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The 2013 Infiniti JX marks the first time the Japanese brand has sold a seven-seat luxury crossover not based on a full-size truck. As such, the JX sits solidly in a larger market segment than the performance-oriented FX series or the large, V-8-powered QX56. The 2013 JX competes directly with the Acura MDX, which has pretty much owned the luxury seven-seat market for several years.
The company expects the JX to be one of its top-selling vehicles, saying its customers are seeking a more luxurious family transport that still lets them express individuality. In designing its newest crossover, Infiniti says it focused on three areas: a spacious, flexible, luxurious interior; confident handling and excellent safety; and better fuel economy than its competitors. The JX is definitely stylish outside and spacious inside, with handsome lines that downplay its size.
Performance is adequate if not all that sporting. The 3.5-liter V-6 engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission, which improves fuel economy (and can be made to mimic a conventional six-speed automatic in Sport mode) but divorces engine speed from responsive acceleration. There's nothing objectionable about the JX on the road, and it proved a relaxing distance car during a 100-mile road test, but it's nowhere near as compelling as the company's sport sedans.
It's the second and third row that makes or breaks the purchase decisions for seven-seat vehicles, though, and here the JX excels. The adaptable rear seat folds, tilts, and collapses in several combinations, giving good access to the third row even if there's a child safety seat latched into it--which no other three-row vehicle can claim, Infiniti says. The first and second rows are comfortable for real-world adults, though the third row (no matter how easy it is to reach) is better used for children than more adults.
The Infiniti JX comes with a full suite of safety systems, and a new Rear Collision Intervention system that watches for approaching objects from the sides and rear when the vehicle is in reverse. It can detect objects in the vehicle's path up to about 5 mph, and will identify cross-traffic approaching from the rear at up to 15 mph. The company expects it to be a defining feature, and a very popular feature with young families--and has made it available as a stand-alone option across most trim levels. The NHTSA rates it at four stars overall, while the IIHS hasn't yet crash-tested one.
Beyond the $40,000 base JX, there are five trim levels and option packages that can take the car over the $50,000 level. As always, the mid-range Premium level is likely to be the most popular configuration.
Infiniti says the JX offers best-in-class fuel economy, which is true if you don't include hybrid crossovers--which either don't have a third row or aren't from luxury brands. We saw a real-world 20 mpg in a 100-mile test drive, which is respectable for a vehicle this large.