"The JX35 was a godsend when I returned home from a family vacation in Europe with five people and a ton of luggage."
Our four seasons Infiniti JX35 spent its first couple off weeks not in Ann Arbor, but in New York State, where Jamie Kitman got an early crack at it.
"The JX35 was a godsend when dropped for me at JFK as I returned home from a family vacation in Europe with five people and a ton of luggage. Quiet, cool (as in air-conditioned, when it was 98-degrees in Queens) and comfortable, I found it useful, well appointed, and generally inoffensive, which is the most I usually hope for in a crossover," he writes. "Only problem was, I'd just spent almost two weeks in the Germany and Italy driving a European VW Sharan TDI minivan, which handled better, carried as much, and got about 75 percent better fuel economy (35 mpg on average versus the 20 mpg I saw in the Infiniti). So the JX didn't fare well in that comparison. And then yesterday, Ford dropped off an Escape, and driving it last night it was jaw-droppingly sporty, more nimble than the JX could ever be, plus smooth-riding, quick -- I couldn't believe how pleasant it was. Both of which bookends threw the JX into a less positive light. Its kind of ungainly looks aside, the JX reminds me in function and performance of my beloved 1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 wagon -- big, solid, lots of room, and 20 mpg, no matter what you did. But I don't think I could hang on to a JX for 165,000 miles, the way I did the Benz. It's good, it's solid, but it's no classic. It's not a gas-guzzler, it's not a body-on-frame truck -- that's some sort of progress, I suppose. But Infiniti ought to do better. The Sharan, a Europe-only model, and the Escape, an admittedly smaller car, seem like they might provide some of the answers."
Soon after Kitman relinquished the keys, we loaded up the JX for the return trip to Michigan. The third-row accommodations range from good to terrible, depending how far forward or back you slide the second-row seats. At least second-row space is decent even in the furthest forward position. For us, third-seat space was not an issue, since we just flopped them down anyway, but for a crew of five or six, you have to apportion the legroom between the two back rows.
The crowded, and crazy, New York-area freeways were a good test of the blind-sport warning system. I was certainly glad to have it, but I think the location of the orange warning light, in the very front corner forward of the window, is too subtle. Putting the warning light in the side mirror glass itself is a much better solution, because that's where you're looking.
We got an indicated 22 mpg on our fourteen-hour drive from New York to northern Michigan. I wonder how much a conventional six-speed (or seven- or eight-speed) automatic would lower that figure. Probably not much; it might have more impact on the in-town fuel economy. Still, losing a few mpg might be worth it, as the powertrain -- and particularly the CVT -- is the least-convincing aspect of this car. I never really warmed up to it in a month of driving.
I can commend the ride quality, however. The JX is no corner carver, but it sops up bad pavement without complaint, which is what you want from a vehicle like this. I also had no issue with the electric power steering; I found the efforts reasonable. Overall, the JX treats passengers well, the driver less so, but that's the nature of these beasts. They're family vehicles first and foremost. We'll see what the folks in Ann Arbor have to say.
|Body style||4-door crossover|
|Base price (with dest.)||$42,500|
|Price As tested||$54,800|
|Engine||24-valve DOHC V-6|
|Displacement||3.5 liters (213 cu in)|
|Power||265 hp @ 6400 rpm|
|Torque||248 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm|
|EPA Fuel Economy||18/23/20 (city/hwy/combined)|
|Turning circle||38.7 ft|
|Brakes F/R||Vented discs|
|Tires||Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport AS|
|Headroom F/R||40.7/38.3/36.5 in|
|Legroom F/R||42.3/41.7/30.8 in|
|Shoulder room F/R||603/60.4/57.1 in|
|Track F/R||65.7/65.7 in|
|L x W x H||196.4 x 77.2 x 67.8 in|
|Passenger capacity||149.8 cu ft|
|Cargo capacity||15.8/40.8/76.5 cu ft|
|Weight dist. F/R||55/45%|
|Fuel capacity||19.5 gal|
|Est. fuel range||390 miles|
|Fuel grade||91 octane (premium unleaded)|
|STANDARD EQUIPMENT||18-inch aluminum wheels Intelligent all-wheel drive Leather-appointed seats Heated power front seats Multi-mode second row w/easy third-row access 60/40-split folding/reclining/sliding second-row bench 50/50-split folding/reclining third row Automatic HID headlights Fog lights Power sunroof Automatic tri-zone climate control Power remote liftgate Sequential welcome lighting Power tilt-and-telescopic steering column Power folding and heated exterior mirrors Rearview camera Keyless entry and ignition Bluetooth 6-speaker audio system USB port SiriusXM satellite radio w/3-month trial subscription Auxiliary audio jack Vehicle dynamic control and traction control|
|Carbon black gravity leather||$4,950||Infiniti Connection, hard-drive navigation, and voice recognition 8-inch touchscreen color display SiriusXM traffic and weather w/Zagat restaurant guide Around View monitor w/moving object detection and parking sensors 13-speaker Bose premium audio system Bluetooth streaming audio Dual-occupant memory system 2-way driver's seat power lumbar adjust Enhanced keyless entry and ignition|
|Technology package||$3,100||Back-up collision intervention Heated steering wheel Remote engine starter Intelligent brake assist w/forward collision warning Blind spot warning and intervention Lane departure warning and prevention Adaptive cruise control Distance control assistance|
|Theater package||$1,700||Dual 7-inch headrest monitors w/wireless headphones and remote Auxiliary A/V inputs jacks and 120V outlet|
|Deluxe Touring package||$2,550||20-inch aluminum wheels Bose Cabin surround sound audio system Advanced climate control system Climate-controlled front seats Heated second-row seats Rain-sensing windshield wipers Second- and third-row sunroof and sunshade Maple interior accents|