Historically, most cars that have been labelled elegant have been of the larger variety. The very concept of automotive elegance has long been molded by the coach built luxury autos of the Thirties. Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury division, has brought true elegance to an unlikely market segment: the CUV.
The CUV market is a fairly recent segment intended to make those who need the utility of an SUV coupled with a smaller, more efficient package. Smaller and more efficient often equates to cheap and cheerful which is fine for many consumers but some want a smaller footprint that still offers a level of prestige and performance. These are the folks that Infiniti created the EX35 for.
Visually the EX looks like a 2/3 scale version of its big brother FX, combining muscular, sensual curves with jewel like fit and finish. Tastefully applied chrome and brushed metal accent the curves, while LED tail lights and adaptive headlights complete the exclusive but sporting look. Inside there is everything one has come to expect from an Infiniti. Supple leather coddles passengers and brushed aluminum accents are highlighted by maple inserts on the center console. Instruments and controls are surrounded by deep violet accent lighting which drew admiring comments from several passengers. A small thing, but the little details are what makes a vehicle of this caliber stand out from the competition.
Our tester was a Journey model with heated, 8 way power adjustable seats up front. The rear seats offer a 60/40 split for versatility and power seat back release that makes lowering the seats a simple effort without the need to crawl into the back. The rear seats are positioned farther back, giving rear seat passengers more legroom than in the EX’s Nissan cousin, the Rogue. While guests will be more comfortable, cargo area suffers from this move though I suspect the target customer will not be too concerned about this. A week’s groceries for a family of 5 fit just fine, though it only holds 1 hockey bag with the seats up.
Technophiles will be in seventh heaven in the EX, as the list of toys is rather awe inspiring: Bluetooth for phone & audio, USB iPod/mp3 connectivity, hard drive navi with voice controls, XM satellite radio, Around View monitor system, Bose premium audio with 11 speakers including 2 subwoofers, lane departure warning, intelligent cruise control. The list continues, but you get the idea.
At the heart of the Ex35 is Nissan’s award winning 3.5 L V-6 engine that gave the 350Z its name. It has been used in a variety of applications and different states of tune while proving to be a robust and reliable performer. It also sounds pretty darned cool. In this application it supplies 297 hp and 253 lb/ft of torque. All that power makes its way to either the rear or all four wheels depending on what model you choose, through a slick shifting 5 speed automatic transmission. Thankfully, they chose not to use a CVT unit in this application.
Out on the road, the EX ride is comfortably firm with a nod more towards the sporting end of the spectrum. In other words, you might wish to slow down a bit before crossing the local train tracks if you choose the optional 18″ alloys like our tester had. The EX feels connected and stable at all speeds though we were unable to really hustle the little trucklet through any windy roads due to the remnants of winter. Equipped with aggressive snow tires, our tester wasn’t really able to put the power down without activating the traction control as the softer tires scrambled to find traction on the salt crusted road.[nggallery id=77]
Fuel economy is only available as an estimate at this point from Infiniti and I forgot to reset the trip odometer so I can’t report our accurate numbers. The estimate is 12.9 l/100 km in the city and 8.6 on the highway and I get the feeling this is close to what we achieved.
With a Canadian base price of $41,250, the EX35 is positioned at the high end of the CUV market but is actually a great value when compared to some of the competition. BMW’s X3 xDrive30i begins at almost 5 grand more and is short by 37 horsepower. Loaded up with all the toys, both vehicles top out at $49,900 but the Infiniti still has that extra oomph and a bunch of techno goodies that aren’t available on the German machine.
All in all, the 2010 Infiniti EX35 is an elegant and sensual beast that the club valet would just love to
test drive park for you and the neighbors might just be fooled into thinking it is cute little CUV that you bought to cut back on fuel costs. You, like the valet, know better. The EX35 has soul.