Infiniti JX35 SUV is well crafted, balanced effort

2013 Infiniti JX35
2013 Infiniti JX35

The luxury SUV market is saturated with good product. Big behemoths filled with leather, wood, fancy entertainment systems and big engines that whisk you down the road with very little fanfare.

So how do you make your product stand out among the crowd? Add a bit more polish, little more leather, more horsepower? That works, but what works even better is to make the overall package feel so integrated and satisfying that, well,  just works.

That’s what Infiniti has done with the JX35. It also helps that it doesn’t look like anything else.

That may be the most controversial element of the JX35 – the styling. Some have scoffed at its crossover looks. The JX is slimmer than most SUVs and looks a bit longer. It’s not quite mini van proportions but certainly not a wide body. Well, it is technically a crossover, sitting on a modified Nissan Murano platform.

It certainly is roomy. The JX seats seven comfortably. The middle and rear row of seats recline. The second row will recline an impressive six inches. Getting in the rear is easier than most vehicles of this type and the room is good for medium to tall folks.

The interior is lavish, especially if you doll the thing up with almost every option. The pillowy leather seats are comfy and can be heated and cooled in front and middle. The front seats feel great and give you a great view. The dash is modern and appealing with some touches from the M sedan. The video screens in the front headrests are not only cool, but the picture is really sharp.

Cabin is roomy
Cabin is roomy

There is a lot more to be desired in the JX. Wood, leather and metal are used in such an artistic manner that it nearly puts other Infiniti’s to shame. There is much standard equipment but options will give you nearly the kitchen sink.

Some may be disappointed with the JX’s performance. The engine is a a 3.5-liter V6 which produces 265 and 248 pounds-feet of torque. That is enough to get the slippery vehicle to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds. There are plenty of V8 powered vehicles that can zip past the JX but it will at least get better fuel economy while getting beaten. I didn’t find the performance sluggish, but the continuously variable transmission wasn’t perfect. It could be set to react like a regular gearbox but a genuine 7-speed transmission would be neat.

Dash borrows from M sedan
Dash borrows from M sedan

The JX’s handling abilities were OK, but it’s ride quality was exceptional. There is a slight trade off – it could handle better if the suspension wasn’t so soft – but for me it feels right. I like being carried about in limo style sometimes.

Once past the middling performance you have to deal with the options. They are plentiful, but vexing. Some packages require other packages, which may not be compatible with the package you really want. Warning: Once you experience this thing nearly optioned out, it will be hard to want something less. Try a couple of vehicles with lesser equipment before going for the top dog.

One of the more interesting options is lane departure warning and prevention. Just as a number of vehicles this feature warns if you cross over into the next lane. Unlike other vehicles the JX will apply the brakes. It does the same in the blind spot warning and intervention option. If it senses a car (or person, I think) while backing up you get a warning and the brakes.

My vehicle had five packages (technology, theatre, deluxe touring, premium and tow) and roof rails which totaled nearly $14,000.

My $40,450 vehicle mushroomed to $54,700 which included destination.

Yes, that’s on the expensive side but your money will be well spent. This is a rolling tour de force of technology and luxury that will please the seven folks you carry beyond words.


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