2010 INFINITI EX35 Review

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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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2010 INFINITI EX35

Styling

The 2010 Infiniti EX35 is a good-looking vehicle-and it feels fresh, modern, and ultimately luxurious.

The 2010 Infiniti EX35 is among the best-looking compact luxury crossover vehicles, according to experts at TheCarConnection.com and other respected Web auto reviewers.

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. Cars.com notes the "sporty and stylish" appearance borrows details from other Infiniti vehicles, remarking the "rear end recalls Infiniti's larger FX model, for better and for worse." The EX's 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. Motor Trend admires the EX35's "arching, coupe-like roofline, a double-arch grille, L-shaped headlamps, and aggressive proportions." 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 cabin is just as sophisticated, with a more technology-friendly look as with the Acura RDX. Edmunds describes it as "distinctive," and says the EX35's dash "flows around the driver in soft waves." Cars.com notes "the interior is appointed like other Infiniti models, which is to say nicely, with modern, high-quality materials and design." 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. A noticeable lack of metallic trim echoes the subtle, tasteful design, without the excessive detailing that plagues some other vehicles in this class. And if it seems a bit austere, optional maple interior trim "spruces up the cabin," according to Motor Trend.

8

2010 INFINITI EX35

Performance

The 2010 Infiniti EX35 puts extra "sport" in its small utility vehicle, with nimble handling and quick acceleration standard on all versions.

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.

Motor Trend reports "the EX is inspired by a 3.5-liter version of Nissan's VQ-series V-6, which delivers 297 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque." Edmunds calls the engine "responsive...with more than adequate oomph over the rev range, and competent passing power." Cars.com observes, "the responsive engine is a high point, with more than adequate oomph over the rev range, and competent passing power."

The engine is teamed up 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, and Edmunds notes "the "transmission's ability to match revs on downshifts." Together, Motor Trend says, the duo "feels sufficiently robust and refined and shouldn't struggle cracking off 0-to-60 sprints in the mid-six-second range." It's a bit slower with the all-wheel-drive option, which also offers a "snow mode" that splits the power between the front and rear wheels 50/50, according to ConsumerGuide.

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. Edmunds reports that "premium gasoline is recommended for optimal performance and mileage," but the vehicle will run on regular as well. Cars.com says "the EX's mileage is typical of small luxury SUVs but a bit lower than the sport wagon average."

Since the EX is related to the G37 and Z lineup, good handling's almost a given; 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. Car and Driver sets the expectations: The EX "looks good and promises to drive even better," they remark. AutoWeek reports that the 2010 EX35 "handles with aplomb, carving freeway ramps nicely for a small SUV while always exhibiting a stable ride." According to Edmunds, the 2010 Infiniti EX35 is "quicker than any of its peers and arguably has the best ride/handling balance of any premium compact crossover as well." Cars.com says, "the EX35 offers spirited handling with excellent dynamics," and "the ride quality is firm but comfortable-more like a sport sedan than an SUV." Motor Trend sums it up when it states, "direct and positive sensations from the variable-assist steering and four-wheel vented disc brakes impart a downright sporty personality that should attract enthusiasts."

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2010 INFINITI EX35

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Infiniti EX35 feels smartly tailored for two adults; more people and more cargo means more disappointment.

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.

Front-seat passengers will feel coddled-AutoWeek calls out the "superbly comfortable seats"-though the wide center console restricts some space. Edmunds says the "uncommonly warm and inviting interior" is best offered in its optional luxe form, which gets upgraded leather on its "supportive front seats."

In back, adults will feel cramped, and both headroom and legroom are down significantly from the likes of the Cadillac SRX and Volvo XC60. 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. "The EX35's greatest interior shortcoming is the size of its backseat," Cars.com comments, "which is especially frustrating, because the lack of space seems unnecessary." Motor Trend points out that compared to the Acura RDX, "Rear-seat legroom, at 28.5 inches, pales to the 37.7 in the RDX."

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. Cargo space is also tight in the 2010 Infiniti EX35. Motor Trend states that the "meager 16.8 cubic feet of cargo volume (only 3.3 more than that of a G35) is down by a couple of Miata trunks compared with the Acura's 27.8." Car and Driver calls the package "sport-uselessity."

As far as materials are concerned, AutoWeek "found the interior extremely pleasant. It features high-quality materials and superbly comfortable seats." Cars.com mentions "aluminum trim appears sparingly and is effective, as is the black-lacquer bezel on the center console and control panel." These are standard in the base model of the 2010 Infiniti EX35, but Edmunds reports "the optional maple wood trim is much nicer." Edmunds adds a caveat: "interior materials aren't going to win any awards for quality," but those who are willing to pay extra can have genuine leather upholstery. Cars.com, however, remarks "the interior is appointed like other Infiniti models... with modern, high-quality materials."

8

2010 INFINITI EX35

Safety

The 2010 Infiniti EX35 earns good crash-test scores and offers advanced features like Around View to compensate for spotty visibility.

The Infiniti EX35 scores well in crash tests and provides plenty of standard safety gear.

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, according to Cars.com.

Edmunds feels the EX35 offers "more safety technology than any other compact SUV." Along with its standard features, the 2010 EX35 also has a host of safety-related options that up the ante in a safety-conscious class. There's 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.

Infiniti also offers Around View Monitoring, which uses cameras around the vehicle to generate a 360-degree view of obstacles when in reverse gear. The Around View Monitor actually allows the driver to see the vehicle from above, using "four different cameras to provide an overhead image of the vehicle," according to Edmunds. It's a useful option, since the EX35's dramatic rear-end styling limits visibility to the rear corners.

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2010 INFINITI EX35

Features

The 2010 Infiniti EX35 puts premium technology and rich finishes in every vehicle.

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. The list is full of "foremost luxury" and "clever technologies," Motor Trend reports.

According to Cars.com, "Scratch Shield clearcoat paint...can heal itself of light scratches over the course of a week." However, the reviewer is hesitant to actually test it out.

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.

For top-tier luxury, Edmunds reports, "The Luxe Elite Package is a worthwhile addition that provides higher-quality leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels and adaptive bi-xenon headlights." They note a Luxe Style package drops the upgraded leather.

Cars.com also is awed by the EX35's power-folding rear seat. "We've seen power folding before," they explain, "but it's plenty unique to find it designed to both raise and lower the seats ... in the second row ... in a vehicle of this size."

ConsumerGuide reports that other options include a navigation system, a rearview camera, and a 9.3GB hard drive on which MP3 files can be stored (as well as any other types of digital files, it is assumed, and accessed by means of a USB connection). TheCarConnection.com's editors count the EX's audio interface among the simplest and easiest to use in all vehicles.

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