Spending eight to 10 consecutive hours behind the wheel of vehicle can make a lasting impression – good or bad. The impression made by the 2013 Infiniti JX35 during a recent run to Chicago and back was definitely positive.
The JX was certainly put to the test, hauling three adults and their luggage plus some extra cargo destined for family in the Windy City. To say the JX fulfilled its assignment is an understatement. I’ve made this trip several times, but never have I done it in such complete comfort.
Comfort and room
I was immediately impressed with the spaciousness of this seven-seater’s cabin. The front seats are large and well designed, delivering the support and comfort needed to make long drives bearable.
The driver’s seat has a power lumbar support that adjusts in two directions, while the seat itself has eight-way power adjustment – both features that are much appreciated on long drives.
The passenger’s seat is also power adjustable – in six directions – and both sport seats on this tester were fitted with a heating/cooling feature with multiple settings.
Up front, there’s plenty of leg, hip and headroom, although I did find the heavily slanted windshield and A-pillar made getting through the front door without whacking my noggin a sometimes painful challenge. It didn’t take long to learn to duck when entering.
People-friendly rear seats
While the front-seat area is spacious, the roominess in the second row is immense, the floor is flat and space for feet is generous.
The heated second-row bench is split 60/40, both sections can be moved fore and aft for even more room, and a folding armrest with cupholders can be flipped down for additional comfort and convenience.
That seat is also designed to shift forward, allowing easy entry and exit to the third-row bench. On several occasions during our trip it became necessary to use that third-row and not once did anyone complain about being relegated to the penalty box – the entry/exit process was simple and the seats were comfortable, even for two adults.
While we didn’t have need for the feature, it’s worth noting the second-row seat can be shifted ahead for back-row access without having to remove a baby seat – something that will certainly be appreciated by young families.
When two rows of seating will do, the third row folds flat with the tug of strap, opening up a generous cargo area. The seatback is also split 50/50, adding to its versatility.
As one would expect in a premium vehicle, the materials and decor used in the cabin are top-notch – our ride had supple leather everywhere with polished maple accents on the door panels, console and sweeping, twin-arch instrument panel.
The Premium Package in our tester included a Bose audio system with 13 speakers and XM satellite radio that surrounded us with wonderful sounds all the way to Chicago and back.
We didn’t use the Theatre Package features, but I’m sure this option would keep young occupants entertained for hours watching the dual seven-inch colour monitors built into the front-seat headrests. The system includes a pair of wireless headphones and remote control, as well as auxiliary audio/video input jacks and a 120-volt power outlet.
It is truly a quiet, luxurious cabin, a place you’re able to spend hours at a stretch in total comfort.
The JX’s dynamics don’t disappoint, either. The suspension delivers an impressively smooth ride, but retains sufficient stiffness to avoid the cushy, floating sensation that often spoils some highway cruisers.
It’s so compliant it soaks up road surface irregularities, such as expansion joints and cracks, yet there’s little evidence of body roll when pushed at speed through highway access ramps and around corners.
The speed-sensitive power steering has enough feel to keep the driver informed about what’s happening up front, while the four-wheel disc brakes with ABS stop this rather hefty vehicle (2,005 kilograms) with confidence.
The only powertrain offered is Nissan/Infiniti’s award-winning 3.5-litre V-6 engine, mated to an electronically controlled, continuously variable transmission (CVT) and an intelligent all-wheel-drive system.
It’s a powertrain that complements the JX’s attributes as a fine highway cruiser.
The all-aluminum engine, with continuously variable valve timing, is remarkably smooth and its output – 265 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque – provides adequate power for the vehicle.
Nissan is committed to CVTs because of their fuel-saving efficiencies and although I’m usually not a fan of this type of transmission, in this case, combined with the V-6, I must concede that I could live with it.
Infiniti engineers have managed to minimize the “motor-boat effect” on acceleration, programming in shift changes that mimic the gear changes of a conventional automatic.
Gone is the incessant spooling whine of the engine, so common in small, four-cylinder applications, that turns many people off CVTs; you hardly notice that this engine/transmission package is doing its thing.
To help make the system feel even more conventional, the JX is fitted with a manual mode that enables the driver to sequentially change gears.
The JX's intelligent all-wheel-drive system delivers added security when driving conditions deteriorate.
Drive Mode Selector
The Infiniti Drive Mode Selector also helps the driver cope with changing conditions, offering a choice of four settings: standard, sport, snow or eco mode.
The system alters throttle response and transmission mapping to suit the mode selected. I found the throttle response in eco mode was too subdued – like stepping on a sponge – when I need to accelerate in traffic; however, switching to the standard or sport setting stepped things up to a more acceptable level.
On long runs on the Interstate, however, the eco setting helped keep fuel consumption reasonable. Without specifically driving in a fuel-conserving style, I managed to average 11.5 litres/100 kilometres, compared to Transport Canada’s rating of 8.5. In city use, my average was 12.6 L/100 km, compared to the government rating of 11.5.
It should be noted, the JX prefers premium-grade fuel.
If you’re looking for a comfortable upscale people-mover that will capably cart up to seven passengers as well as their stuff, this premium crossover should be on your shopping list.