2008 Infiniti EX35
2008 Infiniti EX35. Click image to enlarge
Competitors
2008 Acura RDX
2008 BMW X3
2008 Lexus RX 350

Manufacturer’s web site
Infiniti Canada

Review and photos by Chris Chase

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2008 Infiniti EX35

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Second opinion, by Jil McIntosh

Ottawa, Ontario – It’s a no-brainer to call the crossover segment a competitive one; this category has become so large and so varied as to verge on the ridiculous. As a result, any manufacturer wanting to play in this pool had better put together something that stands out in some fashion.

And the EX35 does stand out. It looks great, has a wonderful interior and combines useful cargo space with a compact exterior and surprising driving dynamics. But it’s the motor that should get top billing here. While this Nissan/Infiniti 3.5-litre V6 is familiar, appearing under the hoods of everything from Altimas to the underappreciated M35 sedan, the engine seems a perfect fit in this sleek crossover.

If the EX35’s nearly 300 horsepower rating seems a bit ordinary, given that you can now buy a Honda Accord with almost that much punch, the numbers become irrelevant on the road. The engine’s 253 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm give away its high-revving nature – horsepower peaks at 6,800 revs – but you wouldn’t know it from the way the car responds to a floored throttle from a stop. Highway passing manoeuvres are a cinch, indicating that there’s more torque available at lower revs than the specs suggest.

2008 Infiniti EX35
2008 Infiniti EX35. Click image to enlarge

Throttle tip-in is gentle and just about perfect, allowing buttery-smooth take-offs. The brakes feel soft at first blush, but their response is nicely linear, making smooth stops easy.

The steering is nicely weighted, and surprisingly communicative for this type of vehicle. Road noise is muted, but the sound that does make it into the cabin tells the driver a lot about the road surface. Combine this with eager turn-in and handling, and the EX feels a lot more tossable than its crossover profile – low-slung though it is – suggests it should be.

However, even though the EX35 is geared toward driving enthusiasts, my tester was fitted with a number of nanny-bots that bring the notion of a self-driven car a little closer to reality.

2008 Infiniti EX35
2008 Infiniti EX35. Click image to enlarge

The $1,700 Technology package includes Infiniti’s Around View Monitor system, which uses four cameras – one each at the front and rear, and one in each outside mirror housing – to keep an eye on what’s around the car. It’s particularly useful when reversing in parking lots.

Those side cameras are also used by the lane departure warning (LDW) and lane departure prevention (LDP) systems; this is where things get interesting. LDW merely beeps at you when the system senses the car is getting too close to one side of a lane. LDP, however, uses the brakes to actively nudge the car back on track when that happens. Thankfully, the warning beeps can be silenced, and the driver has to activate LDP every time the car is started. Not a bad idea, because if you’re not expecting it, the system’s actions can be alarming until you figure out why the car is changing direction on its own.

I won’t say that such systems aren’t useful, particularly given how prevalent poor driving has become, but they have their limitations. The warning system’s beeps are quiet enough to be inaudible over loud music, and the lane departure prevention system doesn’t work on roads with worn or nonexistent lane markings. It also can’t intervene enough to prevent a car from missing a tight curve in the road.

2008 Infiniti EX35
2008 Infiniti EX35. Click image to enlarge

A five-speed transmission in a luxury crossover starting at 40 grand – my tester rang in at close to $52,000 – seems a cog short of perfect when six-speed autos are becoming de rigeur in less-pricey segments, but you won’t miss the missing gear. The ratios are well-matched to the motor: it’s hard to catch the EX flat-footed, in that spot where a one-gear kickdown isn’t enough and two would cause the motor to over-rev.

The transmission’s smoothness is commendable, too – so smooth that you might think Infiniti swiped a continuously variable transmission from Nissan’s parts bin when no one was looking. I’d guess that few drivers make regular use of the manually shiftable automatics offered by many manufacturers, but the EX’s rev-matched downshift feature is a reason to start.

2008 Infiniti EX35
2008 Infiniti EX35
2008 Infiniti EX35. Click image to enlarge

A two-ton curb weight (1,776 kg or 3,915 pounds) plus a powerful V6 usually means one thirsty crossover. Indeed, James Bergeron’s EX35 blog entries prompted comments in the forums about higher-than-expected fuel consumption in the similarly-engined Infiniti G35 sedan. Certainly, Natural Resources Canada’s city rating of 12.9 L/100 km for the EX seems optimistic; these numbers usually are. But James managed an average of 10.7 L/100 km in his highway-heavy daily drive, while my more city-biased routes earned me an average of a little more than 14 L/100 km; still higher than the government estimate, in spite of my generally light foot, but not terrible.

