“Shiftless in Seattle” 2013 Infiniti JX35 AWD Luxury Crossover

 

SAM_1868Just prior to Memorial Day, Ruth and I had a chance to visit the Seattle area and test a new Infiniti JX35.  We drove it from the airport to Port Angeles, WA, for the purpose of catching a ferry to Victoria, BC.  We also circled the Olympic peninsula and its rainy beaches and forests.  Before we flew out of Seattle, we caught two Seattle Mariner ballgames at Safeco Field.

The JX35 was introduced by Infiniti in the spring of 2012, and is classified as a mid-size crossover SUV.  I call it a luxury crossover, and this one was particularly fancy with an M.S.R.P. of $55,170, including freight.  Its base price of $41,550 was driven up by the optional premium package ($4,950), deluxe touring package ($2,550), theatre package ($1,700), technology package ($3,100), and a set of roof rails for $370.  It’s not difficult to guess at some of the features included in the packages; moon roof, lane change warning, front and rear collision warning/braking, radar cruise control, heated seats in four locations, Bose surround sound, power mirrors/locks/windows/tailgate, tilt/telescope, three movie screens, 8” navigation monitor, and twin front power buckets.  The leather interior was attractive with wheat colored material and gold piping throughout.  Throughout, by the way, means three rows of seats – seven passenger seating in a mid-size!

The outside mirrors had a handy switch that allowed them to be folded in for slender parking spaces or garages.  The feature was nice on the Black Ball ferry boat when passengers were cramming all the vehicles below deck for the 18 mile ride to Canada.  And it seems that most of them go back and forth down there to fetch a handbag or camera.  Other features of the JX included satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone setup, backup camera, pushbutton and remote engine start, heated steering wheel, blind spot monitor, rain-sensing wipers, and wireless theatre headphones for back seat passengers.

Power for the JX is supplied by a 3.5 liter V-6 with 265 horsepower and 248 ft. lbs. of torque.  It’s just ample for the 4,552 lb. machine, and is coupled to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).  The all-wheel drive car sits on a wheelbase of 114.2”, is 68” high, and its width is 77.2”.  Fuel economy ratings are 18 and 23, and during my time with it I observed a 21 mpg reading.  Acceleration at sea level is zero to 60 in 7.8 seconds with a top speed of 121 mph.  The shiftless CV transmission is the best one I have ever driven._DSC2243

When Infiniti personnel rolled out the JX at a 2012 Denver press conference, they hyped the seven passenger capability and the styling.  The company did, in fact, do a good job with the styling, but their FX and QX crossovers are no slouch in that  department, either.  The good-looking JX had the roof rails as well as ten-spoke alloy wheels, chrome side trim and door handles, fog lights and Infiniti’s signature bold chrome grill.  Tires were Bridgestone 235/55R20 all-season radials.

The Northwest vacation was a blast, in large part due to the great vehicle we were able to travel around in.  Infiniti’s great handling and good looking JX35 is a nice package of luxury and refinement.

2013 Infiniti M35h RWD Hybrid Sedan

M35h

Infiniti began selling cars in America two dozen years ago with a pair of initial offerings, the Q45 and the M30.  As the luxury division of Nissan of Japan, they brought out the Infiniti line pretty much in response to Honda and Toyota’s introduction of their Acura and Lexus nameplates.  Infiniti chose to use a handcrafted approach to their manufacturing process, as opposed to Acura and Lexus, both of which chose more automation.

Thirty or forty years ago, the term “Japanese luxury car” was considered an oxymoron; their products having gained a foothold in this country as a result of the fuel crises (1973 and 1977).  But when the Detroit Auto Show went to a global affair in 1989, Infiniti exploded on the scene, along with Lexus, with new luxury offerings to join Acura; thus, it was “on”.  Today these manufacturers and their models are part of the American auto lexicon and they have muscled in on the territory of Cadillac, Lincoln, and the German luxury cars.

I have tested several Infinitis, and this past week another was brought by for evaluation – the M35h hybrid sedan.  The M’s are the top of the line sedans for this company, and this car is in its second year of production.  Its M.S.R.P. was $66,245, including freight.  That price included several options – technology package ($3,050), deluxe touring package ($3,900), and premium package ($4,200).  Thus, the car had adaptive cruise control, blind spot and lane departure warning, and adaptive lighting up front.  The interior was sumptuous, and included a suede headliner, semi-aniline leather trim, Japanese white ash wood trim, Bose 16-speaker surround sound stereo with satellite radio, electric tilt/telescope, navigation system, backup camera, moon roof, power rear sunshade, and air conditioned seats/steering wheel.  The stone (off-white) interior was striking with “Infiniti” stitching in the front buckets and soft double-stitched speedometer/tach hood.

