2013 Infiniti JX35 AWD - From the Service Entrance To the Front Door - Review

"Drive...He Said " recently defended the 2010 Nissan Quest "maxi-minivan" as being darn near the ultimate "man's lair" / "family room" on wheels. A retreat for occupants from the pressures of the outside world. For all of its space and mass it still earned praise for  a decent amount of on-the-road ability.

Great if you can live with the impression factor of family vans. Arrive at your favorite charitable trust's annual black tie gala and be directed to the service entrance.

Kinda' Kinky, Kinda' Maxi:

Enter the maxi-minivan's alter persona, the all-new 2013 Infiniti JX35. Sharing its front-drive / transverse mounted drivetrain platform with the also-new-for-2013 Nissan Pathfinder. The hour-glass front grille, steeply raked headlights, tapering roofline and sculpted doors with chrome highlights all evoke the streamlined Essence concept. Not so much Essence in the D-pillar's pronounced Hofmeister kink.

This entrant to the three-row luxury crossover corral gives up little to the maxi-minivan. It still seats seven. A 4"-inch reduction in wheel-base makes for a more manageable turning radius. Two+three+two seating array, with 41"-inches of legroom in Row-2, makes the JX35 better acclimated to toting around 5 adults in comfort.  For adults that can bear 31"-inches of Row-3 leg-room egress is a cinch. The split second row seat cushions cleverly fold up to the seat backs, auditorium style, sliding forward  for a path wide enough to accommodate a wide-body. That shorter wheelbase is noticed is in the cargo hold. With Row-3 seats upright, the JX35's 16-cubic-feet is but half that in the Nissan Quest. All-wheel drive in the JX35 makes amends by puling  5000-pounds worth of trailer.

That the JX35 accelerates about as sprightly as the Quest, somewhere between slouch and supersonic, is no shocker. It receives a mildly massaged VQ 3.5-Liter twin-cam V6 gas engine, tuned for 5 more horsepower at 265 and 248lb-feet of twist. The CV transmission sends power to the front wheels through a slightly shorter 5.17 equivalent ratio. Give it a round of applause for doing a good imitation of a snappy shifting slush-box without straining the engine. A JX35 fitted with $1400 optional  e-differential all-wheel drive is actually 140 lbs-lither than a front-drive Quest LE with dual second-row powered sliding doors. In a hurry to make the rounds? Skip gas-pedal resistant Eco-mode and 60 mph will appear at just under 8 seconds. An easy 20 mpg are returned in combined driving.

A cabin moved further behind the front wheels in the JX35 has improved front/ rear weight distribution to 55/45%. The front Mac-strut / rear multi-link suspension employs 1.5mm thicker anti-roll bars to contend with optional Men's size 18D, smoke-finished 20"-inch wheels wearing 235/55 all-seasons . The JX35 glides along, absent the neurotic bobbing common to SUVs. Jam the brakes or throw it into a fast bend and it will still dive and roll with the best of them. Lumbering in town the e-assist steering rack is largely a limb "fallen asleep, "  albeit with ith positive on-center weighting. We have never met an Infiniti product which did not brake with gusto. Count the JX35 in.

Whistling the ABC's of Active Driver Assistance:

Built in Canton, Mississippi, they'll be whistling far more than "Dixie" when mentioning active driver assistance technology in the JX35:

DCA - Distance Control Assist -  low-speed intelligent cruise control, handy in bumper-to-bumper traffic, which maintains an equi-distance with moving traffic. The JX35 stops in suit with that forward traffic. An audible Forward Collision Warning signals the JX35 driver to apply the brake firmly else it perceives a desire to plow into what lies ahead.

LDP - Lane Departure Prevention - interrupts inadvertent lane drift [without signaling] at speeds over 45 mph, via  a laser fired at embedded road reflectors. Power is cut to the opposite steered wheels. Dirty or snow covered roads being the limiting factor.

BCI - Backup Collision Intervention - Sonar senses vehicular and pedestrian movement into the rear-wards path of the JX35 while backing. Brakes are applied to prevent a collision. Guess who volunteered to test the effectiveness?

Matching Your Quilted Chanel Handbag:

Not a totally absent-minded driver?  Don't take very many cross-country road trips with passengers who require dual 7"-inch screen video entertainment from dual sources, heated seats and a panoramic moon-roof? Forgo the Technology and Deluxe Touring packages, which inescapably bundle those frills. Pocket the $6 grand. Continue to be impressed by the high contrast electro-luminescent instrument cluster and touch 8"-inch LCD center display. Gander at the nigh shiny real wood veneers and matte metallic trim, convincing as any.

Living up to Infiniti tradition front seats in the JX35 are generous in comfort and support. Quilted leather seat inserts, a glove-soft wrapped power adjusting steering wheel, and brushed aluminum door latches are an ode to fashion-istas/ -istos. There is hardly a place where soft materials aren't fitted. Less friendly to fresh manicures are the busy array of climate system buttons and and a rotary display scroller off yonder. Brilliantly crystalline though those seat-heater dials are, fussing with heating/cooling  intensities is a good way to set off LDP.

Apples to Nearly Apples:

The 2013 Infiniti JX35 comes to market to challenge the standard bearer for luxury three-row crossovers: the Acura MDX. Starting at $41,250, (or the point of a loaded front-drive Ford Explorer), it does so with a $2000 lower price, as Acura offers no front-drive model. Add every option and the price swells to $55,000 as in the case of our loaded all-wheel-drive tester. Coinciding with the launch of a re-designed 2014 MDX, next year's JX gets "Q - ified" in name along with the rest of the Infiniti line. No official word, yet, from Infiniti on whether JX35 owners will qualify for QX60 plaques.

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