Beyond the number and spreadsheets, I actually have a few other pastimes. I like to eat. I like to travel. I like to watch TV. So, you can only imagine my excitement when my worlds collided and I saw a promo for Bravo's Around the World in 80 Plates. Travel AND food on TV — what was there not to love? Apparently a lot. I watched the first episode and found it pretty disappointing. I never tuned in again, but the frequent Infiniti product placement spots stuck with me. In fact, among the grand prizes for the winning chef, the participants were competing for a new Infiniti JX, among a host of other items. With an average transaction price of nearly $50K, it's a pretty sweet prize for these chef-testants who seemed easily perplexed.
The JX is the newest nameplate from Infiniti, is built here in the USA, and has sold 5,297 units in its first three months on sale. So even though Around the World in 80 Plates didn't gain me as a viewer, I am interested in taking a closer look at its grand prize.
The JX competes in the midrange luxury SUV category, which has made up 1.7% of the market in 2012. But, don't let that small number fool you. 1.7% is more than the combined market share of Mini, Land Rover, Fiat, Porsche, Suzuki, Jaguar and Smart. It also outsells its car counterpart in the midrange luxury category.
This is a very lucrative segment for automakers. If you take a look at all of the different luxury segments, midrange SUV has the lowest price-to-incentive ratio. This translates into more profit for automakers. In 2012, the incentive spent to sell these vehicles was 7% of the purchase price. This is lower than the industry average of 11%. Bottom line is that a vehicle in this category should be able to sell itself and not rely on big automakers budgets. Luckily, the JX hasn't had to report much in regards to incentive spending. And as an all-new vehicle, it shouldn't. What little money that has been spent has gone to a subsidized leasing program, which is normal. The JX lease rate is fairly on par with what you'd expect for a new vehicle from the segment — 37%. It's slightly higher than the midrange luxury SUV category, which tracks in the low 30% range. YTD, midrange SUV has the lowest lease penetration rate of all luxury categories with the exception of its big brother, premium luxury SUV.
A big goal of Infiniti was to bring more female buyers into the brand. Our Edmunds Road Test Editor, Mike Monticello, pointed this out in his full review of the vehicle. He writes, "Infiniti has a gender problem. A severe gender problem. For the most part, its products are bought by guys, while all the girls are across the street buying Acuras and Lexuses. If Infiniti is going to grow, it needs to attract more women to the brand."
So, is it?
Our data is pretty preliminary as we are working with retail registration data, but it appears the JX hasn't really moved the needle with the ladies...yet. The JX is pretty much on par with the Infiniti brand. It's ever-so-slightly less than its competitor Acura MDX, but lags significantly behind the Lexus RX. It looks as if the JX has some work to do.
Being that the JX is an all-new vehicle for Infiniti, I was curious to see what types of car shoppers were putting it on their list. Interestingly enough, a big one is the Lincoln MKT. And no, I didn't see that one coming either. But 40% of MKT shoppers are checking out the JX on Edmunds.com. Sadly for Lincoln, the love affair is one-sided, as only 7.1% of JX shoppers are looking at the MKT. A more clear and present danger to the JX is the Acura MDX, a heavyweight in the segment that comprises nearly 20% on average of segment sales. Nearly 22% of JX buyers also have the MDX on their shopping list.
See how the rest stacks up:
So, there is the early look. Next on my to-do list is to drive a JX for myself. I've been eyeing it in the Edmunds Editorial fleet so I'll have to convince Editor in Chief Scott Oldham to hand over the keys. It's either that or win a cooking show.
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Jessica Caldwell is the Senior Director of Pricing & Industry Analysis for Edmunds.com. Follow @jessrcaldwell on Twitter.