Test Drive: 2013 Infiniti JX car test drives reviews luxury cars infiniti
2013 Infiniti JX. Click image to enlarge
DBDR: 2013 Infiniti JX
First Drive: 2013 Infiniti JX

Manufacturer’s website
Infiniti Canada

Review and photos by Chris Chase

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2013 Infiniti JX

Despite being constantly knee-deep in new cars, I’m occasionally caught off-guard by a new vehicle model. The 2013 Infiniti JX is a good example. I was surprised that a mainstream luxury brand like Infiniti has waited this long to add a car-based crossover with three-row seating to its showrooms.

However, peruse the list of luxury brands that already sell crossovers with three rows of seating, and you realize that perhaps Infiniti isn’t that late to the party after all. Just about every premium carmaker sells something that seats seven (or six, in some cases), but there are relatively few that stick closely to crossover guidelines.

Infiniti might be late to this particular party, and while the JX sticks pretty closely to the three-row crossover guidelines laid by the many that came before it, it does have one trick up its sleeve: a $44,900 MSRP that seems to be the lowest among its premium-branded competitors.

Test Drive: 2013 Infiniti JX car test drives reviews luxury cars infiniti
Test Drive: 2013 Infiniti JX car test drives reviews luxury cars infiniti
Test Drive: 2013 Infiniti JX car test drives reviews luxury cars infiniti
2013 Infiniti JX. Click image to enlarge

Prior to the JX, Infiniti’s only three-row vehicle was the QX, a hulk of a thing built on a truck platform and more a competitor to the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. The JX is aimed at the same buyers as the Acura MDX, Audi Q7 and Benz R-Class.

Infiniti’s marketers are awfully excited about the JX (I’d be worried if they weren’t, I suppose), but there isn’t much here that veers outside the standard crossover formula. The JX is built around parent company Nissan’s D platform, which underpins vehicles like the Murano, Quest, Altima and Maxima. Its dimensions find a middle ground in its size and price range: shorter in wheelbase and overall length than a Q7 or MKT, and longer in both measurements than the MDX.

Don’t look to the JX to be a slalom star; it handles nicely, but Infiniti’s racy styling belies the fact that this is still a large, heavy vehicle that was not intended to do battle with performance-minded crossovers like the Porsche Cayenne or BMW X5 (of which only the X5 has an option of three-row seating, incidentally). In my opinion, the light steering discourages hard charging down twisty roads and around freeway ramps. With that kind of driving in mind, and a need to move seven people, I’d sooner strap myself into an Audi Q7, never mind that it weighs nearly a full half-ton more than the JX.

The JX’s steering is way overboosted and lacks feel and feedback to an extreme strange even for a car not designed for performance. The good news is that it’s accurate enough to make it easy to keep the JX’s roughly 1,950-kg (4,300 lbs) mass between the lane markers at highway speeds without demanding constant steering corrections.

It’s a similar situation with the JX’s brakes. They can be grabby at low speeds, and the pedal is soft; but stand on the binders, and they’re easy to modulate for a smooth stop.

Test Drive: 2013 Infiniti JX car test drives reviews luxury cars infiniti
Test Drive: 2013 Infiniti JX car test drives reviews luxury cars infiniti
2013 Infiniti JX. Click image to enlarge

Infiniti’s “eco pedal” makes its latest appearance here, a driver-selectable feature that uses force feedback to promote economical driving. In its most aggressive setting, the electronic throttle control generates more resistance the farther you push the pedal down, and at the same time, an “eco” indicator flashes at you from the instrument panel. It makes its point quite simply, but a gas pedal that pushes back is a disconcerting sensation when you’re trying to merge into fast-moving freeway traffic.

That gas pedal is connected to Nissan/Infiniti’s well-known 3.5L V6 engine, tuned for 265 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque in the JX. That doesn’t sound like a lot for such a large vehicle, but it moves this car with decent authority, at least when not loaded up. Power is sent to a standard all-wheel drive system through a continuously-variable transmission (CVT), making this the first Infiniti to borrow from parent company Nissan’s established CVT tech toolbox. It works well here; so well, in fact, that it’s easy to forget there’s anything but a conventional automatic at work in the JX. The CVT’s smooth operation is a good fit with this car’s otherwise smooth-running nature.

Front seat comfort is great, but headroom is only good, at least for a vehicle this large. The second row offers plenty of leg- and headroom, but the bottom cushion is low under the thighs and there’s no useful toe-room under the front seats. Second-row riders have to sacrifice some legroom (the seat slides fore and aft about six inches) in order for the third row to be inhabitable by adults. Headroom in the way-back is very tight. Getting back there isn’t too difficult, though, thanks to second row seats that slide forward out of the way.

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