• Feb 20th 2008 at 11:58AM
  • 33

Click above for high-res gallery of the Infiniti EX35

Infiniti first showed the world its new EX35 as a concept at last year's New York Auto Show and then put it on sale in fall essentially unchanged. Although the Acura RDX has been described as a sports car in CUV clothes, it's based on a fundamentally front-wheel-drive architecture. If Honda had instead taken the S2000 roadster, stretched it and jacked it up a bit, they would have come up with something more akin to the EX35. In fact, that's almost exactly what Nissan did.

The EX35 is based on the platform of the G35 sedan/G37 coupe and, of course, the fun loving 350Z. If you want a crossover with sports car genes, it would be hard to find something more suitable. Of course, wearing a badge from the Infiniti side of the family tree means getting a handsomely tailored suit and all the latest high-tech gizmos to go along with the go-fast hardware. It also means a few sacrifices to ultimate utility, but we'll get to that after the jump.

Photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

One look at the EX35 and it's obvious that it shares the current Infiniti family DNA. From the gently curving contours over the wheel arches to the shape of the greenhouse, the look is that of a highly paid athlete coming out of the locker room after the game in a Saville Row suit. However, the sports car genes are most immediately apparent in the profile.

Most crossovers today are derived from front-wheel-drive platforms with transverse-mounted powertrains, and that's reflected in their relatively short hoods. Even the north-south inline six-powered BMW X3 and X5 share these proportions providing a somewhat more utilitarian look. Not so this Infiniti. The passenger compartment has been pushed well back giving the classic long hood sports car proportions, even with its taller-than-Z-car stance. It's an interesting look for this type of vehicle. Even compared to its big brother the FX, the proportions are amplified with a seemingly longer distance between the trailing edge of the wheel well and the leading edge of the door.

Pushing the wheels forward allowing for a front mid-engine layout helps the rear-drive EX achieve a weight distribution of 52/48, the same as the RDX. The all-wheel-drive version shifts that to 55/45. The sporting proportions, however, unfortunately sacrifice rear cabin space. Even though the Infiniti is two inches longer with an extra six inches of wheel base, it has nine inches less rear leg room than the Acura RDX. The back seat is definitely on the tight side. The Acura also has a 12 cubic foot advantage in cargo space behind the second row. Even in the front row, the EX has a decidedly snug cockpit-like layout. There's not a lot of stretch out room here.

Where the Infiniti interior shines is the quality of the materials. The EX35 has the look and feel of a luxury car with its "wheat" colored leather and swaths of dark maple on the door panels and center console. Just below the navigation controls is the typical elliptical Infiniti analog clock. The layout of the EX center stack and controls means that pretty much everything falls readily to hand.

Among the array of buttons just below the navigation screen is one labeled Camera. This is part of the $1,950 technology package. Like so many vehicles today, the EX has a tailgate mounted rear view camera to show you what's immediately behind the car. However, shifting the EX into reverse brings up a display on the nav screen with two views, the one behind and another showing what's on the right side of the car. This is part of the Around View Monitor. Several cars with rear cameras overlay guide lines on the image to aid backing into a parking space. The EX takes that one step further with additional guide lines that indicate where the vehicle will actually go based on the steering input.

In total, the EX has four outward facing cameras: one on the tailgate, one on the bottom of each side mirror and a fourth looking ahead through the windshield. Pressing that camera button when the vehicle is stationary brings up an overhead view of the car and the view all around the car from the cameras. Once you start moving, the camera view switches off. The cameras come back into play above 40 mph for the lane departure warning and prevention systems.

When the warning and prevention systems are switched on, the cameras look for the edge of the road or the lane markers. If the car starts to drift toward the edge of the lane, a warning beep goes off. If the prevention system is on, when the car reaches the edge of the lane the stability control applies a little bit of brake torque to the opposite side wheel, gently nudging the car back toward the center of the lane. It's actually kind of a spooky feeling when it happens. It's not abrupt and it's easily over-ridden if you actually wanted to pull off the road or change lanes. The system won't save a drunk driver weaving around, but someone who is momentarily distracted and drifting over will be assisted.

Another element of the technology package is the adaptive cruise control. A sensor in the bottom of the grille emblem detects the distance to the vehicle ahead and automatically maintains a safe distance. If the vehicle you're following slows down, the Infiniti's brakes apply reducing your speed. When things clear up, the EX automatically returns to the set speed.

