By on May 14, 2012

Infiniti has characteristically taken the path less travelled. The original Q45 was styled to express Japanese culture (rather than imitate the Germans), tuned for drivers, and infamously advertised with video of rocks and trees. The brand finally hit its stride thirteen years later with the compact rear-wheel-drive G35. It jumped on the crossover bandwagon with a pair of cozy cabined, firmly suspended, VQ-propelled eggs. Those seeking space for their family and their family’s stuff had a choice between the massive truck-based QX56 and something that wasn’t an Infiniti (often an Acura MDX). Market and dealer pressure to offer something much closer to the norm was no doubt intense. So, for 2013, we have the Infiniti JX35 (originally reviewed by Derek Kreindler). Has the brand’s character been overly compromised, or is this the crossover Infiniti should have offered from the start?

Recent Infinitis have been curvaceous, even bulbous. You won’t find fuller forms on any other new car lot. With the JX35, Infiniti clearly struggled with an inherent conflict between this design language and the need to offer competitive interior space. The JX’s exterior is an incompletely resolved combination of a curvy M-like front end (dominated by an over-sized grille and emblem) and a space-maximizing box. A “crescent-shaped” D-pillar is distinctive, but there’s probably an aesthetic reason that explains why it’s never been done before. Expect it to spread to other Infinitis as they are redesigned.

Inside the JX35, Infiniti has also backed off its usual tendencies in order to cater to the typical large crossover buyer. The interior is styled to resemble those in other Infinitis, so it’s easy on the eyes, but the forms are much different. The instrument panel and console are less curvy and less intrusive. The seats are flatter, nearly bolster-free, and less cushy. As a result, the JX feels less “tailored to fit” (or, for larger people, not fit) than other Infinitis. The appeal isn’t as deep, but it’s much broader.

Infiniti is very proud of the way the JX’s second-row split bench folds forward. With no child seat in it, the cushion folds up tightly against the backrest GM Lambda-style to open up a very wide path to the third row. Infiniti’s innovation: unlike in the Lambdas, if you strap in a child seat the bench can still slide forward enough to permit people to squeeze through. There’s no need to order captain’s chairs (that aren’t offered) to maintain access to the third row with child seats in the second row.

In other respects the JX’s rear passenger accommodations are nothing special. As in most crossovers (Ford’s being the major exception), the seats are flat and are mounted too low to the floor to provide adults with thigh support. And as in too many luxury vehicles, there isn’t any space under the front seats for the toes of second-row passengers, essentially reducing second-row legroom by about four inches. There’s still plenty of legroom in the second row if the bench is shifted fully rearward along its five inches of travel. But, again all too typically, if the second row is all the way back there’s very little legroom in the third row. Ultimately, there’s just enough space to fit average-sized men in all three rows if everyone limits their legroom to the amount they absolutely need. To Infiniti’s credit, the third row is better ventilated than most, so the kids won’t bake back there. Behind the third row you’ll find 15.8 cubic feet of cargo volume, about the same as in an Acura MDX. My five-person family’s luggage wouldn’t fit without folding at least half of the third row.

There’s considerably more space for both people and cargo inside a Buick Enclave. But Infiniti’s marketing people never mention the Enclave as a competitor. They prefer to talk about the Acura MDX and Audi Q7, both of which have tighter third rows than the JX and both of which have gone six years since a thorough redesign. But, in terms of specs and configuration, the Buick is actually the JX’s closest competitor. Inside, the Buick wins on quantity, the Infiniti on quality (unless GM has worked wonders with the 2013 refresh).

