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Infiniti wants a bigger piece of the pie currently being enjoyed by the Acura MDX.

Nissan’s luxury division has thus unveiled a new model to compete with arch-rival Honda’s luxury SUV.

The 2013 Infiniti JX slots into the Infiniti lineup between the monstrous QX flagship and the smaller and much sprightlier FX CUV.

The JX is a car-based crossover with three row seating. It shares Nissan’s corporate D platform with the Altima, Quest, Maxima and Murano giving it an overall size at the mid-point of the entry-luxury category.

The new JX looks sleek and contemporary, with a skin that appears to be stretched over the chassis and big wheels.

From the prominent grill and sloping roofline to the amount of chrome on display throughout, the JX draws attention.

As we have come to expect from Infiniti, the interior is elegant and exceptionally well finished and appointed. The driver enjoys the much sought-after ‘commanding’ height and there is ample glass and a low beltline, affording a good view in all directions.

The interior is also refreshingly light compared to the dark hues of many luxury vehicles with lots of colour and a variety of textures. The instrument panel is clearly legible and well lit, the controls feel solid and there are lots of storage provisions.

Designed as a seven-seater from the outset, the second- and third-row seats have been well thought out. Second-row occupants get lots of head and leg room, which is a good thing, since there is very little space beneath the front seats for their feet.

The second row seat is multi-dimensional. It can tilt and slide fore and aft through a long range (about 15 cm). The tilt/slide feature is clearly evident when trying to access the third row.

The test vehicle even came with a child seat installed to show how easy it is to get into the third row, even with a child seat in the second. Headroom in that third row is somewhat restricted by the sloping roofline.

The JX comes with the most recent version of Nissan’s oft-awarded VQ – Series engine, which is approaching its 20th anniversary. Despite that lengthy history this aluminum V6 remains a highly desirable power plant.

Displacing 3.5 litres and producing 260 horsepower in this guise, it provides adequate if not exciting performance when saddled with more than two tonnes of weight.

The JX comes with all-wheel-drive (Americans have a base front-drive unit as well) and the first appearance of a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) automatic in the Infiniti line.

My dislike of these transmissions is well documented so I won’t rant here. But I will admit the design is efficient and helps manufacturers who chose this route, to improve fuel mileage, and that most consumers with less aggressive and enthusiastic driving manners will rarely notice anything out of the ordinary. I averaged 11.1 litres per 100 km over 500 km of mostly highway driving.

Infiniti is using the JX as a showcase for its increasingly wide array of electronic nannies. Among the former is a new Backup Collision Intervention (BCI) System which not only warns of objects or people in your path when reversing, but actually applies the brakes if is sees something, even if your foot remains on the gas.

I tried it out with a sacrificial lawnmower and it stopped the JX about 25-cm short of hitting it. Bravo, a truly worthwhile feature! As is Infiniti’s Around View Monitor (AVM) which uses a series of cameras to display a 360-degree view around the vehicle and the Blind Spot Warning (BSW) system.

There are numerous other useful alphabet-robbing ‘safety’ features: Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA), Blind Spot Intervention (BSI) see LDP below, Distance Control Assist (DCA), Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA), Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Around View Monitor (AVM).

On the not-so-appreciated list of features I’d include the invasive Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) systems which not only sound an audible warning when should you stray over a painted line, but also use the brakes on the opposite side to tug you back into the perceived proper position.

I am also not a fan of the ECO drive mode, which if selected, pushes back on the throttle pedal should you ask for more power than it thinks advisable for maximum fuel efficiency while flashing a light on the instrument panel to tell you how wasteful you are. This can be disconcerting and distractive when trying to blend with traffic on an on-ramp.

Most of the above is covered under options. The base price of the JX is attractive at less than $45,000 for a very well equipped luxury vehicle. But you don’t have to dip far into the option list to get over $50,000 and the tester topped $60,000 with taxes and delivery included.

Among the options on the test vehicle were as $5,000 Premium Package that included navigation and Around View Monitor systems, audio upgrade and keyless start / stop. It had a $2,700 Deluxe Touring Package comprised of giant chromed 20-inch wheels a panoramic and a further step up the audio system ladder.

The $2,300 Theatre Package brought a pair of 15-cm screens in the front seat head restraints, wireless headphones, remote control, auxiliary audio/video inputs and a 120V power outlet in the rear.

And the finishing touch – a $3,500 Technology package with Lane Departure Warning/Prevention, Blind Spot Intervention, front-seat pre-crash seat belts, Intelligent Cruise Control, Intelligent Brake Assist, Blind Spot Warning, Backup Collision Intervention, Distance Control Assist and the eco pedal.

And since we are talking about over-the-top technology, how about a system that allows you to monitor the driving habits of other people using the JX, like perhaps teen drivers?

If they exceed pre-set speed limits or venture outside a given area, the navigation system will send an e-mail or text advising you of such behaviour!
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