Restoring that speed falls to perhaps the most important element of the EX, the engine. Here is where the EX holds its biggest advantage over the Acura. Like its lower slung siblings, the EX is propelled by Nissan's sweetheart VQ V6. As the model nomenclature implies, this one displaces 3.5L and puts out 297hp and 253lb-ft of torque. As in every other application, this free-revving six cylinder is a wonderful example of the breed. Squeezing the accelerator brings instant lag free response from the engine room.

The EX has a firm, sports sedan ride, but it doesn't beat you up. The bitterly cold winter weather that descended on us while the EX was here didn't allow for much back road thrashing, but we did get to exercise the traction control and stability control systems. The latter in particular was very well behaved, keeping the EX pointed where the steering wheel input intended without out any drama.

The big question that arises from driving the EX35 is what exactly is the point? Ideally this thing would have the same ride height as the G35 and be badged G35 Touring or something similar. The EX is most certainly not an off-road vehicle and the extra ride height doesn't really add any useful functionality. With it's attractive and sporting but snug-fitting interior, the EX doesn't add much utility to CUV equation.

Perhaps it's more of a marketing driven move in a world where American drivers remain enamored with looking down upon their fellow travelers. Lexus offered something similar to this with the wagon/hatch version of the first generation IS, and it wasn't a huge sales success. In that case, the EX35 offers much of the character of the sedan and coupe with a hint of the higher riding FX. For those that prefer the balance skewed a little more toward utility while retaining the sport, the FX offers another alternative though is also down on utility compared to some of its large CUV competitors. The EX35 starts at just over $31,000 in base RWD form with the AWD Journey model we tested coming in at over $45,000, so buyers will have to consider if good looks, trick technology and a sweet powertrain are worth sacrificing some practicality.

Photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      The front looks like Nissan and the back looks like Dodge, not a winning combination.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I have an FX35 and before that the G35. I looked forward to the EX because I don't need something as big as the FX since I retired last year.

      I, too, saw it at the Chicago Auto Show last week and then again at the dealer when I took my FX in for regular service. It still looked good to me and felt great sitting in it. However, and I mentioned this to the salesmen at the dealership, who couldn't disagree with me, that the cost makes it somewhat unappealing since its price is just as much as the FX35, even without the bells and whistles of technology.

      On the other hand, when I saw the RDX, I was unexpectedly surprised. It has almost all of the standards of the EX and costs a lot less. It may not be as pretty, but cost now makes a difference to me.
        • 7 Years Ago
        EX35 does not count. Unusable rear seats and no cargo capacity. Clearly it's late launch is proof that it is trying to copy the RDX.
        I went to Lowes this weekend and brought home a pre hung 32' door in my RDX. Try that in an EX. Acura has the best Nav in the business, and mine was $34k with the tech package with very little grinding.
        Infiniti what?
          • 7 Years Ago
          Acura does not have the best Navi in the business, are you still smoking that crack you we're on when you got the RDX?

          Anyway, cubic feet isn't really all that important, unless you we're stacking them up to the roof, the EX probably has a a nice load floor, I bet it's not as big as the RDX's floor with the 2nd row folded, but I know it doesn't have that stupid ass procedure to get a flat floor like the RDX has, as a matter of fact I will bet you that the EX has more than 32 inches of flat floor space.

          Copying the RDX's success to failure? Offering a T-4 in a V6 market, a hard, cheap plastic interior, nasty looks, a truely awful ride, handling comparable to cheaper CUV's and a turning circle as big as an Expeditions? That sounds exactly like the EX-35! Not!

          No one want's to copy a sales failure like the RDX.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The RDX's interior is cheap, the door handles are disgusingly cost cutting at it's best, not to mention for a base EX-35 you get real aluminum trim, not the silver painted crap Acura thinks is just as good. You get a 290 HP V6, not the laggy T-4(it has serious hesitation problems). That stupid NAVI has an old screen and that knob makes me want to rip it off of the dash, it's entire center stack is cluttered like the new Accord, the ride and ride height is appalling for the handling performance. The steering wheel paddles are nothing but gimmicks, along with that "boost" gauge that has a + and -, wtf? Acura clearly knows that it's customers like gimmicky features like a completely unusable boost gauge, and SH-AWD, too small paddle shifters, etc.. Not to mention you pay extra for a leather shift knob, something that should be standard. They cost effectively package their veichles to shove things that you don't want down your throat, you think you're getting a great deal because everything is standard, but in reality you're getting crap that you will never use because you only bought the package for the back-up camera, not the navi or upgraded audio.

