Road Test

2011 Infiniti EX35

EX35's stylish lines stay fresh and timeless

Infiniti EX35 2011 rear

According to the calendar the Infiniti EX35 is getting along in years, but you wouldn't know that by looking at it. The design was so unique and ahead of its time when it hit the streets in 2007 as a 2008 model, that it still looks fresh.

The EX was among the first compact crossovers and, with a steeply sloped roofline and angled rear window that sacrificed some interior space for style. That formula still works five years later.

While the overall design has been carried over through the years, Nissan’s luxury division has made significant upgrades for the 2011 model.

The newest EX gets a seven-speed automatic transmission instead of the five-speed used previously.

Standard equipment now includes dual-zone climate control and 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels. The option packages have also been upgraded with 19-inch alloy wheels added to the Premium Package and a Blind Spot Warning System to the Technology package.

The interior is just as stylish. The "double-wave" instrument panel now boasts highly legible "Fine Vision" electroluminescent lighting with white faces and violet light. Infiniti’s signature analog clock features prominently as does the available hard drive-based navigation system with more than nine GB of music storage capability. Less obvious is the tiny LED light positioned overhead to illuminate the centre console.

The front seats are wide and well bolstered. Getting into the somewhat snug rear seat is made easier by wide-opening doors but difficult by the low roof-line, which also reduces headroom.

That sloping roofline and the resultant small rear window also inhibit visibility when backing up. That’s probably why a rear view monitoring system is standard.

Infiniti EX35 2011 rear seat.jpg

As always, style comes at a cost. There is decent cargo space and while it is less than would be statistically available with a taller roof, you rarely if ever pack that area to the roofline. The second row seats fold electrically at the touch of a button for additional cargo room.

The EX shares its FM platform and drivetrain with Infiniti’s G-series sedan and coupe, M-Series sedan and the FX.

While the car is available with a full-time all-wheel-drive system, the EX comes only with that arrangement. This sophisticated all-electronic AWD system uses an active centre clutch and continually varying torque distribution to seamlessly route power to the wheel with the most grip.

The engine is the fourth generation of the ubiquitous Nissan/Infiniti VQ-series V-6, displacing 3.5 litres and pumping out 297 horsepower in this guise.

Always a pleasure because of its smooth power delivery and wide torque band it is also one of the few engines with a characteristic sound. Actually the engine is very quiet, it’s the exhaust that has been tuned for the distinctive sound.

Like the vehicle, the engine has been around for a while. First introduced on these shores in the Nissan Pathfinder 10 years ago, it is now produced in both Japan and Tennessee and used in a wide variety of applications across the Nissan and Infiniti lines. The VQ was on Ward’s Ten Best engines list for five consecutive years.

The suspension does an admirable job of keeping the tall and relatively heavy EX35 on an even keel. The good news about the big 19-inch tires on my tester was the available grip. The bad news? The brittle ride over rough surfaces due to very short sidewalls.

The Infiniti EX35 is available in one trim level only – but four different packages allow you to tailor it to your individual likes and needs.

The starting price is $42,200 and for that you get: a power-folding rear seat, power heated side mirrors, keyless ignition, satellite radio, USB and iPod connectivity, rear view monitor, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, leather seats, tilt & telescopic steering wheel, six-speaker audio system, heated eight-way driver and four-way power passenger seats.

Surprisingly, in a vehicle of this price and luxury level, wireless connectivity is not standard, but part of an optional upgrade package.

Check the boxes for all option packages, each of which build on another and the bottom line exceeds $50,000.

Infiniti is known for pursuing leading-edge technology and many of these developments are available in the various option packages including Distance Control Assist (DCA), Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA) and the advanced Around View Monitor (AVM) which uses four small cameras to give the driver a "top-down view" of the outside of the vehicle while parking.

A Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) system (which includes Lane Departure Warning) and Intelligent Cruise Control are also available, as are bi-xenon adaptive headlights.

One of the interesting standard features is scratch-resistant paint. This wonderful stuff self-heals to a point and is said to last the life of the vehicle. I didn’t deliberately scratch the paint to see it work, but have witnessed demonstrations whereby minor scratches and scuffs in the clear coat "heal".

The EX has a full slate of safety features – active and passive – including ABS and electronic stability control. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has awarded it a "Top Pick" rating, which means it scored well in front, rear, side impact and roof strength tests.

That roof is arguably the strongest visual element of the Infiniti EX35. In addition to imparting a coupe-like profile, it sets this vehicle apart from the pack and non-conformity and style are key factors in the world of luxury vehicles.

For 2011, the Infiniti EX35 undergoes numerous changes. The most important one being a seven-speed automatic transmission in place of the previous five-speed automatic. Dual-zone automatic climate control and 18-inch alloy wheels are now standard.

There are also changes to the option packages, including a blind spot warning system added to the Technology Package and 19-inch wheels in the Premium Package.

Although its shape and size are similar to the Nissan Rogue, the EX35 is not related, and uses a platform derived from the Infiniti G sedan. It comes in a single trim line, which can be equipped with Journey, Premium, Navigation and Technology packages, with each building on the package before it.

Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt and telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, automatic headlamps, heated mirrors, aluminum roof rack, eight-way driver and four-way passenger power-adjustable leather seats, 60/40 split-folding second-row seat, illuminated vanity mirrors, trip computer, CD/MP3 stereo, auxiliary input, USB with iPod interface, XM satellite radio, cruise control, auto up/down front windows, rear view monitor, Intelligent Key with pushbutton start, and security system.

The Journey package adds auto-dimming rear view mirror, compass, power sunroof, coat hanger, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, and maple wood trim.

The Premium package adds 19-inch alloy wheels, Bose premium audio, 2 GB Music Box music storage, Around View Monitor, adaptive xenon headlamps, eight-way power passenger seat, driver’s side memory, garage door opener, power up-folding second-row seats, padded and stitched instrument panel cover, and advanced climate control system.

The Navigation option adds hard disc-drive navigation system with voice recognition, single-CD stereo, Zagat restaurant guide and 9.3 GB Music Box music storage.

The Technology choice includes intelligent brake assist with forward collision warning, blind spot warning system, intelligent cruise control, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention and distance control assist.

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