With a powertrain and chassis derived from the Nissan Murano (and shared with the upcoming 2013 Pathfinder), the JX35’s performance neither delights nor disappoints. Even with all-wheel-drive curb weight is a very reasonable 4,419 pounds, so the 3.5-liter V6’s 265 horsepower are sufficient. The mandatory CVT assists by holding the engine in its power band when this is required. I personally didn’t mind the behavior of the CVT. If you do, select sport mode and it mimics a conventional six-speed automatic. Go WOT with front-wheel-drive and there’s some torque steer and front-end float, but not nearly enough to by themselves justify all-wheel-drive. Unlike in the MDX, which has an oversteer-inducing rear differential, the JX’s all-wheel-drive system doesn’t significantly enhance the driving experience on dry roads.

Fuel economy according to the EPA is 18 city / 24 highway with front-wheel-drive and 18/23 with all-wheel-drive, similar to the numbers earned by large domestic crossovers. The trip computer reported about 21 on my largely exurban driving route (infrequent stops, speed typically between 40 and 60). Given the vehicle’s relatively low curb weight and CVT, it should be capable of better. Blame the aging VQ V6 engine.

The JX’s ride and handling are similarly sufficient for the vehicle’s intended mission. The steering is light but well-weighted, and even provides some feedback if you’re paying close attention. Body motions and lean are fairly well controlled, but rush the JX and it feels heavy and out of its element, lapsing into a safe, dull plow. Did I really expect otherwise, even with the Technology Package’s “active trace control”? Hope, perhaps. Expect, no. The ride is generally smooth and quiet, though there’s some “head toss” over uneven roads (a by-product of thick stabilizer bars) and some minor jitters over patchy pavement (the standard 18-inch wheels might help–the tested vehicles all had the optional 20s). One “feature” that few people will notice, or be bothered by if they do: the 60 side of the second row often vibrates, as if it’s harmonizing with a frequency in the suspension.

The Infiniti JX starts at $41,400. Add $1,100 for all-wheel-drive. Tick all of the major boxes and the sticker’s bottom line reaches $54,800, which is $540 below a 2012 Acura MDX Advance with Entertainment Package. But the ancient Acura lags in the safety nannies department, while the oh-so-2013 JX has them all (ICC, FCW, BCI, DCA, BSW, BSI, LDW, LDP, XYZ, PDQ, WTF). BCI—Back-up Collision Intervention—is a first: if the system detects that you’re about to back up into something, it automatically stops the vehicle. Between this feature and the around-view monitor Infiniti pioneered a few years ago (I’m a fan), the paint on the JX’s rear bumper should be good for the long haul. Use TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool to assign typical values to these features, adjust the price accordingly, and the JX emerges with a nearly $3,700 price advantage over the MDX. Compared to a loaded 2012 Buick Enclave, a similarly-equipped JX lists for $1,890 less before adjusting for feature differences and about $3,200 less afterwards. Even though the Infiniti can be optioned into the mid-fifties, it’s actually a good value. Willing to forego the fancy bits for a lower price? Nissan has a closely related Pathfinder on the way.

In the end, I’m not sure how to answer the question posed by the introduction. In the next few years, I’m going to take my kids on a grand tour of the western national parks from Arizona to Alberta. When I do, I’d like a roomy three-row vehicle with an athletic chassis. I like how Infinitis drive, my wife likes how they look and feel. They might have stuck to their characteristic way of doing things and created our ideal family truckster. But the entire auto industry has realized the pointlessness of catering to fecund driving enthusiasts taking once-in-a-lifetime Rocky Mountain road trips. The Cadillac SRX lost its barely-there third row and shifted to a front-wheel-drive platform. The relatively car-like Mercedes-Benz R-Class was vastly outsold by the clumsier GL. Lexus never delivered a planned driver-focused GS-based crossover, instead peddling the RX, GX and LX. Infiniti paid its car guy dues with the EX and FX; the former has sold poorly, the latter just a bit better. So the JX, which takes the emerging segment norm and dresses it like an Infiniti, is only a surprise in that it didn’t happen years ago. Unless you get off on safety nannies, there’s no wow, and little in the way of driving excitement. But there’s a lot of nice. The big question isn’t whether the JX will sell–it will–but how many other Infinitis will head down the same path.

