Weidel on Wheels: No second-year slump for EX35

Infiniti EX35 crossover has good power and handling
By: Jeffrey Weidel
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Arriving on the scene two years ago, the Infiniti EX35 certainly made a big splash for a mere rookie, walking off in 2008 as the highest-rated premium vehicle in J.D. Power and Associates' 2008 Initial Quality Study. In sports, often times successful rookies find themselves humbled the following year by what is referred to as the “sophomore jinx.” Judging from a week spent piloting this classy mid-size crossover vehicle in a variety of diverse driving situations, it’s clear that there is nothing cursed about the EX35 in year two. Little has changed with the 2009 model. Why alter a good thing, right? Infiniti did do a little tampering, most notably adding leather seats, a rear-view camera, rear climate-control vents and polished aluminum roof rails to the standard equipment package. What didn’t change was the power that exudes from the EX35, which has a ready-to-rock 3.5-liter, V-6 with 297 horsepower. Ask for acceleration and it arrives instantaneously, evidenced by the EX35 going 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. Parent company Nissan should harbor no concerns right now with the EX35, which is one of the elite members in the growing crossover sport utility vehicle segment. Its attractive, provides ample performance, offers solid comfort, and even comes at a price that won’t injure the bank account too much. Sitting on the platform of the mid-size G35 sedan, it should come as no surprise that the EX35 rides smoothly. Quicker than many SUVs, this Infiniti allows for sharp and responsive handling that makes the driving feel somewhat effortless at times. In the looks department, it's in line with Infiniti’s version of the popular Lexus RX crossover. The EX35 features smallish front and rear overhangs, a long hood and includes a double-arch grille and large headlamps. The interior design is also top notch, featuring practical items like rear coat hangers, a convenient fold-up rear seat that greatly increases the cargo area, plus a simple-to-master control panel. Despite all the positives, there are some drawbacks to the EX35, including a premium price of $37,400 for the all-wheel drive Journey. The gas mileage is fairly average at 17 to 24 miles per gallon. Another negative is the second row will leave many adults feeling they need more legroom. And without the second row down, the cargo area is a mere 16.8 cubic feet of space. __________ 2009 Infiniti EX35 Price: Starting at $33,800 Mileage estimate: From 17 mpg city to 24 mpg highway Power: 3.5-liter, V-6 engine with 297 horsepower Standard features include:Antilock disc brakes; traction and stability control; brake assist; eight-way power driver's seat with two-way manual lumbar support and a four-way power passenger seat; leather seats; rear-view camera; rear climate-control vents; polished aluminum roof rails; rear defogger; keyless ignition; CD/MP3 player, digital-media player connection, satellite radio