Winter arrived with a vengeance in December, but our JX35 still had a busy month of travel, with trips to Wisconsin and to Grand Marais in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
The Bridgestone Blizzaks that we put on last month got a workout, and they received good reviews. Here's executive editor Todd Lassa: "On my return from Wisconsin on the day after Christmas, I hit a snowstorm on I-94 all the way across Michigan, and the combination of Blizzaks and fairly decent steering feedback kept me moving along at a moderate rate. I felt confident passing 18-wheelers and drivers who were just being overly cautious." Deputy editor Joe DeMatio took the JX to a state park while in Grand Marais, Michigan, to go hiking on the snow-covered sand dunes. "The approach road to the parking lot at the trailhead was accessible only with 4WD," he reports, "and the JX35 and its Blizzaks performed admirably."
DeMatio's trip to the sand dunes was part of an end-of-the-year excursion to northern Michigan and the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula. He had a total of four adults on board. "Front-seat comfort was excellent," he said. "Second-row seating offers lots of legroom, but the seats are a little low, which raises your thighs off the seat and prevents the seats from being truly comfortable." One other rear-seat misfire: there is no middle section that can be folded independently of the outboard seatbacks, so the group had to leave their cross-country skis at home. Rear-seat heaters, though, were much appreciated, as was the panoramic roof.
Although they might not be direct competitors, on this trip the JX35 was compared with the BMW X5. "Two of my passengers were visiting from France, and they have owned three BMW X5s," DeMatio explains. "They seemed perplexed by the JX35's powertrain, as they're accustomed to torquey diesels mated to conventional automatic transmissions. This V-6 and CVT combo was pretty lethargic by comparison."
"All in all, the JX35 isn't as appealing to drive or to be in as the mid-size crossovers from Mercedes, Audi, and BMW," he concludes, "but, then again, it costs many thousands less, and still has virtually every safety and convenience feature that you could want."