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. Mon, 29 Sep 2014 16:40:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 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/ 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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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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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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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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2015-Infiniti-QX80-side-angle

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.

2015-Infiniti-QX80-steering-wheel 2015-Infiniti-QX80-side-angle 2015-Infiniti-QX80-front 2015-Infiniti-QX80-rear 2015-Infiniti-QX80-interior-1purple-side 2015-Infiniti-QX80-interior-06 2015-Infiniti-QX80-interior-02

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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.

M35H_01

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?

M35H_17

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.

M35H_19

 

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.)

GS450h_02

 

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.

GS450h_04

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.

GS450h_08

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.

GS450h_06

 

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.

GS450h_10

 

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.

M35H_13

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.

M35H_05

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.

M35H_10

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.

M35H_08

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.

M35H_01 M35H_03 M35H_04 M35H_05 M35H_06 M35H_07 M35H_08 M35H_09 M35H_10 M35H_11 M35H_12 M35H_13 M35H_14 M35H_15 M35H_16 M35H_17 M35H_18 M35H_19 M35H_20 M35H_21 M35H_22 GS450h_01 GS450h_02 GS450h_03 GS450h_04 GS450h_05 GS450h_06 GS450h_07 GS450h_08 GS450h_09 GS450h_10 GS450h_11 GS450h_12 GS450h_13 GS450h_14 GS450h_15 GS450h_16

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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.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

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)

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Review: 2012 Infiniti M35h Take Two http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/2012-infiniti-m35h/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/2012-infiniti-m35h/#comments Sun, 05 Feb 2012 18:36:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=429420 Most luxury sedans try to do everything fairly well, while taking no risks that might turn off a potential buyer. The typical end result: a car with few memorable characteristics, good or bad. Despite a “have your cake and eat it too” powertrain, the Infiniti M35h is not such a car. You might not like […]

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Most luxury sedans try to do everything fairly well, while taking no risks that might turn off a potential buyer. The typical end result: a car with few memorable characteristics, good or bad. Despite a “have your cake and eat it too” powertrain, the Infiniti M35h is not such a car. You might not like everything about it. But you will remember it.

To begin with, the Infiniti doesn’t look like any of the others. Though the current automotive fashion favors sheer surfaces, straight lines and sharp creases, the M’s big body contains the fullest curves this side of a plus-sized lingerie catalog. Think Jaguar with more brawn and less grace, as if to prove that organic forms don’t have to be feminine. The tall fenders require 20s to properly fill them; unfortunately the factory dubs are only available on conventionally-powered rear-wheel-drive variants. The h gets 18s.

The equally curvaceous interior recaptures the traditional charm that Jaguar abandoned with the XF in a bid to reinvent itself for the new century. Audi might offer stylish interiors, but they’re never this warm and intimate. The $3,900 Deluxe Touring Package’s silver-rubbed white ash trim tastefully dazzles. The brightwork flowing along the door panels and center console is a joy to gaze upon and trace with a fingertip. Another artful touch: the DTP’s diagonally-quilted semi-aniline leather upholstery. Materials are about as good as they get at this price level. And, despite the clear attention to form, function hasn’t been neglected. The center stack’s controls are very close at hand and logically arranged. The large, cushy seats feel as good as they look. Even compared to those in other luxury sedans, the M35h’s cabin is a very pleasant place to spend time. (Of my 50+ press cars, this one has been my wife’s clear favorite.)

The Infiniti M’s driving position is much different than you’ll find elsewhere. As in the related FX crossover, from the driver’s seat you clearly sense that you’re piloting a massive vehicle, yet not an expansive one. Those curvy interior panels detract from roominess up front. Also, the M’s body is considerably narrower above the beltline than below it. The relatively upright A-pillars touch down far inboard. As in the Jaguar XJ, but to an even greater degree, the view forward has overtones of vintage GT. The rear seat is less of an acquired taste, with plenty of room, a comfortably positioned cushion, and an open view forward. The trunk—well, the lithium-ion battery pack reduces its cubes from a competitive 14.9 to a compact 11.3.

