What's New for 2009
The Infiniti EX35 gets revised standard and optional equipment lists for 2009.
It's hard to put a label on the 2009 Infiniti EX35, a luxury vehicle that exists smack-dab on the border between cars and SUVs. Considering the EX35's lower ride height, tapered roof line and smallish cargo capacity, some call it a sport wagon. Others call it a compact crossover SUV in light of its (available) all-wheel drive and general shape. And don't bother going to Infiniti looking for a definitive answer -- its marketing department cooked up the heretofore unknown "Dynamic Personal Luxury Vehicle" when categorizing the EX35. But whatever you call it, you can be sure that the EX35 will deliver a sporty driving experience and a luxuriously lined interior for a reasonable price.
Like most wagons and luxury crossovers, the EX35 is based on a car platform. In this case, it's the G37 sport sedan with a 2-inch wheelbase stretch and 1-inch ride height rise to go along with its hatchback body and different styling (although there's a definite family resemblance). The engine is similar to the smaller 3.5-liter V6 that used to be in the G, but with 297 horsepower sent to either the rear or all four wheels, the EX is certainly not wanting for power. However, the EX retains the G35's old five-speed automatic transmission, whereas the latest G37 has an improved seven-speed auto.
In terms of suspension, the 2009 Infiniti EX35 borrows its front double-wishbone setup from the G37, while its rear multilink design is derived from the larger, previous-generation FX SUV. This Frankenstein combination creates what is perhaps the best compromise between ride comfort and handling capability of any vehicle in the Infiniti lineup. Its ride quality is noticeably more compliant than the G and current FX, yet it will keep up with most sport sedans on a back road without feeling big and heavy like most SUV competitors.
The good feelings continue into the cabin, where the EX sports an attractive, dual-cowl dash design fashioned in high-quality materials and two-tone color schemes. Plus, for 2009, Infiniti has made the old Luxe Elite Package's higher-quality leather upholstery standard across the board. This gives the EX arguably the nicest cabin in Infiniti's garage, including the G37 and the more expensive FX, while still featuring the same solid ergonomics and lengthy high-tech features list found throughout the range. Interior space isn't as impressive, however, with significantly less passenger and cargo room than the compact luxury SUVs it'll be compared to.
Therefore, the 2009 Infiniti EX35 is a questionable decision for shoppers who require genuine utility. Competitors like the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK350 and Volvo XC60 are all better for hauling people and stuff (though none are particularly huge). Luxury wagon competitors like the Audi A4 Avant and BMW 328i are closer in regards to size. Yet none of the above vehicles offers the same combination of thrilling performance and driving enjoyment, and those SUVs are all more expensive when similarly equipped. So as long as you don't need that extra bit of room, the EX35 should be on your short list.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Infiniti EX35 is a five-passenger crossover luxury wagon available in base and Journey trim levels. Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, foglights, cruise control, keyless ignition/entry, automatic climate control, a tilt-telescoping steering column, eight-way driver and four-way passenger power seats, leather upholstery, two-tone cabin treatments, a rearview camera, and a six-speaker stereo with single-CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The EX35 Journey adds auto on/off headlights, a sunroof, heated side mirrors, dual-zone climate control, a power-adjustable steering column, heated front seats, wood trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an in-dash six-CD changer.
Options are limited to the Journey. The Premium Package includes adaptive xenon headlights, driver memory functions, an eight-way power passenger seat, a power-folding backseat and upgraded interior trim. Eighteen-inch wheels can be added to the Premium Package. The Bose and Navigation Package includes Bluetooth, a hard-drive-based navigation system (includes voice commands and real-time traffic) and an 11-speaker Bose stereo with single-CD player, iPod interface and 9.3GB of digital music storage. Two packages can be added when the Bose and Navigation has been selected. The Around View Monitor is a free-of-charge option that includes front and rear parking sensors and Infiniti's innovative multi-angle parking camera system. The pricey Technology Package includes lane departure warning and prevention systems, adaptive cruise control, and intelligent brake assist with forward collision warning.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2009 Infiniti EX35 is available with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, but every model is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 attached to a five-speed automatic that includes manual shift control. Output is 297 hp and 253 pound-feet of torque. In performance testing, a rear-drive EX35 went from zero to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds -- a quick time for its class. Fuel economy estimates are 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive, and 16/23/19 with all-wheel drive.
Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. The optional Technology Package adds the Forward Collision Warning (FCW uses the adaptive cruise control radar system to alert the driver of an impending collision), Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA automatically engages the brakes when the driver ignores FCW) and the Lane Departure warning system (alerts the driver when he starts to veer into another lane).
In government crash testing, the EX35 scored four out of five stars for frontal protection and five stars for side protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the EX35 scored the best rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset and side impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
Last year's Luxe Elite Package is now standard on all EX35 models, and that gives the EX one of the warmest and inviting interiors in its class. High-quality leather and interior trim available in classy two-tone shades accents soft lines and pleasing contours. The front seats are supportive and the driving position is excellent -- the Journey's power tilt-telescoping steering wheel is a notably nice touch. The controls for the climate, stereo and optional navigation system are some of the most intuitive in the business. Specifically, the available iPod interface is tough to beat.
The rear seat is less impressive, with cramped legroom best suited for small adults and children. In this way, the EX35 is more like an Audi A4 Avant wagon than the Audi Q5 compact crossover. Ditto the cargo area with its scrawny 16.8 cubic feet of space with the seats raised (which can happen with the touch of a button from the driver seat). Infiniti doesn't publish the seats-down maximum cargo capacity, but it likely wouldn't be good news.
Driving the 2009 Infiniti EX35 is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, even if you don't normally like sport-utility vehicles (that's because it isn't one). For starters, the EX is quicker than other compact SUVs, even those of the premium variety, and its V6 is smooth, potent and aurally pleasing even at high rpm. In addition, the balance between ride quality and handling is close to ideal. Even with the optional 18-inch wheels, the EX35 is perfectly comfortable over crumbling pavement, yet it feels sharp and responsive when hustled around turns. The brakes are strong and easy to modulate.