Is there a point left to the even bigger QX56?Smaller than the mammoth QX56 yet larger than the tight EX37, the JX is intended to be the new "bread and butter" sport-utility-vehicle in the Infiniti lineup.
With the cold weather already here, we decided to conduct a plethora of sport-utility and crossover reviews within close proximity of each other, in order to gauge the perfect opinion of what exactly is out there. Adding to the theme of vehicles that are completely unnecessary (and yet somewhat cool), Nissan has quietly launched the new 2013 Infiniti JX35. Smaller than the mammoth QX56 yet larger than the tight EX37, the JX is intended to be the new “bread and butter” sport-utility-vehicle in the Infiniti lineup. It was an interesting change for us to hop right out of the EX37 (which we absolutely loved) and into the JX; especially considering how similar yet different the two vehicles are.
The most noteworthy part of the new JX35 is the addition of a usable 3rd-row of seating. My largest complaint with the majority of three-row SUVs is the lack of accessibility and overall room available in the least desirable place to sit in these vehicles. With the JX however, it’s no longer the case. While accessibility still isn’t stellar, Infiniti has managed to make the best of its options and make it reasonably simple for full-size adults to get back there. As well, said full-size adults can actually sit in these seats for a reasonable period of time without becoming flustered. Credit is due here. The second row seats, while I found them slightly less comfortable to sit in than the 3rd-row, have levers to adjust them fore-and-aft. Wonderful.
Generally with Infiniti products, I jump right into how exhilarating the driving experience is. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with the JX35. While the rest of the Infiniti lineup has gone with the new 3.7L version of the VQ V6, the JX (even though it’s a new model altogether) is given the old 3.5L powertrain. It’s been no secret that the majority of enthusiasts as well as critics in the industry are huge fans of this motor, but it’s certainly getting long in the tooth. Infiniti’s logic going with the old motor in the new car continues to baffle me. To add to this, rather than the superb 7-speed automatic prevalent in other Infiniti cars, they’ve thrown the “good old” CVT into the JX. This, combined with all-wheel-drive, creates a less-than-exciting driving experience. Frankly, other than the fact that even at 197″, the JX35 doesn’t feel much bigger than an Altima to drive, I may as well have been in a run-off-the-mill Nissan.
Acceleration is smooth and confident, but even in everyday driving, the JX35’s lack of horsepower (265; on par with the 2004 Maxima) is evident. It cruises effortlessly, and the majority of suburban soccer moms won’t notice its lack of ability to actually get you anywhere on time, but even with the nearly infinite gear ratios from the CVT, passing power is just not there. The handling however, does have some character. The JX has a surprisingly tight turning radius and is pleasantly simple to fit into tight spots when parallel parking in the heart of Toronto’s business district. The brakes are grabby and bring this behemoth to a stop brilliantly as well.
I suppose the lackluster performance factors into the price point of the JX35. While my fully-loaded test vehicle came in at just over $58,000, the 2013 JX35 starts at a very reasonable $44,900. Packing an enormous standard feature list, the JX still manages to undercut the Lexus GX, the Audi Q7, and even the BMW X5. Granted, with diesels and V8s available in the other vehicles, power isn’t really comparable, but in all honesty, if you want power and have an enthusiast mindset, the JX shouldn’t really in your eyesights to begin with.
Standard features on this behemoth Infiniti offset the awkward design. For what it’s worth, the looks have grown on me and I’m genuinely starting to like the bold styling. Voice-activated navigation, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, leather, and heated seats are obvious in a loaded-up Infiniti. My tester was equipped with a series of packages, which added gizmos such as ventilated seats, lane departure assistance, radar-guided cruise control, and a huge panoramic sunroof which stretches across all three rows of seats. Fantastic. Even at just under $60,000; fantastic.
So, you have a kid or five? Your 2005 Highlander is getting up there in mileage? Looking for a bit of an upgrade? The Infiniti JX35 just might be up your alley. Is there anything I’d rather have in the class? Well, I’d take measures to make sure I don’t end up requiring three rows of seats, and I’d just buy a two-row SUV. It’s seriously a passable vehicle if you can get over the lack of power and equally dismal fuel economy (observed 13.4L/100km combined). Oh, and at $45,000, it’s not luxury. It’s quasi-luxury; and it renders the QX56 redundant and even more pointless.
2013 Infiniti JX35 Gallery