Review: The Infiniti JX35 Crossover
By Kathy Chin Leong

PrdreviewJan13.jpgThrough fog, through rain, through rocky steep roads, our mini vacation could have been turned into a nightmare, but driving the Nissan Infiniti JX35, we were confidently jubilant about the car's ability to handle various road conditions on our trip to Calaveras County and Yosemite. From the Bay Area, our two-and-a-half hour trek started off on a sunny afternoon, but the weather turned increasingly ominous as we drove to our first stop in historic Copperopolis where we stayed at the Saddle Creek Resort and Golf Club. The darkening skies did not detract us from unmining Gold Country's hidden gems with unrelenting zeal.

With an almost over-the-top emphasis on safety, savvy design, and total comfort, the $55,000 Infiniti JX35 is a vacationer's dream machine. While it is a gas guzzler at 23 miles per gallon on the highway and 21 in the city, this road warrior boasts a tank at least 20 gallons so you don't have to fill up for a long time and go almost 400 miles on one tank.

While it was pitch black when we arrived at night, unpacking the car was simple. The car features a remote hatchback opening via the car remote and also has an internal button near the dashboard to lift it as well. Our nice clothes were hung carefully on the side handles in the back seat, and there was plenty of cargo room for our bags filled with snow clothes, snow boots, and a small cooler with generous space to spare. The vehicle has up to three rows, with the third row seats that fold down. The car can hold a total of seven passengers.

Folks in the back row can have a party as they can watch movies on the personal headrest facing them. Two DVD players means that each kid can indulge in his own flick for two hours. On this trip, however, we didn't bring the children, and made this our own parents' getaway.

The next day, pouring rain woke us up on the morning, and the car acted like a trusted companion. The daylight sensing headlights switched on automatically as did the rain-sensing windshield wipers. Making sure we were on the path to safety, the car issued a gentle beep whenever it figured out we were drifting a little too much to the left or to the right. During our ride, small lights blinked on by the side-view mirrors, whenever other cars would pull up closely to the left or right of us. Hence, this warning let us know to stay in our lane.

Another safety feature was the parking assist. When we were parking, several cameras activated to show what is around the perimeter to make sure we didn't hit anything or anyone. On the video console, drivers get a camera view of the back, and then an arial view so to see what is all around.

As the outside temperatures hit in the low 40s Fahrenheit, I leaned over to turn on my personal seat warmer, which can be adjusted either to cold or warm at the touch of a dial in the center console.

Personal adjustments and comfort is what this car is all about. The front seats have 3-way controls so you can go forward and back, up and down, and also control the back angle so you can lean back at a decent repose.

Music-wise, the car features a Bose sound system with a multitude of speakers for listeining pleasure along with an optional satellite XM radio. A GPS system acted like many others, but this one featured a dial that, when turned to the right, zooms into the detailed map. When turned left, the map zooms out, giving the driver a wider perspective.

The second half of our journey took us to Yosemite National Park. We felt completely safe as we snuck up steep roads and curved paths that would normally make me uncomfortable. However, the Infiniti has an easy-to-use gear shift - a console dial that reads SNOW, ECO, and SPORT so you can adjust to your environment accordingly. On regular terrain, we kept the dial at the ECO feature that economizes gas mileage. This car is rated at 21 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway.

If its people you want to impress, you'll do it with this model. Sleek in design with a chrome toothy grill in the front, it is distinguished by slight curves on the body and a little swoop up the back, plus two moon roofs if you choose to fully outfit your machine. Indeed, this symbol of prestige draws looks and nods of approval. At one zip-line tourist stop, the manager came out and shook our hands, and said, "I used to own two Infinities; I loved them." Yep, after driving this car through different terrain in the country, on highways, and in the suburbs, I can see why people love this car brand, for it has staying power. Today, with Infiniti's crossover vehicle, the car company now woos an adventure-seeking clientele that values ease of use, well-being, and luxury.

****

DETAILS:
Infiniti JX35
Price: from $42,550 to $55,000
Seats: 7 passengers
Web: www.infinitiusa.com

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