Think of the Infiniti EX35 as the crossover wagon version of the Infiniti G sedan. It's sort of a cross between a wagon and a coupe but slightly taller. Whatever you call it, the EX35 strikes a nice balance between sportiness and luxury. The Infiniti EX35 comes with Nissan's superb 3.5-liter V6, fully independent suspension and rear-wheel drive, the stuff of sports sedans. Indeed, we found the EX feels more car-like underway than most other crossovers.
The 2011 Infiniti EX35 comes with a new 7-speed automatic transmission, replacing the 5-speed on 2010 and earlier models. 2011 EX35 models also get larger wheels than before, packaging revisions, new instrument graphics and an available blind spot warning system. The Infiniti EX35 was launched as an all-new vehicle for 2008; the headlights were reshaped for 2010.
Smaller than the Infiniti FX, the EX35 can seat five. We found it much more comfortable with four. The cabin boasts rich, soft-touch materials and a stylish design. All of the controls are within easy reach.
Room up front is good, but taller drivers will want more headroom, especially if they opt for a moonroof. The back seats offer decent room, but it's tight when the front seats are all the way back. Both rows are easy to enter and exit, thanks to the EX35's ride height, which is higher than that of a sedan, but not as high as most SUVs.
Cargo room is plentiful thanks to the hatchback design, though many SUVs offer more space. A power-folding second row eases the process of loading items in the back, and they can be brought back up from the driver's seat, handy when pulling up to the curb to pick up passengers.
The 3.5-liter V6 makes 297 horsepower and is mated to the 7-speed automatic transmission that has a manual shiftgate (but no paddle shifters). We were pleased by the EX35's ready power. It accelerates from a standstill quickly and offers strong passing response at highway speeds. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg City/Highway.
We found the EX35 drives like a sedan with a slightly elevated ride height. The EX35 comes with a choice of rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. The AWD is meant for on-road use and is beneficial in foul weather. We found the handling responsive, and the brakes and steering feel natural and inspire confidence. The EX35 rides more smoothly the larger FX50. It isn't as firm as the Acura RDX and is a bit less driver-focused than the BMW X3.
With its carlike handling, powerful engine, and useful cargo room, the Infiniti EX35 is a fine alternative to larger, more cumbersome SUVs. The smooth ride and rich, classy interior add to the appeal. If you want a sporty, comfortable vehicle that drives like a car but has the cargo versatility of a wagon or SUV, make sure to put the EX35 on your shopping list.
The Around View Monitor shows obstacles 360 degrees around the vehicle, making it easier to maneuver in tight quarters. There's a hard drive available with 9.3 gigabytes of storage for music files. The Lane Departure Prevention system enhances safety by lightly applying the brakes on one side to steer the vehicle back into its lane should it start crossing lane lines, for example, if you fall asleep.
The 2011 Infiniti EX35 is offered in two trim levels, base and Journey, each with rear- or all-wheel drive. All 2011 Infiniti EX models are EX35s with a 297-hp 3.5-liter V6 and a 7-speed automatic transmission with a manual shiftgate.
The EX35 ($34,150) and EX35 AWD ($35,550) come standard with dual-zone automatic climate control (with rear heat and air conditioning vents), leather-appointed seating, aluminum trim, eight-way power driver seat with manual lumbar adjustment, four-way power passenger seat, 60/40 split second-row seat, manual tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote keyless entry and starting, trip computer, six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input and USB port, XM satellite radio, rear camera, and P225/55R18 all-season tires on aluminum wheels. AWD versions have heated front seats.
EX35 Journey ($36,350) and Journey AWD ($37,750) add a power slide/tilt glass sunroof, power tilt/telescoping steering column, Bluetooth, and Maple wood interior trim; rear-drive Journeys get heated front seats.
Factory options are offered only on the Journey model, and except for roof rails ($250) can be added only in the order presented here; you can not get a Technology package without also adding Premium and Deluxe Touring packages. (All New Car Test Drive prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change at any time without notice.)
The Premium package ($2,450) adds voice-recognition navigation with XM traffic/weather/Zagat guide, 9.3-gb Music Box, Bluetooth streaming audio, Bose 11-speaker audio system, Around View Monitor with front/rear park sensors, and upgraded climate control with Plasmacluster air purifier.
A Deluxe Touring package ($2,300) adds 19-inch alloy wheels and 245/45R19 tires, adaptive xenon headlights, driver memory system, entry/exit assist, reverse tilt mirrors, two-way power driver?s seat lumbar support, driver?s seat coat hanger, eight-way power passenger?s seat, power up-folding second-row seats, HomeLink, and a stitched dash top.
The Technology package ($2,700) adds lane departure warning and lane departure prevention, intelligent cruise control, distance control assist, intelligent brake assist with forward collision warning, and blind spot warning.
Safety features that come standard on all models include dual front airbags, seat-mounted front-side airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags, brake-activated pre-crash seatbelts, LATCH child seat anchors, active front headrests, traction control, electronic stability control, ABS with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, and rearview monitor.