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

Review and photos by Michael Clark

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2008 Infiniti EX35

I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. Ghosn…

Considering the multitude of cameras, hard drives, and lane departure what-not available on Infiniti’s new EX35, one has to wonder just who is the real behind-the-wheel director of this luxo-ute. (It’s you, so no snoozing.) What’s interesting is how affordable cutting-edge gadgetry has become for the Entry Luxury SUV set, much like flat-screen TV’s and suction cup Navi systems have become for the masses. How else can you explain an all-wheel drive Infiniti EX35, equipped with every possible creature comfort and techno-marvel, for under $51,000? This week’s tester is just that, an EX35 with the Journey, Custom Leather, Navigation, and Technology Packages, all-in for $50,935. (Prices shown do not reflect freight, taxes, or regional incentives.)

The cockpit/The centre stack

This wheel is a dream in leather-wrapped cream. Nissan/Infiniti continues to lead the pack with their steering wheel layout, which includes maximum technological inputs without adding stick-on pods.

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

A full-juice EX means power pleasure for the tilt and telescoping column. The headlamp switch includes an auto setting, while the intermittent wipers automatically increase their sweep time, based on vehicle speed. The dimmer switch controls involve two separate adjustment tabs for the right amount of bright. Since the EX boasts a push-button start, a park position for the Intelligent Key fob is found to the left of the driver, if they so choose to plug in. This real estate parcel also includes the tabs for the Vehicle Dynamic Control system. The parking brake is a floor-mount pedal, with no Snag Factor encountered with the dungarees.

The driver’s door pod provides Auto descent/ascent for the front windows, power toggle for the heated exterior break-away mirrors, and two memory positions for the driver’s seat. The signature Infiniti clock is housed midway up the centre stack, with dual-zone HVAC controls to the South, audio controls at the Equator, and the Navi display and controls to the North. The voice recognition system has a built-in audible tutor, which guides the user through the Infiniti’s list of preferred commands.

Cleverly hidden below the passenger-side HVAC temperature dial is the plug that hides the Compact Flash card slot, which can feed the 9.3-GB Music Box hard drive. This type of tech, coupled with the Navigation package, means that the CD player in this configuration is a single disc job. The five-speed automatic shift can be manu-shifted, but only at the shifter itself, with no steering wheel paddle dazzle. The Around View Monitor provides impressive views for parking assist, as well as a guidance matrix that shifts with the steering inputs. Parking sensors front and rear warn of impending scrapes.

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

Can a cubby have class? The EX35 thinks so, beginning with a locking flock-lined glove-box, overwhelmed by the usual stuffing known as the owner’s manual. A smaller flocker gully takes over for where the front ashtray would have nestled, with an adjacent 12-volt DC powerpoint. Within the leather-topped console lid is another powerpoint, as well as the line-in for an auxiliary audio device. It should be noted that there are provisions within the console for power cords to have safe, kink-free passage out of the compartment. The front cupholder is revealed with a flip-top cover, with a two-level feature that can accommodate every coffee size depth from Tall to Venti.

That two-level system also means that the only cinch mechanism is a dual C-shaped biscuit, with no grab. The rear seat uses a centre flip-down armrest to house its dual cupholder, while seatbacks boast pocket storage. Note the unique coat hanger assembly, which flips up from the rear of the driver’s headrest. Downright Botany 500. Front door pockets are thin, with no provisions for bottle holders, which would have ruined the look of the door panel anyway. Rear doors are without pocketry.

The overhead

It’s a set of wiser visors for the EX35, with sliding panels for sunblock, backlit vanity mirrors, and hidden card holders. The power moonroof is a simple rocker switch slide. Robust roof rails speak of future dealer-installed accessory systems.

Seat treat

Driver and front passenger can perform eight-way power adjustments for these two-step heated seats, with a power lumbar bladder for the driver. The Inside Story Comfort Dummy encountered no issues with driver seat positioning, though the rear seat legroom is in short supply, even with the front seat in the Comfort Dummy’s 5-foot 8-inch sizing position. The Dummy returned unfavorable data on the centre rear seat position, with non-existent backrest padding. This is a common occurrence with so-called five-seat SUV’s in this category.

Cargo embargo

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

The depth of the cargo hold is deceiving from the exterior, with tie-down points for cargo netting and heavier items, plus a retractable/removable cargo cover. The reason we’re bowing down with “We’re Not Worthy” praise is the power folding rear seat system. From the cargo hold, the 60/40 split seats can be flipped forward to an acceptable flatness, as well as returned to their upright position, with no binding of seatbelts. Directly aft of the shifter are power switches that return a flattened seat to a passenger-savvy position. There is no doubt as to a positive lock when returned to upright, and the seats will stop their travel, and sound an audible alarm if something gets in the way.

Spare care

A handy tether keeps the cargo floor aloft for access to tools and the temporary spare tire. Note the removable Bose subwoofer in the well of the spare. Infiniti will change it for you, (the tire, not the subwoofer) during the first 48 months of ownership, with no mileage restriction stated.

The mill

The 297-horsepower 3.5-litre V6 mill should allow reasonable service access for the long haul, thanks to a longitudinal mount. Fluid access and fill points returned no complaints. The battery and brake master cylinder are hidden by two EZ-Off removable panels.

The Verdict

Maybe it’s the maple trim talking, but this was one presser that was definitely hard to let go of (and maybe because I was being watched?) There is definitely a fine line between gadgetry and design execution, a line that has become blurred with the attitudes of some manufacturers adhering to a philosophy of Buttonmania. The EX is the standard by which technology and design should be both married and judged, in the entry-level luxury sport utility segment. Five glorious stars.

Next week: Dodge Journey R/T

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