The M35h’s hybrid powertrain combines a 3.5-liter V6 with a strong electric motor for a total of 360 peak horsepower, roughly splitting the difference between the M37’s V6 and the M56’s V8. But this isn’t the whole story: at lower rpm the hybrid’s performance is much closer to that of the 417 pound-feet V8, thanks to the electric motor’s 199 pound-feet of torque (on top of the gas engine’s 258). Despite the 280 pounds added by the hybrid bits, the M35h’s 4,129-pound curb weight is barely over that of a BMW 535i. Reasonable curb weight + scads of torque = strong acceleration. Rotate the console-mounted dial to “power” and the throttle can be overly aggressive, easily overpowering the rear tires. (Avoid this setting when the road is wet. For snow there’s “Snow.”) Even in “Eco” the M35h is a far cry from a Prius, you just have to push the throttle closer to the floor to blur the scenery. “Normal” strikes a good balance.

Helpful readouts include throttle efficiency and battery charge level. But, as in most hybrids, there’s no indication the division of braking between the motor/generator and the conventional brakes, so it’s unclear how to modulate the left pedal for optimal efficiency. An odd (if common) omission as the key benefit of a hybrid is its ability to recoup energy otherwise burned off by the brake rotors.

Based on the seat of the pants, the gas engine, seven-speed automatic transmission, and the electric motor (that takes the place of a torque converter between them) usually work together seamlessly. A notable exception: a hesitation in Eco and (to a lesser extent) Normal modes when you initially put in an order for a decidedly un-eco rate of acceleration, as if the powertrain computer can’t decide what to do. Want to get across the road before those approaching cars arrive? Sit tight, the desired thrust is on its way. The wait can only seem interminable. A second transmission issue: slow reactions to manual inputs. In manual mode anywhere near WOT you’d best request a shift 1,000 rpm short of the redline. Otherwise, “hello rev limiter!”

The ears have a different take the powertrain’s seams. The VQ-Series V6 is more polished than in other applications, but still far from hushed. At half-throttle and up it roars in a very un-hybrid-like manner. This would be okay, perhaps even welcome, except the noise comes and goes. The electric motor is capable of solely powering the vehicle up to 60 miles-per-hour, and frequently does so. The gas engine was off for the entire length of a two-mile 30-mph road. Very peaceful, this ability to glide along in near silence. But at near-highway speeds the engine often cycles several times a minute. So you’ll have a muted VQ rumble, then silence, then the rumble again, over and over. If the engine is going to cycle so frequently, it needs to be much quieter. Other noise levels are low. Aside from some occasional jiggles the ride is that of a luxury sedan, with a sense of solidity and level of encapsulation you won’t find in a mere Nissan.

And fuel economy? For one nine-mile trip where the gas engine was off much of the way the trip computer reported an astounding 39.7 miles-per-gallon. Then 24 on the return trip, despite an equally light right foot. The difference: whether the battery pack was giving or taking. Over longer trips that evened out this variable the car came close to the EPA numbers: 27 in the burbs, 32 on the highway, a significant bump over the M37’s 18/26 and impressive for a performance-oriented luxury sedan. Even a heavy foot sinks the numbers only into the low 20s. Apparently the VQ isn’t incorrigibly thirsty. Infiniti is about to lose its bragging rights, though: the 338-horsepower 2013 Lexus GS 450h ekes out 29/34.

Then there’s the chassis. The M’s moves are as old school as its aesthetics. Charming in some ways, much less so in others, and impairing confidence when it’s most needed. The steering is quick but light and distant. The car’s handling feels sporty, but not tied down or precise. One plus: the battery pack shifts the weight-distribution from 54/46 to 51/49, reducing understeer. But copious body roll in hard turns and a general sense of heft (above and beyond the car’s actual mass) suggest a closer relationship to the FX crossover than the G compact sedan. Worse, body motions aren’t well-controlled, especially out back where the rear end often lags a half-step behind the front. And all this is before adding the throttle to the equation. Like other rear-wheel-drive offshoots of the corporate FM platform, the M35h is prone to snap oversteer. Crack open the throttle with the steering wheel turned even a few degrees and the rear end will step out, even way out, nothing progressive about it. Combine dramatic oversteer with quick steering and subpar body control and you’ve got your hands full. Keep a cool head, don’t overcorrect (very easy to do here), and the rear wheels will again fall in step behind the front ones. The process is just far less intuitive and controllable than it could and should be. Leaving the stability control fully engaged helps, but in a heavy-handed way. Like those in its sibs, the M35h’s system cuts in early and hard. Better systems employ far more finesse, letting you believe you’re a better driver than you actually are. Yet, despite these dynamic faults, perhaps even due to some of them, the M35h is fun to drive. It might lack for talent, but it’s oh so willing.

