2013 Infiniti JX35
The flexy-foldy second-row seat. The fold-forward second-row seat makes the Infiniti JX's third-row seat more usable than most. It tilts forward even with a child seat in place, which means less of the daily juggling of car seats parents grow to hate, right along with after-school scheduling and Dora The Explorer. Of course, as we'd like to point out, it's really not ideal to move the seat with child seat in place--with the actual child in it. And we've found the second row doesn't have maximum room for the tallest adults; I rub my head on the sunroof mounting, and the low seat cushion leaves some of my leg unsupported if I choose to sit in the middle row. But the sliding along a 5.5-inch track, and the 14 inches of space opened to access the third-row bench make the JX's second-row seat one of the most clever in the segment.
Gas mileage: our JX hasn't seen more than 18.9 miles per gallon combined since we first topped it off--and on its current tank of premium fuel, run entirely on city errands, it's hovering around an indicated 15.4 miles per gallon. Against an EPA-rated 18/23 mpg, or 20 mpg combined, our observed fuel economy is fairly dismal, though in line with the EPA's rule of thumb that real-world mileage is usually 20 percent lower than its pie-in-the-sky lab numbers.
Audio displays: the JX's Bluetooth connection is fairly stable against the hit-or-miss combination of iPhone 4S and iOS 6. However, there's not enough of a data pull to display track names, artists, or cover art on the screen. When you select "AUX," all you get is a rudimentary set of play and pause buttons. It's time for a firmware upgrade, and something more richly presented.
Interior noise. Big crossovers with big V-6 engines aren't the engineers' dream case for quietness. The JX could use a little more damping in its wheel wells and thicker glass, to block out more road noise. It's more noticeable than annoying, but a $56,000 luxury crossover should be as quiet as a $35,000 luxury sedan.
We'll be checking in a half-dozen more times in the coming weeks with our JX as it hits the road for the beach--we're giving spring a hard nudge of encouragement--and as we put it through our fuel-economy and video road tests.