For 2013, Infiniti offers the all-new JX35, a luxurious seven-seat car-based crossover to compete with the ever-popular Lexus RX models and Acura MDX, among others. The JX35 has been widely embraced by the automotive press as Infiniti's car for the ladies. Indeed. It's filled with soft surfaces and gleaming wood, luxurious leather upholstery, plenty of passenger and cargo space, ultra-convenient third-row access and loads of high-tech safety and entertainment options.
It's perfect except that Infiniti forgot what I thought singer Cyndi Lauper had burned into everyone's minds in the 1980s: Girls just wanna have fun. The 2013 Infiniti JX35 is a little dull when driving it.
The seven-seat JX has a 3.5-liter V-6 that seemed underpowered throughout my weeklong test drive. If the JX saw even a little boost to its lackluster driving experience — the technology does exist to make a car both practical and fun — it would be a true ladies' car.
It is available with either front- or all-wheel drive, and it is equipped with Infiniti's Drive Mode Selector that allows the driver to choose Standard, Sport, Eco or Snow mode and thereby control the car's throttle and transmission response.
The 2013 Infiniti JX35 with all-wheel drive that I tested has a starting price of $41,600, but as-tested, it carried a price tag of $55,170 because of the addition of the Theater, Technology, Deluxe Touring and Premium packages.
Where looks are concerned, the JX35 has some sparkle that helps it stand out. The exterior is marked with several uniquely Infiniti elements like its big chrome grille with the huge Infiniti logo to ensure people know this is more than a mere pedestrian crossover. Its aerodynamic curves give it an airy, sleek look, and the sculptured rear augments the JX's status as a car that gets a second look from passers-by. In fact, I was stopped several times by curious consumers wanting to know more about the JX35.
A power liftgate is standard, which is always appreciated, and the other doors are of a manageable weight without seeming flimsy. My children easily climbed in and out of the JX, thanks to its car-like stance.
When all three rows are in use, cargo volume behind the third row is just under 16 cubic feet, which is respectable for a three-row crossover, but it's made better by the 50/50-split third row that allows you to build on that cargo volume. With both the second and third rows folded, cargo volume jumps up to 76.5 cubic feet.
Other notable standard features include a power moonroof (with a panoramic moonroof available in the Deluxe Touring Package), power-folding heated side mirrors and bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights.
The JX35 has a standard 3.5-liter V-6 that delivers 265 horsepower and is coupled with a continuously variable automatic transmission with manual shift mode. My all-wheel-drive test car gets an EPA-estimated 18/23 mpg city/highway; the front-wheel-drive JX gets the same city mileage and a 1 mpg improvement on the highway. Premium fuel is recommended but not required.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Excellent
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times
It's clear that Infiniti gave a lot of thought to the logistics of how people use a car with a third row. With the simple lift of a lever on the side of its outboard seats, the second-row seats slide forward more than 5 inches and then back again making third-row access a cinch.
It even works with a forward-facing convertible seat or booster seat installed in the second row. In short, it's brilliant. Both the second and third rows also recline, which is useful for ensuring the comfort of both adult passengers and little ones in safety seats.
The JX35's interior is a delight. The standard leather upholstery is sumptuous, and the seating cradles everyone perfectly from the front row all the way to the third row. In fact, leg- and headroom are unusually generous throughout, even in the often-doomed third row. There also are plenty of cupholders and storage cubbies throughout the cabin.
Everything else about the JX35's interior is typically outfitted in Infiniti luxury. The 7-inch screen that anchors the center stack is vivid and displays the image from the standard backup camera. Standard tri-zone climate control and USB and Bluetooth connectivity are also great.
A plethora of options such as premium 13- or 15-speaker audio systems; Around View Monitor, a 360-degree-view of the car's exterior; hard-drive navigation with real-time traffic; ventilated front seats and heated second-row seats; and much more are available as part of the various options packages. Rest assured that fully equipped at just over $55K, my test car wanted for nothing, which meant that my family was comfortable no matter how far we were going.
My only complaint is operating the available DVD entertainment system isn't intuitive. The system features dual screens mounted on the back of the driver and front passenger head restraints. If you have a child that is old enough to operate the remote once the DVD lands on its Main Menu, you're in good shape, but if not, the cries of "It's not woooorrrrkkkkiiiiinnnngggg!" from the back may push you over the edge. It can be done, but it always seemed to take me a few more steps and minutes than I would have liked (or my children liked for that matter).
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
For a family-friendly car, I was disappointed to find only two sets of lower Latch anchors in the outboard second-row seats. However, there is a third tether anchor on the third row's passenger-side seat, which is at least a nod to us three-or-more kidders. Despite there only being two sets, the Latch anchors were easy to access and use. You can find out more about how car seats work with the 2013 JX35 in Cars.com's Car Seat Check.
The JX35 has standard front-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system with traction control, active front head restraints, a backup camera and six airbags, including side curtains for all three rows.
My test car was also filled with all of the available features found predominantly in the Technology Package. Features included in this package are Intelligent Brake Assist with forward-collision warning, blind spot monitoring system, Backup Collision Intervention, lane departure warning system, and adaptive cruise control.
All-wheel drive and surround-view cameras also are optional.
The 2013 JX35 hasn't been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Get more safety information about the 2013 Infiniti JX35 here.