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Scores High: Upscale and flexible interior design, effective balance of power and fuel efficiency, sporty handling
Scores Low: Potentially jarring ride quality, expensive bundling of optional packages, limited rear visibility

Total Car Score Analysis
There’s a great conundrum going on in the premium and luxury family hauler segments, and it’s a conundrum the automakers are acutely aware of: an increasing number of family car buyers don’t want to buy a family car. While that sounds like an impossible situation it’s actually something the all-new 2013 Infiniti JX handles with aplomb. By simply eschewing all the traditional rules of family transportation (boxy shape, cushy handling, lackluster acceleration) the JX feels more like a large sports sedan than a family hauler – at least until you look in the rearview mirror and see all that interior real estate (and all those vision-hindering headrests) along for the ride.

The third-row headrests can be lowered to somewhat offset the vision issue, and the JX’s flexible interior space (along with its snappy drivetrain and confident handling) make it one of the more effective options for hauling people and cargo in both comfort and style. There are still relatively few luxury crossovers that offer three rows of full-sized passenger space along with responsive, car-like handling for a price starting under $50,000. The 2013 Infiniti JX effectively offers all of those things, making it a solid choice for upscale family transportation.



Exterior Design
Infiniti deserves credit for utilizing distinctive design cues in an increasingly “me too” world of automotive shapes. Love it or hate it, you can at least identify a modern Infiniti product, and the 2013 JX is no exception. While the bulging hood lines, LED taillights and large wheels are trademark Infiniti features, what make the JX an appealing package is how these customary external traits conceal a large and functional three-row interior (with usable cargo area). A new design cue we’ll see on upcoming Infiniti models, the reverse-curving D-pillar, premiers on the JX and gives the rear a sporty – or squashed – look, depending on your personal perspective. Either way, it adds to the JX’s unique look.



Driving Experience
Another common Infiniti design cue, the aforementioned large wheels, come in either 18-inch (standard) or 20-inch (optional) diameters. Our test car included the 20-inch wheels, and these contributed not only to the JX’s signature style but also to its responsive, confident handling…and occasionally bumpy ride. Our driving route, around picturesque Charleston, South Carolina, included a variety of road surfaces. And while none of them was overtly broken or damaged they did include the occasional pavement imperfection. The smaller ones passed under the JX mostly unnoticed, but the larger ones sent a jolt through the cabin that may not pass the “family-friendly” litmus test. Either stick with the standard 18-inch wheels or take the entire family on a thorough test drive if you’re ordering the 20s.

During that test drive you’ll notice the Infiniti JX’s capable performance from the 3.5-liter V6 with 265 horsepower and 248 pounds-feet of torque. Those numbers don’t suggest thrilling performance, and the JX will never be confused with a high-performance sports car. But this engine mates to an effective continuously variable transmission (CVT) driving either the standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive powertrain. The result is more-than-adequate acceleration, as well as 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined with front-wheel drive (18/23/20 with all-wheel drive). These are impressive fuel economy numbers given the JX’s size and performance, and they surpass its primary competition.

 

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Interior Design and Function
If the unique exterior shape is meant to garner a closer look, the 2013 Infiniti JX’s interior design will likely close many deals for potential buyers. The crossover’s comfortable front seats are followed by a supportive (and optionally heated) second row that folds down in a 60/40 split while also sliding 5.5 inches fore and aft. The latter feature allows for a wide range of adjustment to maximize comfort for second- and third-row passengers. This sliding feature, along with the second-row seats’ ability to tilt forward, also enables relatively easy access to the third row of seating – even when a child seat is mounted in the second row. The third row of seats, while roomy enough to fit grownups if the second row is properly positioned, still suffers from a low seat height and minimal leg support for full-sized adults (though kids will fit fine).



The JX can offer this relatively wide combination of seating options because it offers one of the largest interior volumes in the segment, at 149.8 cubic feet. The curving roof that gives the JX its sweeping profile (and includes an optional moonroof over the second row) also provides additional headroom in the first two rows. Behind the third row is another 15.8 cubic feet of cargo space, meaning even with a full load of passengers there’s enough space for groceries or luggage. The cargo area includes under-floor storage with an additional 2 cubic feet of storage. Passenger accommodations also include separate climate controls for the second and third row area, with third-row-specific air vents to effectively heat or cool that region.



Primary Features and Options
Like any luxury vehicle, the 2013 Infiniti JX has to accommodate not just basic passenger-hauling needs but the demands of luxury buyers who want to feel coddled in their conveyances. These demands are met by way of optional dual LCD screens mounted in the front-row headrests, plus wireless headphones and a 120-volt power outlet in the Theatre Package ($1,700). There's also a Bose Premium Audio system, navigation system, driver’s seat memory, exterior “around-view” cameras and an Infiniti Connection Plus service offering access to Google Calendar and text-to-speech messaging in the Premium Package ($4,950). An array of safety technologies come with the Driver Assistance Package ($2,200), including a heated steering wheel, remote engine start, Blind Spot Warning, Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Control Assist (it slows -- and even stops -- the vehicle when you forget to), plus a Back-Up Collision Intervention system that will actually apply the brakes if it senses incoming cross-traffic that the driver can’t see when backing up. The Technology Package includes all Driver Assistance features plus Land Departure Warning, Blind Spot Intervention and pre-crash seatbelts for front passengers. Finally, a further upgraded Bose audio system, with 15 speakers, plus those 20-inch wheels, a rear moonroof, heated and cooled front seats and advanced climate control is included in the Deluxe Touring Package ($2,550).



It’s Perfect For…
The family car shopper looking to avoid a family car purchase should give the 2013 Infiniti JX a close look. Its balance of performance, luxury, functionality and safety is as unique as its exterior styling. But ride quality over broken pavement can suffer with the optional 20-inch wheels, and depending on which features you want the required option packages (including those big wheels) can send the price skyrocketing through that second-row moonroof.

Vehicle Tested: 2013 Infiniti JX AWD
Base MSRP of Test Vehicle: $41,550
Options on Test Vehicle: Premium Package (includes navigation, Infiniti Connection, Around View Monitor, Bose 13-speaker audo, driver’s seat memory, auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink -- $4,950), Technology Package (includes heated steering wheel, remote engine start, Blind Spot Warning, Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Control Assist, Back-Up Collision Intervention, Land Departure Warning and Prevention, Blind Spot Intervention, front pre-crash seatbelts -- $3,100), Deluxe Touring Package (includes Bose 15-speaker audio system, 20-inch aluminum wheels, rear moonroof with power sunshade, climate control system, climate controlled front seats, heated rear seats, rain-sensing wipers -- $2,550), Theatre Package (includes dual 7-inch monitors, wireless remote, two wireless headsets, 120-volt power outlet, rear headphone jacks -- $1,700), Destination Charge ($950)
MSRP of Test Vehicle (including destination charge): $54,800

Primary Competitors
2013 Acura MDX
2013 Audi Q7
2013 Lexus GX

http://www.totalcarscore.com/car-reviews/road-tests/2013-infiniti-jx-road-test-review
 

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Good overview of the specs. The 20" rims do make the ride bumpier but it also gives it more response to the ground. It should handle better too.
 
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