The 2008 Infiniti EX35 Journey wants to get up and go; it's one of the zippiest cars I've driven in recent memory. It's attractive to look at and lots of fun to drive. Of course, a powerful engine like the EX35's cuts down a bit on fuel efficiency, which is an EPA-estimated 16/23 mpg city/highway. I was averaging about 19 mpg. Fuel prices are lower for now, but I'd still like to see a car this size do a better job with fuel efficiency.

The EX35 is a car that has much to recommend it: it's comfortable; it has cutting-edge technological features that make life prettier and easier (think self-repairing paint and a power-folding backseat); welcome lighting that senses your Intelligent Key and responds by casting a radiant glow in the car to say "hello" as you approach; lovely design elements; great safety features; and, gosh darn it, it just feels good.

Oh, how I enjoyed driving this car, but it wasn't meant to be between us. For someone like me who has wee children, there just wasn't enough room. How rude! Alas, while this isn't a car for me at this stage of my life, I'd recommend that anyone beyond the diapers' stage give this car a look.

This is going to sound plain old nutty, but the EX35 is styled like an Infiniti (I know, it is an Infiniti). Let me explain: Infinitis are good-looking cars, and the EX35 is really good-looking. It reminded me of a modern bombshell with curves in all the right places, a lovely profile and just enough sass to feel right. While test driving the EX35, I received many compliments on its looks, which made me feel like I was kind of a modern bombshell, too!

One thing I'd love to have as a modern bombshell would be the ability to minimize blemishes and fine lines without having to think about it. Well, they haven't invented such a thing for humans yet, but the EX35 comes with Scratch Shield paint that Infiniti says can repair fine scratches and damage. Thanks to a flexible resin and clearcoat combination (and a little magic, if you ask me), the paint apparently minimizes scratches over the course of a week or so. Since I tend to find new little on my car daily, this Scratch Shield paint sounds like a dream come true. Now if I can just get Infiniti to work on something for the fine lines on my face...

The EX35 has dual power and heated side mirrors that are nice and big; LED taillights and front fog lights; and an available Adaptive Front Lighting system that swivels the xenon headlights when you turn your steering wheel thereby lighting the road where you need it most. I'm starting to see this feature as an option on many cars and can only wish that someday it's standard. For someone like me with poor night vision, it makes a difference.


Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair

Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove On

The EX35 looks good from the inside, too. My test car has the optional maple wood trim, which I liked a lot; the standard piano black lacquer with aluminum detail is also quite attractive. Infiniti claims to offer potential buyers "an array of emotive color and texture combinations, inspired by the four seasons" to tailor the EX35 to your taste and personality. That's what I call design accommodation! You also get standard keyless access with push-button start and Automatic Temperature Control with microfiltration, which means that the air inside the cabin should be pretty clean.

The front seats were comfortable enough. The optional driver's seat-mounted coat hangar was a nifty little feature; I really wish I'd discovered it before I'd taken my dry cleaning home. It was great because it eliminates that pesky blind spot that dry cleaning creates when it's hanging in the traditional spot above one of the back doors.

Another convenient feature is the power-folding second-row seat, which is standard. With the push of a button, you can fold the entire second row down or just one side of the 60/40-split backseat. It works quickly, and it's beyond easy to use.

Despite the power-folding feat, the second row was ultimately the site of my falling out with the EX35. The cramped second row took the EX35 off of my list of Cars That a Person With Very Young Children Can Have. I betcha didn't even know such a list existed, did you? Well, it does (if only in my mind). The Latch anchors were tough to get to and two child-safety seats made things a little cramped back there for the kids. Even worse, a rear-facing infant seat in the backseat left little to no room for someone sitting in the front passenger seat. A very small person could've fit, but how many members of the Lollipop Guild have you had in your car lately?

I wasn't fully satisfied with the cargo space behind the second row, either. At 16.8 cubic feet, it falls about 10 cubic feet short of what other cars in this class offer. I can't stress enough that if you have older children and/or don't need that much cargo room in back, you should give the EX35 a try.


Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair/Ample

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair

The EX35 comes standard with a slew of good safety features, including active front head restraints; four-wheel-disc antilock brakes; side-impact airbags for the front seats; side curtain airbags for both the front and back rows; an occupant classification system that adjusts airbags based on crash severity and seat belt usage; and traction control with an electronic stability system.

The Around View Monitor system that's available with the Technology Package ($1,950) literally takes your full environment into account. It uses cameras on every side of the EX35 to see objects or cars and presents it all to you on the central screen. With a camera system this sophisticated, you can rest assured that this is a car that'll promptly alert you if you're about to hit anything, no matter the direction.

The Technology Package also includes a Lane Departure Prevention system that alerts you if you drift into another lane when you're going over 45 mph. The system first sounds an alarm and then lightly applies the brakes while you get back on track. Since I'm such a precise driver (ha), I had to "pretend" to go adrift in my lane. Sure enough, the trusty EX35 beeped me back into submission and kept me on the straight and narrow.


In Diapers: There's not enough room, especially if you're using a rear-facing infant seat.

In School: It'd work fine for kids who are in booster seats and older.

Teens: They'd be the envy of their friends after being dropped off at school in this car.