Infiniti provided a couple of the tested JXs, fuel, insurance, airfare to Charleston, a fancy boutique hotel, and excellent food. Bill French at Suburban Infiniti of Novi provided another JX so I could test the ride on Michigan roads. Bill can be reached at 888-779-2907.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online source of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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51 Comments on “Review: 2013 Infiniti JX35 Take Two...”


  • avatar
    philadlj

    “When I do, I’d like a roomy three-row vehicle with an athletic chassis.”

    Might I suggest a used Chevy Caprice Classic wagon? Its chassis COULD be described as, er…athletic…

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      I was going to suggest a Ford Flex Ecoboost.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Compared to what – the Lusitannia?

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Only in America would somebody describe the bloated Caprice Classic as athletic. That car is a waterbed on wheels. Plus your kids would spend the rest of their lives complaining about riding 5000 miles in a nasty old sled.

      Most sensible people would rather travel in the JX35. Nice looking vehicle and great review. Hope you enjoyed your drive through Charleston.

      • 0 avatar
        philadlj

        Obviously I wasn’t serious about the Caprice’s chassis being athletic (it’s better-decribed as being “capricious”), but I had many fond memories cruising the highways in the rearward-facing way-back seat of our family bubble.

        With a lower center of gravity, more low-end torque from the LS1, and a more aerodynamic body than the JX35, you’d be assured a smooth, comfortable highway ride, with well over 20mpg. Of course I’m talking about a Caprice wagon when NEW…finding one that can handle one last road trip AND isn’t ratty on the inside wouldn’t be easy, but not impossible.

        One could add a dimension of adventure by buying TWO, tow one with the other (it’s more than capable of towing itself), and if there are any problems with the tow wagon, either switch them up or scavenge other wagon for parts. The lil’ ones could learn firsthand about roadside repairs!

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Great review Mike. You might want to add a price comparison to the Audi Q7, since Infiniti considers it a competitor. A friend of mine was looking in this class and considering the Audi, and I suggested the JX so there’s definitely going to be some cross shopping between those two.

    • 0 avatar

      I actually assumed that the Audi would be far more expensive. But the difference is “only” about $8,200 before the feature adjustment, $9,600 afterwards:

      http://truedelta.com/Audi-Q7/price-15-2012/vs-JX-1094-2013&body_1=14&pt_1=2070&body_2=14&pt_2=2373&price_feature=3

  • avatar
    drylbrg

    I love my wife’s G37x, but Infiniti doesn’t offer a single SUV or CUV that I would own. They just don’t seem to know how to adapt Nissan’s offerings to their luxury division.

  • avatar
    EX35

    “steering is light but well-weighted. . . ”

    What exactly does this mean? Is it light or is it well-weighted?

    • 0 avatar

      To me at least, “well-weighted” means that the amount of force required builds naturally as cornering forces build. It’s relative the the effort on-center. Relative to other cars it’s still “light” across the range. Steering can also be heavy and not well-weighted, if it’s uniformly heavy no matter how far the wheel is turned.

      • 0 avatar
        EX35

        Thanks for the clarification. I enjoy a heavy and well-weighted steering, a la benzes and bimmers of yore. When I was looking for a smallish moderately priced CUV, the EX35 was the only car that met my requirements.

        I still can’t figure out why manufacturers keep lightening their steering. Nothing makes me feel more insecure at speed than light steering.

  • avatar
    dcdriver

    It seems to me that the Volvo XC90 would be a competitor. How does it do, price and interior size-wise vs. the JX.

    I would also suspect that some may cross-shop the JX with a loaded Explorer.

    Is a 3rd row equipped X5 not also a competitor? (too small?)

    What about the LR4?

    • 0 avatar

      The XC90 was designed when manufacturers thought buyers still wanted crossovers to have the proportions of SUVs. So it’s relatively high off the ground and tight inside.

