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2008 Infiniti EX35 AWD Journey - Four Seasons Fleet Update - January 2009

Infiniti's FX crossover was never the king of cargo capacity. The aggressively styled beast put style and performance far ahead of utility. Even the second-generation FX didn't add a great deal of space. Still, Infiniti saw an opportunity to offer an even smaller and cheaper crossover on their ever-popular FM platform. Enter the EX35.

The first thing you notice when you open the doors and hatch on our Four Seasons EX is the space. That is, the lack of space. You almost need to consider the EX35 to be a hatchback more than an SUV or wagon, because it has only 18.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second-row seats. That is only slightly more than our Four Seasons Jetta TDI's conventional trunk. More importantly, that 18.6 cubic feet number is up to the ceiling of the EX, making some of the room not very usable. Add in a tight back seat and the EX isn't the best vehicle for those looking for a ton of room. Of course, you can fold down the rear seats and stow longer items, which isn't always possible in a sedan.

So, once we accepted the fact that the EX35 is really just a high-riding, all-wheel-drive sport sedan, not a crossover SUV, we began to revel in the fact that it's a blast to drive. The strong, near-300 hp V-6, impressive steering precision, and excellent balance of ride and handling put the EX at or near the top of the class when it comes to driving enjoyment. Already, several of us have commented that we prefer the EX35 to our recently departed, Four Seasons Infiniti G37 coupe. And that coupe even had a manual transmission. That has to tell you something. Actually, what it tells you is that the automatic transmission helps dull some of the harshness of the VQ engine.

Then there are the gadgets. Just take a look at the options list. You want to listen to some music? Pick from the AM, FM, satellite radio, CD, auxiliary input, 9.3-gigabyte music hard drive, iPod plug, or the compact flash slot. The optional navigation system with traffic data has a very good interface, and the backup camera is enhanced by Infiniti's cool new birds-eye-view camera system. This uses lenses at all four corners of the car to compose a four-part image showing the entire ground area around the vehicle. On top of that, the EX has a lane-departure system that not only alerts you when you are about to meander out of your lane but can also use the brakes to help keep you in the proper place on the road. That last item is sure to get both some love and hate comments in the logbook over the Infiniti's twelve-month stay.

2009 Infiniti EX35

Base price (with dest. ): $37,117Price as tested: $45,665

Overview

Body Style: 4-door SUVAccommodation: 5-passengerConstruction: Steel unibody

Powertrain

Engine: DOHC 24-valve V-6Displacement: 3.5 litersPower: 297 hp @ 6800 rpmTorque: 253 lb-ft Steering: power-assisted rack-and-pinionTurns lock-to-lock: 2.85Turning Circle: 36 ftSuspension, Front: Double-wishboneSuspension, Rear: MultilinkBrakes F/R: Vented disc, ABSWheels: 18-inTires: Bridgestone Blizzak (summer tires!) Tire Size: P225/55VR-18

Measurements

Headroom F/R: 38.1 / 37.7 inLegroom F/R: 44.3 / 38.6 inShoulder Room F/R: 58.3 / 57.9 inWheelbase: 110.2 inTrack F/R: 62.7 / 64.6 inL x W x H: 182.3 x 71.0 x 62.6 inCargo Capacity: 18.6 cu ftWeight: 3975 lbWeight Dist. F/R: 54.3 / 45.7 %Fuel Capacity: 20 galEst. Range: 400 milesFuel Grade: 93 octane

Standard Equipment

ABSElectronic stability control, traction controlBluetoothMP3 inputLeather!

Options

-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