        The RDX=marketing gimick.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I sat in one last Friday at the Chicago Auto Show. I love the interior and the look of it. The only real issue was the lack of room in the back seat. I am 6' and my wife could not fit in behind me without my knees bent to much. Other than that I loved it and think it would be fun to drive.
      • 7 Years Ago
      i've done that with my G35 for the past 4 years and I don't have that issue.
      I use straight up Windex, then at the end I run a damp cloth (w/water only) over everything
      but I do notice that my clear headlight cover is fogged up a bit
      • 7 Years Ago
      It's marketing driven for sure. Just like that new Toyota. They're calling it a 'Crossover Utility Sedan'. It makes no sense but they can't use the word 'wagon', I guess.

        • 7 Years Ago
        Because calling it a wagon subjects it to the more stringent CAFE car standards. A crossover is subject to CAFE light truck and is thusly allowed worse mileage.

        CAFE encourages poor mileage. Heh.

        This is why I like CARB's approach better. Its standards are purely quantitative: either you emit a certain level, or you don't. CAFE has exemptions for certain types of vehicles and places no emphasis on emissions. A car could emit pure Sarin and be ok under CAFE, as long as it didn't use much gasoline in doing so.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The UV should really be dropped from this car. We went shopping for a utility vehicle and it's not what we expected when we test drove the thing.

      1. ZERO rear leg room.
      2. You can't even fit your golfing gears in the trunk without folding the rear seats.
      3. The ground clearance is barely more than a G35/G37 sedan.

      This is a freaking G35/G37 wagon. The media/journalist should stop being so blindly fool by Infiniti. There is zero utility/practicality in this car. I was sorely disappointed when I saw it in person.
        • 7 Years Ago
        to your point if they did a real G35 wagon the floor would have been so much lower it would have had a lot more space than the raised up by 5inch EX,

        but, if you wanted to upgrade from a 4-door sedan (mainly the G35) this would give you a bit more room and still that great engine
        • 7 Years Ago
        i agree. call it what it is. a G37 wagon.
        • 7 Years Ago
        yeah my problem with the EX was the back cargo area too. It really is useless. My dog can't even fit in the back and she's pretty small for a boxer.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Are you all on crack?

      If you take any notice of the advertising, the EX is being marketed as a Personal Luxury Crossover, not a CUV or SUV. Rear leg room is subjective depending on the front occupants and their relevant seating positions. I am 6ft 1, and can fit behind a similarly sized driver without any discomfort.

      If you want more legroom, get an FX37/50 when they come out later this year.

      Key EX Advantages vs X3

      Larger, more powerful engine
      Available 2-wheel-drive model
      Tighter turning circle (36ft vs 38.4ft) RWD EX35 34.8ft
      Scratch Shield paint
      Cargo-area rear seatback releases with available power return
      Welcome Lighting
      Available Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC)
      Infiniti Intelligent Key
      Available hard-drive-based navigation system
      (vs. DVD-based)
      Available RearView Monitor
      Available Around View Monitor (AVM)
      Available Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Departure Prevention (LDP)
      Available Driver’s AudioStage
      More front head and leg room
      X3’s cargo area is narrower than EX’s, so common
      items such as golf clubs do not fit flat across the cargo area. To fit three sets of clubs in X3, they must be stacked, filling more of the cargo area. EX can fit three sets of clubs on the cargo floor.
      Wider cargo area
      Larger fuel tank
      Longer limited powertrain warranty coverage
      X3 has higher MSRP.

      Engine. X3’s 3.0-liter in-line 6-cylinder engine delivers less horsepower and torque than EX’s 3.5-liter V6 engine. In addition, X3 is a heavier vehicle, so EX enjoys a better weight-to-power ratio. In independent testing, EX provided faster times in all acceleration tests.

