Thursday, September 20, 2012

Infiniti's new JX luxury liner a worthy entry

Sacramento, California – The Infiniti JX lineup is all new for 2013, and it steps in right away as a player in the seven-passenger, luxury sport-utility vehicle segment.

My black JX35 tester – with a 265 horsepower V-6 with all-wheel drive – looked very much like a Mercedes-Benz at first glance, and I mean that in a good way.  Impressive, angular lines and smooth, rounded shape on top looked good … and cut through the air nicely when the SUV was on the roll.

Seven full-size adults can fit in this vehicle, and it has the cargo-carrying capacity of a big brute.

Infiniti, perhaps knowing that you have to throw in everything but the kitchen sink when you’re in the luxury segment, did not hold back on the perks.  It would take me 10 minutes to READ the list of luxury, technology, safety/security and comfort/convenience features on the vehicle.

And on my tester, Infiniti broke the bank on extras.  My tester had a starting price of $41,550, but the bottom line under an ocean of optional features totaled $55,170.  Luxury indeed!

I took the vehicle from Sacramento’s sea-level flats over the top of the Sierra Nevada mountains to the south shore of Lake Tahoe … and back.  Impressions: Smooth, quiet, surprisingly powerful when asked and rock-solid on high speed turns, both uphill and downhill.

Fuel mileage for the trip actually came in better than the advertised 18 miles per gallon in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.  And I wasn’t babying the thing along.

The JX35’s myriad driver warning and assist systems were interesting to experience but sometimes a pain in the posterior.  The vehicle would routinely beep at me when it thought I was driving out of my lane or veering out of bounds.  Most times, I was simply angling onto a side road, the kind of move that does not require a turn signal.  Fortunately, the beeping system can be turned off at the push of a button.

One time, during a typical run in stop-and-go commuter traffic, the seat belt tightened around me in what the on-board system thought was an imminent collision with a vehicle moving slowly in front of me.  Simply put, it was a big overreaction.

In this era of easily distracted drivers, doing everything from scrolling through music menus to what-are-you-thinking texting, I suppose these systems serve a life-saving purpose.  But for those of us who take driving and command of a motor vehicle seriously, they can be an annoyance.

Paying for the sins of others?  Yeah, probably.

But don’t let that spoil your impressions of the JX35.  It’s a very worthy entry in the luxury SUV segment, and if you have that kind of money to spend on that class of vehicle, it should be on your test-drive list.

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