The M35h starts $6,000 north of the M37, at $54,595. The must-have fancy wood and upgraded leather (plus the nav and 5.1 Bose audio that attend them) bump the tally to $61,945. Fuel savings might earn back the hybrid premium over the course of a decade, sooner if you drive many stop-and-go miles or gas prices shoot up. But also recall that the hybrid accelerates more like the M56, and the V8-powered car costs about $2,000 more. Some people are concerned about the potential long-term costs of hybrids. There’s more stuff that might potentially require replacement, including that lithium-ion battery back. Though it’s far too soon to tell in this specific case, the lower tech NiMH battery pack in the Toyota Prius rarely requires replacement even well north of 100,000 miles, based on TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey. If Nissan’s system is nearly as solid (far too soon to tell) its longevity won’t be an issue. The rest of the car? about average so far.

The Infiniti M35h has its shortcomings, especially when called upon to hustle through some tight curves. But the car’s unique combination of strong acceleration, 27/32 fuel economy, distinctive exterior, and beautiful cosseting interior has a certain charm. Want technical perfection? Then get something German. But if you’d prefer a luxury sedan that ignores conventions, that combines myriad noteworthy strengths and weaknesses into a whole that shouldn’t work—a luxurious retro-flavored hybrid where oversteer is a concern—yet somehow does, then take the M35h for a spin. Unlike with the typical hybrid or even far too many performance luxury sedans, there’s never a dull moment where the car seems to be doing all the work and you’re just along for the ride.

Infiniti provided the car with insurance and a tank of gas.

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

M35h engine, picture courtesy Michael Karesh M35h fancy wood, picture courtesy Michael Karesh M35h front quarter high, picture courtesy Michael Karesh M35h front quarter, picture courtesy Michael Karesh M35h front, picture courtesy Michael Karesh M35h instrument panel, picture courtesy Michael Karesh M35h instruments, picture courtesy Michael Karesh M35h interior, picture courtesy Michael Karesh M35h rear quarter 2, picture courtesy Michael Karesh M35h rear quarter high, picture courtesy Michael Karesh M35h rear quarter, picture courtesy Michael Karesh M35h rear seat, picture courtesy Michael Karesh M35h side, picture courtesy Michael Karesh M35h trunk, picture courtesy Michael Karesh M35h view forward, picture courtesy Michael Karesh

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Review: 2012 Infiniti QX56 Take Two http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/review-2012-infiniti-qx56-take-two/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/review-2012-infiniti-qx56-take-two/#comments Mon, 16 Jan 2012 21:58:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=425908 If you thought high gas prices and a questionable economy meant the era of big SUVs was over, you’d be wrong; 2011 saw large SUV sales in the US grow 3.7% with a 7.4% growth in the luxury SUV segment. If you are one of those people with six-figure salaries and snow-filled school runs, the […]

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If you thought high gas prices and a questionable economy meant the era of big SUVs was over, you’d be wrong; 2011 saw large SUV sales in the US grow 3.7% with a 7.4% growth in the luxury SUV segment. If you are one of those people with six-figure salaries and snow-filled school runs, the Cadillac Escalade is probably on your short list. But what about the person who isn’t ready to look “gangsta” while dropping Jimmy Jr. off at softball practice? Infiniti might just have the answer: the all-new, all-enormous QX56. Michael Karesh snagged a QX56 from a dealer back in March 2011, and in December Infiniti tossed me the keys to a 7-seat QX to see what the behemoth is like to live with for a week.

