San Jose, Calif. ? Last month I had to fly to San Jose on a quick business trip and the people at Infiniti were nice enough to offer me the JX35 for the week. Well, no trip to Central California would be complete without spending some time with my grandchildren; after all, they only live 50 miles south of San Jose.
My teenage grandson, Cory, is actually one of my favorite car critics. He rode in the back seat while his older sister, Jordan rode shotgun for me, and it was only about 20 minutes before he announced that the JX35 would be ?the best car for a family? ever. He cited the roomy interior, the sleek styling, the third row seat, heated rear seats, plus the back of each front seat had DVD players and several of the features that allowed him to play all of his own music. He made a good argument, and I have to strongly agree with him that the Infiniti JX35 would make a great family vehicle.
The new Infiniti JX35 went on sale in 2012 as a 2013 model offering a unique styling, innovative technology and an elegant flare. While other Infiniti products have had more performance persona, the JX leans more toward style, function and economy.
The Infiniti JX35 is comparable in size and price to other crossovers like the Acura MDX, Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90, but through the magic of design, it has nearly the same interior space as the huge Infiniti QX56.
The JX gets high marks for styling, and that impression is reinforced when you see heads turning when you drive by. It has a distinctive long sleek look with large smooth wheel flares and strong character lines. The modified Infiniti family grille that visually attaches to the ?A? pillars with strong creases in the hood and the notched ?D? pillar give it a distinctive look.
Inside the massive space is attractive, well executed and functional, plus it can actually hold seven people. Standard equipment includes posh leather seating and a full range of power equipment including the rear liftgate. The second and third row seating folds flat to accommodate up to 76.5 cubic feet of cargo ? that?s a lot of recreational equipment or shopping treasures. In addition, the second row seats have 5.5-inches of travel, so you can adjust for passengers or cargo as needed. The JX also has multiple storage spaces including a large space under the rear cargo floor.
Infiniti?s award winning 3.5-liter V-6 engine powers the JX with 265 horsepower along with a sport tuned CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). The JX is standard front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive as a $1,400 option. When the transmission ?Sport? mode is selected, on the knob just to the rear of the console-mounted shifter, the transmission simulates shift points like a conventional automatic transmission. When it?s in the ECO? or the standard mode it acts like a traditional CVT with no visible shifts. Combined, the efficient engine and the CVT put the EPA fuel economy numbers at 18 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. I actually averaged 25.1 mpg on my trip thanks to my conservative driving style. The JX takes 7.8 seconds for a 0 to 60 mph acceleration run, according to one of the buff magazines.
Styling, comfort and performance alone, would make the JX35 a standout, but what really sets it apart is the high level of available technology. For example, the Infiniti Connect telematics system provides easy-to-use navigation, but it also synchronizes automatically with your Google Calendar and then can even automatically generate directions to appointments listed on the calendar.
The Infiniti Connections and Connection Plus contain a grouping of telematics services and Personal Assistant that provide 24-hour access to a team of live professional assistance. They provide Automatic Crash Notification, Emergency Call, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, stolen vehicle reporting, remote door lock and unlock, alarm notification, Maintenance Alert, Schedule Maintenance Notification and the Google My Schedule collaboration. It?s like having a spouse constantly reminding you of those things.
Safety and driver assist features include Around View? Monitor with Moving Object Detection; Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention; Blind Spot Intervention? system; Intelligent Cruise Control (Full-Speed Range); Distance Control Assist; Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning and Active Trace Control. It?s features like these that would certainly sway my purchase decision. These systems might sound a lot like science fiction, but I was amazed with how much easier they made driving, especially in traffic.
Another neat feature for parents with teen drivers is Drive Zone/Speed Alert, which can be used to establish boundaries to monitor where and what the young drivers are doing. It can even play snitch by sending a text, e-mail or make a phone call to the parent when the teen driver has broken the rules. It sounds devious, but it could save the life of someone you love.
One other important piece of available technology that comes with the Technology Package is the Backup Collision Intervention system that detects vehicles approaching from either side when you back up. If the system sees a vehicle is moving into your path it flashes a light, makes a sound and presses back on the accelerator. If that doesn?t work, it ultimately can apply the brakes.
My 2013 Infiniti JX35 AWD had a base price of $42,500, including the destination charge. That included features like leather seating, push-button ignition, three rows of seating, Bluetooth?, power moonroof, rearview monitor and all the power and convenience features I expect in a luxury vehicle. There are also four major package options: Technology, Theater, Deluxe Touring and Premium, which combined add an unbelievable level of ?wow? and ?ahh? features and $10,770 to the price.