The Truth About Cars » Infiniti http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:00:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Infiniti http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/infiniti/ Consumer Reports: Infotainment System Woes Mark 2014 Reliability Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936826 Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems. According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a […]

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Infiniti InTouch - Infiniti Q50

Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems.

According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a crowbar to the whole thing. The brand itself took a beating, dropping 14 points to 20th out of 28 as a result of the Q50’s issues, as well as the overall reliability issues in the QX60. Other infotainment systems ironing out the bugs included Ford’s MyTouch, Honda’s HondaLink and Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s UConnect.

Concerning overall reliability, Lexus once again took the top of the podium, while Toyota and Mazda respectively brought home silver and bronze, and Honda finished in fourth. Buick, meanwhile, was the only brand among the Detroit Three to place in the top 10, jumping from 16th to sixth on the strength of its entire portfolio.

As for why the other Detroit brands failed to reach the top 10, Consumer Reports says domestic small and compact cars, along with full-size trucks, are holding everyone back. Tesla also didn’t make the list, but that was due to criteria than low quality: the publication only rates brands with a minimum of two models, a situation that will be remedied when the Model X rolls out next year.

Finally, Audi took fifth behind the Japanese makes, while Porsche took ninth ahead of Kia. BMW and Volvo remained within the top 20. Only Mercedes-Benz took a hit among the Europeans this year, falling 11 spots to 24th thanks to the new CLA and S classes.

The Consumer Reports 2014 reliability survey obtained its information from 1.1 million vehicles, the largest survey of its kind in the publication’s history.

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NHTSA Issues Urgent Recall For Takata-Equipped Vehicles In Humid Climes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934178 If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed. Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made […]

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Takata Airbag Cutaway

If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed.

Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made by Takata have been linked to humidity-related failures, where upon detonation, metal shrapnel would be sprayed into the cabin, injuring or killing all within.

Owners of the following affected vehicles may need to bring their vehicles in for repairs if they call Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands or Hawaii home:

Toyota: 778,177 total number of vehicles potentially affected
2002 – 2004 Lexus SC
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 -2007 Honda Pilot
2006 Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 -2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2004 Mazda6
2004 Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre
2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous
2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

Recall letters are being sent out to affected owners, who can also look up their VIN through SaferCar.gov to determine if their vehicle is under recall.

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Paris 2014: Infiniti Q80 Unveiled, Headed For Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-infiniti-q80-unveiled-headed-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-infiniti-q80-unveiled-headed-production/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 18:30:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=924225 Within the next three to five years, the Infiniti Q80 Inspiration will go from concept to the production floor. The brand’s European product chief, Francois Goupil de Bouille, aims to have as much as 90 percent of what is being seen at the 2014 Paris Auto Show on the road within the next few years, […]

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Within the next three to five years, the Infiniti Q80 Inspiration will go from concept to the production floor.

The brand’s European product chief, Francois Goupil de Bouille, aims to have as much as 90 percent of what is being seen at the 2014 Paris Auto Show on the road within the next few years, though it might be the top of the line; Infiniti has plans for a larger, more traditional sedan paired with a QX80 aimed at Range Rover.

Entry-level, the brand also has plans for a Q20 model. The proposed vehicle will take on the likes of MINI and the Audi A1, but only after the Q30 arrives in showrooms in 2015.

As for the Q80 Inspiration, the powerplant of choice is a 550-horsepower twin-turbo aluminum V6 — part of a new family of engines that will turn up throughout the range over the next few years — driving all four wheels. The concept is just a bit shorter than the Mercedes S-Class, boasts an interior with Alcantra and horse-hair, and has adaptive cruise control.

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Paris 2014: Infiniti Teases Q80 Inspiration Concept http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-infiniti-teases-q80-inspiration-concept/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-infiniti-teases-q80-inspiration-concept/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=906441 Another day, another teaser. This time, Infiniti released a couple of vague images ahead of the 2014 Paris Auto Show, previewing the Q80 Inspiration concept. Autoblog reports the concept is a “low-slung, ingeniously aggressive four-passenger fastback” meant to show the world how the brand wishes to become a major player in the global luxury game. […]

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Another day, another teaser. This time, Infiniti released a couple of vague images ahead of the 2014 Paris Auto Show, previewing the Q80 Inspiration concept.

Autoblog reports the concept is a “low-slung, ingeniously aggressive four-passenger fastback” meant to show the world how the brand wishes to become a major player in the global luxury game. As reported earlier, Infiniti has plans for a flagship model as part of its overall lineup expansion, and may be hinting at such a thing with the Q80.

More details are expected to slowly leak out prior to the concept’s global debut October 2. Until then, this is all we have.

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Bartsch: Infiniti On Track Despite Key Departures http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/bartsch-infiniti-track-despite-key-departures/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/bartsch-infiniti-track-despite-key-departures/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 12:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=905681 Though the departures of Johan de Nysschen and Andy Palmer from Infiniti and Nissan respectively may be setbacks in the premium brand’s overall trek toward becoming a proper player in the luxury game, Infiniti Americas VP Michael Bartsch believes the brand will stay the course in the end. According to Ward’s Auto, Bartsch says Infiniti’s […]

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Though the departures of Johan de Nysschen and Andy Palmer from Infiniti and Nissan respectively may be setbacks in the premium brand’s overall trek toward becoming a proper player in the luxury game, Infiniti Americas VP Michael Bartsch believes the brand will stay the course in the end.

According to Ward’s Auto, Bartsch says Infiniti’s roadmap, as designed by de Nysschen and endorsed by both Palmer and Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, is “locked in.” Further, the plan, and by extension, Infiniti, is greater than the people behind it, with a “collective stewardship of the mission and the vision” in place.

The plan calls for Infiniti to go up against the likes of BMW, Mercedes and Audi by expanding its offerings over the next few years, meeting them in 85 percent to 86 percent of the segments where the German brands currently do battle:

The reality of it is the German brands have fractured the market more than we’ve ever seen. The challenge for Infiniti at the moment is not whether we can build cars for the segment. I think our record shows very clearly we can. It’s not what we currently have, the challenge is what we don’t have. To be an effective player in (the luxury sector), you have to have range. You have to have the bandwidth.

The expansion will begin when the Q30 arrives in showrooms throughout 2015, and will feature redesigns of current vehicles, as well as possibilities for a flagship and a sports car down the line.

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2016 Infiniti Q50S To Receive G35’s Hydraulic Steering http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2016-infiniti-q50s-receive-g35s-hydraulic-steering/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2016-infiniti-q50s-receive-g35s-hydraulic-steering/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904881 If you test-drove an Infiniti Q50S recently and came away with disappointment because its steering was lacking, you’ll be happy to know the sedan will receive an upgrade, courtesy of the G37. Car & Driver reports the hydraulic steering found in the sibling sedan will replace the base hydraulic setup when the Q50S is updated […]

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2014-infiniti-q50-s-front-three-quarters

If you test-drove an Infiniti Q50S recently and came away with disappointment because its steering was lacking, you’ll be happy to know the sedan will receive an upgrade, courtesy of the G37.

Car & Driver reports the hydraulic steering found in the sibling sedan will replace the base hydraulic setup when the Q50S is updated for the 2016 model year. The brand’s product planning chief, Keith St. Clair, explains:

Some members of the enthusiast community, including the media, suggested the car could benefit with enhanced steering feel, as in more engagement similar to the former G Sedan Sport.

St. Clair’s team built a prototype using the sedan’s steering alongside exhaust system tweaks, and found the improvements impressive enough to bring the mule before the brand’s top brass, leading Infiniti to find “the fastest path for adopting [the improvements] into regular production.”

The Q50S will also receive styling and chassis upgrades along with the new steering and exhaust improvements, though no word has been given on whether or not Q50 or Q50S Hybrid models will also receive the G37’s hydraulic steering.

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2015 Infiniti ESQ Official Photos Unveiled Ahead Of Global Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/2015-infiniti-esq-official-photos-unveiled-ahead-global-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/2015-infiniti-esq-official-photos-unveiled-ahead-global-debut/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=901569 Official photos of the Infiniti ESQ, the crossover formerly known as the Nissan Juke Nismo, have been unveiled ahead of its global debut at this weekend’s 2014 Chengdu Auto Show. CarNewsChina reports the premium crossover will arrive in Chinese showrooms this October, with a price of admission set between ¥200,000 and ¥300,000 ($32,000 – $49,000 […]

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Official photos of the Infiniti ESQ, the crossover formerly known as the Nissan Juke Nismo, have been unveiled ahead of its global debut at this weekend’s 2014 Chengdu Auto Show.

CarNewsChina reports the premium crossover will arrive in Chinese showrooms this October, with a price of admission set between ¥200,000 and ¥300,000 ($32,000 – $49,000 USD). Power for the China-only ESQ will be a 1.6-liter turbo-four delivering 200 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque through a CVT.

Though Nissan sells a handful of vehicles in the Chinese market, the Juke is not among them. Further, few Infiniti badges decorate the ESQ, hinting that, like Citroën’s DS line, the crossover is just the first model of a sub-brand aimed at young buyers.

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Study: Nine Brands Suffer Loyalty Issues Among Their Customers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/study-nine-brands-suffer-loyalty-issues-among-customers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/study-nine-brands-suffer-loyalty-issues-among-customers/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=896834 Honda, Ford and Toyota all have one thing in common as far as Kelley Blue Book knows: All three inspire brand loyalty among over half of its customer base. Alas, nine other brands wish they could be just as inspirational. In its study of KBB data from 33 brands regarding customer loyalty, 24/7 Wall St. […]

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2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Honda, Ford and Toyota all have one thing in common as far as Kelley Blue Book knows: All three inspire brand loyalty among over half of its customer base. Alas, nine other brands wish they could be just as inspirational.

In its study of KBB data from 33 brands regarding customer loyalty, 24/7 Wall St. says the following nine brands are likely to see their customers jump ship to another brand come trade-in or lease time:

  • Mitsubishi: 21.77 percent average
  • Chrysler: 22.72 percent average
  • Dodge: 22.88 percent average
  • Jaguar: 25.45 percent average
  • Scion: 25.79 percent average
  • Lincoln: 27.49 percent average
  • Infiniti: 28.25 percent average
  • Volvo: 29.41 percent average
  • Buick: 29.45 percent average

The study notes the brands with the highest loyalty averages also move the most units off the lot, while low-loyalty brands have sales to match; six of the nine listed sold less than 100,000 units during H1 2014.

As for what inspires loyalty in the first place, KBB senior manager of marketing intelligence Arthur Henry says price and reliability play the most important roles in whether a customer will stick with a brand. However, luxury makes like Jaguar, Infiniti and Buick suffer not from perceptions of poor reliability, but fierce competition from within the U.S. luxury market.

