The 2008 Infiniti EX35 is a new crossover SUV slightly smaller than the Infiniti FX and is aimed more at luxury than sportiness. That doesn't mean it's not sporty, but it isn't as sporty as Infiniti's sports sedans or some of BMW's crossovers. The EX35 drives like a sports sedan and has the room of a small SUV, and that's what most people want.
Inside there is room for five, but it's much more comfortable with four. The cabin boasts rich, soft-touch materials and a stylish design. All of the controls are within easy reach.
The EX35 is brimming with new technologies. A hard drive radio has 9.3 gigabytes of storage space for music files, and an available Around View Monitor shows obstacles 360 degrees around the vehicle. Also offered is Infiniti's new Lane Departure Prevention system, which lightly applies the brakes on one side of the vehicle that steers the vehicle back into its lane should it start crossing lane lines.
Room up front is good, but taller drivers will want more head room, especially if the optional sunroof is ordered. The back seat also offers decent room, but things get a bit tight with the front seats all the way back. Both rows are easy to enter and exit, thanks to the EX35's ride height, which is higher than a sedan, but not as high as most SUVs.
The EX35's hatchback design means cargo room is plentiful, though many SUVs offer more space. An industry-first power-folding second row eases the process of loading items in the back. Oddly, from the driver's seat, the second-row seats can't be folded down, but they can be brought back up, handy when pulling up to the curb to pick up passengers.
Under the hood of the EX35 is Nissan's superb 3.5-liter V6. It makes 297 horsepower and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission that has a manual shiftgate but no paddle shifters. Drivers will be pleased by the EX35's ready power. It is fast from a stop and offers no-worries passing response at highway speeds. Fuel economy is only adequate, though. Expect about 20 mpg in a city/highway driving mix.
From behind the wheel, the EX35 drives like a sports sedan with a slightly elevated ride height. Rear- and all-wheel drive are offered, and the AWD system is meant for on-road use. The handling is responsive, if not sports car nimble, and the brakes and steering feel natural and inspire confidence. The EX35 best differentiates itself from Infiniti's own FX with a smoother ride. Even with the available 18-inch wheels, the EX35 smoothes out the bumps without jolting passengers.
With its carlike handling, powerful engine, and useful cargo room, the 2008 Infiniti EX35 is a fine alternative to larger, more cumbersome SUVs. The smooth ride and rich, classy interior add to the appeal. If you want a sporty, comfortable vehicle that drives like a car but has the cargo room of a wagon or SUV, make sure to put the EX35 on your shopping list.
The 2008 Infiniti EX35 is offered in two trim levels, base and Journey, each with rear- or all-wheel drive. Every EX35 is powered by a 297-hp 3.5-liter V6. The lone transmission is a five-speed automatic with a manual shiftgate.
The EX35 ($31,300) and EX35 AWD ($32,700) come standard with cloth upholstery, automatic climate control, eight-way power driver seat, four-way power passenger seat, 60/40 split second-row seat, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, automatic headlights, remote keyless entry and starting, trip computer, six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack, XM Satellite Radio, and P225/60R17 all-season tires on aluminum wheels.
The Journey Package ($3,550) adds leather upholstery, power-folding second-row seats, sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a compass, universal garage door opener, and front and rear park assist.
The Premium Package ($2,150) adds 11-speaker Bose audio system with a six-disc changer and iPod interface; dual-zone automatic climate control; heated front seats and rear HVAC vent; heated outside mirrors with reverse tilt-down feature; Bluetooth hands-free cell phone link; a memory system for the driver's seat, steering wheel and outside mirrors; eight-way power passenger set, two-way power driver seat lumbar adjustment; and power tilt/telescoping steering column. The Luxe Elite Package ($1,650) has upgraded leather accents, driver seat headrest-mounted coat hanger, P225/55R18 tires with aluminum wheels, xenon high-intensity discharge headlights, and the Adaptive Front-lighting System, which points the headlights into a turn when the steering wheel is turned. The Navigation Package ($2,150) adds a hard-drive-based navigation system; voice recognition for the climate control, audio and navigation; XM NavTraffic with real-time traffic information; a 9.3-gigabyte hard drive for music storage with a compact flash drive slot; single in-dash CD player; and a rearview monitor. The Technology Package ($1,950) adds the Around View Monitor, Lane Departure Prevention System with Lane Departure Warning System, and Intelligent Cruise Control. The Luxe Style Package ($1,250) has P225/55R18 tires with aluminum wheels, xenon headlights with the Adaptive Front-lighting System. Stand-alone options include maple Wood Trim on the center console and doors ($450) and aluminum Roof Rails ($200). (All New Car Test Drive prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices that do not include destination charges and may change at any time without notice.)
Safety features that come standard on all models include dual front airbags; torso-protecting, seat-mounted front side airbags; head-protecting curtain side airbags; LATCH child seat anchors; active front head restraints; antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brak-force distribution; traction control; and electronic stability control. Optional safety features include front and rear obstacle detection, the Around View Monitor, and the Lane Departure Warning system with Lane Departure Prevention.