From Automobile Magazine’s Eric Tingwall – Everything Infiniti has done in the past decade would have you believe the Japanese luxury brand is pursuing Germany’s sportiest automobiles. The compact G and mid-size M target BMW’s legendary sports sedans. The FX50 is aimed squarely at the Porsche Cayenne. The new IPL trim is the first step toward a full-bore performance sub-brand like Mercedes-Benz’s AMG.
With the launch of its all-new JX35, however, Infiniti sets its sights on a very different target. Rather than a BMW or a Porsche, this seven-passenger crossover compares more closely to a Lincoln or a Lexus. It prioritizes practicality and comfort over driving dynamics and performance. That makes a lot of sense for a family hauler, but several of the concessions made by the JX35 aren’t the conscious decisions of the Infiniti brand keepers; they’re the result of questionable parts sharing with mainstream Nissan.
Not the Infiniti we’ve come to know
Infiniti needed a three-row family crossover to fill the wide gap between its stylish, less practical crossovers and its capable-but-thirsty QX56, but it was Nissan that made such a vehicle possible. That’s because the JX is a reskinned 2013 Nissan Pathfinder. Until the JX came along, the entire Infiniti lineup shared a snappy seven-speed automatic and a rear-wheel-drive configuration, so this newcomer seems a touch out of place with its continuously variable transmission and front-wheel-drive layout. Product planners tell us that the JX35 will differ from the Pathfinder through the tuning of the dampers, steering, and brakes. In other words, the difference between how the Infiniti and Nissan drive will be a matter of nuance, not substance.
But an Infiniti we recognize
The JX35 doesn’t look familiar beneath the bodywork, but it’s an unmistakable Infiniti both inside and out. The brand’s polarizing design language is fully intact, with a bulging grille and curvaceous bodylines that work quite well on this crossover’s proportions. The crescent-shaped kink in the C-pillar is a treatment seen on several recent concept cars that will soon make its way to more production models.
Sumptuous, stylish interiors have been an Infiniti specialty for some time now, and the JX35 does nothing to break that trend. The front seats are wide, supportive, and nicely cushioned and the cabin has a spacious and airy feel. A small sunroof over the front seats is standard while a fixed-glass roof over the second and third rows is optional. Radio and navigation controls are well placed, but Infiniti’s method that relies on both a touch screen and physical buttons does have a steeper learning curve than the best systems from BMW and Audi. The only touch points that in need of attention are the unconvincing aluminum-look trim (it’s plastic) and the steering wheel that is wrapped in a lower grade of leather.
The second row slides to juggle legroom between the two rows of rear seats, and there’s enough space in the JX35 to give reasonable amounts to passengers in each. A single lever on the side of the second-row seats kicks the seat cushion up, tips the seat back forward, and slides the whole seat forward for easy access to the rear. The real innovation, though, is that the access mechanism works even with a child seat strapped into the second row. The opening to the third row isn’t quite as large as without the safety seat in place but it still leaves enough room for a child to clamber into the back.
Visit Kelly Infiniti located at 155 Andover St. Danvers, MA 01923 to check out the all new 2013 JX35 and to learn more about the JX, including features, specs, commercials and more, visit our Kelly Infiniti JX dedicated page!