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The 2010 Infiniti EX35 pushes the boundaries of car technology, introducing cutting-edge new features. A few years ago, the company began to show its tech chops with an excellent hard-drive-based navigation system. Then Infiniti offered a lane departure prevention system that would nudge the car back into its lane. The EX35 goes further, actually pushing back on the gas pedal if it is about to hit an object. This is a car with a sense of survival.
The car itself sits firmly in the crossover segment. In style and shape, it resembles its big brother, the . But the EX is shorter in length by almost a foot and in height by 3.5 inches. That may not sound like much, but the EX reads as a much smaller vehicle in person, and could almost be called a hatchback. Whereas the FX works well in suburbia, the EX is an excellent city car.
One tech feature that particularly helps in the city is the around-view camera. Along with a rear-view, which includes trajectory and distance lines, our EX35 had side and front cameras that gave us a top-down look at the car.
Squeezing into a tight parallel parking spot, the camera view proved invaluable, letting us see the curb and the cars to the front and back, resulting in almost perfect parking. The front camera even showed trajectory lines as we eased the EX35 forward, edging up to the car in front. We could also switch the top-down view to a curb-side view, with a yellow line overlaid to help judge distance to the curb.
Infiniti calls the more radical technology in the EX35 Distance Control Assist (DCA). Using the forward-facing radar already in the car for the adaptive cruise control, DCA looks at traffic ahead, and applies the brakes and even pushes back on the gas pedal when cars ahead are stopped or slowing. For some, DCA will seem too intrusive. We used it extensively and found ourselves fighting the gas pedal pushback continually, as its idea of a safe stopping distance and ours differed in city traffic.
Still, we could see its usefulness. At times, as we looked to see if the next lane over was clear for a lane change, DCA slowed the EX35 in response to traffic ahead slowing. We also found it amusing to let it bring the EX35 to a stop as we approached traffic at a red light.
We could not, however, rely on the system to stop the car all the time. In city driving, the forward-facing radar seemed to get a fix on traffic ahead only about 50 percent of the time. We quickly learned to check the instrument cluster display for the little car icon that indicated whether it had a lock on the car ahead or not. DCA does not turn on by default; the driver must choose to turn it on by pushing a button on the steering wheel.
However, Forward Collision Warning, which also uses the car's radar, comes on automatically. This feature turns on an audible warning if it feels the EX35 is approaching stopped traffic too quickly. Less intrusive, the audible warning can be turned off.
More conventional is the adaptive cruise control, which, like systems from other automakers, matches the EX35's speed with slower traffic when the cruise control is set. We've grown to appreciate this type of cruise control, and made use of it while driving the EX35 on the freeway. Rather than fiddle with the cruise control or plan a lane change whenever we approached slower traffic in our lane, we just let the cruise control adjust our speed. If the car ahead was keeping up a reasonable pace, we settled in the lane.
Rounding out the driver aid technology is lane departure warning and prevention. Although we didn't encounter a situation in which these features would have proven useful, they can be invaluable on long road trips. When crossing a lane line without signaling, the car sounded an audible warning. If we let it continue to drift across the lane line, the EX35 nudged itself back into its lane by lightly braking the off-side wheels. When trying out this feature, it felt perfectly safe. IT never felt as though the car was about to make any violent moves.
Surprisingly, the one driver aid feature missing is one we've really liked in other cars: blind spot detection.