2008 Infiniti EX35 Review and Road Test

Infiniti EX: The extraordinary luxury of sculpted lines and personal refinement

That’s what Infiniti says about its new luxury crossover utility vehicle (CUV). The EX35 was released in December of last year and has been slowly making its way into the mainstream.With US traditional truck/SUV sales declining, the EX35 has been picking up the pace with an offering of style, utilitarianism and sophistication.While the EX35 is a new vehicle, the basics are tried and true as it shares the platform (front-mid (FM) platform) of the venerable Infiniti G35 sedan, among others in the Infiniti and Nissan lineups.

Power to stimulate an enthusiast

As with many of Nissan/Infiniti vehicles, the EX35 is delivered with the award-winning VQ35HR 3.5L V6.The VQ line of Nissan motors has received 14 consecutive “Ward’s 10 Best Engines” awards and can be found in the Infiniti G, M, and FX-series vehicles along with the Nissan 350z, Maxima, Altima, Murano and Quest.The EX itself is rated at 297hp and 253lb-ft of torque to meet the demands of on-ramp acceleration or as the desire to plant the right foot comes over you.Rated performance is 0-60 in 6.2 to 6.5 seconds with ¼-mile times in the mid-upper 14 second range.The transmission offered is a 5-speed automatic with manual shift mode with Downshift Rev-Matching and the EX is available in 2WD or with the ATTESA E-TS intelligent all-wheel drive system.Fuel economy is rated at 17 city/24 highway.

Electronics to inspire the geek in all of us

The EX35 comes standard with Infiniti’s Intelligent Key push-button ignition system, automatic temperature controls, power windows and door locks, electroluminescent gauges, tilt and telescoping steering column, multi-function trip computer, steering wheel-mounted cruise control and audio switches, a 6-speaker Bose audio system with XM and the Infiniti Controller system which consists of a 7-inch display for audio, fuel economy, maintenance, comfort and convenience systems.It’s hard to believe the EX35 can have more options, but it does. First on the Options list is the Premium package which adds Dual Zone temperature controls with rear A/C vents, heated seats and outside mirrors, Bluetooth Hands-Free phone system, seat and steering wheel memory, 8-way power passenger seat, drivers seat lumbar support and an upgraded Bose system with Burr-Brown 24-bit DAC, 11 speaker upgrade with in-dash 6-disc CD changer and Ipod connectivity.

Still not enough? Step up to the Technology package which adds Intelligent Cruise Control, Lane Departure prevention and warning system and an Around View Monitor system which adds front, rear and side cameras which display on the center-dash 7-inch display system.

Still need more toys?How about the Navigation package? The Navigation package adds a hard drive system and upgrades the 7-inch display to have touch-screen capabilities, Voice Recognition for audio and navigation, XM NavTraffic, 9.3GB Music Box hard drive with compact flash slot and a rearview camera which displays on the integrated dash display.

That’s a lot of technology in one vehicle!!

Interior and exterior

The EX has rich leather appointed seating and interior panels along with black lacquer and aluminum trim standard.Designed to house up to 5 adults, the EX has optional power-folding second-row seating.From a storage perspective, the EX has 18.6 cubic feet of cargo volume (rear seats up).Additionally, the base EX includes dual front and rear cup holders and has floor heating for rear-seat passengers.

The EX’s exterior comes standard with a rear chromed integrated spoiler, aluminum hood with gas struts (no hood props here), integrated fog lights, LED tail lights, tinted glass, drivers-side “puddle” entry light, aluminum door-sill plates and dual chromed exhaust finishers.The scratch-shield paint utilized on the EX35 is a new technology in which a scratch-resistant resin is applied to the paint in order to allow it to “self heal”.Dependent on the depth and the outside temperature, scratches may repair themselves within a week’s timeframe.

Additionally, other add-on options for the EX35 upgrades the interior to wood trim, upgrades the wheels to 18” (17” standard), adds Xenon lighting with adaptive lighting, moonroof, roof rack, and allows for upgraded leather refinements to the interior.

Pricing

Pricing for the 2008 Infiniti EX35 starts at $35,450 for the RWD model and $38,650 for the AWD version.A fully loaded EX35 AWD with every option will top out at $46,215.

Road Test

Now that we have over viewed the EX35, it’s time to get down to it. I was able to procure an AWD version of the EX35 in color trim “Tidewater”. This vehicle included the Premium package, Navigation package and included the roof rack upgrade.Based on time constraints, I was unable to perform any track tests so my viewpoint will be from a daily driver’s perspective alone.

My first opinion of the vehicle was that Infiniti mated a G35 sedan with their FX SUV. I’m not saying that is a bad thing but I noticed styling cues from both vehicles and it is this styling which separates it from most of its competitors.Its sleek lines are created via an arching coupe-style roofline, the body is more of a rearward design in that the hood is long and the cabin is more towards the back which is a distinctive turn from the cab-forward design of many vehicles. All in all, it does give the look of an upscale vehicle. Being a CUV, the vehicle is higher than what those coming from a sedan or wagon may be used to but it is not too high to make entering the vehicle difficult at all.The vehicle may be unlocked via the Intelligent Key fob, pressing the chromed button on the door handles while being in possession of the fob or by utilizing the hidden key within the fob itself. I find the Intelligent Key to be a great invention as I never have to take it out of my pocket.