That said, Arthur notes customers can switch loyalties no matter how a brand is perceived, citing economic conditions and changing consumer preferences as factors in switching.

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Infiniti Expanding Lineup 60 Percent Within Five Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/infiniti-expanding-lineup-60-percent-within-five-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/infiniti-expanding-lineup-60-percent-within-five-years/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 10:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=896738 Though the man who steered Infiniti toward its current Q-bound direction has since left for Cadillac, the premium brand is still on track to expanding its lineup on the way towards becoming a full-time player in the luxury game. Autoblog reports the brand will boost its current offerings by 60 percent within the next five […]

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Though the man who steered Infiniti toward its current Q-bound direction has since left for Cadillac, the premium brand is still on track to expanding its lineup on the way towards becoming a full-time player in the luxury game.

Autoblog reports the brand will boost its current offerings by 60 percent within the next five years, expanding to eight coupes/sedans and five crossovers/SUVs for a total of 13 models. While no specifics were revealed by Infiniti Americas vice president Michael Bartsch at this time, he did proclaim an EV is still on the way, as well as a QX30 crossover based upon the Q30 concept.

Further, Infiniti has plans to beef up its IPL division by distributing the firepower among the range. Currently, only the Q60 coupe and convertible are wearing the IPL badge, though the QX30 could be up next for performance-enhancing.

Until then, the brand is bringing the Q50 and Q50 Hybrid to showrooms, and is collaborating with Daimler AG to build 2-liter turbo-fours that are currently Euro-market only.

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Daimler-Nissan JV To Build Next-Gen CLA, Unnamed A-Class At Mexican Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/daimler-nissan-jv-to-build-next-gen-cla-unnamed-a-class-at-mexican-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/daimler-nissan-jv-to-build-next-gen-cla-unnamed-a-class-at-mexican-plant/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 11:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=850794 Aside from Infiniti sharing engines with Mercedes, the Daimler-Nissan joint venture will also lead to production of the next-gen CLA and an A-Class sedan at Nissan’s plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Automotive News Europe reports Daimler’s board will approve the decision within the next two weeks. Although the GLA crossover was supposed to go over to […]

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2014 Mercedes CLA

Aside from Infiniti sharing engines with Mercedes, the Daimler-Nissan joint venture will also lead to production of the next-gen CLA and an A-Class sedan at Nissan’s plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Automotive News Europe reports Daimler’s board will approve the decision within the next two weeks. Although the GLA crossover was supposed to go over to Mexico originally, insiders claim that the CLA and the unnamed A-Class will take its place.

Production is set to begin in time for exportation to the United States in 2017, with an Infiniti compact — built upon Mercedes’ FWD bones — to join the CLA and A-Class. Annual output is expected to be around 100,000 to 150,000 units.

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Reader Review: Infiniti G37x http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-review-infiniti-g37x/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-review-infiniti-g37x/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 12:30:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=849986 TTAC reader Tim Rust sends us his review of his 2010 Infiniti G37x. Do you pass up the expensive steak house restaurant to buy your meat at Costco and grill the perfect steak at home?  Do you purchase your clothing at an outlet mall to avoid the huge mark-up employed by brand-name stores in a […]

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TTAC reader Tim Rust sends us his review of his 2010 Infiniti G37x.

Do you pass up the expensive steak house restaurant to buy your meat at Costco and grill the perfect steak at home?  Do you purchase your clothing at an outlet mall to avoid the huge mark-up employed by brand-name stores in a mall?  Is hiring a handyman/contractor a last resort when your house needs some work? If so, a gently used Infiniti G37 may be the vehicle for you.

 

As people go, I tend to fall more on the practical end of the spectrum.  When I purchase a product, I like to get good value for my dollar, but I also like high-quality products. Sports sedans have always called to me for that reason.  They are not too ostentatious or gaudy, but definitely hint that there is some performance underneath the conservative sheet metal—the E39 BMW 5-series would be my prototypical specimen.  So why not buy a used E39, you ask?  Well, I want a product that will last without numerous trips to the mechanic and intimidating repair bills.  I also require some of the creature comforts only found in newer models (decent audio system, Bluetooth, up-to-date safety features, etc.).  Looking at sports sedans circa 2010, the Infiniti G37 stands out as being both dynamic and reliable.  Consequently, last year, I purchased a 2010 Infiniti G37x sedan with about 25,000 miles on the clock.

Why might you not want to get this car?  Well, the gas mileage is poor compared to some newer models—I get 19 mpg with a majority of city driving.  The cup holders also stink.  Two soda cans fit well, but try getting two large McDonald’s cups in there during a road trip and you’re just asking for a spill.  But, these aren’t factors that should keep you away from the G37.

The ride, handling, and driving feel in a practical package are the reasons to purchase this car.  In my non-sport trim, the ride is firm, but forgiving.  Uneven road surfaces are felt, but are tolerable.  Driving on the twisty roads in the Hocking Hills of Southeastern Ohio is enjoyable, but there is some body roll, reminding you that you are not in a full -on sports car.  The G37 still employs hydraulic power steering, so steering feel is great compared to newer vehicles with electric power steering.  It feels a bit heavy while navigating parking lots at slow speeds and firms up nicely at higher speeds for confident handling.  For a daily driver, it offers a great compromise between a firm sporty suspension and a comfortable commuter.  Road noise is noticeable, but not so bad that you will hate yourself after a long road trip.  Much of the noise comes from the coarse, throaty engine note, which adds to the sporting nature of the car.

And about that engine… This was a pleasant surprise for me after owning the car for a while.  The engine note is almost more muscle car than sports sedan.  I’ve never really been attracted to muscle cars, but the sensation of all of that power is growing on me.  Acceleration in city driving is great and a blast when in sport/manual shift mode.  At highway speeds, it seems to be a little out of the torque curve and it can take some minimal effort to pass.  The automatic transmission has been a bit of a disappointment with this car.  There are seven gears, but the shifts can be a little rough, especially when coasting to a stop.  Even though my car is not a sport model, I have also read online that it should still be prewired for the shift paddles that come on the sport model.  It looks like it is a reasonably easy self-install after buying a kit and it is on my list of things to do this summer.

My prior car was a 2004 Subaru Legacy sedan and there is a noticeable difference between Subaru’s symmetrical all wheel drive and the AWD system on the G37x.  For those that don’t know, the Subaru system sends power to all four wheels all of the time.  The G37’s AWD powers only the rear wheels until they slip and then power is sent to the front as well.  This is great, in that it maintains the RWD feel of the car.  Still, compared to the Subaru, it is disconcerting to feel the back of the car start to slip before the AWD kicks in.  At low speeds, the car can be locked in AWD with the “Snow Mode” button, but this deactivates at higher speeds.  In all fairness, I only really notice problems while trying to drive on unplowed roads with more than two inches of snow on the ground.  In light snow or plowed streets, the G37’s AWD is great for winter driving.  I haven’t noticed any difference driving in simply wet conditions.

I admit, the interior of the car is starting to look a little dated.  I prefer a more classic look, so this works for me.  Infiniti’s center screen with dial and keypad below looks premium and is simple to use.  It may not be cutting edge, but it works well and minimizes distraction from driving.  The screen also works as a touchscreen in cars equipped with navigation.  The voice commands work well for making phone calls and using the navigation system.  Bluetooth audio streaming comes with models with navigation and works well 95% of the time with a few glitches.  Curiously, there is no auxiliary jack, so Bluetooth is the only connectivity option for playing music from your own device.  There is a hard drive that can rip CDs—I know, terrible outdated.  The Bose sound system is pretty decent, although I am not a hardcore audiophile and I don’t expect my subwoofer to rattle my neighbors’ windows as I cruise by.  It seems a step above the Bose system in the 2014 Mazda6.

I prefer lighter vehicle interiors rather than an expanse of black plastic and leather and went with the Stone interior and aluminum trim.  It’s a little different than a typical beige car interior and may strike some as too bland.  Aluminum also helps to make the interior look a little more contemporary compared to the optional wood trim.  The non-sport front seats are very comfortable and tend to be on the firm side.  No problems after a seven-hour road trip.  They do allow some room for sliding around during hard cornering, though.  The seat heaters are excellent and the climate control is very quick to heat or cool.

The rear seat room is another plus of this car.  Compared to a 2010 BMW 3 series, Audi A4, or Lexus IS there is considerably more room for two adults to comfortably sit in the back.  I am six feet tall and can sit comfortably behind my drivers seat position.  The center armrest is chunky and padded, adding to the comfort and coziness of the back seat.  I have not tested this personally, but several online reviews show that rear-facing infant and child seats can also fit in the backseat without ruining the front seat legroom.  This was a big factor in the practical nature of this car, as it truly can be a family vehicle.

Visibility is quite good and a back-up camera is standard even though it’s really not necessary.  There are also rear backup radar sensors to help with parking and pulling out of parking spots.  The trunk is so-so.  The opening is probably too small, but there is room for several roller bags for airport runs and the like—approximately 13.5 cubic feet.  The rear seats do not fold down, though, so you’ll have to take your SUV when making hardware store runs for longer objects.  There is a small pass-through for skis.  Overall, I found this interior more comfortable, practical, and better looking than the comparable BMW.

Infiniti’s exterior styling seems to be pretty polarizing.  Compared to other models, they showed some more restraint with the G37.  The front end is beautiful with the swooping sleek HID headlights and aggressive fender flairs.  These are the best headlights I have experienced in a car—very bright with a large area of coverage.  Of note, there are no daytime running lights.  The back end of the car does not work as well.  The G sedan has had the same basic taillight design for a while now and it looks old.  It is unique, though, in an age where many cars seem to have the same basic rear end design.  The rear end just looks frumpy compared to the curvaceous front end.  And I am not a fan of the chrome trim on the spoiler either.

The excellent reliability record according to Consumer Reports and True Delta along with the reasonable price, driving dynamics, and interior amenities made this purchase a no brainer.  You can get more for more money with a newer model, but this value is hard to beat.  BMW—and with recent models, maybe now Cadillac—may be the Ultimate Driving Machine, but the Infiniti G37 is the Ultimate Used Sports Sedan.  If you are a practical guy or gal on a budget looking for a sophisticated, fun ride, definitely check one out.

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2015 Infiniti ESQ Caught In The Wet In Spy Photos http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/2015-infiniti-esq-caught-in-the-wet-in-spy-photos/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/2015-infiniti-esq-caught-in-the-wet-in-spy-photos/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 10:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=843345 Yesterday, we received word of the China-only Infiniti ESQ crossover, which is really the Nissan Juke minus the Nissan. Today, we have some spy shots and some information on the ESQ. CarNewsChina reports the ESQ will enter the market by the end of the year, and will have few differences in appearance with the Juke, […]

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infiniti esq 1

Yesterday, we received word of the China-only Infiniti ESQ crossover, which is really the Nissan Juke minus the Nissan. Today, we have some spy shots and some information on the ESQ.

