trunk space concerns, the M Hybrid is one of the best arguments that choosing a hybrid doesn't mean you have to choose more power or better fuel economy; you can have both in perfect harmony.

    gallery_10485_465_1054337.png

    Disclaimer: Infiniti provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gas

    Cheers

    Exterior Design

    Interior Appointments

    Powertrain

    Fuel Economy

    Smooth Ride

    Handling

    Jeers

    Rear Headroom

    Trunk Space

    Year - 2012

    Make – Infiniti

    Model – M

    Trim – M Hybrid

    Engine – 3.5L V6, 50 kW Electric Motor

    Driveline – Rear Wheel Drive, Seven-Speed Automatic

    Horsepower @ RPM - 302 @ 6800 (V6), 67 @ 1770 (Electric Motor), 360 HP (Total Outout)

    Torque @ RPM – 258 @ 5500 (V6), 199 @ 1770 (Electric Motor)

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/31/29

    Curb Weight – 4129 lbs

    Location of Manufacture – Tochigi, Japan

    Base Price - $53,700.00

    As Tested Price - $61,745.00 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge)

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    User Feedback


    I'd take a Mercedes E350 Bluetec over this. The quicker automakers push diesel power over costly and heavy hybrid systems the better.

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      Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Chrysler
      Model: Pacifica
      Trim: Touring L
      Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6
      Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 287 @ 6,400
      Torque @ RPM: 262 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/28/22
      Curb Weight: 4,330 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario
      Base Price: $34,495
      As Tested Price: $36,880 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
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      View full article
    • By William Maley
      There is one vehicle that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has to get right the first time - the minivan. The company is credited for creating this vehicle segment back in the eighties with the introduction of the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. Each subsequent version brought forth some new improvement or feature that put it ahead of the pack. But due to the bankruptcy in 2009 and subsequent merger with Fiat, plans for the next-generation Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Caravan were pushed back. This left the old model struggling against some fresh competition in the form of the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. 
      But last year, Chrysler surprised everyone with a new minivan. Wearing the Pacifica nameplate, the van was unlike anything that had come before. It featured a sleek design, handsome interior, and the option of a plug-in hybrid powertrain. The bigger surprise was that Chrysler would be the only brand getting the new van. The Dodge Caravan would continue in its current incarnation for a few years to provide a low-cost option for those shoppers. Has Chrysler pulled a rabbit out its hat or has the unthinkable happened and the Pacifica trails the competition?
      The first thing to take in about the new Pacifica is how good-looking it is. The design comes courtesy of the 700C that debuted quietly a few years back at the Detroit Auto Show. The rounded front end is reminiscent of the recently departed 200 with a narrow grille and headlights, chrome trim along the edges of the grilles, and a sculpted hood. The side profile shows off two character lines; one running from the front fender to the chrome trim for the windows and another running through the door handles and curving into the rear fender. We would only make one slight change to the Pacifica. Our Touring L tester featured 17-inch wheels that looked a bit small for a vehicle this size. We would go for the larger 18-inch wheels that fill in the wheel wells much better.
      Anyone who has been in the last-generation Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Caravan knows the interior was well past its sell-by date. When pitted against competitors, the two vans came up very short in terms of design, materials, space for cargo and passengers; and infotainment. Step inside the Pacifica and it is clear that Chrysler has done its homework. The design is much more modern with flowing lines and contrasting colors. It also feels more spacious than the outgoing vans thanks to some smart decisions such as the removal of the center console to allow for an open floor between driver and passenger, and the use of a knob for the transmission. Material quality has also seen a noticeable improvement with many surfaces now boasting soft-touch plastics. It wouldn’t be crazy to say the Chrysler Pacifica is ahead of everyone when it comes to the interior.
      Depending on the trim, you can order the Pacifica with seating for seven or eight people. Our Touring L featured the eight-seat layout with a removable middle seat for the third row. It will take you a few moments to figure out how to remove the seat, but once you do, it is quite easy to remove and install the seat. The rest of the seats feature Chrysler’s Stow ’n Go folding system where the seats can fold into compartments in the floor to provide a flat load area. Cargo area is in line with the current crop of minivans with 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 87.5 cubic feet behind the second row, and 140.5 cubic feet with both rows folded. As for passengers, both rows of rear seats provide an excellent amount of head and legroom. Getting into the third row is much easier thanks to second-row seats offering a tilt function.
