A G hatchback By Any Other Name... In the past, many of us have been guilty of approaching the crossover segment with the same zeal a toddler typically reserves for mashed peas. Equal parts revulsion, befuddlement and betrayal have danced across our faces as we've struggled to comprehend why anyone would willingly put their hard-earned money towards a vehicle saddled with inherently poorer driving dynamics and fuel economy. As lovers of curve-conquering wagons and hatchbacks everywhere, throwing a couple of extra inches of ride height into the recipe has rarely done us any favors. Not surprisingly, we find ourselves in familiar territory once again: far removed from even the outskirts of popular opinion. Last year, Honda sold a dizzying 218,373 CR-V crossovers, and despite fuel prices determined to bend us over and give us something to cry about, other automakers have fleshed out their lines with a wide array of high-riding vehicles. Ford boasts a total of five crossovers and SUVs in its stable, and it isn't alone. With vehicles like the Juke, Rogue and Murano, Nissan offers buyers a total of seven different models that fit into the segment. The news doesn't bode well for those of us who prefer a vehicle with superior handling mixed with the ability to haul people and cargo. And there's virtually no refuge in the suede-lined halls of our favorite luxury manufacturers, either. Brands from every corner of the globe are cashing in on the CUV/SUV craze with unabashed ferocity. So when the 2012 Infiniti EX35 showed up in the driveway, we braced ourselves for a week of eating our vegetables, now fortified with doctor-recommended understeer and an extra helping of body roll. But this isn't your typical CUV. With a 3.5-liter V6 pumping nearly 300 horsepower to the rear wheels and a lower-than-it-looks stance, this is a sport hatch masquerading in crossover clothing. We can hardly be blamed for mistaking the EX35 as another member of the faceless CUV horde. From the outside looking in, the five-door presents itself as the awkward duckling of the Infiniti flock. Up front, the EX greets onlookers with a familiar face lifted from the likes of the G37 line. The company's rounded, chrome-plated grille and wraparound projector headlights help identify the model as a member of the family, but step to the crossover's side and the story shifts dramatically. In profile, the EX35 looks both small and somewhat strangely proportioned. With a rear hatch that leans far forward, a C-pillar defined by a sharp upkick and a tallish greenhouse offset by a long nose, the design seems caught somewhere between a baby beluga and a crosstrainer. Pronounced haunches out back hint to the rear-wheel-drive goodness lurking undernearth the rounded wrapper, and the stylish 19-inch split-spoke wheels of our tester also helped lend the design a little sportiness. Unfortunately, dark black plastic trim traces the vehicle's lower hemisphere, eroding some of the EX35's premium presence. Regardless of what you think of the offbeat exterior, it's easy to …
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|MPG||17 City / 24 Hwy|
|Transmission||7-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||297 @ 6800 rpm|
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