CarNewsChina reports the ESQ will enter the market by the end of the year, and will have few differences in appearance with the Juke, though most consumers won’t likely know about the badge-engineering exercise on the showroom floor; the Juke is not sold at all either as an import or as a locally made product.

Infiniti’s crossover will be assembled by the Dongfeng-Nissan joint venture, and will have the same 1.6-liter turbo delivering 200 horsepower and 184 ft-lb of torque to all four corners via CVT as the Juke Nismo. No price of admission has been given thus far.

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US Nissan Plant To Supply Engine For Euro-Special Infiniti Q50 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/us-nissan-plant-to-supply-engine-for-euro-special-infiniti-q50/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/us-nissan-plant-to-supply-engine-for-euro-special-infiniti-q50/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 11:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=842922 In its fight against the big premium brands in Europe, Infiniti is calling upon some German-designed American firepower for its Japanese-made, Euro-market special Q50 sedan. Automotive News reports the Q50 will receive a 2-liter turbo-four from an $319 million Infinti-only line inside Nissan’s engine plant in Decherd, Tenn.; total overall production is expected to reach […]

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2014 Infiniti Q50

In its fight against the big premium brands in Europe, Infiniti is calling upon some German-designed American firepower for its Japanese-made, Euro-market special Q50 sedan.

Automotive News reports the Q50 will receive a 2-liter turbo-four from an $319 million Infinti-only line inside Nissan’s engine plant in Decherd, Tenn.; total overall production is expected to reach 250,000 annually while employing 400. The same engine will be used by Mercedes in its next-generation C-Class launching this year from the German automaker’s factory in Vance, Ala.

The plan, set to begin in late June, is part of a product-sharing agreement between parent companies Renault-Nissan and Daimler, as well as a checkbox for Infiniti’s to-do global portfolio expansion list.

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New York 2014: 2015 Infiniti Q70 Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-infiniti-q70-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-infiniti-q70-revealed/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 22:14:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=803746 Appearing alongside the 2015 Infiniti QX80 at the 2014 New York Auto Show, the 2015 Q70 takes dead aim at the German performance and large sedan markets. Though the Q70 takes its looks from the Q50, it won’t have the latter’s steer-by-wire system, nor Infiniti’s newest two-screen infotainment system. What it will have is a […]

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2015-Infiniti-Q70-01

Appearing alongside the 2015 Infiniti QX80 at the 2014 New York Auto Show, the 2015 Q70 takes dead aim at the German performance and large sedan markets.

Though the Q70 takes its looks from the Q50, it won’t have the latter’s steer-by-wire system, nor Infiniti’s newest two-screen infotainment system. What it will have is a long-wheelbase variant dubbed the Q70L, which will boast 5.9 inches of rear-seat legroom and a choice of either the 3.7-liter V6 good for 330 horsepower or the 5.6-liter V8 pushing 416 horsepower; the standard model will have four more horsepower from the V8, as well as a hybrid option not available to the newer addition.

Safety systems for both models include lane-departure prevention, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, and Backup Collision Intervention.

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New York 2014: 2015 Infiniti QX80 Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-infiniti-qx80-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-infiniti-qx80-unveiled/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 22:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=803666 The 2015 Infiniti QX80 joined the 2015 Q70 on stage for its unveiling at the 2014 New York Auto Show. Under the massive hood lies a 5.6-liter V8 delivering 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft to all four corners through a seven-speed automatic, while safety tech such as automatic-dipping headlights and Predictive Front Collision Warning System […]

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The 2015 Infiniti QX80 joined the 2015 Q70 on stage for its unveiling at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

Under the massive hood lies a 5.6-liter V8 delivering 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft to all four corners through a seven-speed automatic, while safety tech such as automatic-dipping headlights and Predictive Front Collision Warning System aim to deliver all inside safely to the office.

For those wanting something more exclusive, the QX80 Limited ups the game with 22-inch wheels and ash wood trim to the self-described “man cave,” in addition to the standard entertainment system, high-grade leather and adjustable seating.

No word on how many Limiteds will be built, let alone for how much one will sell, but for the rest of us, the base price may be higher than the $63,695 for the outgoing model when the new SUVs arrive in U.S. showrooms this fall.

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Japanese Automakers Find New Export Base, Opportunity In Mexico http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/japanese-automakers-find-new-export-base-opportunity-in-mexico/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/japanese-automakers-find-new-export-base-opportunity-in-mexico/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 14:45:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=769626 Within four months of each other, Honda, Mazda and Nissan have opened new factories in Mexico, taking advantage of the opportunities within the nation’s automotive industry to grow a new export base into the United States, Latin America and Europe while also gaining ground in the rapidly expanding local market, all in direct challenge to […]

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Mazda3s Loading Onto Three-Tiered Train Car

Within four months of each other, Honda, Mazda and Nissan have opened new factories in Mexico, taking advantage of the opportunities within the nation’s automotive industry to grow a new export base into the United States, Latin America and Europe while also gaining ground in the rapidly expanding local market, all in direct challenge to the Detroit Three and other automakers on both sides of the border.

Automotive News reports Mexico will become the No. 1 exporting nation to the U.S. by 2015 at the earliest in large part due to the 605,000 units per year added by the three Japanese automakers. Meanwhile, Toyota will begin production in 2015 at Mazda’s newly opened Salamanca plant prior to deciding whether or not to build a new factory of their own. Nissan’s premium brand, Infiniti, may also set-up shop in Mexico.

In turn, the Japanese will see benefits from the move, from mitigating losses from a weaker yen in exports from home and greater profit due to cheap labor, to no tariffs on exports to the U.S. due to the North American Free Trade Agreement and improved product availability resulting from shorter distances between markets.

Speaking of free-trade agreements, Japanese automakers will also have access to some 44 countries and up to 40 million sales annually as a result of Mexico’s many agreements, allowing them to take on competitors in Latin America and Europe.

Finally, the Japanese have taken market share away from the Detroit Three in Mexico’s own automotive market, holding a collective 42 percent over Detroit’s 35 percent in 2013, when just four years earlier Detroit dominated with 57 percent of the market over Japan’s 23 percent.

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Capsule Comparison: Infiniti M35h vs. Lexus GS450h http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/capsule-comparison-infiniti-m35h-vs-lexus-gs450h/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/capsule-comparison-infiniti-m35h-vs-lexus-gs450h/#comments Mon, 20 Jan 2014 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=702946 Both Infiniti and Lexus know how to ruin a car. The Lexus GS 450h and the Infiniti M Hybrid are what results from taking a fundamentally good car and adding a bustle full of batteries. It’s more galling now because of what’s happened to these two. For years, both the M and the GS were […]

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GS450h_01

Both Infiniti and Lexus know how to ruin a car. The Lexus GS 450h and the Infiniti M Hybrid are what results from taking a fundamentally good car and adding a bustle full of batteries. It’s more galling now because of what’s happened to these two. For years, both the M and the GS were mildly interesting also-rans that couldn’t compete with the established segment leaders on any measure but price/value. But now, you’ve got an Eastern Jaguar and a crisp Arleigh-Burke class sedan that are mounting a more credible challenge against the benchmark Germans. The M and GS have learned how to control dynamics to deliver the Patris, fillii et Spiritius Sancti of performance, handling and luxury. Hybrid versions of these cars seriously blunt the excellence, and it’s a damn shame.

First, holy crap are they expensive! Cars that cost like a Cayenne and don’t deliver on their promise of increased performance are offensive. For all that extra blood and treasure, you get a GS 450h and an M Hybrid that are as satisfying as non-fat bacon. The very thing Lexus and Infiniti charge a premium for is what totally mars the driving experience.

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The M35 Hybrid is an example of Infiniti aping more than just Jaguar’s styling. This sedan that’s all swoops and haunches comes in at a Coventry-worthy $54,750 base price. The Malbec Black M35 Hybrid I drove a few months back was certainly good looking. The wine-inspired color looks black in most conditions but blooms a subtle deep purple in bright sunlight. It’s pretty, and Infiniti does great interiors, especially this car with its Deluxe Touring Package upgrades. There was buttery leather all over the place, and the light-colored Stone upholstery contrasted handsomely with the dark exterior. Glossy wood accents and organic forms round out the cabin in the Infiniti, all to beautiful, expensive-feeling effect. That’s good, because who wants to spend the $67,000 for the M Hybrid I tried and get a cheaped-out interior?

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To get from the $55K base price to $67,000 takes just three steps. The Stone interior with White Ash silver-powdered wood trim requires the addition of the $4,200 Premium Package and its Deluxe Touring Package cohort, a $3,900 sidekick. That $8,100 spiff buys you navigation, Bose audio, heated steering wheel, climate-controlled seats, and rear sonar in the Premium Package. The Deluxe Touring Package side of the packing sheet is how you get the silvered wood and deeper-dyed semi-aniline leather, more soft-touch materials, stitched meter hood and suede-like headliner. Wonder what it would take to get an actual suede ceiling. You get surround sound too, silly in an automotive interior, especially for content that’s largely *not* surround-encoded, but whatever. None of this has anything to do with the enthusiast’s definition of touring, deluxe or otherwise.

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The final push to $67,000 for the M Hybrid came courtesy of the $3,050 Technology Package, chock-full of crap to annoy you if you’re accustomed to the act of actively driving. That’s three grand better spent on driving courses. Or, if you like paying more to be aggravated, that sum buys a lot of current pop music that you can listen to on the horribly-phasey surround sound rig (it sounds fine in stereo mode.)

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The Lexus GS 450h may not have the outward expressiveness or interior decorator flair of the M Hybrid, but it’s no ugly duckling. Attractive in a more conservative way, the GS has straighter lines in its styling and that polarizing Spindle Grille up front. The interior of the GS 450h follows the same pattern. Well-assembled, high-quality, an overall solid effort that doesn’t try to break new artistic ground.

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Looking at the GS and M Hybrids next to each other, you might get distracted by the glitz of the Infiniti and think it costs more, but the GS 450h was the pricing heavyweight in this matchup. What I drove was $70,252 worth of disappointing cha-ching. In general, I’m not as over the moon for the GS model line as I am for the excellent new IS that slots in below it, but part of the mission of this model was to reinvigorate the Lexus/Toyota lineup with more passion and enthusiast-pleasing dynamics. It succeeds on those points except as a hybrid.

