THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2009 Infiniti M45S midsize luxury sport sedan.
DOWN THE ROAD: A carryover from last year, the agile rear-wheel-drive car is a blast to drive. Power is instantaneous, so keep a check as you put the pedal to the metal. Based on a steel unibody structure, the M handles the rigors of the road remarkably well.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: Power comes from a 4.5-liter aluminum-alloy DOHC V-8 engine that pumps out an impressive 325 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 336 pounds-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. It's mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually or in sport mode. Up front is an independent double wishbone suspension while the rear is equipped with an independent multilink suspension with stabilizer bar. No need to worry if you have to suddenly slow down at highway speeds. You can rest assured that the 12.6-inch front and 12.1-inch vented rear disc brakes are capable of reining in the beast.
LOOK & FEEL: If you're into chrome slathered all over the exterior of your vehicle, the M is for you. Chrome decks the grille, quad finishers of the dual exhaust tips, grip-type door handles and trunk strips. The interior is classic Infiniti, with the familiar analog clock on the dashboard and stainless-steel sill plates at the entrance. Aluminum and African rosewood trim vie for attention on the instrument panel and dashboard. We found the four-spoke leather steering wheel as well as the short but handy shifter knob easy to grab as we dodged peak-hour traffic. The 10-way power heated and cooled front seats are spacious and accommodating. Noteworthy luxury amenities include the intelligent key with push-button ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, power moon roof, windows, and tilt and telescopic steering column, hands-free Bluetooth phone system and a folding rear center armrest with storage and trunk pass-through.
SAFETY FIRST: Call it a security net starting with the dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist, Vehicle Dynamic Control with traction control, anti-skid system, front seat active-head restraints, front and rear crumple zones, brake-activated front pre-crash seatbelts and tire pressure monitoring system standard.
OUT THE DOOR: $52,150, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, P245/45R18 V-rated all season; wheelbase, 114.2 inches; length, 194.1 inches; weight, 3,857 pounds; fuel capacity, 20 gallons; city, 16 mpg; highway, 21 mpg.
WHY DIG IT: With its muscular stance, handsome styling and awe-inspiring ride, the M will give the competition a run for their money. Add a couple of its optional tech-savvy packages to the mix and you have a perfect blend of luxury and performance at your disposal.