Infiniti's JX 35 big SUV rejects some of the brand's signature attributes, such as rear-wheel drive and taut, crisp handling. Is Infiniti in danger of diluting its credentials?
Perhaps, but it might not matter.
Edmunds.com Vice Chairman Jeremy Anwyl says, "Technology has made some of the previous distinctions – like rear-wheel drive – of luxury vehicles irrelevant. It's allowed carmakers the freedom to give up on tradition and evolve luxury brands. These days it's more important to stress execution over sticking to labels of what luxury vehicles used to be."
A full report on the JX 35, new to the line and on sale just since March, is in this week's Test Drive column.
The traitorous JX uses a front-drive chassis, with optional, dumbed-down all-wheel drive, and CVT (continuously variable-ratio automatic transmission) gearbox -- things Infiniti previously has rejected.
It has used rear-drive layouts with optional, very-smart AWD that has anticipatory logic to tell it when to kick in well before any wheels lose grip.
And it has used conventional, super-sweet-shifting automatic transmissions -- not the CVT that's something you'd find in a Nissan, the mainstream brand, not Infiniti, the luxury, high-performance brand.
Infiniti's not worried. It believes the JX 35 is such a bull's-eye that it'll be the second-best-selling Infiniti, behind the G series cars.