The M35h is a high performance hybrid, with 369 total horsepower – at the heart of the power train is a 3.5 liter V-6 with 258 lb. ft. of torque.  It’s rear-wheel drive, the preferred architecture for a luxury performance car in this category.  The transmission is a seven-speed automatic (like Infiniti’s V-8 has) with manual shift mode.  The driver selects from four driving modes with a console-mounted button – sport, standard, eco (omy), and snow.  The eco mode maximizes fuel economy, and this car’s ratings are an impressive 27 city and 32 highway.  I observed 27 mpg during the time spent with the M35h.  Reportedly the Infiniti can operate up to 50% of the time in electric mode (battery charge permitting).  The trunk, of course, suffers a little with the battery on board, providing 11 cubic feet of luggage space.  It is covered with an electric cinch-down lid.

The M35h styling features chrome door handles, exhaust tips, and double-arched massive grill.  The paint was “Moonlight” white metallic, and actually looked best in sunlight.  The 18” alloy ten-spoke bright wheels were surrounded with 245/50R18 all-season radials.

Despite all of the aforementioned driving-assist options on the Infiniti, I actually had to do some driving myself, and it indeed was a pleasure.  This reviewer would love to own such a vehicle, and it comes with my recommendation.

2012 Infiniti EX35 Crossover

EX35

    Infiniti’s extensive lineup of 13 models provides a vehicle for pretty much anyone’s taste, and in the middle of the group lies the EX35 compact crossover.  Infiniti, the luxury division of Nissan Motor Company, has been selling automobiles in America since 1989, when they introduced the Q45 and M30 sedans to our shores.  At present they make four crossover series vehicles, and the EX35 is the smallest among them.  The others are the FX, JX, and the QX, the biggest of them all.  The QX is the model I so enjoyed early in June.

The 2012 EX35 AWD was painted “Garnet” red metallic with wheat-colored interior leather trim.  The model was the “Journey”, Infiniti’s finest in this lineup.  Upgrades included heated power front buckets, electric power tilt/telescope steering column, Bluetooth hands-free phone arrangement, maple interior accents, sliding power moonroof, push button ignition, XM satellite radio integrated into a Bose 11-speaker stereo/CD system, USB and Ipod connections, 7” color info display, hard drive navigation system with lane guidance and an attractive chrome analog clock front and center on the dashboard.

All these interior amenities made the Infiniti a treat to travel in, but on top of that there existed a small coat hanger on the back of the driver’s seat for a jacket as well as a 60/40, 3-passenger back seat with power up and down capability.  Switches were in place inside the tailgate to operate them in case a bicycle or bag of golf clubs occupied your hands when loading.  Oh, and I mustn’t forget, the cup-holder was a dual level affair to accommodate either a “tall” or a “venti” Starbucks, no sweat.  Just press a switch and the little divider moves out of the way.  I’m going on and on about the interior, but I must admit I enjoyed it.

Power for the EX is a V-6 providing 297 horsepower and 253 lb. ft. of torque.  The 3.5 liter engine is coupled to a seven-speed automatic with manual shift mode.  Zero to 60 acceleration is reportedly 7.1 seconds, and the fuel mileage ratings are 17 city and 24 highway.  I observed 22.2 mpg during my time with the Journey.  The Intelligent all-wheel drive system would be great in the winter, so I wasn’t able to enjoy its benefits, but did enjoy the silky-smooth transmission.

Of all the Infiniti crossovers, the EX35 is not my favorite, styling-wise.  But since I am pretty crazy about the looks of the FX and QX, that isn’t much of a knock.  On top of the EX was an attractive aluminum roof rail/luggage rack, and the vehicle was fitted with 19”, ten spoke alloy wheels surrounded by  245/45R19 Bridgestone Turanzas.  Out back were chrome dual exhaust finishers.  Wheelbase is 110”, making the overall length 15”.

The M.S.R.P of the Infiniti was $45,095.00, and that included the Journey base price, freight, $2,200.00 for the Touring Package, and $2,700.00 for the Premium Package.  Those latter two items provided the nice interior items I described, plus the Xenon headlights, the Around View monitor (like eye in the sky for parking), voice recognition, and the Zagat Survey restaurant guide.

The Infiniti Journey EX35 is not inexpensive, but it provides a plush, pretty, personal AWD vehicle and an excellent driving experience for its proud owner.

2012 Infiniti FX35 Limited Edition AWD

FX35 & Corn

This past week in Illinois I was presented an Infiniti FX35 to drive around the state.  Ruth and I picked it up at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and set sail to the Northwest towards Rockford.  Our ultimate destination was Galena, Illinois, an old lead mining town that is currently a resort, named a top ten “charming small town” by TripAdvisor for 2011.  The 1989 movie, “Field of Dreams” was partially filmed in Galena, and it was home to Ulysses S. Grant after the Civil War.

The Infiniti was Iridium Blue and had Graphite leather seating.  The Limited Edition FX35 is the top-of-the-line model that includes hard drive navigation, voice recognition information systems, “eye in the sky” parking assist, Bluetooth wireless, reverse tilt-down outside mirrors, 21” dark finish alloy wheels with ten spokes, adaptive front lighting (auto-leveling), dark aluminum roof rails, and aluminum pedals.  The CD/stereo/satellite/USB system was made by Bose with 11 speakers and speed-sensitive volume  control.  The blue paint was specific to this model and floor mats even had blue piping around the edges.  Of course, a moon roof and rear camera were on hand – the interior was stunning.