The luxury SUV formula is simple (and almost universally applied); take a mass-market SUV, add bling, softer leather, and wood trim (real or fake, take your pick). The Cadillac Escalade is the best known example. The Caddy borrows so heavily from the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon that it’s hard to tell them apart unless you’re looking at them head-on.  Toyota/Lexus uses the same formula to make the LX570 out of the Toyota Land Cruiser.  If this doesn’t appeal to you, Nissan/Infiniti may have been listening. While Infiniti’s last generation QX was a tarted up Nissan Armada, this time around the QX is a re-badged Nissan Patrol. Same story different names you say? Not quite, the Patrol has never been sold in America, and in all likelihood never will be. You see, the Patrol is not some budget Nissan, it’s Nissan’s flagship SUV in markets where Infiniti doesn’t exist. This sounds strange to the average American buyer, however it is perfectly normal (in many markets) for a single brand to compete in the budget-compact market and the full-size luxury niche at the same time.

Outside, the QX looks big. Really big. Infiniti attempted to put the QX on a visual diet by adding the Infiniti signature grille and “bubbly” hood treatment. The nip/tuck works to some extent and made me believe the QX56 is smaller than the competition, until I parked between an Escalade and GL550. At over 208-inches long and 80-inches wide, the QX56 is 6-inches longer and more than an inch wider than the Escalade (if want an SUV that rivals river-barges, Cadillac’s Escalade ESV is 229-inchs long). The QX is so large that while on the freeway I came too close to a pair of Smart Fortwos and accidentally pulled them into orbit. While I find the quarter-panel “portholes” an awkward styling job, the rest of the slab-sided QX is more attractive in my mind than the sedate LX570, the angular GL or the Escalade.

The super-size theme continues inside with wide, flat-bottomed front seats, a large center console between the front and second row seats (in the 7-seat QX) and large expanses of real wood trim. Anyone who owns or has driven a late model year Infiniti will feel immediately at home inside the QX as Infinit’s interior design department still chants the “same sausage, different sizes” mantra, and I’m OK with that. Parts quality inside the QX is extremely high with all the major touch points lacking the plastic feel the Cadillac is burdened with. Still, budgets are a way of life and back in 2010 when I reviewed the redesigned M56, I loved the “knurled” rings around the speedo and tach, the QX borrows the style but not the 3-D plastic bits opting instead for a painted-on faux knurl. Other than the painted gauge bling, the QX’s cabin is  easily on par with Mercedes’ GL and Lexus’s LX.

Under the QX’s bulbous hood beats but one engine option: the lightly re-worked 5.6-liter direct-injection V8 VK56VD. While the V8 is shared with the M56 sedan, exhaust differences reduce the output by 20HP and 4lb-ft to 400HP at 5,850RPM and 413lb-ft at 4,000RPM. Despite the downgrade in twist, the new engine is more powerful than all of the competition except the Escalade’s 403-horsepower, 417lb-ft 6.2-liter pushrod V8. Despite being down on displacement versus the Caddy, Infiniti’s direct-injection and variable valve timing tech help the QX’s V8 not only deliver its peak torque earlier than the Caddy’s 6.2L V8, but it doesn’t run out of breath as easily either.

As a result of the advantageous torque curve, high horsepower and a well matched 7-speed transmission, the QX56 recorded a faster 0-60 time than the 2011 Infiniti G37 convertible we tested recently. The QX boasts an 8,500lb towing capacity (slightly higher than Escalde), and in a back-to-back test with a friend’s 2011 Caddy and the same trailer, the QX felt far more composed going up steep grades with a 5,000lb trailer. The fast acceleration times and improved towing feel are largely due to the 7-speed automatic which spent less time hunting than GM’s 6-speed. Overall, the QX transmission’s shifts are fast and crisp like other Infiniti products (with rev-matched down-shifts), however the unit is programmed to be up-shift happy for fuel economy reasons. Fear not piston heads; romping the go peal will still trump the EPA. All 400 ponies are routed to the tarmac via the rear wheels or an optional all-time four-wheel-drive system with a two-speed transfer case. Sadly the terrain selection dial (ala Land Rover) from the Nissan Patrol didn’t make it into the QX.

