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There is a video in the link as well

http://www.wheels.ca/article/806000

CHARLESTON, S.C.—While Infiniti has three stylishly upscale SUV/CUVs in its roster — the compact EX, the radical FX and the bulbous QX — none of them sell in big numbers. Considering this segment continues as one of the hottest in North America, it makes sense Infiniti would want to have a real contender.

In light of this, Infiniti is launching the 2013 JX35, a three row, seven-seat luxury all-wheel-drive crossover. It is poised to go up against everything from the Ford Explorer Limited to the Audi Q7, although its main target is the Alliston, Ont.-built $52,690 Acura MDX. Here, Infiniti is going for the throat. The JX35 arrives in May with a starting price of $44,900.

And this is no stripper: full leather interior, xenon headlights, sun roof, powered tailgate, heated seats and steering wheel, back-up camera and tri-zone climate control. Infiniti expects most buyers will opt for the $5,000 Premium Package that adds navigation, around-view monitor with moving object detection, seat memory, auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, a kickin’ Bose audio upgrade and Connection Plus Services (more on that later).

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Published On Fri Mar 30 2012
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Infiniti JX35 takes aim at Acura MDX
Peter Bleakney for the Toronto Star
2013 Infiniti JX35
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Peter Bleakney
SPECIAL TO THE STAR

CHARLESTON, S.C.—While Infiniti has three stylishly upscale SUV/CUVs in its roster — the compact EX, the radical FX and the bulbous QX — none of them sell in big numbers. Considering this segment continues as one of the hottest in North America, it makes sense Infiniti would want to have a real contender.

In light of this, Infiniti is launching the 2013 JX35, a three row, seven-seat luxury all-wheel-drive crossover. It is poised to go up against everything from the Ford Explorer Limited to the Audi Q7, although its main target is the Alliston, Ont.-built $52,690 Acura MDX. Here, Infiniti is going for the throat. The JX35 arrives in May with a starting price of $44,900.

And this is no stripper: full leather interior, xenon headlights, sun roof, powered tailgate, heated seats and steering wheel, back-up camera and tri-zone climate control. Infiniti expects most buyers will opt for the $5,000 Premium Package that adds navigation, around-view monitor with moving object detection, seat memory, auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, a kickin’ Bose audio upgrade and Connection Plus Services (more on that later).

First drive: Infiniti JX35

Infiniti’s aim is to create a complete family-friendly crossover; no more sacrificing functionality and comfort for the sake of high-style and zippy handling. Infiniti EX and FX please take a bow.

Compared to the Acura MDX, the JX is a bit longer and taller although narrower, and brags best-in-class interior volume and fuel economy. A true seven-seater, the 60/40 split second row will accommodate three and features 14 cm of back-and-forth travel. The seats accordion forward, allowing easy access to the two third-row chairs that are fine for medium to small kids and serviceable for adults. Additionally, the second row is designed to fold forward even with a baby seat installed. Clever.

Built on Nissan’s global D platform, which also underpins the Murano crossover and Quest minivan, the JX is a pleasantly handsome rig, incorporating Infiniti’s organic flowing design and a signature crescent-shaped D-pillar first seen on the 2009 Infiniti Essence concept. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are standard, with 20-inchers optional.

As with all Infiniti products, the interior is artfully designed and beautifully rendered. Crisply illuminated gauges and a seven-inch touch screen interface are standard.

Power comes from Nissan’s ubiquitous 3.5L DOHC V6, here making 265 horsepower and 248 lbs.-ft of torque. It is mated to a CVT (continuously variable transmission). These can be annoying contraptions at the best of times, but Nissan is one of the few automakers able to keep the engine drone factor in check. On our mostly relaxed drive through the scenic outer reaches of South Carolina, the drivetrain proved reasonably peppy and the transmission well behaved.

A rotary dial on the console will select “Sport” mode, where the CVT simulates the gearing of a traditional auto transmission with a presumable slight loss in fuel efficiency. “Snow” mode tailors the AWD and stability/traction control for slippery conditions and “Eco” creates resistance in the gas pedal, making it harder to peel away from the school yard after your brood has jumped ship.

Since Infiniti wants to challenge the MDX in the marketplace, let’s talk dynamics. The JX35 is tuned for quiet comfort, and there it succeeds — but it is a softly-sprung crossover with few sporting pretensions. The steering is nicely weighted but it’s lazy and the JX is slow to follow inputs. Understeer shows up early and it gets pretty roly-poly in the corners. In contrast, the firmly-sprung MDX with its Super Handling AWD is a true athlete that will eat up a sinuous B-road like few others. Its 300 hp 3.7L V6 is smoother and stronger, too.

But back to reality. Most of the JX35’s intended audience will not give two hoots for handling prowess. For its intended purpose, the JX’s road manners are perfectly adequate.

A $2,200 Driver Assistance Package adds blind spot warning, forward collision warning, remote start and intelligent cruise control. It also includes a head-slapper industry-first technology that Infiniti calls Backup Collision Intervention. When rear radar and sonar sensors detect an impending oops while the JX is backing up (they even see oncoming cross-traffic), the brakes will bring it to a full stop if the driver doesn’t heed the audible warning, or feel the gas pedal momentarily push back. Of all the myriad driver-assist systems on the market, this one makes a whole lot of sense.

Additional packages layer on further luxury, technical, safety and entertainment features.

The standard Infiniti Connection, with a one-year subscription, is similar to GM’s OnStar; it connects to a call centre for emergency calls, remote lock/unlock, auto collision notification, destination assistance and the like. Of special interest to parents will be the drive zone/speed alert feature with which they can, on the sly, monitor preset geographical boundaries and speed limits for recalcitrant offspring.

So if young Meghan is flying across town to hook up with that nose-ringed ne’er-do-well of a bass player you despise, Infiniti Connection will send you text, email, or even voicemail alerts when she crosses over to the wrong side of the tracks and exceeds your preferred speed — unbeknownst to her. Big Mother is watching.

Tattle-tale technology notwithstanding, the 2013 Infiniti JX35 is a well thought-out and finely executed new entrant in this tough segment. With its aggressive pricing, rich interior and unique available technologies, it could well be the breakthrough mainstream crossover that has so far eluded this premium Japanese brand.

Travel was provided to freelance reviewer Peter Bleakney by the auto maker. [email protected]

2013 Infiniti JX35

PRICE: (Base/as tested) $44,900/$57,100

ENGINE: 3.5L DOHC V6

POWER/TORQUE: 265 hp; 248 lb.-ft.

FUEL CONSUMPTION: (claimed, regular) 11.5 L/100 km city; 8.5 hwy.

COMPETITION: Acura MDX, Audi Q7, BMW X5, Buick Enclave, Lincoln MKT, Dodge Durango, Mazda CX-9

WHAT’S BEST: Smooth operation, premium feel, clever packaging, price.

WHAT’S WORST: Roly-poly in the corners.

WHAT’S INTERESTING: Industry-first Backup Collision Intervention.
 
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