- Competes with: Lexus RX, Acura MDX, Lincoln MKT
- Looks like: Infiniti's long-overdue three-row crossover is here
- Drivetrain: 265-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 with continuously variable automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive
- Hits dealerships: Spring 2012
- MSRP: $40,450 (FWD), $41,550 (AWD)
Although Infiniti offers the sporty FX crossover and the QX56 full-size SUV, the luxury brand hasn't had a conventional luxury crossover in its lineup — the kind that has done so well for the likes of Lexus with its RX and Acura with its MDX. Enter the 2013 Infiniti JX, a three-row seven-seat crossover that aims to fill that hole in the brand's lineup. It hits dealerships in the spring with a starting price of $40,450 for front-wheel drive and $41,550 for all-wheel drive. (By comparison, the 2012 MDX starts at $42,930 with all-wheel drive standard.)
The JX mixes design elements from current Infiniti models and also brings some new themes to the table. The large rectangular grille with chrome slats and a big Infiniti logo looks like it could have come right off the FX crossover, and the headlights have a trace of the FX's headlights, too.Apart from the grille, the JX's most distinctive styling cue is a scalloped D-pillar that adds a little visual interest to the rear side glass. Standard features include automatic bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights, fog lights, LED taillights, a power liftgate, a power moonroof and 18-inch alloy wheels. A rear panoramic moonroof and 20-inch wheels are options.
The cabin has familiar Infiniti controls and a high-mounted 7-inch information screen in the center of the dash. Standard features include leather-trimmed seats and power-adjustable heated front seats. The second-row bench seat can slide up to 5.5 inches for greater legroom or cargo space, and the 60/40-split second row and 50/50-split third row provide numerous ways to expand the 15.8-cubic-foot cargo area by folding sections of the seats. The backrests in both rows also recline.
The JX introduces the Infiniti Connection and Infiniti Connection Plus telematics systems, which are both complimentary for a year and will be available on other navigation-equipped Infinitis in the near future. Some of the services, like automatic crash notification and remote door unlocking, are similar to those offered by GM's OnStar, but the Infiniti effort also lets owners create notifications — via email, text message or phone — if the JX has crossed a predetermined boundary or exceeded a predetermined speed. It's more than a little Big Brotherish, but Infiniti says parents will appreciate being able to keep tabs on a young driver in the house. Other services include personalized news, stock and sports reports.
Available features include cooled front seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel and enhanced Intelligent Key. The latter remembers memory settings, the last-used audio feature, and climate and navigation modes. Remote engine start and a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system are options.
All versions of the JX are powered by a 265-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine that teams with a continuously variable automatic transmission. When the Infiniti Drive Mode Selector is set to Sport, the transmission can mimic a conventional automatic's stepped shifting characteristics. Eco and Snow modes are also offered. Both front- and all-wheel-drive versions get an estimated 17/23 mpg city/highway, and premium gas is recommended.
Standard safety features include side curtain airbags for all three rows of seats, side-impact airbags for the front seats, three-point safety belts for all seating positions, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system.
The JX's available blind spot warning system features Backup Collision Intervention, which is designed to detect crossing cars and objects when backing up and automatically apply the brakes if necessary to avoid a collision.
Additional available driver aids include Infiniti's Around View Monitor with new Moving Object Detection. The system alerts the driver with visual and audible warnings if it detects a moving object within the system's field of view. Also available are the now-familiar Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention systems, the latter of which can bring the car back into its lane by selectively applying the brakes. Adaptive cruise control and a forward-collision warning system are also available in addition to the blind spot warning system.
The JX is a long-overdue addition to Infiniti's lineup, and it should go a long way toward attracting luxury buyers who need more practicality than what an FX offers but want more manageable dimensions and better gas mileage than what the QX56 provides. Let's hope Infiniti managed to infuse the driving experience with some of the FX's athleticism.
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