Out on the road, the QX’s 121-inch wheelbase (5-inches longer than Escalade), independent rear suspension and standard 60-series rubber help the QX deliver a fairly compliant ride. Upgrading to the 22-inch wheel package drops the aspect ratio on the tires to 50 but improves the look of the vehicle whiel taking a slight toll on harshness over rough pavement. If handling is a priority for you, look beyond the 22-inch low profile tires and shop the   300lb lighter Mercedes-Benz GL550 or a crossover. Compared to the LX570, the QX delivers better grip than the Lexus, but slots firmly between the base Escalade and the Escalade with GM’s Magnetic Ride Control. Does any of this matter? I say no. Let’s face it – as long as a large SUV handles as well as a 1980s minivan it has succeeded in my book.

While Green Peace will never give a thumbs-up to any full-size SUV, the 5,850lb QX56 manages to win the award for the most fuel efficient “full-size non-hybrid SUV,” delivering 14 city MPG and 20 highway MPG. (The Escalde and GL450 both scrape the bottom at 13 MPG city/18 MPG highway.) During our 640-mile week with the QX56, we averaged a respectable 15.2MPGs in mixed driving and a daily commute over a 2,200ft mountain pass and our best highway mileage of 22MPG was achieved during a 48-mile run on level highway.

 

Lately Infiniti has been taking nanny state to the next level with “prevention systems” rather than just “warning systems.” As much as I may dislike systems that take control at any time (as opposed to systems that take control when you are inattentive), when you are driving a living room sized vehicle aroundm it’s probably a good idea for the nannies to kick in early. Sure, the Lexus LX has a pre-collision system and the Mercedes GL can be had with lane departure warning, but the QX takes electronic prevention to a whole new level. “Lane Departure Prevention” not only tells you when you cross the line without signalling, it will actually use the brakes to “steer” you back in your lane. Similarly, “Blind Spot Avoidance” will act (more drastically) to keep you from side-swiping that motorcycle or Smart car in your blind spot. While the Lane Departure system’s intervention is a gentle tug, the Blind Spot system is more of a shove back in your lane. I can hear HAL now: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Most luxury brands offer radar cruise control as an option, but Infinit’s packs a socialist twist: an accelerator pedal that fights back. The radar cruise control with “Intelligent Brake Assist” will brake for you [even to a complete stop] in many situations. The easiest way to describe the behavior is this: you are following a car on a surface street, the car begins to slow for a red light, if the QX56 sees that you are closing on the car in front of you it will begin pushing the accelerator pedal up at you to indicate your need to act, if you lift off the accelerator and you are close enough to the car in front, the QX will automatically apply the brakes taking you all the way to a complete stop. Once stopped the car will hold the brakes for a few seconds, then beep indicating your need to touch the brake pedal and then release it’s death grip on your stoppers. I will leave the debate over this making QX drivers depend too much on technology to our readers.

The QX56 shares its 8-inch navigation/infotainment system with the rest of the Infiniti lineup and as such provides excellent Bluetooth and iPod/iPhone integration. While the software has not been significantly improved since the former QX, it is fairly competitive with the Lexus and Cadillac systems. With an intuitive interface that combines physical buttons on the dash and steering wheel as well as a touch screen, navigating through your music device or the nav system is easy and can be done primarily via the steering wheel. While the Infiniti system allows voice control of the navigation system and Bluetooth phone dialing, it unfortunately still lacks voice command of your Apple music device ala Ford’s SYNC or Kia’s UVO. The large screen is also used by Infiniti’s “Around Monitor” system which takes images from four different cameras around the car and digitally manipulates the image to give you a bird’s eye view of your surroundings. While this feature is nifty in a mid-size luxury sedan, it’s a matter of wheel-life-or-death on large SUVs and thankfully it is standard on all QX models.

