First Drive: 2013 Infiniti JX reviews luxury cars infiniti first drives
2013 Infiniti JX. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Grant Yoxon

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2013 Infiniti JX

Charleston, SC – Kiawah Island, south of Charleston, looks like a really nice place to live. Large, comfortable homes sit mostly hidden amongst the island’s lush foliage surrounded by wildlife — including alligators — and five of South Carolina’s best golf courses, including the spectacular Ocean Course, which will host the 2012 PGA Championship in August.

With ten holes alongside the Atlantic and another eight running parallel, the Ocean Course has more seaside holes than any other golf course in the northern hemisphere and offers golfers stunning ocean views from anywhere on the course. Remarkably, the course is not reserved for the privileged residents of Kiawah Island. It is a public course, meaning even I could play there — for $360 and a reservation made three months in advance.

As I drove along the quiet roads of Kiawah Island in Infiniti’s new seven-passenger mid-size crossover, the JX, I couldn’t help but think this would be a nice place to live, if you could afford it, and a nice place to raise a family, although I would want to keep an eye on the kids with those alligators around.

First Drive: 2013 Infiniti JX reviews luxury cars infiniti first drives
First Drive: 2013 Infiniti JX reviews luxury cars infiniti first drives
2013 Infiniti JX. Click image to enlarge

Separated from the mainland by a short causeway, Kiawah Island is definitely a two-car-family community. And the people who live here are exactly the people that the 2013 Infiniti JX has been designed and built for.

At a press conference earlier in the day, Infiniti Canada’s Senior Manager for Product Planning, Tim Franklin, noted that the typical JX buyer would own a luxury sedan as well as a family hauler like the JX. The principal driver would likely be a woman. Potential buyers would likely cross shop other luxury-brand seven-seaters like the Audi Q7, Lincoln MKT, or Acura MDX, although they might also be tempted to buy down market to get the space they need.

Infiniti knows this market well and has designed a vehicle that meets the needs of the target buyer with stylish design, class-leading interior space, luxurious appointments, a quiet ride, confident handling, and family-friendly features and technology.

The exterior design draws from the Infiniti Essence concept that debuted at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show. Most noticeable is the curvy “D” pillar design and Infiniti’s signature “double arch” grille. Add to this a “wave” hood, bulging front fenders, a curved belt line and other twists and turns and the overall look seems a bit busy to me.

The JX’s interior space can’t be beat without moving up to a much larger full-size SUV like the Infiniti QX56. But I expect most families could make do with the three rows of seats and nearly 450 L of luggage space behind the third row. This row is comfortable and relatively easy to access even for two adults thanks to a second row that can slide forward 14 cm (5.5 in.). If the third row isn’t needed, cargo space grows to as much as 1,339 L (47 cu. ft.). There is also a deep bin under the cargo area floor, eight cup holders, and six bottle holders.

First Drive: 2013 Infiniti JX reviews luxury cars infiniti first drives
First Drive: 2013 Infiniti JX reviews luxury cars infiniti first drives
First Drive: 2013 Infiniti JX reviews luxury cars infiniti first drives
2013 Infiniti JX. Click image to enlarge

Third-row access is a one-touch operation that slides the second-row seat forward against the front-row seat. Even with a child seat installed in the outboard position of the 60/40 split-folding second row, one can still access the rear seat, something that JX competitors cannot claim.

Practical it may be, but the JX’s interior is also sumptuous and refined with large, comfortable front seats, soft leather throughout, and gauges and controls oriented to the driver.

The JX instrument panel is highlighted by a new Infiniti Intelligent-View display in the centre gauge cluster, along with large, easy-to-read Fine Vision electroluminescent gauges, and standard seven-inch colour vehicle information display.

Leather-appointed seating is standard, along with heated front seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, heated steering wheel, and six-way power front passenger’s seat.

With a starting price of $44,900, the Infiniti JX may have a much broader appeal than Infiniti expects. Standard equipment in the base model also includes such amenities as power sliding moonroof, leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel with illuminated audio and cruise controls and power tilt and telescopic adjustment, six-speaker audio system with AM/FM/CD, MP3 playback capability, USB and auxiliary inputs and satellite radio, tri-zone automatic climate control, power windows with one touch up and down for all windows, smart key with keyless access and pushbutton start, and Bluetooth hands-free phone system.

It is a level of luxury one might expect the well-to-do residents of Kiawah Island would want, but one does not have to live on Kiawah Island to afford one.

Naturally, you can bump up the price quite a bit with option packages. Infiniti expects the majority of buyers will outfit their JX with the Premium Package, priced at $5,000. This package adds a navigation system, Bose 13-speaker premium audio system, dual memory (for the driver’s seat, steering wheel position, and outside mirrors), auto-dimming rear-view mirror with Homelink, Infiniti Connection Plus Services, and “Around View” monitor (AVM) with moving object detection.

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