2012 Infiniti EX35 Journey: An upscale utility vehicle closely related to its sport sedan sibling

2012 Infiniti EX35

2012 Infiniti EX35

You say you want something practical but not too big, something that drives more like a car than a truck, something that comes with a lot of upscale amenities. Sounds as if it might be time to check out the 2012 Infiniti EX35.

Now in its 5th year of production, the EX35 luxury crossover vehicle appeals to a small niche in the automotive industry. Its sales have never exceeded 13,000 in the United States and last year they totaled only 6,030.

But don’t let that influence you. If you are the type of driver who would prefer a car, but simply needs a little extra practicality, the EX35 might well fit the bill.

Infiniti EX35 instruments

Infiniti EX35 instruments

It is closely related to Infiniti’s entry level sports/luxury sedan, the G37, and has similar driving dynamics, at least as similar as a vehicle can be with 6.5 inches of ground clearance and a slightly higher center of gravity.

The 2012 Infiniti EX35 seats five, four in real comfort, and is aimed primarily at singles, young couples and empty nesters. It isn’t large enough to accommodate the needs of a growing family.

What gives it the practicality edge over the sedan is a cargo area that offers 18.6 cubic feet of space accessed through a rear hatchback. Cargo space can be expanded by folding the rear seats forward, but this is definitely not the vehicle for helping a buddy move the refrigerator to a new apartment.

As has been the case since its introduction, the EX35 is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 297 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. It is now teamed with a 7-speed automatic transmission that features a manual shift mode and rev-matching downshifts.

The 2012 EX35 can speed from a stop to 60 mph in about 6 seconds and, in conservative driving, return an EPA-estimated 17 miles per gallon around town and 24 on the open road. During my week with the car I averaged an overall 19 mpg. The down side is that the EX35 requests premium fuel.

In addition to the brisk acceleration, the steering is sharp and the all-wheel disc brakes are strong.The EX35 is composed on rough roads, and hangs on tenaciously around curves. Ride quality is taut, but not harsh.

What impressed me — one of the target empty nesters — is the EX35’s convenient size. Unlike those hulking crossovers and SUVs, it is easily maneuvered through city traffic and will fit easily in tight parking-garage spaces. In fact, It is actually a few inches shorter than its G37 sedan counterpart.