2013 Infiniti JX35 AWD review: Middle-plus crossover all-plus performance

2013 Infiniti JX35

2013 Infiniti JX35

With the introduction of the 2013 Infiniti JX35, Nissan’s upscale division completes its crossover/SUV spectrum: The Infiniti EX as a midsize five-passenger crossover, the QX big-is-good SUV, the special FX performance crossover (the FX 35 and the FX50), and now the mid-plus JX35.

The Infiniti JX is a true seven-seat crossover, but it’s more compact, maneuverable and thriftier for people who just don’t need the mega-man broad shoulders of the QX.

The 2013 Infiniti JX35 is, however, is unmistakably a member of the family, starting with the bulging horizontal bars of the grille. The overall contours are what one might call muscular mature, strong but not ripped, comfortable without a chip on its shoulder. (See 2013 Infiniti JX35 first drive review.)

2013 Infiniti JX35

The dash of the 2013 Infiniti JX35 has features like those in Infiniti sedans. (Click to enlarge)

Unique to Infiniti JX, however, is the dogleg D-pillar. Instead of the pillar pointing towards the rear or sloping forward, it bends and points towards the front. It’s almost quirky French design. Unlike a French design, however, it appears that the designers for the front and rear halves of the car were talking with each other, the taillights reflecting the shapes of the headlights and curved bright bars above and below the license plates mimicking the grille.

Inside it’s all Infiniti, with a bulging center stack, neatly trimmed with wood, sweeping organically to the instrument panel in front of the driver and a concave dash in front of the front passenger, providing a roomy feel. Curved wood strips continue across the dash, with more strips on the dash. As one might expect, soft touch surfaces abound, and instruments are sharp and technical looking. Brush aluminum also adds to a professional grade appearance.

2013 Infiniti JX35 AroundView display

2013 Infiniti JX35 AroundView display can show standard rear view, overhead view or this curb view. (click to enlarge)

The controls are a mix of hard and soft buttons, a layout best in the industry. It’s easy to use, big enough to see but thanks to the buttons around the multi-function display, not cluttered with frequently controls that are on the screen instead part of the hardware. For example, the radio presets are six buttons in a row below the screen. And we’ve praised this in other Nissan/Infiniti products, there’s a hard button outside the screen that switches the display between day and night. Turn the headlights on for rain? You can push a button to instantly turn the screen from dim headlights-on night to full brightness day.

Front seats are well-bolstered but not overly snug, a good place for a long ride. If front row seats are first class, the second row is business, though three across. The second row seats slide fore and aft which can provide lots of legroom for row number two, though at expense of third row passengers’ legs. The third row is, well, the third row and has less legroom even with the middle seats forward.

The seatbacks fold forward for additional cargo room. Using the third row for people means limited room for a mid-plus crossover for family freight. The rear seatback, however, split folds, so whoever is consigned to the rear seat will also be guardian of the stuff. At least that’s one way to get the kid to sit in the back by himself. Folding both rows provides an almost flat load floor, with only a small bump at the middle row seatback.

2013 Infiniti JX35 cargo area

The seats fold in the 2013 Infiniti JX35 for a generous cargo area. (Click to enlarge)

Our test 2013 Infiniti JX35was powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 from Nissan/Infiniti’s acclaimed VQ35 series of engines. It’s the only power plant available with the JX, and in this application, the engine is tuned to produce 265 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. With between 4,200 and 4,400 lbs. to move, the six has lots to do but does it well. As with our other experiences with the engine, it’s smooth and relaxed across the rev range and quiet at idle.