April 24, 2013
I had to go to the Bay Area and was handed the keys to one of my favorite cars: the 2013 Infiniti JX35. I felt a bit wasteful driving alone in the big luxury SUV, but I enjoyed using the advanced technology systems such as adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.
On the way north I took the scenic Highway 101 up through Santa Barbara. But on the way back I had to leave San Francisco during rush hour and took the Bay Bridge to Interstate 5. I found myself in traffic that was going from about 5 mph to 65 mph and back again. Here's what I learned about the adaptive cruise control.
April 19, 2013
I'm hesitant to tell you that the Infiniti JX35 needs more power, but the Infiniti JX35 needs more power.
I'm hesitant because you may not feel the same way. If you're a driving enthusiast as I am, and that's for you to decide, you'll agree with me. If you are my wife or the dozens of other normal folks I've exposed to our long-term JX over the past 11 months, you will call me a power junky and give me an eye roll.
March 14, 2013
Last Saturday I drove the JX down the most poorly maintained (but still maintained) gravel road in Orange County. It was wet. This particular road is easily accessible and just about the only place in the county to find mud. So it's a homing beacon for fools after a rain storm.
February 25, 2013
Actually, the steering in our long-term Infiniti JX35 AWD could be a lot better.
Initial turn-in is pretty quick for such a large and heavy SUV. But there's almost no feeling to the overboosted steering whatsoever. You really have no idea what those front tires are doing.
January 31, 2013
Trying to merge the 4,400+ pound, 265-horsepower Infiniti JX35 onto the freeway is laborious. It lumbers along while its CVT advances through its pulleys.
It's heavy and it feels heavy. Passing is difficult. But once the JX35 gets going, it offers a comfortable, quiet ride.
I could see buying the seven-passenger JX35 as a minivan alternative. It makes a much more luxurious and attractive companion. But its lack of oomph makes me wish for a bit more spunk.
I'm not a minivan fan, but I'd rather drive a Honda Odyssey. The Odyssey feels light on its feet and sportier in a middle-aged kind of way.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 14,263 miles
August 17, 2012
Yes, that's a shot of the JX in front of Idaho's largest army surplus store. Can't ever have too much surplus.
Anyway, here are a few thoughts on the JX's drivability/usability on a trip like this.
First, it's comfortable. As I've already discussed, long days in the saddle are no problem in this car. I found its range to be adequate as well. Does anyone really need to go more than 375 miles between stops anyway? I don't. I have to eat more often than that.
But it's good for other reasons, too. Its nav system is handy for easily pinpointing potential stop locations and telling you how far away they are. And its adaptive cruise control is absolutely brilliant in everything from thin traffic to stop-and-go slowing.
I only found it obviously power deficient once and that was on Wyoming's 9,659-foot Togwotee pass when I attempted to make a double pass. Certainly the combination of Nissan's 3.5-liter V6 and the CVT isn't as effective at motivating the JX as it in smaller cars, but engine drone was never troubling and simulated shifting made power readily available.
It is big, however. And you feel it. I attempted to follow a friend's Audi Q5 through the mountains and was working pretty hard to keep up. Then again, he wasn't able to stuff two bikes and two weeks worth of adventure gear in the back of his Audi. I'd call that a worthy trade off.
I do wish the rear hatch didn't beep so many times or so loudly when it's opened and closed, but that's a small issue. Overall, the JX is solid road tripper.
Josh Jacquot, Senior editor
July 31, 2012
Last night was my second time in the JX. The first -- a simple home-and-back commute -- left me thinking of the JX as the big, soft, slow-responding three-row SUV that it is. Last night, however, something was different. Small prods at the throttle actually produced a response. Not a big jump, mind you, but a response.
It wasn't how I remembered it.
This big bruiser is different in Sport mode. You don't need to plan as far ahead to pass or dig into the throttle nearly as much. Push the throttle and the JX responds. It's nice.I plan to leave it there just like many of us did in the long-since-departed Infiniti M56.
Josh Jacquot, Senior editor
July 17, 2012
The lease on my brother's Acura MDX is about to expire. He loves his Acuras (he changes cars every three years and has had an MDX ever since I can remember), but he mentioned that he'd been intrigued by the JX35 when he first heard news of its arrival.
