Read the complete 2013 Infiniti JX35 Test Drive Review at AutoGuide.comInfiniti JX teaches established segment some new tricks
Ask anyone at Infiniti and they'll tell you the new JX35 three-row luxury crossover is poised to become the brand's second best seller overnight.
Sean McNamera, project manager for the JX, will tell you even more forcefully, commenting that until now the Acura MDX has sat as the segment leader by default, compared to vastly more expensive, truck-based German models like the BMW X5 and Audi Q7.
"We have ticked every box possible with this car," he says. "There is no reason anyone should go anywhere but JX at this point."
That's a lot of confidence, even at a PR-spin press intro, but Infiniti has good reason to be optimistic, especially with the MDX growing old in its product cycle.
A DIFFERENT SORT OF PERFORMANCE
As a brand, Infiniti's tag line is "Inspired Performance". "The JX isn't about 0-60 times or hitting one g of cornering force," explains McNamara, commenting that conventional buyers for this type of vehicle also usually own a sports sedan. Instead, the JX gets "Inspired Performance for Seven", including everything from luxury, to technology, to safety, to fuel economy.
Starting under the hood the JX35, as the name suggests, is powered by the brand's familiar 3.5-liter V6 engine, making a modest 265 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. For a three-row luxury crossover, it's not overly heavy and so that power is sufficient, though less than engaging.
A first for the Infiniti brand is a CVT transmission. Known for delivering high fuel economy and a smooth drive, such transmissions are also criticized for numbing the driving sensation. That's party true here, though the incredible smoothness of a CVT is perfect for a luxury vehicle in this segment and fuel economy is rated at best-in-class 18/24 mpg for the front-drive version and 18/23 mpg for the all-wheel drive model. We saw an average of 19 mpg during out test. The CVT is arguably one of the few compromises made on the JX and is one that's both understandable and acceptable.
To help inject a little more passion into the powertrain, Infiniti has fitted the JX with its Drive Mode Selector, with a default "Normal" mode, as well as Snow, Eco and Sport. Adjusting the throttle sensitivity and CVT characteristics, it's noticeably different in each setting though the Sport mode is a bit of an exaggeration. When combined with the Eco Pedal in the Driver Assistance Package ($2,200), the throttle pedal will actually push back to help curb lead-footed driving.