So how much does one of these babies set you back? Logically, full-size SUVs have full-size price tags and the QX56 is no exception. The 2012 Infiniti QX56 starts at $58,700 for the rear wheel drive QX and $61,800 for the four-wheel drive model. Aside from the all-wheel motivation, the $3,100 also buys the driver a windshield de-icer and a 260lb increase in curb weight. Strangely enough the 4WD system does not come standard with a reduction in fuel economy with 2WD and 4WD models scoring the same in the EPA tests (your mileage may vary of course). Our tester was a fully-loaded AWD model retailing for $75,140. Our options list included: the $2,950 “Theater Package” with dual 7-inch headrest monitors for the second row, wireless headphones, second row power-folding heated seats and a built-in 120V AC inverter; the $4,100 “Deluxe Touring Package” with heated and cooled front seats, semi-aniline leather, dynamic body roll control, climate control with air quality management, a Plasmacluster air purifier and burl wood trim; and the $3,000 “Technology Package” which includes all the safety nannies we covered earlier. While $75K sounds steep, the QX56 is actually a “bargain” in the luxo-hauler class. Similarly equipped, the Mercedes GL550 will set you back $89,818, the Cadillac Escalade Platinum  $82,035 and the Lexus X570 will ding you $89,356. It should be noted that despite the Cadillac of price tags, the Escalade lacks many of the advanced active safety features of the QX.

As much as I might like to think of myself as a mild-greenie, I have always had a strangely large place in my heart for large vehicles. You know you like ‘em big too. However politically incorrect it may be to drive a large SUV, and keeping the fact that few people really “need” a full-size SUV, the QX56 is a solid entry in this niche and 2011 sales bear this out with the QX outselling the Lexus LX570 fourfold. Indeed the QX outsells all but the Escalade, and for good reason, with a fresh new look, upscale interior and more electronic doodads than the competition for a lower price point, the QX56 should be at the top of your super-sized list.

 

Statistics
0-30: 2.161 seconds
0-60: 5.61 seconds
1/4 Mile: 14.27 seconds @ 97 MPH

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

2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior Front, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior Front, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior Front 3/4, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior Front 3/4, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior Rear, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes I2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior Rear Side 3/4, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior Side, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Engine, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Engine, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior Grille, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Headlamps, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Portholes, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior, Infotainment / Nagivation Screen, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Gauges, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Gauges, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX Audio Controls, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX Cargo Area, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX Cargo Area, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX Cargo Area, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side. Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side. Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side. Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX 56 Exterior, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side. Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side. Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side.Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side. Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side. Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Wheels, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior. Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Dashboard, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Dashboard, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Dashboard 2, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Dashboard 1, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Second Row, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Middle Row, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Third Row, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Seating - View from cargo area, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Seating, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Seating 2, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Seating, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Front Door, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Center Stack, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior AWD Mode Selector, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior AWD Mode Selector, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Instrument Cluster (gauges), Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Instrument Cluster (gauges), Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Instrument Cluster (gauges), Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 All-Around-View, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes infiniti_qx56_thumb

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2012 Infiniti FX35 Limited Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/2012-infiniti-fx35-limited-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/2012-infiniti-fx35-limited-edition/#comments Thu, 05 Jan 2012 18:22:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=424478 As auto enthusiasts, we champion cars that deviate from the soporific segment norm. If we don’t, who will? Most manufacturers offer, at most, one or two such vehicles. Then there’s Nissan and its luxury arm, Infiniti. In the crossover / SUV / minivan arena they field a fiscally insane hodgepodge of deviants: cube, JUKE, Xterra, […]

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As auto enthusiasts, we champion cars that deviate from the soporific segment norm. If we don’t, who will? Most manufacturers offer, at most, one or two such vehicles. Then there’s Nissan and its luxury arm, Infiniti. In the crossover / SUV / minivan arena they field a fiscally insane hodgepodge of deviants: cube, JUKE, Xterra, Quest, EX, FX. Automotive deviants rarely sell well, and (like their human analogues) often die tragically early deaths. Not the Infiniti FX, now in its tenth model year. But will there be a third generation?

The first generation Infiniti FX’s exterior was timeless near-perfection: so clean, and such an intriguing combination of feminine curves with masculine proportions. The second generation, typical of follow-ups to icons, transformed the original into an overstyled cartoon. Revisions for 2012 continue this unfortunate trajectory, adding the grille from the rhino-like QX. Someone clearly felt that some visual punch was lacking, for there’s also a new Limited Edition coated in Iridium Blue and shod with gray turbine-bladed 21-inch alloys that appear oversized even within the FX’s generous curves. So, do you love it or hate it?

