2009 EX35 New Car Test Drive
The Infiniti EX35 comes standard with leather seating for 2009. Launched as a totally new vehicle for 2008, the EX35 is a crossover SUV, smaller than the Infiniti FX, and aimed more at luxury than sportiness.
That doesn't mean it's not sporty, but it isn't quite as driver-oriented as Infiniti's sports sedans or some of BMW's crossovers. The EX35 still drives like a sports sedan and has the room of a small SUV, and that's what most people want.
Inside there is room for five, but it's much more comfortable with four. The cabin boasts rich, soft-touch materials and a stylish design. All of the controls are within easy reach.
The EX35 is brimming with new technologies. The navigation package includes a hard drive with 9.3 gigabytes of storage space for music files; and an available Around View Monitor shows obstacles 360 degrees around the vehicle. Also offered is Infiniti's new Lane Departure Prevention system, which lightly applies the brakes on one side to steer the vehicle back into its lane should it start crossing lane lines.
Room up front is good, but taller drivers will want more head room, especially if they opt for the up-level Journey model with its standard sunroof. The back seat also offers decent room, but things get a bit tight with the front seats all the way back. Both rows are easy to enter and exit, thanks to the EX35's ride height, which is higher than a sedan, but not as high as most SUVs.
The EX35 hatchback design means cargo room is plentiful, though many SUVs offer more space. An industry-first power-folding second row eases the process of loading items in the back. Oddly, from the driver's seat, the second-row seats can't be folded down, but they can be brought back up, handy when pulling up to the curb to pick up passengers.
Under the hood of the Infiniti EX35 is Nissan's superb 3.5-liter V6. It makes 297 horsepower and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission that has a manual shiftgate but no paddle shifters. Drivers will be pleased by the EX35's ready power. It is fast from a stop and offers no-worries passing response at highway speeds. Fuel economy is only adequate, though. Expect about 20 mpg in a city/highway driving mix.
From behind the wheel, the EX35 drives like a sports sedan with a slightly elevated ride height. Rear- and all-wheel drive are offered, and the AWD system is meant for on-road use. The handling is responsive, if not sports car nimble, and the brakes and steering feel natural and inspire confidence. The EX35 best differentiates itself from Infiniti's own FX with a smoother ride. Even with the available 18-inch wheels, the EX35 smoothes out the bumps without jolting passengers.
Changes for 2009 are minimal. Leather seating is now standard on the base model, while some items that were previously standard on the up-level Journey are now optional. In general, options and packages have been simplified.
With its carlike handling, powerful engine, and useful cargo room, the Infiniti EX35 is a fine alternative to larger, more cumbersome SUVs. The smooth ride and rich, classy interior add to the appeal. If you want a sporty, comfortable vehicle that drives like a car but has the cargo room of a wagon or SUV, make sure to put the EX35 on your shopping list.
The 2009 Infiniti EX35 is offered in two trim levels, base and Journey, each with rear- or all-wheel drive. Every EX35 is powered by a 297-hp 3.5-liter V6. The lone transmission is a five-speed automatic with a manual shiftgate.
The EX35 ($33,800) and EX35 AWD ($35,200) come standard with automatic climate control, eight-way power driver seat with manual lumbar adjustment, four-way power passenger seat, 60/40 split second-row seat, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, remote keyless entry and starting, trip computer, six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input jack, XM Satellite Radio, auto on/off headlights, and P225/60R17 all-season tires on aluminum wheels. New for 2009 are leather-appointed seating, RearView Monitor, rear heat and air conditioning vents, and roof rails.
The Journey ($36,000) and Journey AWD ($37,400) add a power slide/tilt glass sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, auto-dimming inside mirror with compass, heated outside mirrors, six-disc CD changer, power tilt/telescoping steering column, and wood (instead of aluminum) interior trim.
Exclusive to the Journey is the Premium Package ($1,750),which adds a memory function for the driver's seat, steering wheel and outside mirrors (with tilt-down in reverse); eight-way power front passenger's seat; driver's seat power lumbar support; xenon headlights with AFS, Bluetooth telephone connectivity; HomeLink Universal Transceiver; premium stitching on the instrument hood; and power remote rear seat.
Other options and packages have been revised and simplified. The Around View Monitor (AVM), which was part of last year's Technology Package, is now available as a stand-alone (and at no charge, when you buy the Bose stereo/Navigation package). It uses four small front, side and rear-mounted cameras to give the driver a top-down view of the outside of the vehicle and help reduce blind spots when parking.
The 11-speaker Bose audio system is now packaged with navigation ($2,000), which includes voice recognition (for climate control as well as audio and navigation), XM NavTraffic with real-time traffic information, a 9.3-gigabyte hard drive for music storage, and a compact flash drive slot. The Technology Package ($2,250) includes the Lane Departure Prevention system, Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Control Assist and Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning. Options include 18-inch wheels ($500). Additionally, dealers can install roof rack crossbars ($240), a cargo organizer ($150), and various appearance and/or security items.
Safety features that come standard on all models include dual front airbags; torso-protecting, seat-mounted front side airbags; head-protecting curtain side airbags; LATCH child seat anchors; active front head restraints; antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution; traction control; electronic stability control; and a rear-view monitor.