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The 2013 Infiniti EX37 may, from a distance, look a bit like a number of other luxury compact crossover vehicles--or an exceptionally well-proportioned one, perhaps--but up close it's different in many meaningful ways. Rather than the likes of the Lexus RX 350, the Cadillac SRX, or the Acura RDX, which are all built on a front-wheel drive platform, the EX is essentially a tall wagon, built on some of the underpinnings of the G37 sport sedan.
What results is a vehicle that confounds the expectations of blandness and perhaps disappoints those who expect a lot of practicality. The Infiniti EX simply doesn't deliver quite enough rear-seat or cargo room for most shoppers, but it overdelivers on responsiveness, driving dynamics, and decidedly non-crossover looks, while offering an intimate cabin look and feel that feels anything but mass-market.
On approach, the EX35's rakish roofline and pert proportions hardly look like those of a crossover. The coupe-like profile and organic sheetmetal together make the EX one of the best-looking tall wagons yet, and beautiful from some angles. Inside, the EX is austere and well-finished, with a cockpit-style layout that wraps around the driver. A wide center stack a big LCD screen and secondary controls. Soft, warm color themes extend not just to the seats and a few token trim areas, but throughout the dash and doors; meanwhile, instruments look elegant and refined and are bathed in soft-white lighting, and leather and real wood inlays complete this very upscale look.
The EX was never short on power, yet for 2013, it gets a new engine that makes it noticeably quicker than before. The company's ubiquitous 3.7-liter V-6 here makes 325 horsepower and 267 pound-feet--both healthy upgrades over last year's numbers; it's fitted to a seven-speed automatic that adapts to driving style, making itself invisible in gentle driving but clicking off quick shifts (even downshifts, with rev-matching) whenever you need it. The engine and transmission work well together, with an eagerness that's uncommon in this kind of vehicle, although as we've noticed from other product from Nissan and Infiniti, the 3.7-liter engine is less refined than its 3.5-liter predecessor--emitting coarse sounds and some noticeable vibration when singing into higher revs.
Handling isn't quite as crisp as with Infiniti's G37 sedan or as fluid as the step-larger FX37, but it's dynamically very deft for a tall wagon. Steering feel is very communicative and precise, and the independent suspension hits the ideal balance of smoothness and athleticism. Opt for the all-wheel drive system and you lose a little of the nimble feel, instead earning some all-weather tractability--although churning through snow or mud isn't really the point of the EX. It's not nearly as fuel-efficient as some models in this class, either, although upsizing the engine hasn't adversely affected fuel economy. Highway ratings go up 1 mpg, to 17/25 mpg with front-wheel drive or 17/24 with AWD.
The Infiniti EX35 carries you and a passenger with verve, and its front seats are snug and well-bolstered, but you're not likely to be as happy if you plan to carry others and their luggage--or much cargo of your own, due to the rather high cargo floor and sloping rear window. The cabin feels tight overall, and the back seat is one of the tightest we've experiences in this kind of vehicle; there's not just a severe lack of legroom, but of headroom, too. But upholsteries, trim, and finishes are excellent.
The EX35 was a high achiever for safety, and so is the case for the EX37; the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has renewed its top results in all categories, making it a Top Safety Pick, although it hasn't been tested in the new small overlap frontal test. It also hasn't been tested by the federal government. But there's plenty else to impress, including an extensive suite of active-safety features that are still somewhat unusual in this class. Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Intelligent Brake Assist, Blind Spot Warning are all included in a Technology Package, while 360-degree Around View Monitoring system is part of the Premium Package--and, we think, necessary because rearward visibility is so limited.
The 2013 Infiniti EX37 is offered in EX37 and EX37 Journey models (both in rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive guise), with Journey models getting somewhat of a makeover inside thanks to some added leather accents and maple interior inlays. All EX models now get 18-inch wheels, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, cruise control, push-button start, and USB connectivity. Go for the Journey and you get Bluetooth, a power-adjustable steering column, a moonroof, a sliding sunshade, and a universal garage-door opener. Get the Premium Package and you step up to Bose premium audio, navigation with real-time traffic, voice recognition, a power-folding rear seat, and aluminum roof rails.
- Coupe-like profile
- Driving dynamics
- Snug, supportive front seats
- Excellent interior quality
- Tight back seats
- Smallish cargo space
- Rearview cameras are required, thanks to poor visibility