When Infiniti dropped off the EX35 last week, I didn’t really know what to think. The first few times I drove it, I didn’t like it. Something about it was just…off. The transmission didn’t feel right, steering was weird, and it felt too small for its purpose. But after a few days, it hit me. This thing is brilliant!
It does everything right. It’s a perfect vehicle for young couples or small families who need a versatile vehicle that can do anything. It’s easy to drive, has plenty of power, and decent cargo room. Taking a road trip? No problem – the EX35 will carry all your stuff, get you there in a jiffy, and get decent fuel economy on the way. Sunday drive? This thing handles and drives like a sport sedan. It takes the best aspects from both car and SUV, and all but eliminates the drawbacks of each…
The 2009 Infiniti EX35 is pleasant and easy to drive. The steering is very easy at any speed, although the speed-sensitive steering is very noticeable. That’s either good or bad, depending on if you like that or not. Handling is great though – it has very little body roll for its size, and is very nimble through the turns. This is one of the very few small SUVs that you can take on a winding road at high speed and still have fun without worrying about tipping over. Suspension and ride is comfortable, and the 297 hp 3.5-liter V6 is the perfect engine for this vehicle. You always have plenty of power when you need it, and throttle response is very smooth. Fuel economy is average at 16/23 for the AWD model; I averaged 19.7 mpg under aggressive driving.
The EX35’s only transmission is a 5-speed automatic with manual shift mode, downshift rev matching, and Drive Sport mode. It’s a good transmission, but acts a bit like a CVT, which is strange. It holds revs depending on your driving style (that would be the Adaptive Shift Control,) and when it does shift, you don’t feel it. It’s a very refined system that makes the EX35 very smooth and drivable, without any sort of jerkiness or excitement in the shifting.
The interior is top notch, as you’d expect from Infiniti. Our top of the line EX35 AWD Journey model has the $2250 Technology Package, which includes Lane Departure Warning (LDW,) Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC,) and Forward Collision Warning (FCW.) I’m not sold on the Lane Departure System quite yet, as you’ll know if you read my 2009 Infiniti M35 review. The Intelligent Cruise is nice, and the FCW beeps at you if you’re coming up on a car in front of you too fast. I think it applies the brakes as well, but I didn’t test that.
Ours was also equipped with the $2,000 Bose & Navigation Package, which gives you an upgrades 11-speaker sound system, iPod interface, a 9.3 GB hard drive with HD-based navigation, voice recognition, bluetooth, an Around View Monitor (AVM,) and front & rear sonar. The navigation system’s software is good, but has an outdated map and won’t let you use it while moving – a common frustration in built-in nav systems. The iPod interface is nice to have, but does not include a standard auxiliary input for any other type of MP3 player.
The Around View Monitor system is very useful. It puts a camera in front, rear, and on each side of the car, and displays it intelligently on the 7″ LCD display in the dash, giving you a 360-degree view around you. It looks like a birds-eye view of you and your surroundings. I really like this system, and highly recommend it. The sonar beeps at you if you get too close to any other objects. $2,000 is a good deal for upgraded audio, hard drive, navigation, bluetooth, voice recognition, around view monitor, and sonar.
So, the Infiniti EX35 is an all-around fantastic vehicle which perfectly suits the needs of a young couple or small family who has the means to purchase a compact luxury crossover SUV. It makes sense for 90% of the population of my city – Cary, NC (yuppieville,) and even makes sense for me. I could easily recommend most of them buy one, but I wouldn’t get one myself.
Why not? Because it’s so sensible, so…smart. I know that sounds strange, but the EX35 is not made for enthusiasts. It’s a highly versatile small SUV for people who need something that makes their lives easier. There’s no “wow-factor”, but then again there’s not supposed to be. The transmission I talked about earlier – it was strange to me how smooth it was and non-eventful – that’s a good thing for those who will be buying this vehicle. The boosted speed-sensitive steering is great for those people; it makes turning while going 5 mph around a parking lot just as easy as when you’re traveling 70 mph on the highway.
There are only a couple things that the practical side of me didn’t like about the 2009 EX35. First, the brake and accelerator pedals are too close together, causing me to often rub against the throttle while hitting the brake. Second, the rear seating is a bit cramped and overall cargo room is slightly below average for this size vehicle.
It took a few days to grow on me, but the 2009 Infiniti EX35 is a brilliant vehicle after all.
Vehicle: 2009 Infiniti EX35 AWD Journey
Base price: $37,400
As Tested: $43,035
EX35 Starts at: $33,800