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2011 Infiniti EX35: A G Wagon in Crossover clothing

Jeff Glucker October 14, 2011 Infiniti Reviews, Reviews, Road Test Reviews 19 Comments
2011 Infiniti EX35
The name Abraham Maslow mean anything to you? That’s a cognomen that isn’t readily tossed around these days, but to put it in a way that our reality TV-addled minds can comprehend, we’ll just say that he was the Dr. Drew of his time. From the 1930s up through the 1960s, Maslow took a look at human nature and developed the field of humanistic psychology, which examines the how and why of men and women working to reach their full potential in life.

Early in his career, good old Abe created a psychological theory known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Laid out in the shape of a pyramid, Maslow’s theory states that our physiological needs form the foundation of our life and the capstone is formed by a level of self-actualization.

Maslow laid out the basis of human needs in a way that most people could understand, and even visualize.

We understand how needs work, but quite often we confuse them with wants. For example, we want more wagons in this country, but automakers need to build crossovers because that’s what America is buying. This is part of the reason why we’ll never see an Infiniti G37 wagon, as awesome a vehicle as that might be. Still, Infiniti hasn’t left us completely high and dry on the longroof front. The 2011 Infiniti EX35 certainly plays the crossover part from a looks standpoint, but it just might have a bit more going on underneath.

Is there enough of an enjoyable driving experience found under the skin of this soft-roading CUV to satisfy our wants? Does the 2011 EX35 offer enough interior space to satiate our needs? Keep reading to find out…

On the outside, most crossovers look like they’re the resulting accident of an unholy union between a car and a sport utility vehicle. Underneath their outfits, that’s typically what they are. Thankfully, we don’t have to stare at them with their clothes off. There are a few exceptions, however, which manage to actually look good while still wearing the crossover label. The 2011 EX35 is just such an automobile, which bears Infiniti family lines while carving out a space of its own.

2011 Infiniti EX35

If the roofline and beltine were dropped a few inches, you would be staring at a G35 wagon. That’s not the case, so you get the EX35 instead. Still, we’d be more inclined to call this a stylishly fat wagon ratther than a full-blown crossover. The arch across the roof connects the G-like nose with the FX-esque rear hatch, and it manages to squeeze in a subtly aggressive kink where the glass meets the D pillar. Opposite the roof sits the quartet of 19-inch split-spoke aluminum alloy wheels shod in 245/45R19 rubber that helps lend an air of sportiness to the exterior visual package.

The outside of the EX35 manages to come across as downright athletic despite the best efforts of my tester’s Arctic Blue paintwork.

2011 Infiniti EX35

The Papa Smurf-approved skin actually blends rather nicely with the Wheat interior. It’s a cabin space familiar to fans of the Infiniti brand. The center stack, accented with Maple wood, asserts its dominant position in the interior space thanks to the always-present analog clock and the seven-inch touch screen display. That VGA unit comes standard, but thanks to the $2,450 Premium Package, it also gets to work a bit harder. Through it, the 11-speaker Bose audio system is given direction while I’m given direction to nearby restaurants by way of the hard-drive-based navigation system. I can weed out the eatery choices thanks to the Zagat Survey guide, which is easily called up on to the screen.

My now heftier girth is comfortably supported by the eight-way power adjustable leather driver’s seat. The front thrones are heated, not by the noisy remains of my dinner, but by a switch near the gear lever. That dinner may invoke a bit of drowsiness, but my EX35 is equipped with the $2,700 Technology Package that includes blind spot and lane departure warning as well as lane departure prevention. Add in the forward collision warning, and the EX35 provides an alert environment even if your dinner is working against your brain.

2011 Infiniti EX35

This machine makes it easy to shake off the cobwebs of a good meal though.

Like the rest of the Infiniti family, the EX35 has plenty of shove under the hood. The last vestiges of the 3.5-liter V6 lie with the EX35, and the engine is good for 297 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 253 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. As with all sporty products from Nissan and Infiniti, the EX35 has a metallic howl, which is a love-it-or-hate-it exhaust note that leaves most enthusiasts split. Still, it’s not boring, and the exhaust note is preferred over the engine noise at higher rpms.

Per the automaker, that buzzy energy will push the crossover from 0-60 miles per hour in six seconds. My finely tuned butt-o-meter doesn’t sense any factory fibbing, and I’d expect to leave the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK in the dust. Near class-leading horsepower and a 3,795 pound curb weight will tend to do that.

