2010 INFINITI EX35 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
January 5, 2010

The 2010 Infiniti EX35 drives as well as any compact crossover, but rear-seat room and cargo space are serious drawbacks.

TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the Infiniti EX and have written this review from their road-test impressions. Editors have compared the EX35 to other luxury compact crossover vehicles to help you narrow your shopping choices. Finally, editors have written a summary of opinions from other trusted Web sources as a full review-to give you the most comprehensive look at the Infiniti EX possible.

The 2010 Infiniti EX35 returns for its third model year with few changes and with a much larger group of compact luxury crossover vehicles sharing the limelight. Among them, the EX35 is one of the best in terms of handling and sporty feel, but it's among the least practical for carrying adults and cargo. The base price begins at $33,800, with the most expensive all-wheel-drive version starting at $37,400. The Infiniti EX competes against the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Benz GLK, Cadillac SRX, Acura RDX, Land Rover LR2, and Volvo XC60.

With styling cues on loan from the larger FX crossover and other Infiniti models, the 2010 EX35 has a handsome, sporting stance that just barely looks like a utility vehicle. Big wheel wells and widely flared fenders taper into an arching roofline, all blending together to give the EX more of a four-door coupe look-more Panamera than Explorer. The tall roofline is tamed with subtle sculptural surfaces on the body, and few cutlines and few unneeded details give the EX an especially clean look for its class. The cabin is just as sophisticated, with a more technology-friendly look as with the Acura RDX. The cockpit-style layout wraps into a wide center stack a big LCD screen and secondary controls. The instruments look elegant and refined in soft-white lighting, and the wood and leather wear matte finishes and a noticeable lack of metallic trim that echoes the subtle, tasteful design-without the excessive detailing that plagues some other vehicles in this class.

While other Infiniti and Nissan vehicles have moved into a larger V-6 drivetrain, the 2010 Infiniti EX hangs on to a slightly less powerful version of the same engine, and keeps a transmission with fewer gears. A smooth-revving 3.5-liter V-6 spins out 297 hp in the EX, and it's teamed with a five-speed automatic with a sport-shifting mode. It's not as sharp as the newest seven-speed Infiniti automatics, but it's quick to respond to calls for higher revs. Since it's related to the G37 and Z lineup, good handling's almost a given with the EX; it's more buttoned down than any other crossover in its class, and truly comes across like a sports sedan, from steering full of feel to its taut, controlled ride and big, progressive brakes. Fuel economy is competitive, too; it's rated at 17/24 mpg on rear-drive EX crossovers, 16/23 mpg on all-wheel-drive versions.

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Infiniti's utility vehicles span a huge gulf of size-the titanic QX56 and the compact EX35 have no family member in between, which makes the EX35 seems even smaller than it is. In its class, its wheelbase (110.2 inches) and key interior dimensions (18.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats) are among the smallest, which translates into a tight backseat and not much cargo area. Front-seat passengers will feel coddled, though the wide center console restricts some space. In back, adults will feel cramped, and both headroom and legroom are down significantly from the likes of the Cadillac SRX and Volvo XC60. The cargo area is one-third as large as that in the Acura RDX, even smaller yet than the cargo hold in the Audi Q5 or Cadillac SRX.

The Infiniti EX35 scores well in crash tests. NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) awards the EX four stars for front-impact protection and five stars for side impacts; the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) gives the EX "good" ratings for its more stringent front- and side-impact tests. Standard safety equipment in the EX includes dual front, side, and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction and stability control; and a rearview camera. The 2010 EX35 also has a host of safety-related options that may warrant more of your attention: Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention, which nudge the car gently into its lane when cameras and other sensors detect it's gone out of its lane; and Around View Monitoring, which uses cameras around the vehicle to generate a wide-angle view of obstacles when in reverse gear.

Standard features on the 2010 Infiniti EX35 include a leather interior; cruise control; push-button start; power windows, locks, and mirrors; power front seats; heated side mirrors; AM/FM/CD sound with an auxiliary jack; USB connectivity for music players; and automatic headlights. Journey models add a moonroof, Bluetooth, and automatic climate control. Available as options are Bluetooth connectivity; a Bose premium audio package; DVD navigation; XM Satellite Radio; real-time traffic; 18-inch wheels; a power-folding rear seat; and an air purifier. TheCarConnection.com's editors count the EX's audio interface among the simplest and easiest to use in all vehicles.

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