Seven has a reputation for luck — provided the right opportunity isn't missed.
For example, you may recall the sad tale of the would-be soft-drink inventor who made a half dozen attempts at developing a new soda, each one unsuccessful. Perhaps his next beverage blend would have been successful but, alas, he threw in the towel after the failure of 6-Up.
Nissan is determined not to make the same mistake when it comes to big, plush, seven-passenger SUVs.
The company's luxury brand, Infiniti, already offers one large, three-row utility in the form of the QX56, but that V8-powered behemoth, riding a truck-like, body-on-frame, rear-drive platform with available four-wheel drive, serves a very targeted audience.
The larger pool of SUV buyers these days is opting for crossovers — unibody, front-drive machines with available all-wheel drive that trade hauling muscle and towing grunt for more car-like handling and better fuel economy.
In view of that reality, Infiniti has decided not to stop one seven-seater short.
For 2013, the brand is launching the JX35, a V6-powered crossover with three rows of seats and seven-folks accommodations. It rides, however, on a highly modified version of the unibody, front- or all-wheel drive underpinnings of its smaller cousin, the Nissan Murano.
Under JX's hood is Nissan's ubiquitous 3.5-liter V-6, which the company puts into everything but the lunchroom chili. Here it makes 265 hp and 248 lb.-ft. of torque through a continuously variable (CVT) automatic transmission. That combo sends power to the front wheels or, if the AWD option is checked, to all four.
EPA ratings for both front- and all-wheel drive models are 17 city/23 hwy.
In view of the reputation CVTs have for sapping engine vigor, JX moves to ameliorate that drawback with driver-selectable performance modes. Via a knob on the center console, the driver can choose Standard, ECO, Snow or Sport modes, the last one designed to make JX's gear-and-pulley transmission feel more like a traditional fixed-ratios automatic.
Inside, JX promises best-in-class overall passenger room, including a third row that can accommodate adults, and best-in-class third-seat-folded cargo room. Helping in that latter spec is a middle-row that boasts 5.5-inches of fore/aft scooting ability.
A detail of which Infiniti is particularly proud is the "multi-mode" second row that enables third-row access without removing a second-row-installed child safety seat.
"With the new JX, you are able to leave a child seat securely latched to the second row while getting in or out of the 3rd row — just another example of the vehicle's inspired flexibility and versatility," said Ben Poore, Infiniti Americas vice president. "It might seem like a small detail, unless you've ever tried to use a third row in a vehicle with child seats, and then it's 'Why didn't someone think of this before?' "
Speaking of little ones, JX's array of beverage bins — eight cupholders and six bottle holders — should ensure that mom and dad have to make plenty of restroom stops on those long trips.
Among JX's standard features are fog lights, power liftgate, 18-inch wheels, sun roof, leather, heated front seats, three-zone climate control, backup camera, Bluetooth capability and power everything.
Options include Panoramic moon roof, remote start, 20-inch wheels, heated and cooled front seats, surround-view camera, 15-speaker Bose audio, rear-cabin video and a suite of active safety systems, including Intelligent Cruise Control, Backup Collision Intervention and Blind Spot, Lane Departure and Forward Collision warning.
Perhaps just what the country needs is a new seven-seat luxury crossover with 14 beverage holders. On the road, just make sure they hold nothing stronger than 6-Up.
JX prices start at $41,400.
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