After taking a closer look at the Infiniti, he decided to stick with the MDX when his lease is over.
"What was it about the JX that turned you off?"I asked him.
He replied that it was all about horsepower and torque. With the MDX you get 300 hp and 270 pound-feet of torque. The JX35 comes up a bit short, with 265 hp and 248 lb-ft in its arsenal.
I reminded him that with the JX, you get a fuel economy advantage for the hp/torque deficit. The AWD MDX gets 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined, while the AWD JX gets 18/23/20 mpg (although, as you've no doubt read, our observed mileage hasn't quite hit these numbers). I also pointed out that for most situations, the JX offers power that's perfectly adequate.
But he wasn't sold. While I wouldn't consider him a hardcore enthusiast, he was eager and willing to sacrifice a few mpg for quicker acceleration (at 8.3 seconds, the JX is a second slower from 0-60 mph than the MDX).
How about you? JX or MDX?
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor
June 29, 2012
Ford Flex notwithstanding, three-row crossovers aren't exactly my bag. Don't need 'em, don't want 'em, can't foresee the day when I'd have more than one kid plus a Mastiff to lug about.
Having said that, I like the JX35. Yes it's front-drive-based and has a CVT when other Infinitis do not. Who cares? It's a proven powertrain we've enjoyed in Nissan's Altima, Maxima, Quest and Murano. No, it doesn't handle as well as other Infinitis or its main competitor, the Acura MDX. Who cares? It's not a lumbering pig either, and its steering is responsive enough to make you feel connected to the road. I don't feel tiny in the JX as I do in the Explorer, nor does this Infiniti seven-seater feel 8,000 pounds like an Audi Q7.
What I do care about is the legitimate amount of space in all three rows. If you're going to have a giant crossover with three rows and seven seats, they damn well better be useful. Too many large luxury SUVs are all size and weight, with less practical benefit than you'd expect. What I do care about is the Infiniti infotainment interface, which has to be the easiest to use on the planet. Physical buttons, a multi-purpose knob and a touchscreen create useful redundancy that gives the driver a choice of how he wants to accomplish any given task, while at the same time not being overwhelming.
I've yet to take the JX35 on a road trip, so I'm eager to experience its ride and the long-term comfort of its seats. Also, how will that slower-than-average engine handle the hills and grades that pepper California? I'll have to wait and see, but for now, I like this car.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor
June 19, 2012
My wife's parnets, Fred and Donna, had their 50th wedding anniversary this weekend. We celebrated in Lake Arrowhead, a nearby mile-high mountain town, and at the college campus where they first met, located at the base of the mountain.
And so our 2013 Infiniti JX35 was pressed into limo duty, shuttling the happy couple up and down the winding route between these two significant points. My mother-in-law is prone to carsickness, and has been reluctant to ride with me on this road (CA highway 18) before. A 90's-era Toyota Land Cruiser I once owned may have had something to do with this.
There were no such problems on this occasion, and in fact she gave the Infiniti's flat cornering attitude and non-floaty ride high marks. And though she didn't say so specifically, I think the CVT transmission's seamless power delivery, which never kicks down, never induces any head bobbing in the occupants, had something to do with it, too.
The JX's third row was full-up for the trip, of course, and the folks riding back there had no complaints either. Everyone piled out at the endpoints none the worse for wear and ready to party.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 2,695 miles
June 15, 2012
At least from the driver's seat. But it sure doesn't drive like an Infiniti. Not the ones I think of, anyway. This is my own problem, of course, but when it comes to Infiniti I think of the G37, FX50 and M56, which are all very sport-oriented.
In contrast, the JX flops over almost instantly upon corner turn-in, while the steering is overboosted and unfeeling. And I wish it had a true automatic, not this CVT, which is too rubber-bandy.
Of course, the reality is that this is a new direction for Infiniti. And in terms of people-hauling and comfort, the JX gets it done. My prediction: They'll sell a lot of them. Even if it's not what I think of when I think of Infiniti.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 2,140 miles.