2009 Infiniti EX35Blurring The Lines Between Car And Crossover

We Like: Sport-sedan moves, posh cabin, Around View Monitor.
We Don't Like: Snug back seat, lack of cargo capacity, minimal ground clearance.

"Feels like a tallish sport coupe," says editor at large Arthur St. Antoine. Technical director Frank Markus agrees, at least that the EX seems little like an SUV, claiming, "It's a sport wagon in my book," while executive editor Matt Stone concludes, "It's not a car and it's not an SUV-it might best be thought of as a G35 wagon with a high center of gravity." Suffice it to say, the EX proved the most carlike entry in this year's field and, subsequently, the most difficult to classify. Apparently, Infiniti faced similar predicaments when categorizing its G sedan-based sport/utility, opting for the comparably catchy and appropriate title of "coupe-inspired luxury crossover."

While Infiniti's label for the EX is rather oxymoronic, the vehicle's dynamics parlay a much clearer message: The EX is a marvel to guide down a curvy road, delivering the most driver-focused experience of the group. "The X6 probably generates more ultimate grip," says Markus, "but this one's low-to-the-ground stance and way tidier dimensions suit the task of twisty road driving much better." Detroit editor Lassa concurs, noting, "The EX is more fun to drive than most SUVs/CUVs, with light, precise steering," which, as Markus states, "was the only one that actually gave me some communication regarding the amount of cornering the car was generating." In a straight line, the EX's appeal does not diminish-its 0-to-60 time (6.5 seconds) and quarter mile (14.9 at 94.5 mph) were quicker than those of the Volkswagen Passat 2.0T and the Acura TSX.

The EX's biggest upside-that it's as sporty as a decathlete-is also its largest downside, magnifying the fact that it conspicuously lacks utility. Among the other two-row SUVs in this year's collection, the EX has the least ground clearance (5.7 inches) and backseat legroom (28.5 inches) as well as the smallest cargo hold (18.6 cubic feet). Compared with the similarly sized Subaru Forester, the EX is down 4.2 inches in ground clearance, nearly 10 inches in rear legroom, and over 12 cubic feet in cargo volume. Alas, minus real utility, it's nearly impossible to become Sport/Utility of the Year. If only we had an award for Sport/Crossover/Wagon/Coupe of the Year.
- Ron Kiino

2009 Infiniti EX35
Base price range $32,765-$37,915
Price as tested $46,265 (AWD Journey)
Vehicle layout Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 3.5L/297-hp/253-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 4032 lb (54/46%)
Wheelbase 110.2 in
Length x width x height 182.3 x 71.0 x 61.9 in
0-60 mph 6.5 sec
Quarter mile 14.9 sec @ 94.5 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 123 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.81 g (avg)
MT figure eight 27.6 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy econ 16/23 mpg
MT observed fuel econ 15.8 mpg
CO2 emmisions 1.05 lb/mile
Engineering ****
Design ****
Interior/functionality **
Performance ***
On-road refinement *****
Off-road ability *
Value ***
Two parts sport and one part utility, the EX is a driver's delight and a family's displeasure.