2013 Infiniti EX37 Journey AWD Review: Driving Impressions
We are now at the part of the review where it is revealed that the sacrifices that the 2013 Infiniti EX37 asks buyers to make from a practicality standpoint are well worth it thanks to the exceptional driving experience offered by the crossover. The EX's FM platform, which has pulled duty in a long list of sporty Nissan products including the 370Z, is an inspired choice for a small SUV that handles far more like a sedan than it really ought to. The crossover's seven-speed automatic transmission turned in a commendable performance even when not set to sport mode, and the suspension was quite comfortable in addition to being responsive to every flick of the steering wheel.
Infiniti's ATTESA all-wheel drive system, or Intelligent All-Wheel Drive as it is often advertised, has been tuned to preserve the EX37's rear-wheel drive dynamics without impeding its ability to offer extra grip during low-traction situations. While driving in regular conditions on a dry road, 100 percent of engine torque is sent to the rear wheels (except when pulling off the line, when a slight bit of power is diverted up front). When wheel slip occurs, the system can send power to the front or to either side of the vehicle in order to maintain stability and forward momentum.
Taken together, this helps the Infiniti EX37 feel very much like a sports sedan from behind the wheel, and it also reduces fatigue on longer highway trips as steering and straight-line stability are enhanced by its rear-wheel drive bias. Better yet, by disabling stability control it is possible to engage in heroic four-wheel drifts through a snowy parking lot and still emerge at the end unscathed, due to the ability to turn-in to a slide as a rear-wheel drive vehicle and pull-out as a four-wheel drive one.
Our time with the EX coincided with a record-setting single-day snowfall in Montreal, which meant that we were suddenly able to test out the crossover's ability to handle seriously deep drifts and uncleared roads. With 24 inches of snow to deal with, and major city thoroughfares a mess of snow banks, we found ourselves frequently engaging the 'Snow' button on the center console in order to lock torque distribution 50/50 between the front and rear axles. This feature, combined with the ride height advantage enjoyed by the EX's SUV-like design, and its excellent set of winter tires, had us bravely maintaining our forward progress through even the fiercest, deepest snow that we encountered. We were very impressed with how the Infiniti comported itself during very challenging conditions that had over half the city paralyzed, and if we had only had a tow strap we would have been able to help out many other drivers who were spinning their way to nowhere.
The snow did have its revenge on our EX tester, however. The spokes of the optional 19-inch rims on the crossover would occasionally become completely packed with snow after we had pulled through a few drifts, and this unbalancing effect translated into serious shaking at higher speeds. We rectified this by parking the SUV inside a heated garage for a couple of hours to melt everything away. The snow also concealed a pothole that cut the side of one of the front tires when we rolled through it unawares, which had us wishing for a bit more sidewall to protect the crossover's rims.