Infiniti doesn't exactly want for SUVs or crossovers, with the QX56, FX35/FX50, and EX35 all on its current roster. What the luxury brand does need, however, is a family friendly SUV or crossover, something to battle the Audi Q7 and Acura MDX, among others. The QX is too huge and thirsty — not to mention too expensive — to fill the role; the twitchy, sporty FX lacks cargo space and a third row; and the five-seat EX is simply too small. Enter the JX.
The vehicle is for now technically a concept, but this is pretty much what you'll see in production form at November's L.A. auto show. It's a three-row, seven-passenger family hauler, with space efficiency, convenience, and fuel economy as its priorities. Infiniti promises the JX will pack a "powerful V-6," the displacement of which in liters is unconfirmed for now but probably rhymes with "pee-joint-jive." Output should fall in the neighborhood of 290 hp, and since the JX will make use of Nissan's D platform (Maxima, Murano), front-wheel drive will be standard. All-wheel drive will be an option.
The transmission is a "sport-tuned" continuously variable unit, which, if not for the existence of an affordable, Toyota-based Aston Martin, would be the ultimate automotive oxymoron. But Nissan — Infiniti's parent company — is one of very few automakers who have proven that it can do a CVT well, and the JX's unit will incorporate a Sport mode that, when active, will cause the transmission to simulate a regular automatic. No specific number was given, but we'd guess seven or eight ratios will be plucked from the CVT's theoretically infinite spread to act as the "fixed" gears, if only to keep up with competitors who boast similarly endowed conventional automatics.
Hybrid Could Arrive Soon
Infiniti has stated that hybrids will become an increasingly large part of its strategy. It offers only the M35h right now, and the JX seems a likely candidate to be the brand's second gas/electric. It's possible that a hybrid JX would use a smaller, more efficient V-6 — the 2.5-liter already found in the G25 sedan, for example. Evidence to support this theory exists in trademark applications filed by Infiniti last summer, including one for "JX25h".
We'll have to wait until later for an official look at the full interior, but we already know what to expect up front thanks to spy shots captured earlier this summer. The dashboard will look instantly familiar to anyone who's been in an Infiniti in the past few years, with the corporate steering wheel, shift knob, and gauge treatments all present. The center stack will undulate as it does in the brand's other vehicles, with the volume and tuning knobs, radio presets, and CD slot on an upright face at the bottom; an angled slab housing the infotainment and HVAC controls above that; and the navigation and information screen at the top, flanked by two central vents. Some chassis adjustment (likely throttle response and transmission behavior) will be available via a knob mounted on the center tunnel.
Behind the front occupants, Infiniti is talking up the flexibility of the second and third rows. The company says that the second row will offer 5.5 inches of fore and aft travel, and that the JX will have "adult-sized" room in the way back. The middle row of seats will tilt and slide to aid ingress and egress to the third row. Goodies on offer will include blind-spot monitoring, Infiniti's first application of cross-path detection — it watches for vehicles coming from the sides as you reverse — a 14-speaker Bose stereo system, and the recently announced Infiniti Personal Assistant service.
A Crescent for the Fertile
Infiniti describes the D-pillar treatment, previously seen on the C-pillars of the Etherea and Essence concepts, as a "crescent cut," which sort of makes us want a Croissan'Wich. The pillar swoop is a bold hallmark that will spread to all future Infinitis, and it provides a dash of sizzle to a boring vehicle type. Some elements of the JX, especially in profile, remind us of the Dodge Durango (front fender sculpting) and the Mercedes-Benz GL-class (body-side crease, tall A-pillar), but that's no knock. There are only so many ways to go about wrapping a two-box, seven-passenger SUV, and the JX does so in attractive fashion.
While a new crossover isn't something we break into cold sweats over, the JX looks like it will be a relatively stylish, well-executed entry in one of the hottest vehicle segments. We'll have more details as the L.A. show draws near.
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I think they should probably go ahead and drop the QX and just sell the FX/EX/JX. The QX costs in the range of the Land Cruiser, and nearly the Range Rover, and is not really all that competitive (as well as very ugly).
This still seems a bit.. ugly to me though. For me Infiniti lost their way with style after about 2005/2006. The front of this car reminds me of a Hyundai Santa Fe as well.
I've been waiting for a Infiniti 3 row crossover since my QX4, now finally they have one. I guess I'll trade my MDX in for the flagship Infiniti crossover. I'll be at my dealer today trying to get name on the list and get one pre-ordered and at my house in April.....
WTG infiniti....very cool and good looking car. Oh BTW it looks just like the MDX and the Q7 the side lines that is.....