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As with the Infiniti, the Lexus GS 450h can push into territory that seems absurd, though I suspect there’d be less squawking if we were talking Roundels or Stars. The GS 450h starts at $59,600 promising V8-like thrust and fuel economy and emissions figures that look more like what you’d expect from a 2.0 liter. That’s two extremes of hyperbolic bullshit for the price of…both extremes. 338 total horsepower is not V8 level power anymore, and 2.0 liter engines do better than 34 mpg highway. A Corvette now comes close to that. The GS 450h is well-equipped out of the gate, with perforated leather seats, 10-way power adjustable with heating and ventilation for driver and front seat passenger, handsome matte-finish bamboo wood accents offering the Lexus counterpoint to Infiniti’s glossy wood, power window sunshades, a host of automatic features like rain sensing wipers, auto-dimming mirrors, climate control, power tilt and telescopic steering column, and premium audio.

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A spreadsheet comparing the GS and M hybrids is going to have lots of tit-for-tat checkmarks. These are closely-matched cars. The options and packages side of the GS 450h is a bit more a-la-carte than the way Infiniti does things with high-content (and high cost) packages. The biggest optional extra on this GS 450h was the $5,255 Luxury Package, which added power-folding self-dimming exterior mirrors, a power moonroof, 19” wheels, roof rails, memory for the driver’s seat, mirror and steering wheel settings and LED headlights. Adding navigation to make full use of the 12.3” LCD costs $1,735, and the heads-up display (a feature I adore and want to be mandatory in all cars) is $900. Blind Spot Monitoring runs $700, and the power trunk will empty another $400 out of your wallet. Intuitive Park Assist piles on with its own $500 surcharge, too.

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Both of these cars feature a farcical knob to adjust driving dynamics. Oh, it has an effect – selecting the sport settings on either will sharpen responsiveness and twiddle damper settings with noticeable results. It’s just that these are both still turkeys when it comes to being performance sedans. Low rolling resistance tires, the weight of a bunch of extra hardware and weird powertrain handoffs between electric motor, gas engine, regeneration and friction braking and numbed-up steering completely ruins it. There is no fun to be had here.

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The GS undergoes a more dramatic shift when you call up the sportiest of sport modes. The steering, which is actually nicely weighted, gets appropriately heavier, but there’s still nothing tactile at all about it. What is tactile is the way the powertrain bumps and flails around between electric-only, gas and electric and gas-only propulsion. There’s good chassis discipline, though, even on the horrible tires that are probably the biggest contributor to the disappointment. The M Hybrid, with its more gruff engine note and even more pronounced sensations is worse, though it’s more willing to run farther and faster in EV mode. The M will sail along on the highway and readily kill the V6, something the GS is a lot more reluctant to do at 60-something MPH. Total M Hybrid power is a more robust 360 hp, too. Going hybrid with either of these cars is  an unsatisfyingly weird way to go about the business of being a premium sedan with some performance capability.

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Against the most refined hybrids in the business, Toyota/Lexus, the Infiniti almost feels like a prototype. That doesn’t mean the GS got off scot-free. Lexus has done its best to isolate the occupants from the mechanicals, but that’s hard to do when the car is supposed to have some extra enthusiast appeal, where a palpable connection to the hardware is considered a feature. In both cars there’s a noticeable shudder when the gas engine is fired, and it also creates a surge, however subtle, in acceleration. On several occasions, the Lexus became very confused about what to do during steady-state cruising and set up its own odd and annoying throttle oscillation. Engaging the somnambulant Eco mode quashed that one.

 

Let’s talk braking. Regenerative brakes are de rigeur for hybrids, and they’re awesome at capturing kinetic energy and putting it back into the battery. They’re even now pretty good at the transitional handoff to the friction brakes, but they’re not perfect. In both these cars, the low-traction tires and regenerative brakes conspire to deliver less braking than you think you’re getting, leading to a couple days of “oh crap!” hard stops before you acclimate. The systems also sometimes didn’t know when to hand off, and would vacillate between a stab at the hydraulic stoppers and a dollop of regen, otherwise known as stopping like your Uncle Morty in his ‘78 St Regis. Barf.

Let’s be clear, I am a fan of hybrids. There are some vehicles like the Prius C, that I get a tremendous kick out of. That little hatchback, with its battery supply of automotive TPN, is a great time. It gets stellar mileage, it’s even entertaining to drive. The GS 450h and M 35 hybrid, do return improved mileage over their gas only counterparts, but the difference isn’t that large. The Lexus returned me about 29 miles per gallon average over 600 miles. That’s pretty good for a vehicle its size, and it’s right on the 29 mpg city number, but my driving was 60 percent highway, and so should have been closer to the 34 mpg highway number. The Infiniti M Hybrid is supposed to return 27/32, and I saw about 28.5 mpg average, though the experience lagged even that of the excessively-compromised Lexus.

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So let’s address the inevitable “you’re missing the point, these are hybrids! They’re boulevardiers!” If that were true, would Infiniti be marketing the M Hybrid as the “fastest accelerating full hybrid on the planet?” Would Lexus be trying to make hay out of the GS 450h’s 5.6 second 0-60 time? Would there be a “Sport” mode in each of these? No, the point both Lexus and Infiniti are trying to make is that you can have your cake and eat it, too. That’s just not true. You’re right, though, these cars are boulevardiers. Good ones. There’s plenty of trunk space in each, the interiors are sumptuous, both cars look good in their own way. The overheated marketing must help them move iron by giving people who will never clip an apex a bunch of facts and figures to rattle off. Kinda like GTO in Two Lane Blacktop, without the GTO.

This can’t come down to a draw, there has to be a winner, and I think first place goes to the Infiniti M Hybrid. There is no official scoring, just an informed opinion and time behind the wheel. The Infiniti is more powerful, it’s more expressively styled, and it’s less expensive. Another plus is the Infiniti has easier to use tech. The Lexus does have more features and capabilities with its infotainment and driver-assistance features, but they’re not as easy to use. That opens the door for the years-older Infiniti system to better the much newer Lexus software and control. The Lexus system may be new, but it immediately feels dated and is more cumbersome to use. It will, however, read text messages to you, and when your friends find out, they’ll send you all sorts of amusingly vile phrases for Lexus-voice-lady to read.

The outcome would be different if we were talking gas-only, as there’s a better chassis and platform underpinning the Lexus GS. Since neither of these cars can come anywhere close to using their underlying potential, it comes down to which is less annoying to drive. That goes to the Infiniti M Hybrid. The fact that you can widen the price gulf further in the Infiniti’s favor by leaving off the Technology Package (again, it’s filled with stuff I immediately disabled and left disabled for my entire time with the car) makes it pull away from the GS even more.

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The biggest takeaway from this comparison test for me is the fact that the next generation of both these cars will probably be really fantastic. I’m looking forward to the day these things go down the road seamlessly. Or, if you don’t want to wait for hybrids to get that good, get a Tesla now and be extra-smug.

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Skyline Sedan to Wear Infiniti Badge, Not Much Else http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/skyline-sedan-to-wear-infiniti-badge-not-much-else/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/skyline-sedan-to-wear-infiniti-badge-not-much-else/#comments Wed, 13 Nov 2013 14:22:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=650114 While Nissan plans to resurrect Datsun to battle Toyota’s scions in North America, the automaker is bringing Infiniti back home to Japan by delicately mounting its badge just so upon the grill of what will be the Skyline sedan. Just the badge, though. Not only will the new Skyline — based off the Q50 — […]

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Infiniti Q50 - Skyline

While Nissan plans to resurrect Datsun to battle Toyota’s scions in North America, the automaker is bringing Infiniti back home to Japan by delicately mounting its badge just so upon the grill of what will be the Skyline sedan. Just the badge, though.

Not only will the new Skyline — based off the Q50 — not be dubbed an Infiniti, it also won’t be dubbed a Nissan, instead going by the full name of Skyline, by Nissan Motor Co. The new identity is an attempt to tie the new Skyline back into the Japanese imperial family, whose Emperor Akihito lent his then-title to Prince Motor Co. in 1952; the first Skyline debuted three years later.

With this strategy, Nissan is entering into a (very) soft launch of the Infiniti brand in its native Japan by doing more to separate the two lines; as a further example, Infiniti’s headquarters were recently relocated to Hong Kong, with their C-suite focused solely upon the luxury brand.

Expectations for the Skyline include 200 sedans sold to local customers per month, increasing to 500 sales/month a year after its launch. Nissan will also price the Skyline accordingly to match their German competitors in BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

Should the experiment prove fruitful, Infiniti could make its debut in Japan sooner than later to aid in the capture of 10 percent of the global premium car market by 2020 as part of CEO Carlos Ghosn’s Power 88 plan.

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Vendition Juxtaposition: 2013 Infiniti JX35 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/vendition-juxtaposition-2013-infiniti-jx35/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/vendition-juxtaposition-2013-infiniti-jx35/#comments Wed, 06 Feb 2013 14:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=475824   Matthew Guy is a seasoned car buying professional who is fond of making money while offering loud opinions. Years of experience casting his critical eye across crapcans and luxury vehicles alike have left him critical of bad machines and appreciative of fine ones. Mark Stevenson, on the other hand, has an automotive history that would make […]

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Matthew Guy is a seasoned car buying professional who is fond of making money while offering loud opinions. Years of experience casting his critical eye across crapcans and luxury vehicles alike have left him critical of bad machines and appreciative of fine ones. Mark Stevenson, on the other hand, has an automotive history that would make an AMC Gremlin Owners Club member blush. From early-90s J-Bodies to somewhat respectful yet plebeian family cars, Mark’s purchasing patterns are reminiscent of a disease, for which there is no 12-step program nor neighbourhood support group. Fortunately for TTAC readers, they live in the same town and get to drive the same cars. This is Vendition Juxtaposition.

Our inaugural Vendition Juxtaposition is Infiniti’s soon-to-be renamed JX35. The 7-passenger luxury crossover slots between the current EX and FX models – even though it is larger than both – giving it a future designation of QX60. This murderously competitive segment is littered with sales-success examples that trumpet luxury and all-weather capability in equal measures. An opportunity, then, to test Infiniti’s assertion they can play with the best of them.

Styling

Matt: Three-row offerings in this genre range from the krill-hungry MKT to the teutonic Audi Q7. In this, the JX stands out, drawing a line at the intersection of bulbous and fluid. I think it looks like a Murano with breasts, and well developed co-ed ones at that. Spanning a vast nine inches, the belt buckle of an Infiniti badge dominates the front, drawing stares and the occasional crass comment from unwashed proletariat. In an effort to stand out, the side windows are terminated at the rear with an odd kink and slash, reminiscent of an inverted Z left by Zorro. Having used breast, co-ed, kink, and slash all in the same paragraph, I believe I’ll halt my assessment right now.