Of course, this segment and its aforementioned players don’t come cheap. The 2011 EX35 price saga begins at $35,600, with our tester running up the options list to ring in at $45,205. The Acura RDX starts at $34,895, while the Q5 will stretch your wallet with its standard quattro all-wheel-drive and $42,500 starting price. Mercedes-Benz lures you in with a $35,500 MSRP on the GLK, and the all-wheel-drive 300-horsepower BMW punches in at $41,050. Infiniti has priced the EX35 comfortably towards the middle of the pack, and the options are packaged to keep your final tally in check. The other Asian crossover does this as well, but the German options are full of… options. Expensive ones at that.

2011 Infiniti EX35

Despite the middle of the pack cost and near class-leading power output, the Infiniti EX35 manages to eek out an EPA-estimated 24 miles per gallon on the highway, and 17 miles per gallon around town. By comparison, the GLK is rated 16/23, the Q5 returns 18/23, the RDX is good for 17/22 and the X3 nets 19/26 thanks to its eight-speed gearbox. The EPA testers must have feet made of feathers, however, because my lead-footed escapades netted 15 miles per gallon in mixed driving.

The VQ35HR mill is paired with a seven-speed automatic gearbox, which brings the EX up to par with the rest of the family. The unit has been honed in the G coupe and sedan, which means it has to toe the line between sporty and smooth. Time spent with the G duo has paid off because shifts are smooth, but the manual shift control means they can also happen quickly. Falling in line with the rest of the family means the seven-cog can send power to the rear wheels. All-wheel-drive is optional, but my fat wagon trends more towards a fun wagon with its right-wheel-drive setup.

My hands move to a comfortable spot on the wheel, which is easy to find because of the three-spoke layout. Once locked in, the EX35 responds rather amusingly to point-and-shoot driving. I expected a slight lull in the steering response and a healthy dose of body roll, but what I was given is direct and flat. I look, I turn and this Infiniti responds in kind. This is still a luxury machine, which means bumps are comfortably soaked up. Still, the suspension and steering are tuned to err on the side of sporty, and that’s just what I’m looking for in a segment often filled with machines that can’t make up their minds as to what side of the luxury-sport fence they fall.

2011 Infiniti EX35

Some in this segment muddy the water too much to get me excited to jump in the control seat. The GLK isn’t sporty enough while the RDX could stand to up the lux level a tad. That’s not the case with the 2011 Infiniti EX35. The automaker likes to give out the sporty driving experience we want, while also retaining a level of luxury we <strike>need</strike>… also want. It’s not all twisty roads turning miles of smiles, however. Sure, life is wonderful in the front two seats but the rear three slots should only play host to large children you dislike or adults you believe need some discomfort in their life. Back seat legroom is laughably short, with clearance of just 28.5 inches. The next shortest rear seating area is found in the GLK, which clocks in at a much more comfortable 35.1 inches.

Do we need our rear seat passengers to be comfortable, or do we want to sacrifice their happiness for a bit more of our own? Infiniti has built a car that has us examining our own wants and needs. We may want Infiniti to give us the G37 wagon of our dreams, but that isn’t going to happen. Instead, the automaker has supplied a vehicle that is needed in the luxury crossover segment. It’s sporty, fun to drive, loaded with features and manages to look good… even in baby blue.

  • jarque

    I'd probably be ecstatic if my wife upgraded to one of these but I definitely wouldn't want one for myself. Too big, too tall, too heavy, too slushy tranny.

  • Most, if not all, crossovers leave me feeling cold.

    At the price point of these things, I could get a CTS Sport Wagon with AWD starting at $41k, then option it up.

  • Nah.

    I've got the grumps this evening after being stuck in London traffic all afternoon, and it's given me a downer on crossovers and SUVs. None of those I saw today seemed to be being driven by anybody with any degree of consideration for other living beings, and all were bought for either just image, or that feeling of urban indestructability that they instill in a driver.

    If it's genuinely that sensation you're looking for, you don't need one of those; no. You need a twenty-five year old Volvo 240 Estate.

    • FuzzyPlushroom

      Tell you what, I've never been worried about street-parking a 240. The bumpers allow a fellow driver to empty a grand from their wallet without you noticing, and the car's both invisible to thieves and impossible to break into without shattering a window. Along with the tight turning radius, they make a great city car.

