The Truth About Cars » buick enclave http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 18 Jul 2014 16:16:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 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 » buick enclave http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 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 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 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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New York 2012: Buick Enclave Gets A New Look http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/new-york-2012-buick-enclave-gets-a-new-look/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/new-york-2012-buick-enclave-gets-a-new-look/#comments Tue, 03 Apr 2012 16:08:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=437876

We knew that Buick’s new Enclave was due be revealed simply by looking at our Facebook feeds and seeing reports of an elaborate, alcohol-and-buffet laden event somewhere far beyond the means of most journos. As we sit here eating our McDonald’s Value Menu entrees while sipping a bottle of Thunderbird, we, your humble servants, bring you information on Buick’s newest crossover.

LED lights both inside and out, as well as a new IntelliLink infotainment system are the big changes, along with a revised 6-speed automatic. A front-wheel drive Enclave will supposedly hit 24 mpg on the highway. Somehow, Buick felt it necessary to fly a bunch of hacks out to some far-flung luxury resort and host an event just for this. Excuse me while I screw the cap of my noble, strawberry flavored vintage.

 

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