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November 02, 2011

2012 Infiniti M35h Road Test Review

2012 Infiniti M35h Road Test Review

by Martha Hindes

Until recently, the idea of driving a hybrid vehicle left only a few choices. Choose one and don't expect to be coddled, or forget the idea. That was before Infiniti decided "hybrid" shouldn't condemn someone to living primarily basic to be planet friendly. And before the 2012 Infiniti M35h hybrid made its debut.

What a novel idea. Take a luxury car, add on all the bells and whistles, kick out the old internal combustion engine and replace it with your own advanced technology system to boost one's driving miles by hundreds between fill-ups without losing the punch of driving fun. And wait for the disenfranchised sporty luxury car buyers to discover it's there.

Infiniti was in an ideal position to sidestep the ruts of average and move to something special. Infiniti's parent Nissan already had the plug-in electric, four-door Leaf in the wings designed for popular consumption. Nissan probably didn't need the existing midsize Altima hybrid sedan, built on borrowed technology, that wasn't gaining widespread recognition anyway so was quietly dumped this year. And while some other hybrids have upscale adds including navigation systems, high tech audio with plugins, and leather trimming for style, they mostly weren't from luxury car providers aiming to break the brass ring barrier with enough visual flash, driving dash and pampering excess -- depending on options -- to make waves.

The M35h definitely is a hybrid contender, but it's doubtful it will ever eke the most energy out of a single drop of premium fuel. We don't see it as a hybrid that forces the driver to balance every tap on the accelerator against an electronic flow chart that raps one's knuckles for falling below an arbitrary best mileage bar. Full review.

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