Infiniti says it had families in mind when designing its brand-new seven-seat crossover, the 2013 JX. Boasting "innovation that makes life more efficient" seems like a surefire way to grab a parent's attention. With a third row, low step-in height and a new safety feature, the Backup Collision Intervention system (yep, just like it sounds: The car will actually put on the brakes to prevent a collision if you don't notice a car or object crossing behind you), the JX seemed to be off to a good start.
However, after getting up close and personal with the JX, I'm not convinced that it's as perfect a fit for families as Infiniti promises it to be. It's true that there is access to the third row even when a child-safety seat is installed in the second row, which isn't a given in this class. But the actual operation of this feature was a little unclear.
Eager to climb inside and test it on the showroom floor, I wasn't quite sure I was operating the seats correctly. I then dutifully asked for clarification from an Infiniti representative on how the second-row seats work and even he fumbled a bit and didn't seem confident in his execution, leaving me bewildered. You just have to hope that owners — or their kids, who probably have taken over the family iPad by now — will get the hang of it after repeated use. One of our other editors had more luck...with my advance warning and said it worked better than GM's similar solution.
Another big Infiniti claim focused on the interior's spaciousness. Specifically, the JX has more backseat legroom than a Cadillac Escalade. While I didn't have a measuring tape with me, I'd classify the JX's legroom in the second and third rows to be satisfactory, not spacious. The kids will have no complaints and date nights with two of your favorite couples can be accommodated, but using the third row significantly reduces usable cargo space.
There's no way a good-sized stroller will fit in the cargo area when the third row is in use. In the JX's defense, there is a small compartment under the cargo floor to store reusable shopping bags or even a pair of muddy soccer cleats. By its dimensions, the cargo space behind the third row is 15.9 cubic feet, which is more than the Acura MDX's 15.0 cubic feet but behind the aforementioned Escalade at 16.9 cubic feet.
Unquestionably, the JX is an exciting option for parents who value luxury and design. A little bit of style can go a long way, especially for moms and dads who are trying to avoid the minivan route. After all, you can seat seven and still turn heads in the carpool lane. With a starting price of $40,450, parents might not feel as guilty about indulging in it. It's less than the Acura MDX at $42,390 with standard all-wheel drive, and the JX's price isn't that far off from the top-of-the-line Ford Explorer Limited, which comes in at $37,855.
Both the exterior styling and interior details deliver on the JX's upscale feel and perks like Infiniti's personal assistant and Google calendar integration will make techie hearts sing. It appears to be a competitive family crossover, and it could sell really well. But I don't think it's the game changer Infiniti claims it to be.
Carrie Kim is a contributor to Cars.com Family.