Inside there’s also a special blue…on the floormat piping. The 2012 FX’s interior is as tasteful and cosseting as the exterior is outlandish and off-putting, with calming curves, premium materials, and large, comfortable seats. The Infiniti EX35’s interior is infamously tight. Inside the larger FX, the retro-positioned windshield and many curves yield an atmosphere that’s nearly as intimate (along with outstanding ergonomics), but there’s actually enough room for four full-sized adults. Cargo space falls short of the segment norm, as does the lack of a third row, but as the prices of designer’s-wet-dream exteriors go these aren’t bad ones.

The FX’s electronics can be irritating. The Bluetooth system requires too many steps, the voice recognition system often becomes an exercise in frustration, and reactions to button presses are often delayed, so you hit them again, only to have the second push reverse the first. To an even greater extent than the typical system, the nav displays too few street names even when zoomed in. The around-view monitor, on the other hand, makes parking or backing out of a curvy driveway a joy. Want the full array of gadgetry, including adaptive cruise and lane departure warning? Then no Limited Edition for you. The “Technology Package” is only offered on the regular FX.

The Limited Edition isn’t offered with the suitably gonzo 390-horsepower 5.0-liter V8. The mandatory 303-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 moves the ovoid SUV well enough, but induces no adrenaline rush. Being charitable (for once) about the sound of the six we’ll say that its loud, couth-deficient character fits the rest of the vehicle. The seven-speed automatic transmission behaves well, shifting quickly in manual mode (though there are no paddles to assist with this).

The FX35 drives very much like a G37 that’s packed on a quarter-ton (for a curb weight of 4,284 pounds) and been lifted a few inches. Which is essentially what it is. The basic dynamics are the same, just surreally altered. The steering doesn’t feel precise or provide a very direct connection to the front wheels, but the wheel is small, the system is quick to respond, and together with the chassis it yields a surprisingly chuckable chunk of SUV. A touch soggy and unwieldy, but oddly entertaining. The view forward over the long, dramatically undulating hood enhances the experience. Think Corvette, just much higher off the ground.

Though the FX’s feel is distinctly that of a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, all-wheel-drive (mandatory on the Limited Edition) effectively blunts the platform’s inherent tendency to insufficiently linear throttle-induced oversteer. With the V6 it’s only easy to hang the tail out on loose surfaces or at low speeds. But the stability control kicks in too hard and too early anyway. Despite their size—265/45VR21—the tires aren’t very grippy, and lapse into a safe, mushy slide at their limits. Credit the odd choice of tire model: Bridgestone Dueller H/L 400s. Not high-performance rubber, and a sign (along with the lack of the FX50’s Sport Package option) that the FX35 Limited Edition is more about show than go.

The payoff for the ride-oriented rubber and softer suspension tuning than in earlier FXs: livable ride quality. Even with the 21s impacts are only occasionally harsh. My wife, who couldn’t stand the ride in the sport-suspensioned G37, found the FX35 quite comfortable.

The sticker price for all of this sport truck goodness: $52,445. A regular FX35 AWD with Premium Package lists for $2,700 less. Figure $2,500 for the LE’s special blue paint and 21-inch wheels. A similarly-equipped Porsche Cayenne with 20-inch wheels lists for over $12,000 more, about $1,400 of which can be attributed to feature differences according to TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool. Or, if utility truly isn’t needed in your sport utility, the Acura ZDX is $1,040 less before adjusting for feature differences and about $875 less afterwards.

But what if utility matters a lot, as it does for the typical crossover buyer? Infiniti gave the FX ten years to carve out a space for itself. For the 2013 model year they’re caving to market demand and adding a Murano-based minivan substitute to the lineup. Compared to the FX35 LE, the JX35 lists for nearly $5,000 less after adjusting fore feature differences. Forego dubs on both and the gap narrows by a grand. Still, the writing is on the wall. In the JX35 most people will see more room for more people for less money. During 2011 monthly FX sales usually failed to break 1,000 units. Once the JX arrives they could well slow to a trickle. The FX35 might not be perfect, but it delivers a unique driving experience. The automotive landscape would be poorer without it. Want the aggressive egg to survive its impending intramural encounter? It needs your support more than ever.

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

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