Entry-level luxury SUVs are all the rage, and now Infiniti has a horse in the race. The EX35 is styled much like Infiniti's latest efforts, taking many cues from the brand's well-received G35 sedan. A 297-horsepower V-6 makes this SUV the most powerful in its class, which includes the Acura RDX, Land Rover LR2 and BMW X3.
Rear-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is optional. With either setup, the EX35 comes in base and Journey trim levels. Features of note include an Around View Monitor, which uses four embedded cameras to give drivers a 360-degree view when parking, and a Lane Departure Prevention system, which applies light braking pressure to keep the EX35 on its intended path. Both are optional.
The EX35 should fit right alongside its stablemates: L-shaped headlights, a twin-compartment lower air dam and a curvy, windswept profile are all part of the mix. The horizontal taillights don't seem as chiseled as the ones on Infiniti's larger FX crossover. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are standard, and 18s are optional. LED taillights and front fog lights are standard; xenon headlights that swivel a few degrees in the direction of a turn are optional.
The EX35's car-based chassis has a four-wheel-independent suspension with extensive aluminum components. That should reduce unsprung weight, which bodes well for bumpy-road handling. Infiniti says the SUV's Scratch Shield paint can repair fine damage, like a fingernail scratch under the door handle. Thanks to a flexible resin and clearcoat combination, the paint can reportedly minimize the scratch in about a week.
The dashboard comprises three broad domes — one houses the gauges, another the navigation system and the third the glove compartment. The gauges are backlit in purple and white, and stitched upholstery covers elements of the upper dashboard. Five people can fit inside, and Journey trim levels include a power-folding second row seat.
Total passenger volume is 107.1 cubic feet, beating the RDX (101.4 cubic feet) and X3 (90.1) handily. Cargo volume behind the second row is just 16.8 cubic feet, however, which trails the others by more than 10 cubic feet. The base EX35 comes with accoutrements like power front seats, a keyless access system, automatic climate control and a 7-inch trip computer display — but you have to upgrade to the Journey to get leather upholstery.
The base audio system has six speakers. A 9.3GB Music Box hard drive can download and store thousands of songs that you can play through the 11-speaker Bose stereo. Both features are optional on the Journey trim.
Under the Hood
The latest iteration of Infiniti's 3.5-liter V-6 makes 297 hp and 253 pounds-feet of torque. Under normal conditions, the optional all-wheel-drive system sends most power to the rear wheels. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard; it comes with Sport and manual-shift modes that can match revs on downshifts.
With all-wheel drive, gas mileage is estimated at 16/23 mpg city/highway. That's roughly the same as the LR2; the X3 and RDX are a few mpg better. With rear-wheel drive, which none of the competitors offer, the EX35 gets an estimated 17/24 mpg.
Active front head restraints, side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags for both rows are standard. So are four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system. Optional adaptive cruise control can follow the car ahead at a preset distance. It includes a Preview Braking function; should the car ahead brake suddenly, the system alerts the driver with an audible warning and preloads the brakes for faster response. Preview Braking continually scans the road and will operate whether cruise control is on or off.
The Lane Departure Prevention system uses a camera behind the windshield to scan the road for lane markings. Should the EX35 drift too far to one side without activating a turn signal, LDP sounds an audible warning in the cabin. It also utilizes the stability system to keep the SUV in its lane, braking lightly to generate the proper yaw motion. The system works at speeds over 45 mph. Infiniti says it keeps a fairly low profile, applying only light brakes and never locking up the tires or overriding any steering inputs from the driver. If you still want to change lanes without signaling, go ahead — Infiniti says the system won't fight you.
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|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||October 28, 2007|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||October 21, 2007|
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