      FCA has equipped the Pacifica with the newest version of their UConnect system. The interface may look similar to the older UConnect system, but there are a number of changes that help catapult this new version towards the top of the infotainment system list. First, the new system is much sharper thanks to the new fonts and an updated screen that provides improved brightness levels. FCA has also improved the overall performance of the system, meaning no slow downs when going between various functions. One item we cannot comment on is navigation as our test Pacifica didn’t come with it.
      Power for the Pacifica comes from the 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission that routes power to the front-wheels only. It might not be the fastest van on the road (that honor falls to the Toyota Sienna), but Pacifica comes very close. Power comes on a smooth and steady rate. You’ll find yourself not wanting more power when merging onto a freeway or trying to make a pass. FCA has seemed to get its act together with the nine-speed automatic transmission. Issues with clunky shifts and gear hunting have been mostly ironed out. The transmission now features smooth and quick upshifts. The only item we would want FCA to work on is the transmission’s hesitation to downshift in certain situations such as making a pass.
      EPA fuel economy for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is rated at 18 City/28 Highway/22 Combined. Our week mostly spent in the city returned 23.2 mpg.
      The primary concern when it comes to a van’s ride and handling characteristics is providing maximum comfort and the Pacifica delivers. The suspension delivers a smooth ride even on some of the rough roads on offer from Metro Detroit area. An added bonus is how well the Pacifica isolates road and wind noise from coming inside. At highway speeds, only a whisper of wind noise makes it inside. But the Pacifica becomes a bit of a surprise when it comes to handling. Despite its large size, FCA’s engineers made the Pacifica feel quite nimble. The steering might not give that impression as it feels somewhat light when turning. But go around a corner and the van feels more like a midsize sedan than a van. 
      It has been a long time coming for a new minivan from FCA and the good news is that they haven’t dropped the ball. The Pacifica may not have ripped up the rulebook when it comes to minivans, but it sure has expanded or rewritten bits of it. From a surprising balance of ride and handling characteristics to the best interior in the class, it is clear that FCA wants to reclaim the crown of the best minivan. But there one thing that we need to address and that is FCA’s poor reliability history. No matter which survey or study look at, more often than not, FCA’s core brands are towards the bottom. What does this mean for the Pacifica? We can’t say for right now, but this could be the one thing that makes or breaks Chrysler’s new van.
      For right now, the Pacifica is at the top of the class.
      Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Chrysler
      Model: Pacifica
      Trim: Touring L
      Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6
      Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 287 @ 6,400
      Torque @ RPM: 262 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/28/22
      Curb Weight: 4,330 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario
      Base Price: $34,495
      As Tested Price: $36,880 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Audio Group - $895.00
      8 Passenger Seating - $495.00
    • By William Maley
      Earlier this month, Ford CEO Mark Fields dropped some big bombshells concerning the company. One of those was a hybrid version of the F-150 for 2020. A spy photographer has given us our first look at what Ford has in mind for this.
      The F-150 mule caught in pictures only has the front covered up. But it appears the truck is a plug-hybrid. This conclusion is due to flaps that aren't hidden so well. One of these likely has the door hiding the socket to plug in the truck. The photographer who took the photos reports the mule had a slightly narrow front track and sounded like it had a four-cylinder under the hood. Motor1 isn't sure about this considering Mark Fields said the model "will offer powerful towing and payload capacity and operate as a mobile generator.” Achieving this with a four-cylinder could be tough unless Ford is planning to have a big battery pack and electric motors to do it. Over at Trucks.com, they think the F-150 plug-in hybrid could use the 2.3L EcoBoost four-cylinder found in the Mustang as it delivers 310 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque - giving it the necessary power to pull off Field's claim.
      Source: Motor1, Trucks.com

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Earlier this month, Ford CEO Mark Fields dropped some big bombshells concerning the company. One of those was a hybrid version of the F-150 for 2020. A spy photographer has given us our first look at what Ford has in mind for this.
      The F-150 mule caught in pictures only has the front covered up. But it appears the truck is a plug-hybrid. This conclusion is due to flaps that aren't hidden so well. One of these likely has the door hiding the socket to plug in the truck. The photographer who took the photos reports the mule had a slightly narrow front track and sounded like it had a four-cylinder under the hood. Motor1 isn't sure about this considering Mark Fields said the model "will offer powerful towing and payload capacity and operate as a mobile generator.” Achieving this with a four-cylinder could be tough unless Ford is planning to have a big battery pack and electric motors to do it. Over at Trucks.com, they think the F-150 plug-in hybrid could use the 2.3L EcoBoost four-cylinder found in the Mustang as it delivers 310 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque - giving it the necessary power to pull off Field's claim.
      Source: Motor1, Trucks.com
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