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2013 Infiniti JX Road Test and Review

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
December 15, 2012
8 min. Reading Time

When you're a luxury brand known for building automobiles that provide an engaging driving experience almost across the board, having your nose pressed up against the glass while you watch other premium automakers siphon off family sales via plush, three-row front-wheel drive crossovers must be painful. Equally troubling must be the decision to compromise at least part of your identity in order to move enough metal to remain competitive and profit from one of the most lucrative niches in the high end market.

The all-new 2013 Infiniti JX manages to avoid this spiral of marketing introspection by recognizing the simple reality that eventually, many of the brand's customers are going to seek out a larger, more family-oriented vehicle - and that they might as well park something with an Infiniti badge beside their G sedans and FX crossovers. By focusing on everything else Infiniti does very well, the JX manages to make us almost completely forget about the fact that it shares virtually no sporting DNA with its corporate siblings.

2013 Infiniti JX: Competition

The 2013 Infiniti JX bursts onto a crowded premium crossover scene, which is precisely the reason it was called into being. Strangely, there are very few Japanese models serving the seven-plus passenger segment, with the Infiniti JX facing off primarily against American SUVs like the Lincoln MKT, the Buick Enclave, and the GMC Acadia. The Acura MDX offers a vestigial third row, but one must move up to much more expensive - and far more thirsty - truck-based SUVs like the Lexus LX and Infiniti's own QX in order to gain similar passenger accommodations and cargo room in a luxury model from any other home-market competitors. Less direct rivals include the sportier BMW X5 (again with weak third row room), and the larger and pricier Mercedes-Benz GL-Class.


2013 Infiniti JX: Pricing and Trim Levels

One of the most surprising aspects of the 2013 Infiniti is its very reasonable starting MSRP of $40,650. This makes it roughly $2,000 cheaper than the Acura MDX and $2,000 more expensive than the more spacious but less opulent Buick Enclave. Furthermore, it places it a whopping $20,000 under the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class.

Like most Infiniti models, the JX doesn't offer trim levels per se but offers a base front-wheel drive version and an all-wheel drive edition (MSRP $42,050) that can be customized via options packages. The Premium package adds $4,950 and a number of luxury and technology items (including navigation) to the price of the vehicle, while the Driver Assistance package installs active safety technologies ($2,200). The Theater package provides a pair of LCD screens to keep rear seat passengers amused ($1,700), while the Deluxe Touring package upgrades the climate control system and interior trim ($2,950). Finally, the Technology package ($3,100) combines the Driver Assistance package with additional safety features - and selecting the Technology package requires one to purchase each of the above-listed packages as well.

The 2013 Infiniti JX we tested for a week included almost every single one of these packages, which gave the vehicle an MSRP of $54,000.


2013 Infiniti JX: Exterior

The 2013 Infiniti JX might be entirely new, but it's based on the same platform as the equally fresh Nissan Pathfinder. You wouldn't know that by looking at the SUV, however, as Infiniti has done an excellent job in giving each of these stable mates their own unique identities. In the case of the JX, this means bulging sheet metal that manages to flow like it's constantly in motion no matter what angle it is viewed from.

The crossover's expansive front grille is pinched on either side by sharp style lines that run up the sides of the sloping hood across the top of the fender, while the front wheel wells surge with power. An attractive top crease extends from the beginning of the first door, arches above the vehicle's handles, and disappears just ahead of the tail light cutting into the rear fender, while a chrome accent cards itself into the lower section of each door door. The rear hatch and bumper might be the only homogenous aspect of the JX's entire design, but this is easily forgiven thanks to the chrome kink that defines the vehicle's greenhouse just ahead of the hatch opening on either side.

It's difficult to make a large vehicle like the 2013 Infiniti JX look graceful, and so Infiniti stylists have instead gone for a compromise: accent the crossover's size without edging over into cartoonish exaggeration. This successful palette expands the brand's design language in an intriguing new direction, and there are elements of the JX that wouldn't look out of place on future versions of smaller Infiniti crossovers.


