Crossovers aren't anything new - take a look at a 1997 <a href="http://www.automobilemag.com/am/2011/subaru/forester/index.html">Subaru Forester</a> if you don't believe us. These days, nearly every brand has a crossover or two in its lineup.
That said, few vehicles are as hard to categorize as <a href="http://www.automobilemag.com/new_cars/01/infiniti/index.html">Infiniti</a>'s latest creation, the EX35. It shares many of its mechanical underpinnings with the G37, which, as you've just read in the previous pages, is every bit as talented, attractive, and difficult to live with as Lindsay Lohan. But the EX35 gets its rear suspension and much of its character from the larger Infiniti FX, which also offers great performance but compromised utility.
Will this combination prove a sweet spot in Infiniti's lineup, or is it an answer to a question nobody asked? The EX seems to have much of what we pined for in the G37, including all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission, although it's a five-speed rather than Infiniti's new seven-speed unit. The engine, likewise, is down 0.2 liter and 33 hp compared with the G37. We added about $8000 in options to the EX's $37,715 sticker, including eighteen-inch wheels, a lane-departure prevention system, xenon headlights, and, of course, the iPod interface we so loved in the G37.
From the get-go, the EX has fostered mixed impressions. Everyone loves the upscale interior and strong performance, but we also wonder about its utility, given that it has less cargo room than a G35 sedan. We're eager to see whether the EX proves itself to be both useful and enjoyable after a full year.
420 miles "The lane-departure system doesn't just sound a tone," notes executive editor Joe DeMatio. "It yanks you back into your lane. Love it. And you can turn it off."
692 miles "It's best to think of the EX as a very sporty, all-wheel-drive hatchback sedan," says DeMatio, "and forget any notions of it being a crossover. This is really not a <a href="http://www.automobilemag.com/am/2012/bmw/x3/index.html">BMW X3</a> competitor."
1625 miles Road test editor Marc Noordeloos spends Christmas with the EX. "Headroom and cargo space are tight, but it drives well and has lots of gadgets."
<a href="http://www.automobilemag.com/am/2009/infiniti/ex35/index.html">2009 Infiniti EX35</a>
Base price (with dest.): $37,117
Price as tested: $45,665
Body Style: 4-door SUV
Construction: Steel unibody
Engine: DOHC 24-valve V-6
Displacement: 3.5 liters
Power: 297 hp @ 6800 rpm
Torque: 253 lb-ft
Steering: power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Turns lock-to-lock: 2.85
Turning Circle: 36 ft
Suspension, Front: Double-wishbone
Suspension, Rear: Multilink
Brakes F/R: Vented disc, ABS
Tires: Bridgestone Blizzak (summer tires!)
Tire Size: P225/55VR-18
Headroom F/R: 38.1 / 37.7 in
Legroom F/R: 44.3 / 38.6 in
Shoulder Room F/R: 58.3 / 57.9 in
Wheelbase: 110.2 in
Track F/R: 62.7 / 64.6 in
L x W x H: 182.3 x 71.0 x 62.6 in
Cargo Capacity: 18.6 cu ft
Weight: 3975 lb
Weight Dist. F/R: 54.3 / 45.7 %
Fuel Capacity: 20 gal
Est. Range: 400 miles
Fuel Grade: 93 octane
Electronic stability control, traction control
-Technology Package (around view camera, lane departure prevention and warning, radar cruise control), $1950
-Premium Package (Bose audio; iPod interface; dual zone automatic climate control; heated front seats and mirrors; rear air conditioning vent; Bluetooth; memory seats, steering wheel, and outside mirrors; 8-way power driver's seat, 2-way power driver's lumbar, power steering column), $2150
-Luxe Style Package (18-inch wheels and all-season tires, Adaptive Xenon headlights), $1250
-Navigation Package (Navigation, voice interface, XM traffic, 9.3 GB music hard drive with compact flash slot, single in-dash CD, rearview camera), $2150
-Wood trim (maple wood trim on console/doors), $450