Once entering the vehicle, starting it is as easy as putting a foot on the brake and pressing the start button. If the vehicle is equipped with memory seats, once the door is closed the seat and steering column will automatically adjust to the last setting utilized and owners have the option to set a memory position to an individual fob as well.Upon exiting the vehicle, the seat will automatically move back and the steering wheel will tilt up and telescope out of the way.Very nice! The seats themselves were comfortable leather and with the 8-way adjustments I was able to easily adjust them to suit my requirements.

Now that we are positioned and ready to move, putting the vehicle in reverse shows how useful some of the Navigation options are as the EX will automatically lower the side view mirrors for better visibility and the rear-mounted camera gives you a rearward view and includes marking lines of where you are going and the position the vehicle will be in based upon the positioning of the steering wheel.Very handy and easy to understand. During my time in the EX I had a minor annoyance when utilizing the rearview mirror as the rear passenger headrests block some of the back window due to their size.

During my two days with the EX35, I drove on a mixture of city and suburban streets along with highway travel.Steering was crisp in all aspects. I have driven vehicles where steering was a bit stiff during city driving or too loose during highway driving.The EX handled both exceptionally well.Keeping the vehicle at a legal speed was a bit difficult to me at first as the EX35 sits higher than both of my daily drivers.Cruise Control worked as expected with no issues and I would be curious to try the Intelligent Cruise control and Lane Departure System at some time in the future as the test vehicle was not so equipped.

From a performance perspective, the VQ-powered V6 did splendidly.Plenty of power for passing and aggressive driving if so desired.The 5sp transmission was interesting to play with as well.The transmission has two modes with three forms of operation. In normal driving mode, it acts just like any other automatic. Move the lever to the left and you enter DS, or Drive Sport mode.DS mode wholly changes the temperament of the EX as it immediately drops you to 4th gear and begins to rev-match for better performance.Finally, while in DS mode, you have the option to manually shift by moving/bumping the shifter up to increase your gear or down to lower the gear (and you can go to 5th gear in this configuration if so desired).What I and others have noticed in the past with utilizing manual-mode transmissions in earlier Nissan products (eg: my 2002 VQ35 powered Nissan Maxima) is the tendency of the vehicle to go into “Limp Home” mode. In effect, pressing too many RPMs in manual mode will cause the vehicle to go into a self-preservation mode to avoid engine or drive train damage.“Limp Home” mode, once engaged, limits the engines RPMs to the 2500 range and requires you to shut the car off to reset.The EX does not have this problem.Redline the EX and it will simply stay at the rev-limiter and not allow you to enter an unsafe zone.Very Nice!

The dash layout is very easy to get used to and the gauges are very crisp and clear.The Bose 11-speaker audio system was very pleasant but did have the propensity of being a bit mid-bass heavy at times.The Dual-Zone system works well and the air conditioner actually can run you out of the vehicle, unlike some others I have been in.The Intelligent Controller may take a bit of getting used to but once mastered is relatively easy to contend with on a daily basis.You can select musical sources via the controller panel or the steering wheel itself with XM radio only being accessed via the radio selector on the panel.While I did not load up the Music-Box system with songs, you can have it input songs via a copy from CD (encoded as MP3 to save space on the hard drive).The iPod connector is within the center console compartment and may be accessed via the controller which allows multiple options to select the type of music you wish to hear.

The navigation system has its good and bad points.Being used to a Garmin NAV unit, I have the ability to input addresses at any time whereas with the EX you can only input addresses via the panel while stationary due to safety reasons.You may only select pre-programmed routes or search for destinations like hotels, restaurants and gas stations while in motion. To get past this issue, the Nissan Navigation system does accept voice commands. which works relatively well aslong as you do not have the A/C on full force or are in a noisy environment. Once programmed, the Navigation system will talk you through the route using a variety of map changes/zooms to show turns along with a female voice and electronic “dings” when you are at a turn.As this is a disk-based unit, map upgrades may easily be done via the Infiniti Service center.From a negative aspect, I was unable to fully master the unit in the two days I had the EX nor did I have time to go through the useful owners or quick reference guides for the vehicle. The most annoying problem I had with the navigation system was if I missed a turn (or two or three as tested). With the handheld, it would simply reroute.With the Infiniti system, it would reroute but you had to constantly hear the female voice telling you that the maps for the area were not complete (I was in a town that has had no road changes in 50+ years at the time) and that the yellow routes meant “something” on the map and that you should drive within legal limits (or something of the sort, not specifically what was said but close). After having the same message repeat itself over and over 5 consecutive times I finally just stopped the unit from trying to route my destination.

From a cargo perspective, I was not really impressed.As one of my husbandly duties I made a run to the grocery store for a cart full of items.While I was able to store all the items in back without lowering the rear seats, the standard cargo area seemed a bit small and I was able to stow about as much groceries into the rear as I can with my Maxima sedan.Of course, I could have stacked the groceries on top of each other as there is far more vertical space in the EX but having flat bread and broken eggs does not a happy wife make.

Conclusion

Personally, I think Infiniti has another hit on their hands.The EX simply has gobs of standard features and a ton of add-on technology and features available.The exterior exudes style and masculinity while the interior gives you the comfort of a much higher priced vehicle.Performance is simply superb and above-par when compared to other CUV vehicles on the market. The positive aspects of this vehicle far surpasses the few negative aspects I was able to come up with.Infiniti, job well done!

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