Mark: The competition in this segment and at this price point is pretty odd. The MKT and Q7 mentioned above are, as Matt eloquently stated, at completely opposite ends of the spectrum. The JX seems to be able to hit that middle ground sweet spot: not terribly forgettable like the Audi Q7 but it won’t make your kids lose their government approved school lunches when you pull up to the front door at the end of the day like the Lincoln MKT. While I would be remiss to call the JX sexy, it definitely has the right curves in the proper places, like an over-sexed female biology teacher with a strict workout regimen and a winky eye. You know it is wrong to like her, but you still do, even 15 years after she taught you the reproductive rituals of chimpanzees.

Comfort

Mark: Ride quality should be in the top 5 important things when developing a family hauler. The Infiniti JX is guilty of something done by almost all of its competitors: plaster on oversized wheels so the car will catch the eyes of people walking through the lot. They absolutely ruin ride quality.

The standard 18 inch wheels are large enough for a vehicle like the JX. As soon as you get to the Deluxe Touring package and above, the JX is festooned with gargantuan 20 inch wheels wrapped in 55 series rubber. They are the only thing holding back the soft, pliable suspension from doing its job. If you don’t need anything offered at this trim level, you’re lucky. Otherwise, see if you can get a set of 18 inch “winter” wheels as part of the deal. Your back will thank you as everything else about the ride is absolutely spot on.

Matt:  The driver’s seat is surrounded by great swaths of sumptuous leather, expected for a vehicle commanding 60 large. Soft surfaces abound, even on the leading edge of the centre console, a surface caressed only by the driver’s right leg. Buttons for the power liftgate and heated steering wheel were inexplicably located in a far flung recess of the dash, obscured by the driver’s left knee. In the front, headroom is vast and legroom is ample.

Conversely, this 6’6” author was absolutely miserable in the second row. The seat bottom is low to the floor yet the top of this author’s head was squarely against the glass roof. With the absence of toe room, slouching while splaying my knees only made me want to buy a pair of cowboy boots and tune the XM radio to Prime Country. Memo to Infiniti sales staff: be alert if your customer is greater than six feet tall. Plug them into the front seats. Show them the spacious cargo area. Tackle them to the ground. Anything – anything – to prevent them from experiencing the second row. For tall people, it is a total and utter Deal Breaker.

Performance

Mark: If seeking performance is your modus operandi in purchasing your next 7-passenger creature caravan, the JX is not going to be at the top of the list.

Power comes from the omnipresent VQ35 V6, which has been in everything from the Nissan Quest to the Infiniti G35. While the 3.5L isn’t a bad engine, there are better engines out there, including the 3.6L V6 in the Cadillac SRX. I am not sure on Nissan’s decision to forgo giving the JX the new 3.7L mill, but, I doubt the sales demographic of soccer moms and hockey dads will really care about 20hp.

What prospective buyers will care about is the transmission. Another fixture of Nissan’s offerings has been the availability of continuously variable transmissions. Due to their lack of real gears, CVTs return great fuel economy, keeping their attached power plants at optimal revs for the load demanded by Mr. and Mrs. Driver. What they don’t deliver is exhilarating performance. Instead, your ears are assaulted with a continuously variable whine from the engine, similar to a groan from a black labrador retriever gargling gravel.

Matt:  Journosaurs asserting that the four settings on Infiniti’s Drive Mode Selector offer no difference in behaviour have clearly never driven the vehicle. On powder covered roads that resemble any flat surface in a record producer’s office, Snow and Eco Modes attempt to modulate throttle response, the latter annoyingly pushing back on the gas pedal.  Sensing wheelspin while seeking out maximum traction in the white stuff will save the bacon of ham fisted operators in northern climes but I never cottoned to an actively Eco-hampered throttle.

The Sport setting simulates gears within the CVT while offering appropriate throttle response. Normal Mode offers no distinct features at all and is, in fact, not even labelled. Sales people would do well to find places on their test drive to demonstrate all this. A two day average netted a 4mpg improvement between Eco and Sport Modes, 16mpg vs 20mpg respectively in mixed driving.

Features and Tech

Matt: Targeted at families, Infiniti is proud of the second row’s ability to slide uniquely, allowing access to the third row without needing to remove a full size baby seat. This works well, although it is recommended that one unholster their baby from the seat before doing so. The third row entry space here is understandably scant; the same entry point on the opposite side of the car is much better.

Over 15 cubic feet of cargo space was measured with all seven seats occupied, albeit most of it vertically. There’s a handy four foot wide hidden compartment underneath the cargo floor – a quarter of which is occupied by the optional Bose subwoofer. Storage hooks abound, useful for hanging shopping bags upon or as anchor points for unruly children. The power liftgate, expected in this class, works seamlessly and the button that prompts its operation is notably lit at night. Important Selling Points, all.

Mark: Ever go into a new job, walk into a meeting completely blind on the first day, and have everyone in the conference room use three letter acronyms which are completely indiscernible to you? That pretty much sums up jumping into the JX for the first time. BSW, BSI, LDW, LDP, RSTLNE, LMNOP. Seriously, it is an onslaught of acronyms. After a few days, you figure them all out, but they definitely aren’t intuitive. But, they are great safety features.

Radar guided cruise control is my absolute favourite. Set it and forget it cruise control is the best invention since cruise control itself and makes long journeys on the highway the equivalent of sitting in a luxury train cabin.

The upgraded Bose audio system sounds superb to the layman. Some audiophiles might nitpick. And if you don’t want to listen to the kids listening to The Wiggles right behind your head on the DVD screens, slap some earphones on the little buggers and crank The Wall for yourself.

Value

Matt: This example stickered at $60,695 – a sum which, when revealed to friends and neighbours, reliably caused them to bray in the manner of a sunburned donkey. Infiniti has chosen to stack their option packages like pancakes at IHOP, forcing customers to pony up $5000 for the Premium package before allowing them the privilege of spending $2300 on dual rear seat LCD screens, for example.

Want electronic nannies in the form of Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Intervention, Mr. Flush-With-Cash? That requires the $3500 Technology package … only after one has selected the $2700 Deluxe Touring package in addition to the two other packages already mentioned. That adds up to $13,500 – a Kia Rio worth of options. Deal Breakers all, as customers may not want to spend such extravagant sums for the privilege of rear heated seats, a feature notably found standard on mid-level Hyundais. All these prices are in Canadian dollars, taxes and maple syrup not included.

Mark: Matt makes some great points. Want to know the price of entry, though? $44,900. Try to find another luxury badged 7 passenger SUV starting at that price in Canadian pesos.

Yeah, the option packages are a house of cards at best. Remember those big wheels I mentioned earlier being the only thing that ruins the ride? They don’t come on the base model. And, honestly, the JX is well-trimmed in base spec. It isn’t a Nissan Versa sedan with roll up windows and no air.

If you are wanting to get into the entry-level of luxury, this is the best choice, bar none. Add $20,000 to your budget and there are better options in the marketplace.

Selling Points & Deal Breakers

Salespeople are apt to look for Selling Points in a product. They give us unique features on which to focus while crushing the competition. Deal Breakers are product deficiencies which must be counteracted or minimized. Vendition Juxtaposition is proud to identify them.

Selling Points

+ Sumptuous interior trimmings

+ Third row access with a baby seat

+ Driving Modes that actually work

Deal Breakers

- Gets expensive quickly

- Second row not for tall people

- Odd ergonomic quirks

 

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NAIAS 2013: Infiniti Reveals New Q50 – Same V6 As G37, Now With Optional Battery Power http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/naias-2013-infiniti-reveals-new-q50-same-v6-as-g37-now-with-optional-battery-power/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/naias-2013-infiniti-reveals-new-q50-same-v6-as-g37-now-with-optional-battery-power/#comments Mon, 14 Jan 2013 15:12:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=473678 Fresh off a PR campaign to rename every new vehicle in their line-up, Infiniti has shown their new model with the updated Q-numeric model designation: the 2014 Infiniti Q50. On the surface, the new Infiniti Q50 now shares some more DNA from its brothers and sisters, grabbing the corporate design language and putting it to good […]

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Fresh off a PR campaign to rename every new vehicle in their line-up, Infiniti has shown their new model with the updated Q-numeric model designation: the 2014 Infiniti Q50.

On the surface, the new Infiniti Q50 now shares some more DNA from its brothers and sisters, grabbing the corporate design language and putting it to good use. The front-end lower valance is somewhat similar to new Lexus models, but that isn’t really a bad thing.

Power will again come from the Nissan-Renault 3.7L V6, generating 328hp, that sees ubiquitous use through all of the company’s vehicles. A manual transmission will no longer be an option, with the model offered solely with a 7-speed slushbox powering the rear wheels.

The big news: the Q50 will be available with the same hybrid system currently available in the M35h, good for 354hp, driving either the rear wheels or all four corners. This system relies on the older 3.5L V6 (still used in the Infiniti JX35).

Inside, the gadgetry has received a serious upgrade. Gone is the keyboard-like buttons below the single screen infotainment system. Instead, two screens sitting one atop the other provide the mission control interface for the majority of the tech functions.

Price? Not available. But, if I were a betting man, I’d hunt down the current G37’s MSRP and add 5-7%.

Infiniti-Q50-driving Infiniti-Q50-driving-02 Infiniti-Q50-front-grille Infiniti-Q50-lines Infiniti-Q50-Sedan-interior Infiniti-Q50-Sedan-interior-screens Infiniti-Q50-Sedan-red Infiniti-Q50-wet Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Review: 2013 Infiniti FX37 (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/review-2013-infiniti-fx37-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/review-2013-infiniti-fx37-video/#comments Wed, 12 Dec 2012 15:31:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=467778 When car companies need to stretch out a model’s useful lifespan, there are a number of tricks they use. After the first year, new colors are added. The next few year options and trim parts are tweaked. Around year four, a limited edition surfaces followed by a drivetrain revamp in year 5. And so it […]

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When car companies need to stretch out a model’s useful lifespan, there are a number of tricks they use. After the first year, new colors are added. The next few year options and trim parts are tweaked. Around year four, a limited edition surfaces followed by a drivetrain revamp in year 5. And so it is with Infiniti’s sporty FX crossover, now entering its fifth model year as the “new” 2013 Infiniti FX37.  You guessed it, the only thing new about the FX37 is the engine. Today’s burning question is: does a new engine give a luxury vehicle a lease on life? Or is this thinly disguised crossover life support? Click through the jump to find out.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

Infiniti’s latest styling cues have been polarizing to say the least. Our own Michael Karesh was less than smitten by the FX’s bulging proportions and large grille. Much like Infiniti’s M however, my opinion has shifted from believing Infiniti’s signature gaping-maw grill and fender bulges were unattractive to a feeling that the Infiniti products present a unique style to a fairly repetitive segment. With the new “Gillette” grill and functional side vents, the FX is athletic, modern and heavily styles. It is the cross-trainer of the luxury CUV/SUV world compared to the “wingtippy” BMW X5 and Mercedes ML with their “safer” styling.