2013 Infiniti JX: Interior

With all of the long-wheelbase real estate to work with, the 2013 Infiniti JX's passenger compartment must offer some of the most spacious accommodations on the market, right? Yes, and no - it all depends on where you'll be sitting. From the driver's throne the interior of the JX is an excellent place to be. Our tester came with rich black leather and strategically-placed wood trim on the dash, door panels and center console. As with all Infiniti models, the center stack's climate and entertainment controls were well-positioned and easy to use, and the Bluetooth system's ability to link with our mobile phones and make hands-free calls was flawless. The navigation system offered a logical interface that was simple to parse, and a trio of rotary dials on the console allowed us to heat and cool our seats as well as access different transmission settings.

Directly in front of the driver, snuggled between the tachometer and the speedometer, was a version of the same LCD information screen found on the 2013 Nissan Altima. Capable of displaying copious amounts of data about the vehicle's fuel consumption, trip mileage, and safety features, the screen offered a JX-shaped icon that was useful for tracking the status of the latter.

The second row of accommodations in the JX were comfortable, with legroom abounding, but some passengers complained about the proximity of the split bench bottom to the crossover's floor. Heating and cooling controls for those riding behind the driver and front passenger were appreciated, although we couldn't figure out how to turn off the LCD entertainment screens from anywhere but the forward touchscreen. We also appreciated the use of an enormous sunroof that covers almost the entire rear of the crossover to dramatically improve interior illumination and give backseat riders a sense of airiness that can often be missing from full-size SUVs.

The knees-up situation was even more pronounced in the third row, which offered almost token accommodations for adults but more than enough space for children. Getting to the rearmost seats wasn't difficult thanks to the JX's fold-forward feature for the second row - although we kept the third-row folded most of the time for cargo hauling purposes - but even with them up there's just a tick over 15 cubic feet of grocery space available at all times. When the time came to bring a six-foot pine tree home for the holidays, along with an equal-length folding banquet table, the JX was more than up to the task thanks to its completely flat load floor and 76 cubic feet of total interior storage space.


2013 Infiniti JX: Powertrain and Fuel Economy

The 2013 Infiniti JX comes exclusively with a 265 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6. Also capable of generating 248 lb-ft of torque, this mill is yoked to a continuously-variable automatic transmission in order to offer the best possible fuel economy. Front-wheel drive versions of the Infiniti JX - like the model we tested - provide efficiency figures of 18-mpg in stop and go driving and 24-mpg on the highway. Adding optional all-wheel drive drops the highway figure by a single mile per gallon.


2013 Infiniti JX: Driving Impressions

As we mentioned in the introduction to this road test, the 2013 Infiniti JX is not in the same league as other Infiniti automobiles when it comes to handling or acceleration. However, to judge this seven-passenger crossover by those types of criteria misses the entire point of the vehicle's existence. Therefore, we are going to spare you the lamentations associated with tepid dashes to 60-mph and instead focus on what truly defines the JX's driving experience: technology.

Piloting the 2013 Infiniti JX can at times feel a bit like being at the helm of a starship. This is partly due to its size, but it has even more to do with the sheer number of safety features and advanced driver's aides that were stuffed into our fully-loaded test vehicle. Let's start with the vehicle's transmission, which offers Sport, Eco, Standard and Snow modes - each of which we were able to test in depth and each of which had their own unique character.

The Snow setting saw engine speed build ultra-slowly while we advanced up a slick, icy incline so as not to overpower our limited traction, while Sport offered more aggressive acceleration than the already acceptable Standard setting was able to provide. In the interests of seeing just how many MPG we could squeeze out of the large JX we kept the vehicle in Eco mode most of the time, a feature that seemed to actively push the pedal back when we were a little too greedy with our throttle inputs and which kept the engine's revs at a slow boil during most driving situations. We managed to achieve roughly 16-mpg in mostly city driving, which was close enough to the crossover's EPA rating given our at-times aggressive habits behind the wheel.

