First Drive: 2008 Infiniti EX35
By Sam Mitani of Road & Track
The term "stat**n wag*n" is still a no-no word among some car companies. They'll use any phrase necessary to avoid this moniker, including catchy terms like "recreational SUV" and "sport-back 5-door sedan." Infiniti's marketing division came up with "luxury crossover" to describe what's essentially a G35 you-know-what.
The new EX35, which incorporates the G35's front end and the FX35's rear, sits much lower to the deck than a conventional SUV, with sedan-like ground clearance and a sleek roofline. Thumbs up to the exterior styling of the EX35; it looks good from virtually every angle, especially the face that's instantly recognizable as an Infiniti, highlighted by a large bold grille. The interior is cozy with plenty of luxury and style, from the attractive layout of the dash to the tasteful use of optional leather.
When seen next to a BMW X5 or Acura MDX, the Infiniti looks a bit small. Although it's as wide as the others, the EX35 is noticeably shorter. It stands only 61.9 in. tall, or about 4.5 in. higher than a G35 sedan. Overall length is 182.3 in., and wheelbase is 110.2. Getting into and out of the vehicle is simple, a plus for women wearing skirts and high heels, and there's plenty of space inside for five adults (third-row seating isn't available). Rear cargo space is generous, as it will accommodate three golf bags.
Under the hood is Nissan's trusty 3.5-liter V-6, which also sees duty in the G35. It has been tuned to produce 297 bhp at 6800 rpm and 253 lb.-ft. of torque at 4800 and comes with a 5-speed automatic transmission. The EX35 offers either all-wheel or rear-wheel drive. We sampled both, and came away more impressed with the latter.
While the all-wheel-drive EX35 is suited to cold-weather climates, the rear-drive version is the way to go for those who live in places like Southern California. It's lighter (by about 165 lb.), with better throttle response. Also, the steering ratio is slightly quicker than the awd's, so it feels more nimble through corners. When you step on the throttle, the EX35 will most likely catch you off guard as it leaves the line. It's that quick, reaching 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, and running to the quarter-mile mark in 14.5 sec. at 97.9 mph.
When taking corners in the EX35, it's easy to forget you're in a crossover. Turn-in is crisp, and although there's some body roll and moderate understeer through the tighter stuff, the Infiniti felt stable through most corners. The EX35 registered 0.82g around the skidpad and danced its way through the slalom at 64.1 mph.
New safety features abound in the EX. There's a lane-departure system that beeps when you start straying outside of your driving lane, and smoothly brings you back using gentle brake pressure. Also of note is a 360-degree camera that displays on a dash-mounted monitor what's in front, back and to the sides of the EX35 when parking. My colleagues here probably wish they could stick this system on everything I drive because I sometimes have difficulty getting the car between the white lines in a parking lot.
Prices haven't been announced yet, but we predict somewhere in the neighborhood of $35,000. As far as SUVs are concerned, the EX35 lacks the off-road image of some competitors, but when it comes to recreational SUVs and sport-back 5-door sedans, you'll be hard pressed to find a better luxurious entry-level variant than the EX35.