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Performance isn't one of them. Acceleration from the 297-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 is strong, and the new seven-speed automatic can adapt well to driving style, puttering unobtrusively during gentle driving but pulling off quick, snappy shifts when accelerating hard. We've found this slightly smaller engine to be smoother and less raucous than the larger 3.7-liter in the Infiniti G sport sedans, while almost as strong. Handling isn't quite as crisp as in the G sedans, but it's dynamically deft for a tall wagon. In either base EX35 guise or as the more luxurious EX35 Journey, the EX comes with a choice of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive—the latter detracting a slight bit from handling but adding some welcome all-weather ability to this wagon.
What didn't change at all for 2011 is the package. From the perspective of styling, that's mostly a good thing—the EX35 remains one of the most handsome crossovers on the market, more like a curvy, somewhat taller sport wagon than an SUV. From the front, it resembles that of the Infiniti G sedans, while its tail looks like a more tucked-down version of the rear styling of the larger FX35 and FX50 performance crossovers. Inside, the look and feel is cockpit-like, yet soft and swoopy, with instruments bathed in soft-white lighting, along with matte-finished wood and pliable leather—plus available brighter maple wood trim. This year, the gauges inside have been given a white theme and more visible LCD display.
That packaging, while it looks great, isn't all that practical. The EX's cabin feels tight, and while materials and trims are top-notch and comfortable and front-seat occupants will feel well coddled, the back seat is one of the tightest of any crossover—both tight in legroom and headroom. Cargo space is also tight, hindered even more than you might expect due to the sloping rear window and a rather high cargo floor.
The safety story is great, however. The 2011 Infiniti EX35 has earned top marks in all respects from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and it's an IIHS Top Safety Pick. In addition, the EX35 comes with a host of safety features that some luxury automakers have skipped in this smaller class. Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, as well as a a Blind Spot Warning system and a 360-degree Around View Monitoring system, are all available—and the latter is very useful given the EX35's limited rear visibility.
For 2011, the EX has received some major equipment revisions, too. Dual-zone climate control, which was formerly offered in the Journey models only, is now standard, there are a few new colors, and option packages have been reconfigured. All EX models get leather upholstery, cruise control, push-button start, and USB connectivity. Journey models step up to Bluetooth, Bose premium audio, DVD navigation with real-time traffic, XM satellite radio, larger wheels, and a power-folding rear seat.