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2013 Infiniti M56 review:

Infiniti's 420-hp sedan is the opposite of efficient

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Blind Spot Warning illuminates a light when an obstruction is in the vehicle's blind spot at speed. Lane Departure Warning sounds a beep when you drift across lane marker lines without using a turn signal. Intelligent Cruise Control maintains a safe following distance when cruising on the highway and Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Crash Warning watches the road ahead for obstructions, and sounds an alert and preps the brakes when a collision is imminent.

However, tap one button on the steering wheel and these systems all switch from passive alerts to active driver aid systems. Blind-spot and lane departure warnings become intervention systems that can pull the vehicle back in line when you attempt to merge into an obstruction or drift out of your lane. Forward Crash Warning becomes Distance Control Assist.

Forward radar sensor
Many of the Technology package's features rely on the forward radar array in the M's lower grille. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

With the Distance Control Assist system active, the accelerator pedal servo from the Eco Pedal is again called into play. If the system detects that you're approaching a vehicle ahead too quickly and have made no attempt to slow yourself, it will assume that you're not paying attention and gently remove your foot's pressure from the accelerator while applying automatic brake pressure to maintain a safe travel distance -- all the way down to a complete stop if necessary. You can force through the feedback if you really want to hit the car ahead, but I rather liked this implementation of the technology.

The Technology package also adds Adaptive Front Lighting, which steers the headlights into a bend when you turn the steering wheel, and motorized precrash seatbelts for the front seats that cinch up before a collision to hold the occupants in place.

Infotainment tech
You'll notice that the Technology package didn't add any infotainment options to the M56's feature list. That's because the sedan makes almost all of its cabin technology standard features.

8-inch color display
The M56 sedan comes standard with a very respectable level of cabin tech and amenities. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Even with no option boxes checked, the M56 rolls off of the dealer's lot packing a hard-drive-based navigation system that combines Infiniti Connect with NavTraffic and NavWeather. The navigation system features crisp maps and quick searching for destinations, but I ran into a few hiccups that kept me from loving it. For starters, entering a destination simply involves too many steps. I couldn't understand why a system that is location-aware by nature required me to input my city and state for every address, rather than just returning the nearest results first. Even when using voice input for a street address, Infiniti's system put me through six to seven prompts for each destination. Additionally, while the chosen routes were usually acceptable, on a few occasions, the system seemed to send me out of my way. During one particular trip, the system asked me to drive almost an hour out of my way for a trip to avoid congestion of a bridge and wouldn't provide a shorter route until I eventually ignored the prompts and took the obvious route myself.

The NavTraffic and NavWeather systems are powered by the standard SiriusXM Satellite Radio connections and a three-month subscription is included. The Infiniti Connection service is an OnStar-like telematics system that gives drivers access to automatic collision notifications, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle recovery, and a host of other connected features, but I mostly used the system to search the Web for navigation destinations not present in the local database. A year of complimentary Infiniti Connection service is also included with the M56 purchase. However, after the Infiniti Connect and SiriusXM trials end, the M Sedan's driver will be responsible for maintaining two separate subscriptions to keep the same level of infotainment functionality that the car rolled off of the lot with. It's a shame that all of that data can't just be piped through the single Infiniti Connection data stream.

The standard list of audio sources includes SiriusXM Satellite Radio, AM/FM radio, a single-disc CD player, USB connectivity for mass storage devices, iPods, and iPhones, and Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling and audio streaming. That's pretty much every source that we could ask for outside of HD Radio, but I don't think that anyone will lose too much sleep over that omission.

The standard audio rig is a 10-speaker Bose stereo system, but the aforementioned Sport package bumps our M56 up to a 16-speaker, 5.1 surround-sound premium Bose Surround system. Audio quality is good, but also nothing to get too excited about. I noticed quite a bit of low-end distortion in the bass and a bit of rattle coming from somewhere in the cabin even at moderate volumes.

Other standard niceties include a rearview monitor, a sonar-based rear proximity system, HID headlamps, eight-way power-adjustable front seats with heated and ventilated surfaces, and Intelligent Key entry with push-button start.

In sum
As stated earlier, the 2013 Infiniti M56 starts at $60,600. Our tester was equipped with the Technology and Sport Packages which, when added to the $895 destination charge, bump the as-tested price up to $70,195. Now that price is lower than a comparably equipped Lexus LS 460 or a BMW 550i, but I'm not sold on the value.

Infiniti M56
The Infiniti M56 may boast high horsepower, but it doesn't feel more much more capable than its less powerful siblings. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

It's a capable car, but the M56 isn't particularly fun to drive. It's not particularly efficient either, despite the awkward Eco Pedal gimmickry. Most other automakers are moving to smaller, more efficient turbocharged V-6s for their most powerful offerings while Infiniti presses on with this big ol' V-8 for its high-tech flagship. In fact, the best parts of the M56 -- its strongest advantages -- are the safety features that are available in the Technology package. And if that's what you're interested in, I'd suggest that you take a long look at the M Hybrid and M37 and honestly ask yourself, "Do I really need 420 horsepower?"

Tech specs
Model 2013 Infiniti M56 sedan
Trim Technology and Sport packages
Power train 5.6-liter V-8 engine, seven-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive
EPA fuel economy 16 city, 24 highway, 19 combined mpg
Observed fuel economy 13.1 mpg
Navigation standard HDD navigation with NavTraffic/NavWeather and Infiniti Connection
Bluetooth phone support standard
Disc player single-slot CD
MP3 player support standard analog 3.5mm auxiliary input, USB/iPod connection, Bluetooth audio streaming
Other digital audio SiriusXM Satellite Radio
Audio system 16-speaker Bose Surround premium audio
Driver aids Blind Spot Monitoring and Intervention, Lane Departure Warning and Intervention, Distance Control Assist, Forward Collision Warning, Adaptive Front Lighting, rearview camera, rear proximity sensor
Base price $60,600
Price as tested $70,195

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