We've just returned our first two "Six-Month Road Test" vehicles, and it's time for another--and while we're doing so, we're tweaking our formula for evaluating new vehicles over a longer period of time.
The 2013 Infiniti JX is our first Three-Month Road Test. Why half the time? In our experience with the VW Passat TDI and Hyundai Veloster, we're confirming our impressions and covering most of the questions we have in three months, to deliver what you need--a more in-depth look at a new car, crossover, or truck. In turn, that will let us cover more vehicles.
So, onward, and pictured here at the closest thing to nirvana Alabama has to offer, is our latest long-termer, the JX. It's Infiniti's first seven-seat crossover, and it's already a sales hit. It's a virtual stand-in for the less plushly outfitted Nissan Pathfinder, at least in size and mission. And it's uniquely styled to draw attention to its new presence in the lineup: to us, it's a Mercedes R-Class gone right. Right?
Powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 and a CVT, the front-drive JX can be fitted with all-wheel drive, as is our test vehicle. Infiniti put the priority on luxurious seating, predictable handling and great safety scores--which we're still due from the IIHS and the NHTSA.
To recap, from our road test, we think the JX hits most of its targets. Straight-line performance is adequate, and handling is confident, if not sporting--it's difficult to be that, with a three-row crossover of this bulk. The combination of CVT and V-6 makes for quick Interstate cruising, but a luxury-label set of Rollerblades? Not quite.
Its killer app? The fold-forward second-row seat, which makes the Infiniti JX's third-row seat more usable than most. It tilts forward even with a child seat in place, which means less of the daily juggling of car seats parents grow to hate, right along with after-school scheduling and Dora The Explorer.
Lined with leather, our black three-row JX came fitted with a few options, including a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera that's already proven its parking mettle, and a rich-sounding audio system with Bluetooth streaming. Out the door, it stickers at more than $56,000.
We've already been on first drives and written about the JX, but the next three months will give us the chance to find out more about its overall attributes. Does the styling play as well to MDX shoppers as it does to fans of the Flex? Does the flex-fold second-row seat make us want to jump in the way-back? Will those wireless headsets for the DVD entertainment system make our passengers stop kicking the backs of our seats?
In the coming weeks, we'll ask those questions and more, as we sail through winter in the JX, pointing out its competitors and letting you know what it does best; putting it through road-trip and gas-mileage tests; going through its luxury and infotainment features in depth; and putting it through a video road test and a final drive before we pronounce it done. Aside from those tests, we'll also be christening it the official High Gear Media vehicle of the 2013 Detroit Auto Show--so expect to see it on I-94 in mid-January. A lot.