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2012s Best Luxury Hybrid

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Although the Toyota Prius, the Ford Fusion and other hybrids have substantial fans, the folks at Infiniti realized that there was a need for an elite hybrid car and in 2012 released their M35h Hybrid to test demand. Let’s take a look at how they did.

The M35H boasts EPA fuel economy of 27 mpg city and 32 mpg highway, impressive fuel mileage for a luxury sedan that also puts out 360 horsepower. Because there are essentially two motors in the car, the gas engine and the electric motor, the M35h accelerates quickly. The gas engine generates 258 lb-ft of torque and the electric motor adds an additional 199 lb-ft. Add these together and you will be quickly pressed back in your seat when the accelerator pedal is mashed.

Because driving a car with 2 engines may involve some user input, the engineers at Infiniti have outfitted the car with a mode selector. The first mode is the ECO mode. The ECO mode detunes throttle response to a tame level. You won’t experience very fast acceleration when your M35h is in this mode, it’s for saving fuel. In the SNOW mode, the torque is reduced to the rear wheels to prevent the car from losing traction on slippery surfaces. In SPORT mode, the engine speed is kept above 3000 rpm and puts the transmission in a special mode for aggressive driving. This is the mode for fast acceleration.

Infiniti made a decision to test their first hybrid concept in their top-of-the-line sedan, the M series. Interestingly, the M35h is not alone as an executive-class hybrid automobile. Last year, BMW released its Active Hybrid 7 car and Mercedes-Benz launched its S400 Hybrid. However, the Infiniti system really offers the best hybrid technology among the group. Not only can it propel itself with electric power alone, it gets the best mileage in the group. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the Infiniti is the least expensive of the bunch.

The suspension on the M35h is not an active system. It utilizes standard suspension components with sway bars and the resultant ride is considered somewhat soft but comfortable. The power-steering is an electro-hydraulic unit that feels nimble and unlike more sluggish conventional hydraulic systems. When cornering, the steering is not terribly sharp with a little understeer felt as on most luxury cars.

So how did the engineers at Infiniti do with the M35h? We asked the folks at JBA Infiniti located just outside Baltimore for their opinion. They thought it scores high points for its hybrid power system, one of the best available. Its transmission and steering also rate high on the technology meter, but its suspension remains conventional. Perhaps the 2013 will have a higher tech active suspension system, they suggest. As for design, there is no question that Infiniti offers one of the best tech interfaces around, attractive and very user friendly. Attractive exterior styling alis also quite nice, setting it apart from more conventional looking sedans. All in all, the Infiniti M35h is an excellent first hybrid for Infiniti and is a nice starting point for subsequent models.


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