      • Aye, my unchallenged urban-guerilla assault craft of choice.

  • smokyburnout

    They don't pretend it's not a G in Japan.
    <img src="http://www.autoguide.com/gallery/d/64963-4/nissan_skyline_crossover_370gt_500.jpg&quot; width="600"/>
    IMG from AutoGuide

  • joshuman

    When you say G wagon, I think Mercedes. I'd rather have one of those…

  • pj134

    Jeffy, can you delete all the pictures please? I would like to read your review, it seems informative, but actually having to look at the car is giving me a migraine.

  • B72

    Did you just say "Wheat" interior? It's beige.

    Beige. Say it .SAY IT!

    Nice writeup otherwise. Sounds like a nice car, er, SUV, or whatever.

    • haha… i go by what is written on the monroney.

  • Devin

    This is one of the few crossovers that doesn't leave me cold. It's not too tall, and it looks like it might be fun. I'd prefer a wagon, but until the crossover trend dies it'll do. If I become ridiculously wealthy I'll take it for a daily driver, as I surround it with more interesting things.

  • James

    Hater that I am… I LOVE it.

    Cleaner lines than the G sedan IMO.

    Doesn't look like a crossover to me, looks like a station wagon that's ready to go anywhere. But it sounds like it's still got some moves on the pavement.

    Yeah, it would be nice if it had a stick, but I doubt I'd ever be wringing it out to 9/10, so I can live with the slushbox.

    Now for my gripe, and it's not about the car or this particular review…

    When car companies come out with new wagons/hatchbacks the press packet should have a picture of the cargo area with the seats folded all the way down. Because when I look at a vehicle like this, one of the biggest selling points will be how much more stuff I can cram in it than the sedan version.

    I feel like they don't show it because they're hiding the fact that it's only marginally bigger than the sedan with the seat folded, or because they didn't engineer the seat to fold all the way flat limiting it's real utility.

    I've had a Honda Fit in my life for 5 years now. There's no reason that a $45k SUV can't have seats/cargo flexibility as good as a 5 year old $18k subcompact. I feel like the further up the market you climb, the less thought the engineers put into things like cargo capacity.

    I guess people with $50k to blow on a car don't ever bring rusty, leaking mopeds home in the back of them…

    • EscortsForever

      I would agree with your gripe. My current position in retail (and being a strong…ish young guy) means I load a lot of our big items into cars (Preferably trucks, but everyone seems to buy stuff when they bring the compact into town). Just recently, I had to load something into the back of a Dodge Magnum and was amazed at how little room there was in the back. It felt more like a hatchback than a wagon. I have a feeling the CTS wagon is the same way (fat chance I'll deal with one of those in my current home of Farmerville, USA)

  • Winner of my personal So Close but So Far award.

    Put that, a 370Z and G37 on a rack, and you'll see how many parts would be bolt-on swaps. Hell, the FX56 is even on a mostly-same platform.

    Rev-match 6MT and 350hp 3.7, coupled with a proper suspension…would be so much want…

    Although, to be a little rational, that truncated 5-door body isn't much more useful than a properly trunked sedan. I have a similar beef with the de-wagoned WRX 5-door. If you're going to go big, why not actuall get the utility of a long-roofed squarebacked wagon?

    • Hell, just take it to Stillen and look on in hilarity as many cars on the road disappear in your rear view.

  • dragon951

    They should have used an unbleached wheat flour; I already get enough reflective sunburn.

  • craymor

    I actually saw one of these today and was left wondering what it was. it was about as tall as my mazdaspeed 3, it didn't look all that much better inside (but the mazda could use some help there) and when I let it go ahead of me, I was amazed, a 3.5L. but for $35k and with nothing but a slushbox, no thanks

  • I would say boo to all crossovers but the Nissan Juke is garnering my interests of late.

    Compared to the FX this little guy looks safe designwise. I really liked the outerspace design of the older FXs and the new ones are starting to grow on me. This little guy reminds me of the Lexus RX..its smallish and kinda functional but what is the point?

  • YSL

    Infinity ex 35 is awesome car!!!I I drive it myself and very happy! and those who doesn't like it simply jealous cause they can't afford this luxury car!!!!