Ad Radar

2013 Infiniti JX35 FWD Road Test

Nissan matches the competition for full-sized luxury crossover SUV with all-new 2013 Infiniti JX35.

What It Is
The 2013 Infiniti JX is a premium full-sized crossover aimed at consumers wanting a luxury SUV without the price-tag of the German brands
Best Thing
Quiet interior
Worst Thing
Third row is for children, small adults, or folded down for cargo space only. Snap Judgment
The 2013 Infiniti JX feels more like a top trim of the Nissan Pathfinder than a competitor to the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class or Audi Q7


We are more than a little perplexed at the existence of the Infiniti JX, which made its debut at the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance before the production version rolled out at the Los Angeles Auto Show months later. Unsurprisingly, there was little change from concept to production.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

Click thumbnails for detailed view

The seven-passenger JX full-sized crossover slots neatly above the five-passenger FX and below the eight-passenger QX. Notice the one seat difference? We know automakers are always on the lookout to fill different niches in the car market, but couldn't Infiniti's parent Nissan offered a seven-passenger version of the QX instead? Automakers like General Motor has been something similar for years among its Chevrolet and GMC full-sized SUV lineup. Our First Drive [http://www.automotive.com/infiniti/jx35/2013/first-drive/] showed the Infiniti JX attempting to edge rivals like the Acura MDX and Q7 with a plethora of technology like Infiniti Personal Assistant and Back-up Collision Intervention system. But is that enough to lure discriminating consumers away those stalwarts in the seven-passenger luxury crossover SUV segment? Or would the Infiniti JX find itself rolling behind? We had a checklist of questions to answer in our weeklong road-test of the JX crossover.

What We Drove

Our 2013 Infiniti JX35 with forward-wheel drive started at $41,450 which includes a $950 delivery and destination fee. As expected, it came with a chock-full of standard features including leather throughout the cabin; 8 and 6-way power seats for driver and front passenger; three-zone climate control; and powered sunroof/moonroof, tilt/telescoping steering column, side rearview mirrors, and liftgate. Standard technology found in the Infiniti JX covers all the basics like Bluetooth, satellite radio, and push-button start, plus a standard rearview camera, a great safety feature.

Speaking of safety features, the Infiniti JX checks off on all expected ones including front, side, and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; and tire pressure monitoring system. We tested the Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children, or LATCH, child safety system in both the JX's second row and even third row and they worked fine. Note you'll need a chiropractor and several sessions after installing that heavy child seat in the back. Neither the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or private Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have rated the Infiniti JX in their safety tests, though we'd be surprised if the crossover SUV doesn't score high in all of them.

This is especially true with our Infiniti JX, which came equipped with two major optional packages. The first, Driver Assistance, can also be called Car Safety 2.0. The $2,200 packages adds an active back-up collision system which brakes the large crossover if it detects something right behind it like a child; a similar system but for imminent front collisions; and blind spot detection. (The last one, especially, is extremely handy for a vehicle this size and practically screams to be standard.) The package also heated steering wheel and active cruise control.

The secondary Premium package the niceties including GPS/navigation, 13-speaker Bose sound system, and memory seats. Cost? Nearly $5,000. Finally, our JX gets a makeover courtesy of roof rails ($370), roof rail crossbars ($290), lit kickplates ($295), and 20-inch, $1,600 wheels. Total cost of our ride? $51,105.

The Commute

One of the major surprises about the Infiniti JX is that we actually found it sporty.

The 2013 Infiniti JX powertrain, or engine and transmission lineup, has four selectable modes: Standard, Sport, Snow, and Eco. Being car enthusiasts, we quickly switched to Sport mode and put the JX through its paces throughout the streets of LA and various highways. The JX actually complied to our steering wheel inputs, moving far more nimble on the road than would be expected for such a large vehicle. No, it's not the sports crossover like the Infiniti FX S AWD, but it sped far ahead, drive fun-wise, of all non-German competition. Even the Q7 should be a little nervous.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

Click thumbnails for detailed view

In day-to-day driving, the 2013 Infiniti JX was in Standard mode, figuratively as well as literally. Appropriate fit and finish? Check. Seat comfort to within tolerances? Check. Distracting infotainment on par with the competition? Double check. We found the JX's interior quietness just right when cruising down the highway. Some of the editors wanted more power from the JX's 3.5-liter V-6 engine, but overall we thought it was just right for most buyer's needs. We found it easy to hit freeway speed from short on ramps or bypass slow eighteen wheelers. We even surprised a few cars as we zipped past in front of them for that precious open traffic space. On the other hand, the JX's fuel economy was on the low side in this segment despite the smooth continuously variable transmission. We do give kudos to Nissan to refining the CVT, which we found both smooth and very quiet compared to yesteryear's raucous versions. We did manage to wring an extra click while in Eco mode: interestingly, we didn't notice any significant difference in the JX's performance when in Standard mode.

