2013 Infiniti JX Review
Infiniti builds its first 3-row, 7-passenger crossover.
- Pleasant road manners
- Rich interior environment
- Space for people and cargo
- Not as sporty as most Infiniti models
- Pretty pricey
- More a nice Nissan than an Infiniti
When Infiniti introduced the G35 Sedan and Coupe and the FX crossover in 2003, the brand's persona was effectively transformed overnight, from a fairly conservative luxury automaker to one with decidedly sportier intentions. The cool new vehicles were based on rear-drive platforms and featured powerful V6 or V8 engines.
For 2013, Infiniti is abandoning that strategy with at least one vehicle, the all-new midsize JX crossover. But does this new 7-passenger crossover really live up to Infiniti standards or is it just a luxurious Nissan?
The 2013 Infiniti JX is offered in one well-equipped trim level, with front- or all-wheel drive. Standard features on the $40,650 JX35 and $42,050 JX35 AWD consist of tri-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, 8-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, AM/FM/CD stereo, XM satellite radio, USB port, sunroof, power rear liftgate, bi-xenon headlights, Bluetooth connectivity and P235/65R18 tires on alloy wheels.
A few key options packages add plenty of tech and luxury features. The Premium package includes a navigation system with XM NavTraffic and XM NavWeather, an Around View Monitor, a 13-speaker Bose audio system, auto-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage-door opener, and memory for the driver's seat, mirrors and power tilt/telescoping steering wheel. A Theater package comes with two 7-inch rear DVD screens. A Driver Assistance package adds backup collision intervention, blind-spot warning, intelligent brake assist with forward collision warning, intelligent cruise control, a heated steering wheel, and remote engine starting. A Deluxe Touring package comes with a 15-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system, 20-inch wheels, heated second-row seats, climate-controlled front seats and a panoramic sunroof. A Technology package adds lane-departure warning and prevention, blind-spot intervention and front pre-crash seatbelts.
Under the Hood
The engine is the familiar VQ 3.5-liter V6, here tuned for 265 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. The continuously variable transmission never shifts when left in Drive, but Infiniti provides a Sport mode with six preset gear ratios and manual shift capability through the gearshift. Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy ratings are 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway with front-wheel drive and 18/23 mpg highway with all-wheel drive.
Infiniti buyers will recognize the dashboard layout of the JX. It has the same high-quality soft-touch materials that you might find in the sedan, materials that would look quite elegant in your living room. The control layout is familiar, too, with the audio controls set low on the center stack, the climate controls set high, and the navigation/telematics controls in-between. The system is similar to the BMW iDrive and Mercedes Comand systems, and it will take a while to get used to the controls.
JX buyers also get Infiniti Connection and four years of the Infiniti Personal Assistant, a concierge service that promises to provide anything, anytime, anywhere. It can be accessed through your home phone or mobile phone and be used to do make dinner reservations, get directions, and find points of interest. The Infiniti Connection system can also report accidents, make emergency calls, report when the vehicle is stolen, set drive-zone boundaries and speed alerts, and access your Google calendar.
Infiniti has designed the JX's interior to offer room and flexibility for the family. The front seat is plenty roomy and quite comfortable, and the second- and third-row seats are generally roomier than most 3-row crossovers. The second-row seats slide forward and aft 5.5 inches, which helps maximize passenger legroom in the second or third row.
Infiniti has also designed the second row to tilt and slide forward to provide a 22-inch walkthrough to the third row on either side of the vehicle. In fact, passengers can access the third row even with a child's car seat in the second row. The walkthrough shrinks to 8 inches, but that's far more than any competitor.
We do have a couple of issues with all of this second-row flexibility. First, while room is plentiful, the seat bottoms are too low and too flat to provide good comfort on long trips. Second, it's odd that Infiniti offers only a second-row bench. Two buckets with a walkthrough or a center console would add versatility for different types of customers.
The third row has decent headroom, but it also has seat bottoms that sit too low. Adults will fit back there, but only with the second-row seats moved far forward. The third row is best for kids.
Total cargo space is competitive. With all the seats up, there is a rather small 15.8 cubic feet of cargo space. With the third row down, there is as much as 47.3 cubic feet of space, which is plenty for a week's worth of groceries for the family. With all the seats folded down, space expands to 76.5 cubic feet, which trails the Acura MDX by 8.0 cubic feet, but is still wide and cavernous.
On the Road
Infiniti has forged a reputation for sporty driver's vehicles, even its crossover models. The Infiniti FX and EX are both based on rear-drive platforms and handle more like sport sedans than SUVs. The 2013 JX takes a different tack. Instead of sharp steering and flat cornering, it is more subdued and family oriented.
The JX rides a new front-wheel-drive unibody platform that it will share with the forthcoming Nissan Pathfinder. The JX leans more in turns than any Infiniti other than the large, truck-based QX56. The steering is predictable, but slower and less direct than we've come to expect for Infiniti. Nonetheless, the ride is smooth and controlled, limiting head toss and ironing out bumps. It's quite similar to the JX's main rivals, the equally pleasant Acura MDX and Audi Q7.
Engine performance is conservative but capable as well. The familiar 3.5-liter V6 offers plenty of pep to get the JX underway and it provides decent passing response, but it's slightly detuned, and there is no V8 alternative as there is in the FX. Infiniti isn't providing zero-to-60-mph numbers, but we're guessing they are in the 7.5- to 8.0-second range, which is competitive.
Infiniti also provides a drive-mode selector with settings for Standard, Sport, Snow and Eco. The selector changes only the transmission tuning and throttle response, with Sport mode being more aggressive, Eco less so, and Snow adjusting the gearing to help prevent the wheels from spinning when starting out on slippery surfaces.
Right for You?
Families who need to carry up to seven passengers in comfort but don't want the stigma of driving a minivan will be well served by the 2013 Infiniti JX. The space is quite useful, the ride comfortable and the environment luxurious. It may not be as sporty as other Infiniti models, but as a family-oriented vehicle it doesn't need to. Buyers looking for sportier handling and a firmer ride will be better served by the BMW X5.
(As part of a sponsored press event, the automaker provided MSN with travel and accommodations to facilitate this report.)
Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, and currently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.
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