      The 2013 Pathfinder will compete more with the Explorer. The Lincoln MKT would be Ford’s closest match. But it has odd styling, a tight third row, and doesn’t ride or handle especially well.

      The X5 has a very tight third row and, like the Volvo, has the proportions and driving position of an SUV. They can be fun to drive, though.

      • 0 avatar
        Rental Man

        The Volvo XC90 should come out with the Decade Edition. Maybe it’s time for a Bat-Mitzvha PKG. Either way, XC90 is old.

        X5 3rd row is tight. Just as bad as the still being sold Subaru Tribeca. Mazda CX-9 a little better. GMC & Buick have the better 3rd rows. They are better then Escalade.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    We live in interested (and bloated) times; “weight is a very reasonable 4,419 pounds.”

  • avatar
    hachee

    “I still can’t figure out why manufacturers keep lightening their steering. Nothing makes me feel more insecure at speed than light steering.”

    I don’t understand it either. What’s even worse is when reviewers of auto mags complain that steering is too HEAVY, as one recently did about the X5 in an online review of a few of these cars (I think it was Automobile Magazine). That was probably one of the most important features that the X5 had over the other cars I looked at, and if my wife doesn’t think it’s too heavy, then how the heck does some auto journalist? I realize that “heavy” doesn’t necessarily equal “better”, but if steering gets any lighter, we may as well go back to driving Sedan de Villes.

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    This thing might end up on our shopping list in a couple of years if a second child makes our current RX350 feel too small and the wife doesnt want to drive a minivan. All of the parking and backup aids should save on body shop bills and help offset some of the purchase price (not much, but still).

    Michael, did you notice any odd behavior with the brakes or throttle response? My 07 M45S has a weird two stage feel to the brakes (about halfway through the pedal travel it feels like the car downshifts to increase braking power but it makes it hard to modulate) and the throttle has a split personality as well (slow slow slow slow FAST FAST FAST). This might be mostly blamed on the tranny though. Also, how do the new Infinitis measure up to Lexus in terms of interior quality? Our Lexus just feels better at all of the major touch points.

    • 0 avatar

      The latest Infinitis are better than the previous generation, and are about equal with Lexus.

      I don’t recall any odd behavior from the brakes, but downshifting through stepped ratios won’t be a factor due to the CVT. Infinitis do tend to have touchy brakes, but I adjust to this after a few minutes.

      I have noticed aggressive downshifts while braking in recent BMWs and a Jetta GLI with the DSG transmission. Quite a few owners complain about the behavior of the ZF 8-speed in the BMWs because of how aggressively it downshifts during braking from 20 to zero.

      • 0 avatar
        onyxtape

        The G37 I have lurches quite a bit from the aggressive downshifting during braking or when coasting to a stop, but that has all but stopped from a combination of the transmission learning my habits and getting used to the brake action.

        According to the consensus on myg37.com, the weird shifting on the 7spd AT finally got fixed for 2012 and is pretty buttersmooth in my opinion.

  • avatar

    So much better than the Q7.

  • avatar
    derek17005

    To this day, there still isn’t a three row crossover that can compete with the space, fuel economy, and utility a minivan provides. I don’t know when or even if, people will get pass the stigma that driving a minivan has. If they ever do, they’ll quickly realize what all they’ve been missing. With two kids in tow, and possibly a 3rd added into the mix, I can’t see trying to make a crossover fit our lifestyle anymore. It just isn’t worth it when there is already a perfectly capable vehicle of moving my family and gear in comfort for a reasonable price and with decent fuel economy.

    Just so you know, in my garage is a 2011 Chrysler T&C and Mr. Karesh and Mr. Baruth both played a very large part in making me see the dark side so to speak. My previous vehicle was a Flex and although it came close, it still didn’t have the space, comfort and handling (don’t laugh, read Jack’s review of the T&C) that the minivan has.

    While the JX sure looks nice, comfortable, and will probably sell a ton, it’s almost shocking to see how expensive it can be just to avoid driving a minivan.