The Grocery Run

The Infiniti JX immediately separates itself from the FX and QX in passenger and cargo capacity, though not at the same time. With all three rows up, we hauled seven people, although having three adults sit in the second row is tight for even the thinnest adults. Unfortunately, cargo space behind the third was limited to a few shopping bags and a couple of large duffel bags. Drop the third row, though, and you have plenty of room for up to five passengers and their luggage. You can also drop the second seats very easily as well thanks to their drop-and-slide feature. You not limited in passengers and cargo like you are in the FX. At the same time, you don't have to worry about dealing with the sheer size of owning a QX.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

Click thumbnails for detailed view

Parking the Infiniti JX was interesting. The Around View monitor, a part of that Premium package, especially makes it easy to park between even larger SUVs. The standard rearview camera in the JX also made it a cinch backing out of stalls. Like full-sized crossovers SUVs in this segment, blindspots could be problematic, and we're glad Infiniti realized this fact. Turn radius of the JX, though, was on par with the larger QX, and the crossover's steering was a bit vague at certain spots. Thus we didn't always feel the vehicle respond as it should when maneuvering in tighter parking situations.

The Weekend Fun

We took the JX on our regular cruising route from Los Angeles to Orange County to San Diego and back again. The large crossover SUV absorbed most road imperfections quietly without floating over them, though a few potholes had the normally stiff JX shaking a bit longer than normal. Interior sound is on par with rivals like the Acura MDX, with noise primarily from the road.

Utility is plentiful in the Infiniti JX, with plenty of cupholders for passengers in all three rows; good sized glove box; and massive storage container. Seat comfort is the right mix of comfort and firmest in any row. Our favorite feature, though, hands-down, is the three-zone climate system. The weather was warm and bright in our weeklong excursion in the JX, and everyone found the interior to be a cool place to be in.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

Click thumbnails for detailed view

So what was the Infiniti JX lacking as a full-sized, luxury crossover cruiser? The luxury part. All the components were there but not that intangible, je ne sais quoi that put the JX ahead of competitors like the Acura MDX or Audi Q7. A couple of us pointed to the interior as the culprit. We've driven many top-of-the line Nissan vehicles like the 2012 Murano LE FWD Platinum and found them virtually identical in quality, fit and finish, and even quietness as our JX. So what separates them?

Summary

The Infiniti JX is all new to the Infiniti brand, and we think Nissan did a bang up job for rolling out such a large and complex vehicle to production. Everything is there for a premium full-sized crossover SUV: interesting design, decent engine power, lots and lots of luxury and technology. We quibble that some of the latter should be standard, but that's something for product managers and accountants to go over.

Our biggest concern is figuring out how the Infiniti JX separates itself from the competition. We already figured out its innate flexibility separates it from its smaller FX sibling and the ginormous QX. Against competitors like the Acura MDX, though, and the boundaries become more vague. It's longer than the MDX but shorter than the Q7, and cargo room differs accordingly. We cautiously give a thumbs up to the Infiniti JX, finding that it's enough like the competition to draw consumers eyeballs without being immediately dismissed for some oddity or two.

Spec Box

Price-as-tested: $51,105
Fuel Economy
EPA City: 18 mpg
EPA Highway: 24 mpg
EPA Combined: 21 mpg
Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Excellent
Child Seat Fitment, Third Row: Fair
Estimated Combined Range: 409 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Below Average

Notebook Quotes "The 2013 Infiniti JX can deftly play plush cruiser or sporty crossover, depending on preference. Despite its size, the JX moves and handles with relative ease, especially impressive considering it seats seven. But it won't come cheap—in addition to the large price tag, fuel economy is mediocre." -Matthew Askari, Associate Editor
"Just like in South Carolina, the JX fails to wow me. It's a more plush Murano with some fancy styling and sadly, a whole bunch of dopes will buy this because of the name." -Trevor Dorchies, Associate Editor
“The Infiniti JX was designed, inside and out, by the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man....The overall effect is one of poofiness: think cotton balls here, the ones hidden deep within your mother's makeup case next to all the foundation, whose shade this interior resembles. Very soft and effeminate, inside and out.” -Blake Z. Rong, Associate Editor

0 comments
close