2013 Infiniti EX

2013 Infiniti EX Prices
Blue Book® Suggested Retail Value
2013 Infiniti EX Fuel Economy
Fuel Economy (city/hwy)
AdChoices

Road Test: 2008 Infiniti EX35 AWD Journey

This 2008 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2013.
By Patrick Bedard of Car and Driver

Bottom Line:

For those who remember the promise of gran turismo, a contemporary reprise.
Pros:
  • Sumptuous cockpit
  • Confident moves
  • Just-right buckets
  • A look that doesn’t give a rat’s patoot what anybody says
Cons:
  • Tight on back-seat knees
  • Annoyingly overgizmoed
  • Who asked for the blue halos on the dash dials

No one expects straight answers in an election year. About anything. Even cars aren’t exempt from the spin cycle. Take “crossovers,” for example. They’ve recently become the flavor sensation. So Infiniti, wet finger on the polls, announced its new “EX35 Crossover.”

That’s the headline. Buried back in the “technical specifications” pages we see the same car listed as a “station wagon.”

So which is it? Technically, we come down on the side of “wagon,” an empirical decision based on overall height lower than 64.4 inches. But falling for a new car is not a technical decision, and Infiniti is revving up the spin machine to distract from the obvious—our eyes tell us this is a five-door hatchback, the body style that’s famously unsalable to Americans. You spurned it as a Chevy Citation, you abhorred it as a Pontiac Phoenix, you eschewed it as a Saab 99, and you pretty comprehensively shunned it as a Lexus IS300 SportCross.

Against all odds, Infiniti is running the old game plan again. Our advice: Don’t blow it this time, America. Think of the hatchback costume as the automotive equivalent of cargo pants. Beneath the fashion statement is an unexpectedly refined machine packing an extra measure of usefulness.

The basics: The EX35 starts as a G35 four-door that’s had two inches snipped out of its wheelbase and 4.7 inches lopped off the overall length. The roof has been raised 4.7 inches to 61.9, which makes it a rather tall car but still a shorty compared with the headline-news crossovers, such as the Ford Edge at 67.0 inches road to roof or the Buick Enclave at 72.5 inches. Infiniti’s other crossover, the FX35/FX45, measures 65.0 inches.

The EX35 seems small when you’re standing beside it, and it drives that way too, compact and quick in its moves.

The powertrain is a direct lift from the G35 with minor retuning of the 3.5-liter V-6, downgraded to 297 horsepower at 6800 rpm from the sedan’s 306. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission; rear-wheel drive is standard equipment with all-wheel drive as an option.

Our all-wheel-drive test car came with seemingly every option on the Infiniti menu, from mahogany-stained maple on the dash, doors, and console—shiny black and frosty aluminum accents are standard—to “upgraded leather” on the seats where cloth is the default choice. The wheat-colored leather of the test car is supple to the touch and gorgeous to the eye. The details are beautifully done. The steering wheel can hold your eye for a week, just the way it brings leather together with grained vinyl and various switches in a perfect match of color and texture. A leather-covered jacket hanger folds out from the back of the driver’s headrest; no more fumbling with an unseen hook above the side window as you try to look sharp for the meeting. If you don’t feel rich in this cockpit, you were born for a Bentley.

Compared with the quick-reflex G35 Sport, the EX35 is relaxed, and its performance numbers are off a step—an extra 432 pounds and 4.7 inches of height will do that. Still, it romps to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds and on through the quarter-mile in 14.6 seconds at 98 mph (0.7 and 0.5 second behind the G35 Sport we tested in January).

Instead of the crisp-response summer tires of the G35 Sport, our EX35 wears loafers, all-season 225/55R-18s, which knock cornering grip down to 0.83 g and stretch the stops from 70 mph to 166 feet, still excellent achievements for such a multipurpose vehicle. The four-wheel discs proved to be exceptionally fade-free in our tests, too. Ride quality is smoother than that of the G35, even those without the Sport suffix, and tire noise is muted.

High-Tech Hatchback
Inside, passenger volume is 88 cubic feet, down from the sedan’s 96. More headroom and less back-seat kneeroom are the first impressions compared with the sedan. The EX is notably easier for entry and exit, too, thanks to the higher roof and higher seats. The back-seat cushion is low, and the space feels confining when the front seats are slid toward the rear of their tracks. When the second-row seats are up, cargo space behind is 19 cubic feet compared with the sedan’s 14 cubic feet of trunk space. The edges of the carpet are neatly concealed, adding to the luxo look. Weekend renaissance-fair players will find length enough to haul a 121.5-inch jousting stick (we thought you’d want to know).

Two more details make the EX35 a schlepper’s delight. The hatch is aluminum and one-finger easy to swing, this because its light weight requires only low gas-strut forces to stay up. And the rear seatbacks are one-finger easy to fold down and up; each side has a separate power switch within easy reach when you’re standing astern. Another pair of switches between the front buckets allows the driver to raise the seatbacks (but not lower them) without leaving the cockpit.

Infiniti is debuting several techno tricks on the EX35—but as options, thank you very much. New is the lane-departure-prevention system, LDP, a step beyond the old-news lane-departure-warning system, LDW. Both have safety pretensions, we think, rather than safety benefits. LDW consists of an annoying birdie that chirps whenever it gets the idea you might, just might, stray from your lane. If it were a cop, we’d be pulled over on suspicion of DUI several times per mile. A switch by the driver’s left knee shuts down the LDW, but it restarts automatically on the next trip unless you disable it through an owner’s-manual sequence.

LDP is an entirely separate system, switched on by a steering-wheel button. It’s more circumspect, waiting until all referees agree that your tires are unarguably on the line, at which time it sounds a birdie and selectively applies individual wheel brakes to steer you back into your lane. A dubious benefit, this, because it usually sets up a path that will drive you out of the lane on the other side. At the very best, LDP is trying to keep drivers on the road who shouldn’t be there in the first place.

The around-view monitor, AVM, is more helpful. Four cameras reporting from the sides and ends of the car feed into a bird’s-eye view shown on the nav screen, allowing you to see how close you are to objects. This comes on automatically in reverse, or a dash switch lets you bring it up at walking speed forward, too. But don’t expect too much. The side cameras are mounted in the mirror housings. To monitor the full length of the vehicle with just one camera takes a very wide-angle lens. So the inevitable fisheye effect limits the precision of what you see down where alloy wheels are in danger of scraping the curb. AVM is better for checking fender clearance during close parking maneuvers.

Infiniti is positioning the EX35 above the G35 sedan in its lineup. But five-door hatchbacks thrive in low-budget latitudes, Mazda 3 and below, and run out of air above $30,000. The EX35 starts at $32,015 base, rising to $36,965 for the EX35 Journey with all-wheel drive. Will customers look at the hatchback roofline and see luxury? They never have.

But start the appraisal inside, inspecting the leather detailing of the console shifter and the dashboard pleats on the passenger side and the plush cosseting of the front buckets. This is a whole different calculation. The extra cargo space becomes a bonus. On the road, the EX35 strikes a pleasing balance, muscular enough to move with confidence, compliant enough to provide essential comfort to mainstream motorists. And when you put the pedal down, you get action. These are virtues enough for the $30,000 class.

If, that is, Americans look at the EX35 and see a fashionable crossover instead of a frumpy five-door hatchback. Let’s see what the spinmeisters can do.

Content provided by Car and Driver.
For more reviews from Car and Driver, click here.
For automotive news from Car and Driver, click here.

advertisement

Search local listings

powered by:

Recently Viewed Cars

View favorites
BB02 - 8/21/2014 11:45:57 PM