Infiniti’s JX35 crossover merits tick marks in just about all the boxes you’d likely find beside a list of family value virtues and is equipped with plenty of the bells-and-whistles variety devices that pander to family-friendly vices.
It’s drawn to a large scale on the outside, and wrapped in an impressive square footage of boldly bent and fashionably formed sheet-metal.
And it’s big – class-leading, according to Infiniti – on the inside, where there are enough seats to accommodate seven family members. Along with, if you select all the options, a just-about-everything-but-a-kitchen-sink list of luxury level equipment that ranges from functional to fun, and in some instances annoying.
Behind its shiny grille resides a 265-hp V-6 mated, quite compatibly it turns out, with one of those continuously variable-type automatic transmissions and their combined efforts propel you down the road with decent levels of force and efficiency. This is all held up off the pavement by a suspension that does as good a job as you’d expect of making it go where you want it to.
Families that can afford one, and who want and need what the JX35 competently delivers with class, will likely find true happiness with it.
And Infiniti dealers hope they will, too. The JX35 arrived in Canadian Infiniti showrooms this past spring expanding the brand’s “truck” offerings to four and slotting in above the sporty EX35 and mid-size FX35/FX50 and below the bigger, considerably pricier, more traditional and also seven-seat QX56. The JX35’s role is to boost Infiniti’s share of the 65,000-unit (last year) Canadian luxury SUV segment from just less than 3,000 units to a higher and more profitable number.
The JX35 is built on a version of the corporate front-drive platform found under the also-family-oriented, also-seven-seat and also – when loaded to its $50,000 max MSRP level – luxurious Nissan Quest minivan. The JX35’s bodywork stretches 4,989 mm, just 111 mm less than the van’s, although the swoopier styling successfully conceals its minivan-like interior.
“Like” being the operative word, as at 2,116 litres, total cargo volume doesn’t match the van’s 3,070 litres. With all seats in use, there is 447 litres of room behind the rear one and 1,155 litres behind the middle row. So you can carry seven and very little of their stuff, or four or five and a considerable amount of it.
The front row is well catered for by leather-upholstered seats that offer good lateral support. Two middle-rowers will be happier than three, and those condemned to the steerage-class seats in the stern will find it cramped and headroom marginal if they are adults, but won’t suffer too much if they’re children. Wide doors and the clever evolutions performed by the middle seats make access to the rear pair easy. The twin-panel sunroof makes the rear area feel open and airy.
So, it’s not as useful as one of those déclassé minivans but it is pretty darn capable in classier crossover vehicle terms, which makes it a sensible family vehicle choice.
And a pleasant one to live with, if you’re taste for luxury vices extends to the latest comfort, info, entertainment and communication technology.
A base JX35 lists at $44,900, which buys you loads of features including a power rear hatch, but our tester came with $13,500 of option packages that appear intricately interconnected in ways that result in a bigger number at the bottom of the contract. Which in this vehicle’s case was $60,395.
These packages can enhance the JX35’s already extensive safety features list with an around-view monitor and Backup Collision Intervention system that can apply the brakes if you persist in your efforts to back into something in your path. As well as Lane Warning and Departure Prevention and Blind Spot warning systems and Intelligent Cruise control and Distance Control Assist that warns of slowing traffic ahead. All of which will drive you to distraction unless you switch them off – but may save some oblivious or distracted JX35 driver the embarrassment of running into you.
There’s also a 200-mm nav and info touchscreen, voice recognition, a Bose Surround Sound audio system that’s superb (and the interior is quiet enough to let you enjoy it), rather nice maple and polished aluminum trim, heated memory seats, heated outboard middle row seats (no toasted buns for the other three rear riders), and two colour monitors in the rear but with just a pair of headsets.
This is a luxuriously fitted out and comfortable cabin that also sets you above the hum-drum of daily traffic with its lofty driving position.
The only engine is the 3.5-litre V-6, which makes 265 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque, idles so smoothly you’re barely aware it is running and revs like a racer. The CVT is the first offered in an Infiniti and fortunately has benefited from continuous improvement, so it actually works well. It helps the JX35 to launch satisfyingly hard and accelerate up to merging speeds quickly. You can change its response by selecting sport and ECO modes, and shift it yourself through six “ratios”, although why you would want to is questionable. Power is delivered to the wheels through an all-wheel-drive system.
Given the JX35’s mass, fuel economy ratings of 11.5 litres/100 km city and 8.5 highway aren’t too bad. I averaged 11.2 in rural/suburban type driving and 10.1 at a highway cruise.
Steering connectivity feels vague and, with its mass, changing direction isn’t its favourite thing, but it’s no worse than others in this category. Not much “fun” to drive, but not an unpleasant chore, either.
The JX35 is a successful mix of size, family practicality, high style and, as reasonable as you could expect, efficiency and performance.
2013 Infiniti JX35
Type: Seven-passenger luxury crossover
Base Price: $44,900; as tested, $60,395
Engine: 3.6-litre, DOHC, V-6
Horsepower/torque: 265 hp/248 lb-ft
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 11.5 city/8.5 highway; premium gas
Alternatives: Acura MDX, Lexus RX350, Lincoln MKT, Mercedes-Benz R-Class, Buick Enclave, Mazda CX-9