The 2013 Infiniti JX is a totally new mid-luxury crossover sport-utility with three-row seating. The JX is larger than the five-seat Infiniti FX but smaller than the eight-seat Infiniti QX. The new Infiniti JX35 is priced much lower than the QX56 yet it has the capacity to accommodate up to seven people.
With a base price of just over $40,000, seats for seven, and a broad array of luxury features, the Infiniti JX35 crossover strikes a nice balance between practicality and a self-indulgence for families of five or more.
The Infiniti JX35 is powered by Nissan's familiar 3.5-liter V6, rated at 265 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. That's a relatively modest output. The Acura MDX comes with a 3.7-liter V6 rated at 300 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque.
The JX35 offers superior fuel economy, however, achieving an EPA-rated 18/24 mpg City/Highway with front-wheel drive, 18/23 mpg with all-wheel drive. The Acura MDX rates 16/21 mpg and comes standard with all-wheel drive.
Offered in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions, the JX35 rides a stretched edition of Nissan's revised D platform, which will also support the next generation of Nissan's five-seat Murano crossover SUV, the seven-seat Pathfinder, and the redesigned Altima sedan. Although there are at least 13 crossover SUVs with three-row seating that fall into the mid-luxury category, the top player in the class is Acura's MDX, and that was Infiniti's development target.
Starting with a clean computer design screen and the MDX as a reference point, the Infiniti JX emerged with generally larger dimensions than its Acura rival. Width (77.2 inches) and height (67.8) dimensions are slightly smaller than those on the MDX, but at 196.4 inches the new Infiniti is 4.8 inches longer than the MDX, and on a distinctly longer wheelbase: 114.2 inches, versus 108.3.
The combination of long wheelbase and greater length allows Infiniti to claim slightly bigger cargo and/or passenger volume versus the MDX. And a long wheelbase is always a good starting point for creamy ride quality.
Styling may or may not be perceived as a JX strong suit. The trend in crossover SUV design is to make a big-box vehicle look like something other than a big box, without excessive compromise of big-box interior volume. To this end, the design team gave the Infiniti JX a laid back windshield, a curving roofline, a forward-canted rear hatch, and a nifty little zigzag in the rearmost roof pillar. The prominent nose is consistent with Infiniti's current design language, and the big grille is flanked by High Intensity Discharge xenon headlights, with a pair of foglights set down below.
While it may be a little difficult to perceive that big bull nose as pretty, it's hard to ignore, and hard to mistake for anything else.
In the $40,000 realm you expect a goodly list of standard luxury features, and the JX gets good marks on this scorecard. Some highlights: standard power glass moonroof, power rear liftgate, heated power front seats, leather upholstery, four 12-volt power outlets, a very good six-speaker audio system with USB connection for iPod and other devices, a power tilt-telescope steering column, spiffy electroluminescent instruments, a seven-inch color info screen, and three-zone auto climate control.
The V6 is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), a first for the Infiniti division. Like CVTs employed in Nissan passenger cars, the JX version has artificial steps programmed into its control chip if the driver elects to operate in manual mode.