    • 0 avatar
      Aqua225

      Nissan needs to build a Infiniti minivan with the 5.6L w/GDI on it and AWD. That would be a awesome family hauler!

      Okay, maybe just a VQ37 & AWD (does any minivan offer AWD anymore? I remember Chrysler did once, and the Aerostar had a advanced-for-the-time offering in the early 90′s).

      Back to the real world —- yeah, there is a stigma on minivans, definitely. But the advantage that I harp on to people that ask me (and no, I don’t have one), about what their next family hauler should be, I say minivan, and remind them of the fact the door slides open rather than opens into the parking slot (and probably the car next to you if the kids are opening it).

      When I have my tassel of kids, I will have a minivan, or the wife. Someone will have one, as long as I can also have something more fun to drive when I don’t have to transport an army, like a G37.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Minivans will become popular when supermodels start wearing sensible shoes and flat chested “adult” stars become popular. Not gonna happen.

    • 0 avatar
      hachee

      Yeah, you’re right. Nothing can compete with a minivan on any of the things you mentioned. And, yes, “it’s perfectly capable”.

      If my family really needed the space provided by a minivan on a frequent basis, we’d probably suck it up and get one. But for our needs, and I’m guessing for most of the people that go for the 3 row crossover, we just don’t need a minivan. So why would I get one? Just because it’s roomier? Gets better mileage? Is less expensive? All great, reasonable, logical arguments. But given the choice, I’d choose my X5 over a minivan every time. I’ve driven both, and oddly enough, I really do prefer the X5. Surprising, right? We use our third row for probably 20 minutes a week (if that), for short car pooling rides for kids. The rest of the time, we’ve got more than enough room.

      But what amazes me is that on a website such as this, presumably frequented by people who are into cars, there are people who insist that it’s crazy to get a 3 row crossover/SUV over a minivan. If choosing a car was based on purely practical considerations, we’d all be driving Dodge Caravans.

  • avatar
    bbbuzzy

    Since you wanted a three-row with an athletic chassis, the MDX is still a leading candidate. It’s a sales leader for a reason, it drives nicely, works for families, and has Acura reliability. Styling is an individual preference, I think it’s fine for what it is, a AWD minivan alternative that doesn’t suck to drive.

    • 0 avatar

      I do like the SH-AWD system in the MDX. But the third row and cargo space are tight and the interior isn’t as nice as that in the JX. Interior fit and finish are subpar for a premium brand. The standard suspension is a little soft. The optional adaptive dampers help. Except for the 2007, reliability has been good:

      http://truedelta.com/Acura-MDX/reliability-293

      • 0 avatar
        ZCD2.7T

        So, do you want athleticism (MDX) or plushness (JX)?

        Our MDX with its adaptive dampers is really an extremely well-rounded vehicle, and has served our family of 4 well over 84K miles. We road-trip to northern Michigan several times a year, and I can’t imagine a better vehicle for those trips. All of our stuff fits, the highway ride is sublime with the dampers in their comfort setting, and once we’ve arrived and unloaded, there’s still an enthusiastic and great-sounding 300hp engine, an extremely capable suspension and the all-singing all-dancing SH-AWD to make me miss my S4 less….

        Could the interior be plusher? You bet. But the sales figures speak for themselves – the MDX is the best overall vehicle in the luxury SUV market.

        All that said, sounds like the JX will sell well, though not to anyone who actually cares about driving…

    • 0 avatar
      needsdecaf

      I own a 2007 MDX (no reliability issues) with 75k miles on it. I agree that third row is down size wise to the JX, and it does give up a little cargo room. However, it’s definitely smaller and more maneuverable.

      I was looking forward to the JX being the replacement for the MDX (eventually) but after driving and having the wife sit in one, I am not sold. It gives up the athleticism of the MDX for not that much more luxury or utility. The MDX is going to be hard to replace. The SHAWD is phenomenal.

