A funny thing happened along the way to our three-month road test of the Infiniti JX--but now, we're back on track.
By now, you've probably heard that Infiniti is changing the names of all its models. It doesn't affect many shoppers yet, but the 2013 Infiniti JX we have parked downstairs? Next year, even if it doesn't change, will become the 2014 Infiniti QX60.
Cue some soul-searching right at the beginning of our stint with the big seven-seat luxury crossover. What do we call it for the rest of the test? After deciding on that and some technical issues, we're pressing ahead with our Three-Month Road Test under its current name. Just the same, start looking ahead for our 2014 Infiniti QX60 page as soon as any details are confirmed.
Now that we've spent a few weeks with the JX, on short trips and long, it's pretty clear what the newest member of the Infiniti clan does best. It's not the delightful open-air tourer that is the G37 Convertible (or, Q60 Convertible), and it's lacking the silver-dusted wood of the big M56 sedan (henceforth, the 2014 Q70--we're totally all over this).
What it does best, is squarely linked to being the plushest Nissan Pathfinder you've ever driven. And that makes itself known in at least five ways we can point out:
Surround-view cameras. The JX is our first longer-term exposure with this relatively new system. How did we ever park in a garage cluttered by power washers and a stray replacement sink before it? The system of cameras on the nose, tail, and under the mirrors generates a few views, which you can select from a piano-style key on the dash while in reverse or park. Ditch the tennis ball hanging by a string, and stop worrying about curbing the tires--the cameras show you everything. There's a tendency to collect raindrops that gives their readout on the LCD display a wicked Instagram-like effect, but almost all of the time, the surround-view camera is a home run.
Styling. It's tempting to look at the Infiniti JX and not see cues of crossovers with less happy outcomes (cough, R-Class). The JX perfectly picks up cues layered on other Infinitis and scales them up without going into cartoonish extremes. The jagged rear pillar? Brilliant. The soft, sculpty interior? Perfectly on point for the class and the price.Big, wide doors. Imagine our surprise when we pulled up next to a five-seat Volvo XC60 and saw the JX is just a couple of inches longer--but significantly taller, with much wider rear doors. The Volvo loves to haul cargo; the Infiniti's all about excellent second-row accommodations, and its wide rear doors are helpful for making the most of the fairly roomy second-row seat. Forget how the same design choice makes Camaros and other coupes a problem in parking lots. The JX's doors are just about ideally sized to open fully in all but the tightest spots, and they leave enough room for adults to step in to the second row without clambering.
Ventilated seats. Yes, we know, this one's not an exclusive, but our JX is a Johnny Cash special--black paint, black leather. Even in the depths of winter down south, it can still be 70 degrees outside. A fresh draw of air from under the cushion makes long-distance road trips more comfortable. The JX's controls are logically baked in with the seat heaters on rotary knobs, right there on the console--no fiddling with touchscreens or hunting for them on the side of the seat cushions, either.