That’s all fine and good, but what about the inside?

It’s mostly good news here too. The EX’s interior is gorgeous; the look of the dash is attractive, though the pinch lines over the glove box meant to emulate leather stitching give away the fact that this is fancy plastic instead of cowhide. Why not use the real stuff for the same effect? Cadillac saw fit to use real stitched leather for the dash in its new CTS.

Luxury means lots of stuff, and with most stuff these days being electronic, that leads to loads of buttons. That said, the buttons are well laid out, and are easy enough to understand after 10 minutes of fiddling (while parked, please).

2008 Infiniti EX35
2008 Infiniti EX35
2008 Infiniti EX35
2008 Infiniti EX35
2008 Infiniti EX35. Click image to enlarge

Most functions can be deciphered without reaching for the owner’s manual. Attentive buyers might notice the handful of interior bits (power window switches, for example) borrowed from parent company Nissan.

The front seats are quite comfortable, and offer good side bolstering too: perfect for taking advantage of the EX’s handling abilities. Headroom is good, but long-legged drivers will be pleased to see how far back the captain’s chair slides.

In the back, legroom is tighter, particularly if you’re stuck behind that tall driver. But space is decent and the rear outboard seats are comfortable. Narrow door openings will make the ins and outs annoying for taller folks riding in coach.

If road noise is minimal, wind noise is near non-existent. That the car is quiet at idle is expected; what’s not is how well the doors and windows seal out external noises. You might see what’s happening outside before you hear it, especially when stopped at a traffic light.

The cargo area isn’t huge thanks to the EX’s sculpted rear, and the liftover height is fairly high. The space is wide, however, and the rear seats fold almost perfectly flat. My tester had the $1,600 “Journey” package that included power folding rear seats. This places seat controls just inside the cargo opening, plus buttons on the centre console to raise the seats electrically. The Journey group also includes a power moonroof, auto-dimming rearview mirror, front and rear parking sonar sensors, and automatic headlights.

The $3,100 premium package throws in an eleven-speaker Bose stereo, dual-zone climate control, hands-free phone system, eight-way power passenger seat (a four-way seat is standard), two-position memory driver’s seat, 18-inch wheels and auto-leveling Xenon headlights.

2008 Infiniti EX35
2008 Infiniti EX35. Click image to enlarge

For $3,250, there was navigation with voice recognition for audio and HVAC control, a 9.3-gigabyte hard drive, a compact flash slot and a rearview monitor for reversing.

Finally, $1,700 added the Technology package, which included the previously mentioned Around View Monitor, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention and Intelligent Cruise Control.

All told, my tester’s options upped the bottom line to $51,800 including freight and A/C tax. As attractive as many of the extras are in terms of convenience and comfort, the EX would be a pretty nice machine even in base form. Here, the engine doesn’t make the crossover; it just makes a good one better.

Pricing: 2008 Infiniti EX35

Base price: $40,400
Options: $9,650 (Journey Package of power moonroof, power-folding second row seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, front and rear sonar systems and automatic headlights, $1,600; Premium Package of 11-speaker stereo, dual-zone automatic climate control, hands-free phone system, eight-way power passenger seat, two-position memory driver’s seat, 18-inch wheels and Xenon auto-levelling headlights, $3,100; Navigation Package of navigation system, voice recognition audio and HVAC controls, 9.3 GB hard drive, compact flash slot and rear view monitor, $3,250; Technology Package of Around View Monitor, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention and Intelligent Cruise Control, $1,700)
A/C tax: $100
Freight: $1,650
Price as tested: $51,800
Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives

Specifications
  • Specifications: 2008 Infiniti EX35

    Related articles on Autos

    First Drives

  • 2008 Infiniti EX35, by Bob McHugh
    Day-by-Day Reviews

  • 2008 Infiniti EX35, by James Bergeron

    Competitors
  • 2008 Acura RDX
  • 2008 BMW X3
  • 2008 Lexus RX 350

    Manufacturer’s web site
  • Infiniti Canada

    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

    Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

    For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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