      Having said that, I see why this will sell like hotcakes.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      NYTimes review sees the Infiniti as very subpar:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/automobiles/autoreviews/even-with-all-those-seats-the-driver-is-left-out.html?_r=1&ref=automobiles

  • avatar
    onyxtape

    When I was growing up with my brother, we seemed to do just fine with a family of 4 in a small Accord sedan and even a Mitsu Colt hatchback. None of these have much more than 100 HP. We did 20-hour road trips in them and we didn’t end up killing each other. And we’re not THAT old so it wasn’t that long ago. What’s this new obsession with needing 4500lb-5000lb vehicles with 3 row seating for just 1 or 2 kids?

    We’re expecting our first child, and will probably have a second at some point. We currently have an Outback and a G37 sedan. At this point in time, I just can’t see how we can “outgrow” these vehicles. With a 3rd kid, I can see needing a larger vehicle, but not with just 1 or 2.

    While this JX looks very comfortable and all – I think we’re finally circling back to “minivan”. At least, the word “minivan” was the first thing that popped into my mind when I first saw a picture of the JX.

    • 0 avatar

      We have three kids, and still didn’t get a three-row vehicle until the youngest was eight. Most days I put all three in my Protege5. Then again, my 5’2″ daughter now insists on sitting in the front seat if my wife isn’t in the car.

      The problem is when my parents are in town or we want to give someone else’s kid(s) a lift. Then you need the third row.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      My mother and her 6 siblings grew up in a 3 bedroom 1200 square foot house . . . My two siblings and I grew up in a 2500 square foot house.

      Get back to us after you actually have the kids.

      Child car seats the size of barcalongers, strollers the size of golf carts, and the endless bending to get kids in and out of a sedan cause most to go shopping for a van or 3 row SUV pretty damn quick

      We used a sedan for 7 months into our first child before my wife said, “I am tired of this, get me a van” We’ll be buying another van soon, when they get older they have friends to drive around, even more crap to haul.

      Vans are great at hauling kids and gear. A sedan is a pain in the ass to do the same. In our neighborhood, ~85% of families use a van or SUV as primary kid hauler.

      • 0 avatar
        GiddyHitch

        Well said, baggins. I was all set to ride out the first kid with an 01 Accord until the stroller and car seat showed up. Screw that. Even if you tetris all of the baby stuff into your trunk, where do you put all of the crap from Costco, Target, and Buy Buy Babies R Us? Not to mention load heights, makeshift diaper stations (try doing that in a car trunk), and picking up baby furniture.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        After watching the trials of my brother’s Caravan over the last 10 years, I can’t see how any family with 2+ kids can live without one.

        To me, it’s a 10 year badge of honor announcing you’re a parent. You can save the poseur attempts for the first round of plastic surgery when the kids are off to college.

        Personally I think the Routan is the best looking on the market; I wish hwy mpg was closer to 28/29…

  • avatar

    So would you take it to Arizona?

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    In 1957 as a family of six we went on a 2400 mile round trip to Florida in a six cylinder ’55 Plymouth sedan (three in front and back) with no air. We were packed tight, but that reduced horseplay. One consequence of an increased standard of living is that people have come to expect far more than they need just to take a simple vacation.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    Heh, I’m starting to think that for the most part automotive companies instead of offering a variety of flavors are all doing vanilla and screaming about how their vanilla is better than the other guys.

    Me? I’d rather have my rocky road or orange sherbert. But americans don’t buy that, we buy vanilla. *YAWN*

  • avatar
    wmba

    In the flesh, this thing just looks incredibly dowdy. A box with a power module slung out front and too much fender above the front wheels. The very definition of plain with less panache than an Outback. Does not look like the money in any way, shape or form. Front like an expensive HHR and pointless hood sculpturing. It is not bold like most other Infinitis.

