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Just in: 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid

Consumer Reports News: June 13, 2011 04:23 PM

Nissan's upscale Infiniti division has several products that are among the top-scoring in their categories. We're especially impressed with their luxury sedans, which brings us to our latest acquisition, the M35h Hybrid.

Apparently, the smart people at Nissan think there are sufficient buyers willing to pay a premium to combine high style with decent fuel economy. How much of a premium? Our M Hybrid, equipped with the $3,350 Premium Package (includes navigation and Bose sound system) and few other odds and ends, cost $58,655. A non-hybrid M37 with the Premium Package and the same extras stickers at $52,655. Considering that Mercedes-Benz offers its E-Class diesel and Lexus sells hybrid versions of its GS and LS sedans, Nissan's aim to market a fuel-efficient luxury car isn't really going out on a limb.

Even without the hybrid technology, the M37 is one of the best luxury sedans available. In our tests, we found it entertaining to drive and loved its luxurious interior. It's actually the highest-ranking model in that category. The M37 even returned 21 mpg overall in CR's tests -decent for the segment. The EPA estimates that the hybrid version should get 27 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway compared to 18/26 mpg for the M37.

Perhaps adding to the hype, our M Hybrid's window sticker says "V8 Power with 4-cylinder Fuel Economy." Actually, the M hybrid is powered by the company's smooth and powerful 3.5-liter V6 and augmented by an electric drive that relies on lithium-ion batteries. The car can propel itself solely on electric power and coast with its engine shut off.

We'll see about the "power/fuel economy" claim, but it certainly raises a few questions: Will the added weight and complexity of the hybrid components water down this enjoyable sedan? And will the anticipated boost in fuel economy justify the price bump?

We'll keep you posted as we get more time behind the wheel and work on providing some answers.

Jeff Bartlett

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