2010 INFINITI EX35 Review

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The Car Connection
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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 provide you with the most comprehensive article possible on 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.

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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.

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 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 offers numerous safety-related features that may warrant attention: Lane Departure Warning and 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.

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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.

Providing the EX its heartbeat is a 3.5-liter VQ-series V-6 thumping out 297 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. It's a responsive powerplant that should make highway passing maneuvers a breeze, Edmunds says, and its five-speed automatic can match revs on downshifts. Motor Trend feels the refined duo is robust enough to reach 60 mph from a standing stop in under 7 seconds without breaking too much of a sweat. It's a bit slower with the all-wheel-drive option, which also offers a "snow mode." ConsumerGuide reports the all-wheel-drive system splits power 50/50 fore and aft when in that mode.

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 premium gas is recommended to achieve the EX's stated fuel economy and performance metrics, but there won't be a problem if you choose to save a few pennies and fill it with regular. Overall, fuel economy for the EX is on par with other compact luxury SUVs, yet slightly below that of the average sport wagon.

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 says its a looker with the chops to back it up. AutoWeek reports the 2010 EX35 is stable and self-assured as it carves corners and cloverleaves, with Edmunds stating it's blend of ride and handling is head-and-shoulders above its peers. 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 some key interior metrics (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. Cars.com thinks the EX's tight second row is its greatest shortcoming, calling it unnecessary. A gulf exists between the EX and the Acura RDX when it comes to rear legroom, Motor Trend points out. You get 37.7 inches of room in the Acura to stretch your legs in the rear, but the EX offers a paltry 28.5 inches.

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. Motor Trend states the EX's meager 16.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats is only 3.3 cubic feet more than its sedan sibling, the previous-generation G35. Car and Driver hilariously calls the EX's packaging "sport-uselessity."

But for its lack of space, the Infiniti EX35 makes up for it with a well-assembled cabin. Superbly comfortable seats hug drivers and passengers alike. Infiniti also makes use of just enough aluminum trim in the interior to make it feel upscale without being gauche. If you'd rather your interior look a bit more natural, the EX35 is available with optional maple wood trim, reports Edmunds, but its interior materials are starting to look a bit cheap compared to others in the segment.

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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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