      Drivetrain. X3 is available only with all-wheel drive. EX offers the choice of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. In addition, the xDrive AWD system on X3 is less sophisticated than EX’s Intelligent AWD.

      xDrive provides a 40/60 front-to-rear torque split even under normal driving conditions. Infiniti’s Intelligent AWD maintains the sporty feel of up to 100% rear-wheel drive under normal conditions, such as highway driving in dry conditions. Furthermore, EX has a snow mode that provides even more control when accelerating in snow or other slippery conditions

      Ergonomics. X3’s ignition key is located on the side of the steering column, requiring an awkward reach to insert the key. EX’s Push Button Ignition is conveniently located on the face of the dashboard, and the Intelligent Key system means users don’t have to insert a key. X3’s available navigation system does not offer touch-screen capability, and the small tilt-up screen is not as easy to view.

      Key EX Advantages vs RDX

      Larger, more powerful engine
      More economical
      Available 2-wheel-drive model
      Tighter turning circle 34.8 rwd 36 awd vs 39.2
      Available Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS)
      Scratch Shield paint
      Cargo-area rear seatback releases with available power return
      Welcome Lighting
      Available Intelligent Cruise Control
      Infiniti Intelligent Key
      Available hard-drive-based navigation system(vs. DVD-based)
      Available Around View Monitor
      Available Lane Departure Warning
      Lane Departure Prevention (LDP)
      Available Driver’s AudioStage and Interface System for iPod®5
      Longer wheelbase
      More front leg room
      Larger fuel tank
      Lower MSRP

      RDX is a conventionally styled small SUV built on a front-wheel-drive platform. In contrast, EX is a crossover inspired by coupe design and built on a true performance-oriented rear-wheel-drive platform.

      Engine. RDX is available only with a turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine. Although the engine generates 240 horsepower, its turbocharger needs time to “spool up,” so there is a delay — called “turbo lag” — before drivers feel the power.

      RDX is also a heavier vehicle. EX has a better weight-to-power ratio, even though it is powered by a larger V6 engine. In independent testing, EX provided faster acceleration times

      RDX has a front-wheel-drive-based system that provides a 90/10 front-to-rear torque split when traveling on dry road surfaces, a 55/45 torque split when accelerating, and a 50/50 torque split when cornering. In contrast, EX provides up to 100% traction to the rear wheels to provide sportier handling in dry road conditions, and provides a 50/50 torque split when accelerating from a standing start.

      Acura touts the system’s
      • 7 Years Ago
      I first saw the EX the LA auto show. One of the floor models was about 20 feet away from an RDX in the adjacent display giving me plenty of opportunity for a direct comparison. The Infiniti made a great first impression. Basically G35 hatch that could be had in RWD? I sure liked that idea. But the rear seat leg room! Possibly a little better than the rear of a 911. And then what floor space there was, was disrupted by a tall driveshaft tunnel - something the RDX avoids completely - No "wide-stancers" need apply now matter how encouraged one is by the closeness of the front seats. And as usual, that sleek sloping D-Pillar really cut into the cargo space, particularly compared to the squared-off RDX. I forgive that if I could put people in the rear seats but this thing might as well be a G37 coupe with a hatch.

      Packaging matters, so of the two, it would be the RDX for me. Then again, I'd be more likely to save 10K and a few inches of ride height and go for a MAZDA6 wagon or a MAZDASPEED3.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The fascination with unpractical vehicles so you can sit higher and get bad gas mileage just makes no sense. Other than that, it seems to be fun vehicle.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Test drove EX35, X3 and RDX in past month.

      X3 drove like a small truck (you sure it's a BMW?)

      RDX was actually quite impressive for Acura but Turbo 4 didn't have quite the punch of the V6s but had the same mediocre fuel ecomony.

      EX35 was the best driving CUV I've ever driven and probably one of the best vehicles too. But the back row and trunk area were just not acceptable.

      Audi is coming out with Q5. I'll wait for that one.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm not sure. It definitely blurs the SUV/hatchback line. It looks decent, but i think the FX looks cooler. The interior is nicely made, but nothing cool about it and i don't really like it. While the powertrain is great, the practicality really isn't there, or that much more than the G35. it just doesn't really register on the excitement meter much. I like the RDX a lot better, including the interior design. Plus, the Acura is roomier.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Acura RDX (just compare the rear suspension to the honda civic) is 57/43 weight distribution.

      A rear drive EX is 53/47 (rounded up), and depending on amenities an 'awd' is 54/46 to 55/45 (rounded up)

      Yup, G35 wagon.
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