4th Place: 2013 Infiniti EX37, by Lesley Wimbush

2013 Infiniti EX37
2013 Infiniti EX37
2013 Infiniti EX37. Click image to enlarge

Here we have another odd little vehicle that’s difficult to categorize. Is it a wagon? SUV? A tall hatchback that handles like a RWD sports sedan? Okay then, crossover it is.

In contrast to the rest of our comparison entries, the EX37 is composed of voluptuous curves, where the others are straight lines, simple rounded boxes, and sharp angles.  The roofline is generously curved, but ends sharply in a truncated rump. It makes a strong design statement; whether it’s a good one is entirely subjective.

The interior is busy, but obviously very finely crafted. Leather surfaces look, feel and smell sumptuous.  Seats ranked the highest overall, with bolstering right where you need it.  The centre stack is a showpiece trimmed in real wood – beautifully finished with none of that cheesy faux-wood gloss. Highest ranked in ergonomic friendliness, the EX37’s instrumentation features a tiny analog clock that’s an exquisite timepiece.

The sound system flat-out rocked – it was easily the best of the bunch with deep bass that resonated without buzzing, and crystalline high notes.

Drivers will embrace the stitched leather steering wheel that’s notched and grippy and just feels great in the hands. It’s connected to speed-sensitive steering that has decent feedback, and while light enough for parking lot maneuovers, is nicely weighted at highway speeds.

Performance, too, was tops. The EX37 is powered by a wonderfully smooth 3.7L V6 producing 325 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. It responds instantly to the throttle, lively yet refined and quiet. It’s mated to a seven-speed transmission boasting crisp downshifts and never seems to be in the wrong gear.

The EX37 shares most of its underpinnings with the G37 sedan, which explains why this curvy crossover drives like a sports sedan. Double front wishbones and a multi-link rear setup keep the EX37 flat and composed where others in the segment showed some body roll – yet the ride isn’t at all punishing.  Its surefooted agility is augmented by a seamless all-wheel-drive system that, while rear-wheel biased, is able to send up to 50 percent of the torque to the front wheels if needed.

So, with all this glowing acknowledgement of the EX37’s attributes, why did we rank it second to last?

In terms of practicality, the fun-to-drive EX37 falls far short in our ranking.

2013 Infiniti EX372013 Infiniti EX372013 Infiniti EX372013 Infiniti EX37
2013 Infiniti EX37. Click image to enlarge

The dramatically swoopy roofline and small rump result in a greatly reduced cargo area, and the lowest of the group.  And for $55,695 ($13,800 in options alone!) it’s almost offensive not to include a power liftgate.

Rear seating can best be described as ‘cramped’; it’s not bad for two people, but there’s not much headroom. Add a third, and the unlucky soul in the middle has to straddle the transmission hump, and have his/her knees jammed up against the back of the centre console.

That lovely powertrain proved the thirstiest of the bunch too, with 13.3 L/100 km average fuel consumption on comparison day compared to the Audi Q5, which, at 11.9, was the lowest.

The EX37 is delightful to drive – and for some people, that’s more than enough. But it probably won’t delight those for flexibility and practicality as well.

Pricing: 2013 Infiniti EX37
Base price: $39,900
Options: Premium Package – $4,150; Journey Package – $3,900; Navigation – $2,950; Technology Package – $2,500; 3-Coat paint – $300
Freight: $1,995
A/C Tax: $100
Price as tested: $55,795

Observed fuel consumption: 12.6 L/100 km

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