Interior

Compared to the exterior, the interior is elegant and perhaps a hair sedate. Owing to the age of the FX’s trappings, you won’t find a stitched pleather dash, color changing ambient lighting or Alcantara headliners. Instead you will find acres of impeccably finished maple, squishy plastic dash bits and Lexus-like fit and finish. Despite turning five this year the interior of the FX is very competitive with the Germans, a testament to how luxurious it was in 2008.

While my 6-foot frame found the driver’s seat extremely comfortable, shoppers should know the thrones don’t offer the same range of motion as the competition and the front passenger seat lacks adjustable lumbar support. The rear seats are upholstered with the same care as the front buckets but due to the vehicle’s proportions, rear passenger room is limited. From a functional standpoint, the tall dash and high belt-line hamper visibility especially for shorter drivers. The curvaceous side profile and small rear windows impact rearward visibility as well as cargo capacity. While the 24.9 cubic feet of cargo volume sounds competitive with the X5, the severely sloping rear profile made it difficult to squeeze bulky box-store purchases in the FX’s shapely booty.

 

Infotainment & Gadgets

The FX37 comes with a standard 7-inch infotainment screen that does everything but navigate you. iDevice/USB integration, Bluetooth and an 11-speaker Bose audio system with a single disc CD player and XM radio are standard on all models. Opting for the $4300 “premium package” gets you Infiniti’s easy to use navigation system with a high-resolution 8-inch touchscreen, voice control, Infiniti’s slick all-around camera system (updated to detect moving objects), memory driver’s seat, roof rails and a powered tilt/telescope steering wheel. Regardless of which system you get, Infiniti’s are among the most intuitive systems available. They also allow navigation of the system via a steering wheel toggle so your eyes can stay on the road. The 8-inch system adds touchscreen functionality to the mix giving you three ways to navigate the system: the steering wheel toggle, the rotary joystick in the dash, or just stabbing the screen with your finger. Unfortunately neither system allow for voice commanding your tunes ala the SYNC system in Ford/Lincoln products and neither provides enough power to charge iPads or other high-draw USB devices..

Should you desire the latest in nannies driving safety, (and have $2,950 to spend on the “technology package”) Infiniti will oblige with headlamps that steer, radar cruise control, collision warning, collision prevention, lane departure warning and lane departure prevention. The system also offers “Distance Control Assist” which (when enabled) pushes the accelerator pedal back at you if it thinks you’re closing on the car in-front of you too quickly. If the car decides that releasing the throttle isn’t enough, it will apply the brakes and can take the vehicle to a complete stop. This shouldn’t be confused with “adaptive cruise control” as DCA can operate at all times and at essentially any speed.

Drivetrain

Ah, the section we have all been waiting for. The reason we’re looking at the FX again is that engine upgrade. Instead of giving the FX a one-two punch by dropping their 3.7L V6 and 5.6L V8 under the hood, Infiniti upgraded the V6 and left the 5.0L V8 unchanged (maybe next year?) The new six-cylinder engine improves power by 22HP to 325 at a lofty 7,000RPM while torque rises an imperceptible 5lb-ft to 267 at 5,200RPM. Power is still routed to the  wheels via a 7-speed JATCO transmission and shoppers can still opt for the $1,450 AWD system. If this sounds familiar, Infiniti has used this engine in the European FX for a while now. Paradoxically with the engine enlargement come improved fuel economy, figures rising 1MPG in both city and highway tests to 17/24. Strangely, the combined number remains the same at 19MPG.

Drive

Infiniti based the FX on their G sedan and retained as much of the handling characteristics as they could. The result is a tall crossover with a decidedly RWD bias, sharp steering and a chassis that loves to be thrown into the corners. Think of the FX as the G37’s overweight brother. Out on the winding back-country roads of Northern California you will soon forget about the relative lack of “utility” created by the FX’s athletic proportions and start complaining about a lack of column mounted shift paddles. Infiniti’s gorgeous magnesium paddles are available only as part of a $6,250 option package on the $60,650 FX50 AWD which is a shame because the FX50 doesn’t need them as much as the FX37 does. The reason is in the torque and HP curves of the Nissan VQ engine which Infiniti calls “Acceleration swell” but the rest of us know as “no low-end torque”. Nissan does allow you to “row your own” using the console shifter, but the response from the 7-speed slushbox seems far more sluggish than what is essentially the same drivetrain in the G37 with the paddle shifters.

Infiniti’s has long been known for high revving V6 engines that need to be wound out to the redline to deliver the promised driving excitement. The old 3.5L V6 sounded throaty at 4,000RPM but by the time it reached its HP peak at 6,800 it sounded harsh and long before it reached its 7,500RPM redline you were ready for the song to be over. The 3.7L engine on the other hand is considerably more refined as it calls like a Siren urging you to spend more time at its insane 7,600RPM redline. For the first time in the FX, intoxicating V6 sounds mesh with canyon carving.

If you’re looking for a sure-footed ride and don’t care about being able to hang your SUV’s tail out, or if you want to tow 2,000lbs, the FX37 AWD is the model for you. Infiniti’s strangely named ATTESA E-TS (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Electronic Torque Split) AWD system combines a traditional center differential with a multi-plate clutch that allows for 0-50% of engine power to be sent to the front wheel when the electrically controlled system feels like it (or when a wheel slips). Infiniti has programmed the system to maintain more of a rear-wheel bias than the German competition, making the FX AWD feel more nimble than the X5 or ML. Floor the FX AWD and toss it into a corner and the system will deliver an entertaining AWD power-slide if you can keep from wetting yourself as you slide toward the curb.

For 2013 the FX37 starts at $44,300 with the FX37 AWD checking in at $45,750 without destination or options. The Infiniti undercuts the BMW X5 xDrive35i by nearly $10,000 and even when taking into account the feature content of the two vehicles, the FX represents a nearly $5,000 better value than the Bimmer. While BMW’s drivetrain is more refined and the interior more luxurious, the relatively low-cost of admission, smooth V6 and strong RWD dynamics of the FX37 keep the 5-year-old Infiniti a solid contender for shoppers  interested in the “sport” part of the Sport Utility Vehicle equation. Infiniti’s engine upgrade is unlikely to do much for the FX’s recently sagging sales as buyers gravitate towards newer and more fuel-efficient entries (or even Infiniti’s new JX35), but none the less the FX37 succeeds at breathing new life into Infiniti’s CUV warhorse. Will year 6 bring a 412HP fire-breathing 5.6L V8 and RWD? We can only hope.

 

Infiniti provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.24 Seconds

0-60: 5.59 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14 Seconds @ 99.6 MPH

 

2013 Infiniti FX37, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Exterior,  front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Exterior,  rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Exterior,  front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Exterior,  front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Exterior,  side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Exterior,  front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Exterior,  grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Exterior,  FX37 badge, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Interior, Gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Interior, cargo area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Interior, front seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Interior, Driver's Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Interior, center console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Interior, center console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Interior, center console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Engine, 3.7L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37, Engine, 3.7L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti FX37 Monroney Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

 

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Review: 2013 Infiniti JX35 (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/review-2013-infiniti-jx35-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/review-2013-infiniti-jx35-video/#comments Fri, 23 Nov 2012 19:11:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=465635 So you think you need to carry seven people in comfort with decent economy but you don’t want to buy a minivan? Enter the three-row crossover. Thanks to stronger fuel economy regulations there are plenty of three-row CUVs to choose from, but you want something with a better brand name under 55-large, what does that […]

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So you think you need to carry seven people in comfort with decent economy but you don’t want to buy a minivan? Enter the three-row crossover. Thanks to stronger fuel economy regulations there are plenty of three-row CUVs to choose from, but you want something with a better brand name under 55-large, what does that do to the playing field? You’re left with the Lincoln MKT, Acura MDX, Volvo XC90, Buick Enclave and the newcomer in this phone booth sized segment: the 2013 Infiniti JX35. The new soft-roader Infiniti is already off to a good start coming in third in sales to the Enclave and MDX despite sales starting in April of this year. What’s it like to live with for a week and how does it stack up? Click through the jump to find out.

Before we dive into the JX, let’s look at the competition. The Volvo XC90 arguably started this segment in 2003 by jacking an S80 up a few inches and adding a third row. In 2006 Acura followed their lead by adding a third row to the Accord-based MDX. Buick got in on the party with their minivan-like Enclave in 2008 and Lincoln with their seemingly hearse-themed MKT in 2010. What do these CUVs have in common? They all have six cylinder engines under the hood and they are all front wheel drive vehicles with optional all wheel locomotion. Before Audi fans start flaming me, I left the Q7 out due to its SUV-like design, RWD biased Quattro system,  larger price tag, and  decidedly SUV-like 5,600lb curb weight.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

Infiniti’s bulbous styling may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a distinctive island in a sea of me-too crossovers. This new take on Infiniti’s “box fish” style isn’t as striking (or polarizing) as when the M debuted in 2010. On the bright side,  now that the design has aged, general opinion in my informal lunch group was overwhelmingly positive. Something I couldn’t say about the 2010 M. Despite heavy parts sharing with the new Pathfinder, the JX is better distinguished than the former generation QX/Armada was and indeed better differentiated than the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave. The MKT looks just looks downright peculiar front the front with the new Lincoln grille grafted on and the side profile just reminds me of an old station wagon based hearse from the 1970s. The MDX is quite possibly the best looking Acura available at the moment despite the rather prominent Acura beak on the grille. Meanwhile the XC90 is the only vehicle in this bunch that’s not based on a mass market vehicle or platform. While that does mean there isn’t anything on the road that looks related, the design is only modern when parked by itself. I still have a soft spot for the XC90’s upright grille and sexy Swedish hips, but this is one warhorse that should have been sent to the glue factory 5 years ago.

Interior

The JX35’s cabin is covered in soft-touch plastics, leather and acres of highly polished wood trim, just as you expect from Infiniti. In this segment, if you want an interior that doesn’t share parts with a mass-market brand, you’re again limited to the XC90 as every other design team had access to a corporate parts bin. Keeping this in mind, Nissan/Infiniti’s parts bin is a nicer place to spend time than GM’s button-bank. The new Enclave has a very competitive interior, but some of the parts choices fail to blend while the JX is a sea of harmony. Indeed one might say the Pathfinder borrows Infiniti parts and not the other way around. This top-down parts sharing is good for Pathfinder shoppers, but only time will tell if there is enough differentiation to make Infiniti shoppers happy. The XC90’s interior is still competitive thanks to continual tweaks over the past ten years, but that can’t forgive the lack of even a modest refresh from the Swedes.

