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2012 Infiniti M35h (photos)

Infiniti launches its next-generation hybrid system with the M35h, a luxury sedan that gets excellent mileage without sacrificing power.

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Wayne Cunningham
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1 of 18 Josh Miller/CNET
For years, Nissan said it was developing its own hybrid drive system, which now sees the light of day in the Infiniti M sedan. This hybrid system uses lithium ion batteries to propel the car under electric power at speeds of even 65 mph.

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Infiniti has evolved a refined design language over the years, with gracefully curving fenders and a hood that drops between them. The rear has almost a fastback look, setting the M35h apart from other sedans.

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The base of the power train is a VQ series 3.5-liter V-6. Although not the most high-tech engine around, the associated hybrid systems creates overall system output of 360 horsepower.

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Although the M is Infiniti's largest sedan, it does not seem quite as luxurious or impressive as the BMW 7-series, Mercedes-Benz S-class, or Audi A8.

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The suspension for the M35h feels soft, good for damping out potholes but less sure in the turns. Infiniti uses a conventional fixed suspension rather than active suspension technology.

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The trunk loses some space because of the lithium ion battery pack, which sits right behind the rear seats. But Infiniti says four golf bags will still fit back there.

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Infiniti has done an excellent job with the M35h's cabin, giving it beautiful wood trim and thick leather. The switchgear has a solid feel, as well.

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An electrohydraulic system provides power assist to the steering, necessary to make the wheel usable when the engine idle stop feature engages.

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The small gauge to the lower left is the main indication on the instrument cluster that this car is a hybrid. The driver can also call up a screen on the center display that shows power distribution from the hybrid system.

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Infiniti went to a seven-speed automatic transmission for the M35h, helping it achieve the best fuel economy.

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The cabin tech interface controller is changed from previous model year Infinitis, with a more refined look but the same functionality.

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The hard-drive-based navigation system works very quickly, and offers a number of different perspectives and views, including a split screen.

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This onscreen keyboard is very easy to use with the car's interface controller.

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Traffic incidents are integrated with the navigation system, which routes around any problems.

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You can copy contacts from a paired phone to the car's phone book, but it is a manual process.

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The car's navigation system hard drive has 9.3GB of space reserved for onboard music storage. The car also has excellent iPod connectivity.

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The Bose audio system has 16 speakers, including four small speakers in the shoulders of the front seats, which help with surround-sound function.

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Infiniti has one of the best rearview cameras in the business, with lines showing trajectory and distance.

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