    Should make a good shuttle vehicle for the Infiniti dealerships to take customers to and from work once the supply of loaners dries up. Since I apparently have zero appreciation of modern taste, this thing will no doubt sell like hotcakes, but why the CVT instead of the 7 speed auto at this outrageous price? Hope it doesn’t drone at highway speeds like my brother’s G37x.

    • 0 avatar
      LKre

      I completely agree with WMBA. Moreover, the interior does not look the money. As this reviewer noted, the seats are flat and low, and, I would add, the leather is subpar. I sat in the vehicle for about 10 min and was underwhelmed. When I see usual Asian designs (Hyundai is presently exempted), I imagine the designers grew up with Pokemon cards and figures, whereas their European counterparts formed their tastes playing with toy landsknechts and going on field trips to Renaissance cathedrals. I cannot imagine HOW Infiniti can go ahead with this particular design after having X5, Toureg, the previous ML and even Q7 in front of their eyes for many years. JX must become a major design and sales flop for Infiniti, if only to alert the company that they need good designers, or G35 will be next.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    I don’t understand the third row. I would never do that kind of damage to my wife’s reproductive system to force her to blissfully crap out 4-5 kids, and I don’t think I’m wrong when most couples I see have 2-3 kids.

    So why do all larger SUVs and crossovers still have that vestigial third row, for that “once in a lifetime” road trip? When they’re not being used, they fold up or down or tumble and waste cargo space. And when you do stuff 2-3 adults and 3-4 kids into one of these cars, there is no room for their stuff, so you’re left with local shuttle runs only. A family outing with luggage means abandoning a few of your brood or getting one of those idiotic rooftop shells.

    I’d argue that if you do have the inklings of forcing your wife to sire a small sports team from her vagine, a passenger church van like the new Nissan NV1500 can transport everyone in comfort and with legroom to spare. And take all of their luggage for those epic road trips no one goes on anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      ktm_525

      We have a 3 row SUV (Land Rover LR3)and have only two kids and use the third row all the time. During the week the LR3 does school carpool duty. Remember two kids sometimes means 1 or 2 friends each, those seats fill quickly. When not in use the third row folds into the floor and there is oodles of cargo room. The key is having the third row seats fold individually. This gives huge people/cargo capability and options.

      As for three row SUVs how does Land Rover fit three rows of seats (all which can fit adults) in such a small footprint? It’s crazy.

  • avatar
    hachee

    I think most people with more than 3 kids choose a minivan over a 3 row SUV. For the rest of us, I’d say that the 3rd row is perfect for local shuttle runs when carpooling or taking a few extra kids along. If I did long trips, with more than 3 kids, then it woud be the wrong kind of vehicle.

    Not so hard to understand.

  • avatar
    dcdriver

    As others have noted, the big negative with the three-row CUVs is that most have a very tiny 3rd row and when not in use, the 3rd row takes up cargo space behind the second row. The best three-row CUV, IMO in terms of manageable exterior size and great use of interior room was the 1st gen Honda Pilot (2003-2008) I assume the current Pilot is similar. The Pilot had a roomy 3rd row, but also when not in use, the cargo space behind the 2nd row remained very large. The lambdas have good 3rd rows, but externally are much bigger than than the Pilot, especially the first gen Pilot.

  • avatar
    mimi

    I just ordered a JX 35 after test driving the MDX (too cramped), the R350 (ride too boxy and no third seat), the Benz R class (too small) and many more. The closest competitor was the fully loaded Toyota Highlander Limited, except it lacked the rear sensors I had gotten so used to in my Toyota Sienna (2003). The JX is spacious, has the third row I occasionally need and has the amenities I wanted. I didn’t get all the avoidance tech but got what I wanted. That being said, I would have purchased another Sienna if Toyota would get rid of their horrible run flat tires on the all wheel drive model and hadn’t changed the interior getting rid of the features I used most. The odyssey was just rediculous IMO. A refrigerator? Just give me back the extra storage that was there before.


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