Sensors are an important part of any space-faring vessel, and this is no less true for the Infiniti JX. Our test vehicle was outfitted with Lane Departure, Blind Spot, and Distance Control systems that featured two distinct settings. The first merely provided audible and visual warnings that something lurked in the blind spots, that the crossover was drifting out of its lane, or that an automobile was slowing abruptly in front of the vehicle. Pushing a button on the steering wheel then activated an intervention capability for each of these systems, allowing them to brake the vehicle in order to prevent it from straying into danger on one side of the other, or even push back on the gas pedal and apply full braking to slow the SUV to a complete stop in the event of an unheeded forward collision warning.

Driving around with the JX set to intervention mode was quite an experience, especially with regards to the forward collision intervention feature. While it was possible to override the throttle and 'accelerate into danger' if desired, it took considerable effort to do so. More amazing was watching the crossover bring itself to a total halt behind a stopped car and hold itself there for a few seconds completely immobile - a spell-binding performance that jerked us back from our reverie when the JX slowly began creeping forward again after a brief delay. This served as a reminder to drivers that yes, you really should have your foot on the brake when the vehicle is stopped.

Docking maneuvers with the U.S.S. Infiniti JX were also aided and abetted by both active and passive electronic systems. The around-view camera feature enhanced the standard rearview camera's point of view by giving us a top-down look at the area 360 degrees around the crossover, which was helpful while reversing the JX down an incline into a temporary garage structure. On several occasions, the backup collision intervention system actually stopped the JX's rearward motion when it got too close to a support pole, which was a welcome, although abrupt bit of assistance.

Each of these layers of active safety added to the 2013 Infiniti JX's comfortable ride and competent power, creating a full-on luxury experience from behind the wheel that made the crossover feel like a legitimate member of the Infiniti family.


2013 Infiniti JX: Safety

Although we just finished exhaustively discussing the 2013 Infiniti JX's safety features in the previous section, we're going to list them here by name so that you'll know what to look out for when ordering your own version of the crossover. Standard safety equipment found on every edition of the Infiniti JX includes side curtain airbags, seat-mounted side airbags up front, dual forward airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, and anti-lock brakes. Optional items are as follows: Back-Up Collision Intervention, Blind Spot Intervention and Warning, Lane Departure Prevention and Warning, Intelligent Brake Assist, Forward Collision Warning (part of Intelligent Cruise Control), Distance Control Assist, and Brake Assist with Preview.


2013 Infiniti JX: Final Thoughts

2013 Infiniti JX: Final Thoughts

The 2013 Infiniti JX really makes the best of what could have been a bad, badge-engineered situation. Infiniti's decision to give the JX it's very own design personality combined with an overdose of high tech safety gear and a loaded, luxurious interior insulate it from any accusations that this is merely a leather-laden Pathfinder. More importantly, the JX expands the definition of Infiniti's brand identity past pure performance by emphasizing the advanced technology that is dripping out of its every pore. Yes, it's true that the most affordable version of the crossover doesn't come with these gee-whiz features, but they're available for the ordering and that's what counts.

The 2013 Infiniti JX is comfortable, roomy, and easy on the eyes. Some will want more power, while others will lament its lack of crisp handling, but compared against foes like the Buick Enclave and the Acura MDX, the JX is in a very good position to make in-roads in the seven-passenger luxury segment. We didn't even mind the CVT.

What We Like About The 2013 Infiniti JX

  • Sultry looks for such a large automobile
  • Useful, multi-tier high tech safety features are quite useful in a variety of different driving situations
  • Solid interior room, comfortable accommodations, and a quiet ride
  • Infiniti's typical stellar infotainment and communications interfaces

We Aren’t So Hot On

  • Kid-size third row seating
  • Flat bench a little too close to the floor in the second and third rows
  • Restrictive options package ordering process that can quickly inflate the vehicle's base $40k MSRP.


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