As with the Pathfinder, JX seat comfort declines the further right and rearward you go. The front passenger seat lacks the power lumbar adjustment of the driver’s seat. The second row seats are comfortable, but not as padded as the front seats with cushions designed for children or shorter passengers. If third row comfort is critical, go back to looking at that QX56 or Escalade, as with most three-row crossovers the JX’s last row should be reserved for coworkers you hate or your mother-in-law. If you regularly carry passengers and progeny in child seats, the JX shares the sliding middle seat design with the Pathfinder allowing a child seat to stay strapped in while passengers climb into the third row.

Infotainment & Gadgets

The standard 7-inch infotainment screen does everything but navigation. iDevice/USB integration is of course standard as is Bluetooth and a 6-speaker audio system with a single disc CD player and XM radio. Opting for the $4,950 “premium package” gets you Infiniti’s easy to use navigation system with a high-resolution 8-inch touchscreen, a 13-speaker Bose sound system, voice control, and Infiniti’s slick all-around camera system. The system uses four cameras and some trick processing to stitch images together to form an “aerial view” making easy work of tight parking situations.

Should you desire the latest in nannies, Infiniti is happy to oblige with radar cruise control, collision warning and prevention, lane departure warning and prevention and an accelerator pedal that fights back. The accelerator pedal is perhaps the nanny that people find the most fault with, despite crossovers not being “driver’s cars.” The feature can be disabled, but left on it will fight your right foot, forcing the pedal back at you if you’re driving uneconomically, if it thinks you are getting too close to a car, or if it feels like it needs to stop the car NOW. While I dislike the thought of a car that drives for me, honestly at least half the drivers on the road need this pedal stat. Not that I condone distracted driving, but if you feel the need to text and drive, the JX helps you accomplish the feat more safely.

Lincoln’s MKT slots in just behind the Infiniti on the gadget tally thanks to Ford’s bevy of collision avoidance options, inflating seatbelts, and the slow but feature-rich MyLincon Touch system. Meanwhile the Enclave’s new Intellilink touchscreen system is sharp, responsive and has more natural voice commands than SYNC. Better yet, Buick’s system is standard on all Enclave models. The MDX puts on a good fight, but Acura’s tech suffers from old school graphics and a confusing control joystick despite being the only other entry to offer voice commands for your USB/iDevice music player. The XC90 has finally been updated to offer the basic infotainment features you would expect from a luxury vehicle including Bluetooth, USB/iDevice integration and blind spot notification, but that’s where the goodies stop. The XC90 still uses Volvo’s “olde” pop-up navigation system from 1999 and cannot be had with radar cruise control, pedestrian and obstacle detection, and a myriad of other features found in the smaller XC60.

Drivetrain

The JX shares its 3.5L VQ-series V6 with the Pathfinder and everything from the Altima to the Quest. In the JX, the engine puts out 265HP at 6,400RPM and 248lb-ft at 4,400RPM, a mild bump over the Pathfinder but notably lower than the Maxima’s 290HP/261lb-ft tune. Like the Pathfinder, the JX sends power either the front wheels or to all four via a Haldex-style AWD system, but this is where the similarities end. While the Pathfinder uses an all-new heavy-duty continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a chain, the JX35 still uses the second-generation Xtronic CVT shared with the Muran0.

When it comes to towing, transmissions choices are important, but so are chassis and suspension design. In the case of the JX, we can logically infer the lack of the Pathfinder’s heavy-duty CVT is the reason for the reduced 3,500lb towing capacity. Meanwhile the Enclave and MKT will haul 4,500lbs while the XC90 and MDX tie at 5,000lbs. Of course, I seem to be the only one who ever tows with a mid-size SUV so this is probably the least important part of this review. That being said, the XC90 despite being down on power would be my towing partner of choice because it has an available load leveling rear suspension.

Drive

Out on the road the JX35 is as nimble as a tall 4,500lb vehicle can be. While the handling crown in this segment still goes to the MDX, thanks to Acura’s SH-AWD system, the JX can handle winding roads faster than your third row passengers will tolerate. The JX’s steering is moderately quick, fairly firm and as numb as any of the other luxury crossovers. Should you be on your own after the school run, the JX’s well sorted suspension will soak up the ruts should you decide that gravel road shortcut you like.

Front wheel drive JX models suffer from mild torque steer from a stand still but once underway the pulling stops and the JX settles down. Opting for the AWD system quells the torque steer daemon and is a further differentiator from the Pathfinder cousin. The Pathfinder’s AWD system allows the driver to lock the system in FWD mode for better economy, lock the center coupling for better grip, or allow the system to decide when to send power to the rear. Instead the AWD system in the JX always operates in Auto mode, which is just as well since I suspect no luxury SUV or CUV shopper will ever notice the difference.

The biggest difference between the other luxury CUVs and the JX35 is the transmission. The effective ratio spread on the JX35’s transmission isn’t as broad as the 6-speed units used in the competition and seemed to be skewed to the higher end of the ratio spectrum for fuel economy. This is most obvious when you look at the JX35’s relatively slow 3.7-second 0-30 time, but thanks to the infinite ratios the JX catches up to the rest of the pack crossing 60MPH in 7 seconds even. Despite the 0-30 sloth, my  real-world fuel economy tests seem to be kind to CVT equipped vehicles with the JX besting its 20MPG combined EPA score by 7/10ths of an MPG over a week. Meanwhile the other CUVs averaged 1-2MPG below their combined figures for me. So many publications spout their MPG figures as gospel, but as with 0-60 times, observed fuel economy is only as good as the driver, driving style and commute.

The JX represents an interesting move for the brand I like to think of as “the Japanese BMW.” But putting practicality and economy before performance they have created a most un-Infiniti crossover. The combination of a nearly perfect interior, smooth CVT and 32% better fuel economy than Infiniti’s QX SUV make a compelling argument for the JX35. While the Enclave plays to a slightly different demographic, MDX shoppers would do well to put the JX on their short list as it is quite possibly the best three-row luxury crossover in America.

 

Infiniti provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.7 Seconds

0-60: 7 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.4 @ 90 MPH

 Average Fuel Economy: 20.7 MPG over 765 miles

2013 Infiniti JX35, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of Infiniti 2013 Infiniti JX35, Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Infiniti 2013 Infiniti JX35, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of Infiniti 2013 Infiniti JX35, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of Infiniti 2013 Infiniti JX35, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Infiniti 2013 Infiniti JX35, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Infiniti 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, center console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, rear controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, third row seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, gauge cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Navigation and Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, Cargo Area,  Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Interior, Cargo Area,  Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Engine, 3.5L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Infiniti JX35, Engine, 3.5L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

 

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Review: 2013 Infiniti JX35 Take Two http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/review-2013-infiniti-jx35-take-two/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/review-2013-infiniti-jx35-take-two/#comments Mon, 14 May 2012 16:46:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=444206 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 […]

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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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Review: 2013 Infiniti JX http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-2013-infiniti-jx/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-2013-infiniti-jx/#comments Tue, 27 Mar 2012 04:01:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=436575 The Infiniti JX marks the fourth SUV or crossover for the brand, slotting between the FX sporty crossover and the gargantuan QX56. According to Infiniti, the brand had nothing to stem the flow of customers who were dabbling outside the brand when it came time for a three-row luxury crossover. Instead of letting their clients […]

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The Infiniti JX marks the fourth SUV or crossover for the brand, slotting between the FX sporty crossover and the gargantuan QX56. According to Infiniti, the brand had nothing to stem the flow of customers who were dabbling outside the brand when it came time for a three-row luxury crossover. Instead of letting their clients go off and get an Acura MDX or Audi Q7, Infiniti took the underpinnings of the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder and co-opted them for a luxury vehicle.

The 2013 Pathfinder won’t be out until later in 2012, but the peanut gallery that ceaselessly criticized the car’s abandonment of a body-on-frame chassis for a front-drive based, CVT-equipped package will be eating a buffet of crow if the Pathfinder turns out to be as nice as the JX. Even though power is down compared to rivals – the JX makes 265 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 248 lb-ft at 4,440 rpm, compared to 300 for the MDX and 280 horsepower for the base Q7 – the JX is substantially lighter than the Q7 (872 lbs) and a little trimmer than the MDX (182 lbs). Despite the lack of instrumented testing on hand, the JX’s straight line performance is more than adequate. Infiniti’s Sean McNamara told me that the product team wanted to make sure that the JX could “get out of its own way”, as that was the primary concern of their customers rather than bragging rights, and in this area, they’ve exceeded all expectations.

The CVT gearbox’s calibration carefully mimics an automatic gearbox in most situations. Puttering around town, the revs stay in the low end of the rpm range, but when the throttle is pinned, they don’t drop down in quite the same way as a traditional automatic would allow for. The CVT is appropriate in this application, and Nissan’s CVT technology has come a long way since the early Muranos and their motorboat gearboxes. Worth noting is that the JX can be configured in either FWD or AWD. Fuel economy is 18 mpg around town for both. Highway and combined figures are 24 mpg and 21 mpg for the FWD, and 23/20 for the AWD.

While the mechanical bits may be related to the Pathfinder, the cabin is all Infiniti. Sumptuous leather and wood are featured throughout, and the layout of the dash is a near perfect copy of the Infiniti M. The materials are all beautiful, but buttons abound as a means of controlling the absurd amount of acronym-addled technology features. Right before I embarked on my drive, an Infiniti PR rep came over and pressed a button on the steering wheel. “We’re going to activate the LDW, LDP and BSI systems and we ask that you opt-in to that.” What he meant was that the Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention (that provides physical feedback to prevent the driver from drifting out of a lane, rather than just chirping incessantly) and the Blind Spot Intervention system would all be active during our drive. It’s a wonder we even needed to bother staying awake and driving the car ourselves.

Rather than feeling monstrous like the QX, the JX is “right-sized”, with far more comfort and usable space than the FX or EX. The ride is smooth and quiet rather than sporty or engaging, and the JX feels like a very good synthesis of the MDX and the Q7. Our test route outside of Charleston, South Carolina, was composed of flat, straight arterial roads and highways – the kind of driving that Infiniti customers are prone to do, but a poor place to accurately gauge the quality of the ride and handling over different (and poor quality) ride surfaces. Parking the car for a few moments allows for a better examination of the JX’s more practical features. Getting into the third row is made easier by the trick second row seats that slide forward and have hinged bottom cushions that allow for a fairly wide opening into the third row. Infiniti has famously been touting that the second row can fold without having to remove a child seat – there was no demo unit on hand, but we’ll take their word for it based on our own seat folding activities. Fold the third row down and the cargo area grows substantially.

