Infiniti is looking to a take a bigger slice out of the three-row SUV pie with its new JX35. By blending the crossover comfort and efficiency of its smaller FX with the people- and cargo-carrying capability of its lager QX56, Infiniti is ready to take on the luxury family SUV segment.
Although decked out in luxury trimmings, the JX gets its bones from the more plebeian Nissan Murano. However, for JX duty, the platform has been stretched, the engine made more powerful, and the transmission retuned. The only engine available in the JX35 is a 3.5-liter V-6 producing 265 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque mated to a continuously variable transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional.
In developing the JX, Infiniti has paid close attention to the needs of families. The JX has more legroom in both rear rows than a Cadillac Escalade (41.7/30.8 inches second/third row for the JX, 39.0/25.6 inches for the Escalade), and Infiniti claims that it will have a segment-leading cargo capacity -- there is 15.8 cu ft behind the third row and if the automaker's claim is valid, we can expect the full cargo area to be larger than the 85.1 cu ft offered by the Volvo XC90. Infiniti has maximized the potential for both passenger and cargo space thanks to a sliding second row that can be adjusted 5.5 inches fore and aft. Both the second and third rows recline, and the second row has a unique forward movement that allows a child seat to move forward with the seat when it is partially folded for access to the third row. Both rows split -- the second in a 60/40 divide, the third in a 50/50 split.
The exterior design of the JX is inspired by the 2009 Essence Concept with its double-arch front grille, double-wave hood, and crescent-cut D-pillar. Xenon headlights and LED taillights are standard, as well as power rear liftgate. The JX is available in seven exterior hues: Emerald Graphite, Glacial Mist, and Diamond Slate are all exclusive to the new crossover, while Liquid Platinum, Black Obsidian, Midnight Garnet, and Moonlight White are also available on other Infiniti models.
Inside, the seats, doors, and dashboard are swathed in leather and the interior is accented by chrome and either Kasane Washi or maple trim. Color choices are Wheat (tan), Graphite (black), or Java (brown). Heated front seats and tri-zone climate control are standard; climate-controlled front seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, and an enhanced key that remembers memory settings are all optional.
The JX will also be the first Infiniti vehicle to offer the brand's new Infiniti Connection technology. Similar to OnStar, Infiniti Connection can notify of a crash, remotely unlock the car, send for roadside assistance, update maintenance information, and integrate with the owner's Google Calendar, among other things. It also allows for drivers to set up location barriers and speed alerts that will notify via text message, email, or phone if the vehicle crosses the boundaries or exceeds the preset speed -- a handy tool for parents with young drivers. Also standard is the Infiniti Personal Assistant, which links drivers to a concierge service to aid in finding destinations, making restaurant reservations, access gift services and the like. Infiniti Connect is free for the first year; the Personal Assistant is free for the first four years on all 2012 Infiniti models.
In its effort to court families, Infiniti has also equipped the JX with a raft of safety technologies. Along with the Blind Spot Monitoring system, the automaker has introduced Backup Intervention and Collision Intervention systems that uses the blind spot monitoring system to alert the driver if there are any vehicles that could be crossing their path as they reverse. If necessary, the BSI system can also apply the brakes to stop a collision from occurring. The JX also includes advanced cruise control, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention, an Around View Monitor that provides a simulated bird's-eye view of the car, Distance Control Alert, and Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning. All of the safety technology is available in the $3100 Technology Package; for $2200 the Driver Assistance Package eschews the lane departure systems and Blind Spot Intervention system, but includes all of the other aides.
Infiniti is also hoping to capture a fair share of the market with its aggressive pricing for the JX. The base JX35 FWD starts at $41,400, undercutting its competition of the Acura MDX, Audi Q7, BMW X5, and Lincoln MKT, save the $39,275 Volvo XC90. All-wheel drive is a $1100 option, raising the base price to $42,500. There are three other packages available besides the safety technology packages. The Premium Package adds a navigation system, Around View Monitor, Bose premium sound system, driver memory seat with the enhanced key, and maple trim for $4950. Families with small children may want to opt for the $1700 Theater package, which includes dual seven-inch monitors, wireless headphones, auxiliary inputs, a 120-volt power outlet, and rear headphone jacks. The Deluxe Touring Package includes a panoramic moonroof over the second and third rows, the Bose sound system, climate-controlled front seats, and heated rear seats for $2550. Polished 20-inch forged wheels cost $1600 and roof rails run an additional $370.
Infiniti has already opened a reservation portal for buyers who want to pre-order their vehicle at InfinitiUSA.com/all-new-JX/ before the car rolls into dealerships next spring.