Inspired Infiniti JX serves families well
By KIRK BELL For Sun-Times Media July 2, 2012 1:04PM
2013 infiniti jx
ENGINE: 265-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6
TRANSMISSION: continuously variable automatic
DRIVETRAIN: front-wheel drive
FUEL ECONOMY: 18 city/24 highway
BASE PRICE: $40,450
AS TESTED: not available
Infiniti began revamping its image when it introduced the FX crossover and G35 sedan and coupe for the 2003 model year. Suddenly Nissan’s luxury brand was producing fast and sporty vehicles with rear-wheel-drive-based platforms and powerful V-6 and V-8 engines.
Only the Acura MDX was faithfully serving this entry clientele, with the Volvo XC90 and Buick Enclave contributing as well. The problem was a three-row crossover wouldn’t fit in with that inspired performance theme. Infiniti decided to tackle this market anyway and the result is the 2013 JX.
Instead of performance, Infiniti engineers put their inspiration into the JX’s interior, especially the second- and third-row seats. The three-passenger second-row bench seat slides forward and aft 5.5 inches. This allows passengers to maximize legroom in the second or third row, and a happy medium provides decent space in both rows, though the third row is still best for kids due to low bottom cushions. The second-row seats, which are split 60/40, also tilt and slide forward to provide a 22-inch walkthrough to the third row.
While second-row space is plentiful, these seat bottoms also sit a bit low and they are too flat to provide the support needed for long-trip comfort.
Fold down the second row and 50/50 split the third row (headrests first, then seat backs) and the JX has a competitive but not exceptional 76.5 cubic feet of cargo space. The seats don’t fold quite flat, either.
The front seats are comfortable and offer lots of space, and the occupants are surrounded by quality soft-touch surfaces offset by aluminum and wood trim.
The control layout is highlighted by a central control knob on the dashboard that handles the navigation/telematics controls. It’s similar to BMW iDrive and Mercedes COMAND, but without the center console controller.
For a starting price of $40,450, buyers get plenty of equipment with luxury amenities such as leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, XM satellite radio, sunroof, power rear lift gate and Bluetooth connectivity. Various option packages add features such as an around-view monitor, 13- and 15-speaker Bose audio systems, two 7-inch rear DVD screens, heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel and a panoramic sunroof.
The JX also comes standard with Infiniti Connection and four years of the Infiniti Personal Assistant concierge service. The Personal Assistant, which can be accessed at home through your home phone or in the vehicle through a connection through your phone, can be used to find points of interest, get directions and make dinner reservations.
Handling is controlled, not sloppy, the ride is smooth and the vehicle is quiet. The all-wheel-drive system lacks low-range gearing or locking differentials, so it is meant for foul-weather security, not off-roading.
The engine is the familiar 3.5-liter V-6, tuned for 265 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. In another break from Infiniti tradition, it comes mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission with an infinite number of gear ratios. The CVT also has a sport mode with six preset gear ratios so drivers can shift manually via the gearshift.
Power is capable, but not overly rambunctious. The engine has plenty of pep from a stop and enough in reserve to provide decent passing punch. Infiniti isn’t providing 0 to 60 mph numbers, but we’re guessing they are in the 7.5-second range, which is as much power as any family needs.
The CVT never shifts, but it is responsive and most buyers won’t notice the lack of shifts unless they accelerate hard for a fairly long distance. The JX also has a drive mode selector with settings for standard, sport, snow and eco. Each mode adjusts transmission tuning and throttle response. Both are aggressive in sport mode and dulled in eco. Snow mode adjusts the gearing to help prevent the wheels from spinning when starting out on slippery surfaces.
The JX is also offered with a notable new safety option. The backup collision intervention system sounds a warning if it detects an obstacle behind as the vehicle backs up. If the driver doesn’t respond, it applies the brakes at the last second to prevent a collision.
While the Infiniti JX doesn’t live up to the sporty promise of the brand’s inspired performance motto, it does offer inspired family space and utility. To this it adds a comfortable, controlled ride, plenty of power and a high-quality cabin.
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