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2009 Infiniti EX35 AWD Journey Review


2009 Infiniti EX35 AWD Journey (select to view enlarged photo)
2009 Infiniti EX35 AWD Journey

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THE AUTO PAGE
By JOHN HEILIG

SPECIFICATIONS:
Model: 2009 Infiniti EX35 AWD Journey
Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V6
Horsepower/Torque: 297 hp @ 6,800 rpm/253 lb.-ft. @ 4,800 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Wheelbase: 110.2 in
Length/Width/Height: 182.3 x 71.0 x 62.6 in.
Tires: 225/60R17
Cargo volume: 18.6 cu. ft. with rear seat backs up
Fuel economy: 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway/16.2 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 20.0 gal.
Sticker: $46,065 (includes $865 delivery charge and $8,350 in options)

The Bottom Line: Smaller than the FX, the new EX has much to offer. The EX is a true crossover vehicle that is more coupe/sedan than SUV. It would probably be classified as a station wagon if that classification was still in existence. The EX has great styling, excellent power and some wonderful features. But it's way too cramped in the back seat and the Lane Departure Warning is more annoying than useful.

Infiniti has a pair of similar, yet different, luxury sport utility vehicles - the FX and EX. The FX has been around for a while in several iterations, while the EX was new in 2008. Smaller, but similarly styles, the EX is more coupe-like than the FX, which is still cut from the SUV mold.

However, like most coupes, the EX suffers a bit by a cramped rear seating area that could easily be altered to solve the problem. We used our tester to take some friends with us to a dinner. We all found the rear seat knee- and legroom to be almost unacceptable. As the driver, I had to push my seat forward to permit someone to sit behind me. The situation wasn't as critical on the right side, because the front passenger had shorter legs.

Behind those second-row seats, however, is 18.6 cubic feet of cargo. This is an excellent cargo area, but Infiniti could easily have sacrificed a couple of inches to move the rear seats rearward, thereby increasing rear seat legroom. This flaw was a major disappointment with the vehicle.

It was also the only major disappointment, so the EX emerges with fairly good grades.

Under the hood is a powerful 3.5-liter V6 that's rated at 297 horsepower. It's connected to the wheels through a 5-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. However, with all the power and torque (253 lb.-ft. @ 4,800 rpm) the manual side of the gearbox is rarely needed , unless you're entering a high-performance run somewhere. We felt the engine/transmission combination was excellent for this front engine/rear wheel (or AWD) drive vehicles.

Our tester was the AWD Journey trim that adds about $3,500 to the base price. The AWD is automatic and seamless. Since we drove the EX in some slippery conditions, the AWD was useful, even if we didn't know it was working.

Being an Infiniti, the luxury was evident in the well-supporting front bucket seats and the nice luxury touches to the interior. The classy interior styling goes well with the coupe-like exterior styling. And since it's an Infiniti, the trademark oval digital clock is right there in the center of the dash.

The EX has keyless entry and a pushbutton start/stop. The interior door pull pocket is a convenient place to keep the keys when you're driving.

The EX is loaded with technology, which is one reason there are more than $8,300 in options. A nice feature is AVM (Around View Monitoring) that uses four TV cameras to give a "top down" view of the vehicle and helps to reduce blind spots when parking.

One feature that I found annoying was the LDW, or Lane Departure Warning. This uses a camera mounted behind to windshield to check on the center line. If the vehicle drifts over this line, intentionally or unintentionally, LDW emits a beep. Of course, there are many times when you want to cross lane divider lines, like when you're passing or when you're "straightening out" a corner and there's no one coming the opposite way. LDW is a great feature for long drives when the driver might tend to doze off. But for normal driving, I found it annoying.

If the driver doesn't take action with LDW, the VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) uses the various features to correct the move, subtly at first then mor e insistently.

The Infiniti EX is about three inches smaller in all dimensions than the FX. While the coupe-like styling is dramatic and appealing, the significant tightness of the rear seat makes it impractical for many users.

2009 The Auto Page Syndicate

MORE: Infiniti Specs, Pics and Prices-Infiniti Buyers Guide