Infiniti has been producing the FX series of vehicles since 2003, and is the luxury division of Nissan Motors of Japan.  Styling has always been a hallmark of the vehicle and power is supplied in V-6 and V-8 configuration.  My FX35 had a 303 horsepower, 3.5 liter aluminum V-6 with 262 lb.-ft. of torque and 32 valves.  I drove a V-8 in Phoenix over the winter, and both it and this Iridium blue vehicle had plenty of snap.  The transmission is a seven-speed automatic with manual shifting and snow mode.  Zero to 60 mph time for the FX35 I drove was 6.4 seconds, and with a V-8 that number is reduced to 5.8.  Fuel economy ratings of the car are 16 city/21 highway (23.8 gal. tank), but during my week at the wheel the overall average was 22.3 mpg.  The FX35 weighed 4,299 lbs., wheelbase was 113.6”, and overall length was 191.3”.

Ruth and I enjoyed the ride across the state in the FX, but I wouldn’t want it to be any firmer.  This vehicle is somewhat of a sports car/crossover, with persons that ride in it at a low-to-the-ground attitude, despite the underneath clearance of 7”.  It is not an “off-road” four-wheeler, but a weather-fighter, nonetheless.  Cargo capacity behind the five-passenger seating is 24.8 cubic feet.

As mentioned, styling is the thing with an FX, and tourists all over the state were gathering at the rest stops to take a closer look at our ride.  Twin exhaust finishers peek out from under the rear fascia, and those fender vents behind the front wheel wells are functional.  The wheel wells that reveal the 265/45R21 V-rated all-weather radials, by the way.  The dark gray alloys seemed to be a big draw for the onlookers.

The M.S.R.P. for the FX35 was $52,445.00, including the freight charge.  That was about $14,000.00 less than the big V-8 we tested in Phoenix, and made this six cylinder buggy a pretty fair deal in my mind, and perhaps in those of the buying public.

2012 Infiniti FX50s AWD

Infiniti FX50S

Last week in Phoenix I was able to test drive a 2012 Infiniti SUV courtesy of PageOneAuto of Chandler, Arizona.  Carrie Owens of POA was nice enough to have the vehicle waiting at Sky Harbor airport for my visit to the Valley of the Sun.  Ruth accompanied me and we stayed in Scottsdale, visiting Rockie spring training and as well, we attended the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Speedway.  The Infiniti was brand new and painted Graphite Shadow dark silver with matching graphite quilted leather interior.

Infiniti has been producing the FX series of vehicles since 2003, and is the luxury division of Nissan Motors of Japan.  The FX is a mid-size upscale crossover and the FX50 has a 5.0 liter V8 with 390 hp (@ 6,500 rpm) under the hood.  Torque is 369 lb-.ft., and the engine is mated to a seven speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode.  Big magnesium paddle shifters are behind the steering wheel to take care of shifting with both hands under heavy acceleration.  The economy ratings are 14 city/20 highway, and during the week I was pleased to observe an overall mileage rating of 18.8 mpg.  The car has Intelligent All-Wheel Drive with snow mode, and reportedly accelerates from zero to sixty in 5.4 seconds.

On Sunday morning we jumped in the FX and blasted off for Avondale, AZ, home of the Sprint Cup race track and NASCAR racing action.  It was a pretty good distance from Scottsdale, and allowed us to get a feel for the big Infiniti out on the Interstates.  I’m calling it big, but in fact it is less than sixteen feet long with a wheelbase of 113.6”.  But it weighs 4,557 lbs., so therefore it has a big vehicle feel and ride.  The FX has ample clearance for a crossover, but is in fact built somewhat low to the ground like a sports car.  It rolls on 265/45R21 V rated tires and 21” (TWENTY ONE!) 6 spoke alloy wheels.  The styling of this four door is dynamite – I have admired them since they were introduced nine years ago.

The interior of the Infiniti is first class in both upholstery and electronic gadgetry.  The hard drive nav/backup camera has an 8” split screen and voice command.  In the screen the driver is able to view “eye in the sky” location of the car for parking or backing up.  All the power options are on hand including tilt/telescope, seating (both heated and cooled up front), flop down rear seating allowing for 62 cubic feet of cargo space, 11 speaker Bose stereo with DVD player, Bluetooth music and phone connection and the technology package.  The last item provided adaptive cruise control and a lane departure prevention setup that I found helpful.  The package added $2,900 to the base price of $59,350, and a sport package was another $3,100.  Total M.S.R.P. came to $66,545.00, a little below average for a vehicle in this class such as a Porsche Cayenne or BMW X6M.

I found myself enjoying our vacation in Phoenix a little more due to the top flight wheels Ruth and I had to move around in.  We put on about 500 miles and were able to show it off in the Salt River Fields parking lot for a spring training game with the KC Royals.  The Rockies were not winners on that day, but the Infiniti FX50s was and is one, both in looks and in operation.