Our JX AWD tester came loaded to the gills with every feature possible; voice activation for the audio and navigation controls, the aforementioned drive assistance features, a rear seat entertainment system, intelligent cruise control, an automatic-braking system for front end collisions and a dual sunroof are just a few of the options (and their associated packages) that took our JX from a base price of $41,550 to $54,800, including destination.  Buyers will have to determine whether the $12,300 in frankly excessive options are worth it. Gizmos aside, the JX is a great luxury crossover on its own merits – we barely scratched the surface of all of the vehicle’s technology and still came away impressed. Infiniti should have no trouble making the JX as ubiquitous as the G lineup has become, especially given the short attention spans of novelty-seeking luxury buyers who are likely bored of their four-ringed monsters after a few years of leasing. The FX and EX, for all the performance they possessed, had little practical use and were essentially compromised sports cars. The JX takes things in the opposite direction, sacrificing performance for practicality – something that the target demographic cares about more than acceleration times or rear-drive handling dynamics.

Infiniti provided travel, lodging and airfare to the author for this press event.

2013 Infiniti JX. Photo courtesy Derek Kreindler. 2013 Infiniti JX. Photo courtesy Derek Kreindler. 2013 Infiniti JX. Photo courtesy Derek Kreindler. 2013 Infiniti JX. Photo courtesy Derek Kreindler. infinitijx Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail 2013 Infiniti JX. Photo courtesy Derek Kreindler InfinitiJX (1) InfinitiJX (2) InfinitiJX (3) InfinitiJX (4) InfinitiJX (5) InfinitiJX (6) InfinitiJX (7) InfinitiJX (8) InfinitiJX (9) InfinitiJX (10) InfinitiJX (11) InfinitiJX (12) InfinitiJX (13) InfinitiJX (14) InfinitiJX (15) InfinitiJX (16) InfinitiJX (17) InfinitiJX (20) InfinitiJX (21) InfinitiJX (22)

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Voluptuous Lateral Air Intakes: TTAC Talks To The Father Of The Infiniti EMERG-E, The World’s Sexiest Range Extender http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/voluptuous-lateral-air-intakes-ttac-talks-to-the-father-of-the-infiniti-emerg-e-the-worlds-sexiest-range-extrender/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/voluptuous-lateral-air-intakes-ttac-talks-to-the-father-of-the-infiniti-emerg-e-the-worlds-sexiest-range-extrender/#comments Tue, 06 Mar 2012 09:30:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=433851 “This is Infiniti’s design language for the next 10 years to come,” says Francois Bancon, and points at a laptop that shows pictures and strategy of the INFINITI EMERG-E, a concept car that debuts today in Geneva. We are in Yokohama, on the fifth floor of Nissan’s corporate world headquarters, while Infiniti’s first range extended […]

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“This is Infiniti’s design language for the next 10 years to come,” says Francois Bancon, and points at a laptop that shows pictures and strategy of the INFINITI EMERG-E, a concept car that debuts today in Geneva.

We are in Yokohama, on the fifth floor of Nissan’s corporate world headquarters, while Infiniti’s first range extended mid-ship concept sports car is unveiled in Switzerland. It is there, I am told “to provide a glimpse into Infiniti’s future.” The future is undecided. This car may, or may not come.

The design of the car oozes seductive sex. That, thankfully, will rub off on the whole Infiniti line, I hear.

Will the Emerge lead Nissan to a range extended future? “Not necessarily,” says Bancon, with the best sybillinic smile he can muster.

Bancon’s title is “Division General Manager of Exploratory and Advanced Product.” That is one of the longest titles I have seen in the industry, and Bancon indicates that I haven’t seen all of his titles. Bancon, dressed in a sweat shirt and sporting a two day beard, is a rare combination of an artist, an engineer, and a manager. The graduate of the of École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts in Paris had worked as a designer for Renault. It is unusual for a designer to climb that high on the corporate ladder.

Using the artist name Phoebe, Bancon still takes time to produce and show art and photography, and to blog about his work. Once an artist, always an artist. Even if he is one of the few who climbed that high on the corporate ladder.

Bancon has been living in Japan for 12 years. “I came in 1999 with Carlos Ghosn and I am still here,” he says. He has had a number of unusual titles that probably never truly covered what Bancon really did at Nissan. “General Manager, Perceived Quality Department, Global Design Center” was only one of them.

“We call it exploratory planning,” says Bancon when asked what he really does. “We are developing directions the company should follow, long term, mid-term. The EMERG-E is part of this exploration.”

The EMERG-E is the first Infiniti that has been developed in Europe. The design was done at Nissan Design Europe in London. The design itself is Japan seen through the eyes of an American.

After more than 50 proposals from Infiniti studios in Japan, the UK and California were handed in, Bancon and the rest of the brass at Nissan picked the work of California-based Infiniti designer Randy Rodriguez as the winning design. Other designers sketch dream cars. Rodriguez penned an erotic dream car. I learn that the EMERG-E took its design cues from the nape of the neck of Japanese women. I had learned separately that the neck is “considered a primary erotic area in Japanese sexuality.” Even Infiniti’s press kit gets with the X-rated program and talks about “the sensuous, hourglass squeeze” of the cockpit, and the “subtly voluptuous lateral air intakes.” Even the 400 bhp turn an exercise in cross dressing bestilaty. The EMERG-E is, says Francois Bancon, like “400 wild horses in a silky dress.” This is a car that makes us explore sexual fantasies, and I am all for that.

The technology of the EMERG-E was lead-managed by Nissan’s European Technical Centre (NTCE), in Cranfield near London. The decision to have the car developed in England was a practical one. Says Bancon:

“There was some kind of a collaboration with the Technology Strategy Board in the UK. They wanted to promote their technologies, and with Nissan being the number one carmaker in the UK, it was natural for them to collaborate with us and for us to collaborate with them. Collaborating did not save us so much money, but it saved us a lot of time.”

The UK government’s Technology Strategy Board introduced Infiniti to a range of suppliers that would provide innovative hardware and specialized knowledge. One of Nissan’s suppliers of engineering advice is Lotus. Bancon is not worried that they also make cars.

“We have a long relationship with Lotus. We have worked with them a lot on pre-studies. They do their car, we do our car, but we share the heart of the technology.”

Bancon quickly pre-empts foolish ideas that the EMERG-E might just be a Lotus under a sexy silky gown:

“I have never seen the car Lotus did. They have never seen this car. We use their Evora platform to save time. The platform is not crucial for us, we could use our own platform. The key were the electric components, being able to use those was a real timesaver.”

The average buyer of a luxury car is between 50 and 60 years old. “In some markets, the Infiniti buyer is more 60 than 50,” says Bancon. “China is THE exception, the luxury buyers in China are young, 30-35 years. We want to reposition Infiniti, targeting the young buyer.”

The modern affluent buyer may not always have amassed the wealth in a socially harmonious manner, but that buyer wants to have a clean green conscience at least. He wants a “hot, yet clean sports car,” as Bancon condenses it. Infiniti offers guilt-free performance to that rarified demographic. The car promises what Bancon calls “the power of silence.” If that range-extended car is ever sold, it will provide 30 pure electric miles before the ICE is heard from. In the words of Bancon, “you can drive it in London in the congestion charge area without paying, and you can open up on the track.”

Bancon had three choices to deliver that green clean conscience:

“One is battery EV. This has limitations in power and autonomy. Not the best for a sportscar.

Then there is the plug-in hybrid. This is a very promising technology.

The range extender is in competition with the plugin-in hybrid. Basically the same technology. Main difference: The range extender is an EV. There is no connection between the ICE and the wheel. The ICE is just a battery charger.

There are some pros and some cons, the cons being weight and cost. A range extender needs a big battery. Big battery means cost and weight.”

When building the EMERG-E, the engineers fought a constant battle with weight. Bancon remembers:

“If we would build this car the normal way, it would easily weigh 2.2 tonnes (4,850 lbs.) This car weighs 1.6 tonnes (3.500 lbs). How did we do this? The upper body is entirely in carbon fiber. Our objective was 50 percent carbon fiber for the mass production car, and we did it.”

This car being a concept, or what Bancon calls “an exploration,” he doesn’t have to contend with the second problem yet – money. Using carbon fiber to slim down the car does not make it cheaper. If it is ever built, the EMERG-E will remain a toy for the affluent, and that’s o.k. for Bancon. He won’t need big numbers for that car, he already played a leading role during the development and launch of the Leaf.

Will the EMERG-E ever go in production? The answer is yes. Two will be built.

Says Bancon:

“Usually, a concept car is just for the show. This car is not just a styling exercise. We will be building two driving prototypes, one for Europe and one to go around the world, starting in the U.S.“

Come June or July, even I could be behind the wheel of an EMERG-E, promises Bancon. “If Nathalie lets you.”

And he points at Infiniti’s Global Communications Manager Nathalie Greve, who comes in to say that the interview is over.

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Specifications

Powertrain

Motor type (synchronous), Twin rotor motors, one per rear rear wheel

EVO Electric Synchronous DC Brushless drive

Motor peak power, revs 150kW per motor (300kW total for vehicle) available for 30s or less. Flat distribution of power circa 3000 RPM upwards

Motor peak torque, revs 1000Nm

ICE cylinders, capacity Lotus 3-cylinders, 1.2litre

ICE peak power, revs 35kW at 3500rpm

ICE peak torque, revs 107Nm at 2500rpm

Transmission Xtrac Single-speed (4.588:1 reduction box)

Battery type Lithium-ion phosphate

Battery capacity 300 kW

Peak power 1000 amps

Energy 14.8kW/h (at 25deg)

Recharge time (from 13amps) 10 hours

(6 hours at 16amps)

Fuel tank capacity (litres) 30.6litres

Chassis and Body

Construction Bonded, extruded aluminium chassis, carbon fibre bodywork

Length 4464mm

Width 1954mm

Height 1219mm

Wheelbase 2624mm

Weight 1598 kg

Drag coefficient 0.340 Cd

Suspension, front Forged aluminium double wishbone suspension. Front Anti-roll bar. Bilstein dampers, Eibach springs.

Suspension, rear Forged aluminium double wishbone suspension. Bilstein dampers, Eibach springs.

Brakes, front Ventilated disc, 350mm dia

Brakes, rear Ventilated disc.332mm dia

Steering Rack and pinion

Assistance Electro Hydraulic PAS

Wheels 8J x 19” dia. (Front)

9.5J x 20” dia. (Rear)

Tyres 235/35 r19 (front)

275/30 r20 (rear)

Performance

0-60mph 4.0sec

0-130mph 30.0sec

Max speed 130mph

Range, EV mode 30 miles

Full range 300 miles

CO2 emissions, EV mode Zero

CO2 emissions, r-e mode 55g/km (NEDC cycle)

The post Voluptuous Lateral Air Intakes: TTAC Talks To The Father Of The Infiniti EMERG-E, The World’s Sexiest Range Extender appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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