Infiniti mates this engine to a five-speed automatic, which seems like an aberration in this car. The FX35, which gets the same engine and is built on the same platform, gets a seven-speed transmission. Infiniti might have chosen the five speed to save weight or to fit in a smaller space, but the result is higher engine speeds on the freeway.
Those higher engine speeds also mean worse fuel economy. The EPA rates the Infiniti EX35 with all-wheel-drive at 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. We've always found that Nissan and Infiniti cars with the 3.5-liter V-6 struggle to maintain fuel economy over 20 mpg, and the lack of a sixth gear does not help the EX35. In our testing we averaged 19.1 mpg.
The transmission has sport and manual modes, which both suited the car's performance-oriented handling. We raced the car over mountain roads to get a sense of how the transmission responded in its different modes, and found sport the most satisfying. Manual gear changes suffer from torque converter lag, but the sport mode did a good job of keeping the engine speed high for power in the turns. It is not as aggressive as some we've tested, but was well-suited to the car's ability to corner.
Like most Infiniti vehicles, the EX35 uses stabilizer bars to keep it settled in the turns. It doesn't go through the corners perfectly flat, but doesn't exhibit much roll, either. Our car's all-wheel-drive gave it an edge, as we could feel it digging in and aiding grip--especially useful to us since we were testing on wet roads.
Solid cabin tech
The power train proved to be the least high-tech aspect of the EX35, as our car came equipped with an impressive raft of cabin gadgets. Infiniti's hard-drive-based navigation system uses good-looking maps and shows some landmark buildings in 3D, although it doesn't go to quite the extreme of Audi's 3D rendering in the .
This navigation system includes traffic and weather, and dynamically routes around traffic jams. We found it worked quickly, and showed very useful route guidance graphics, along with voice prompts that pronounced street names.
A combination of a touch-screen and a hardware controller made destination inputs easy. Infiniti uses one of our favorite interfaces, its knob studded with directional buttons that allows quick maneuvering around the various screens.
Infiniti reserves 9.3GB of space on the navigation hard drive for the car's Jukebox feature. We were able to rip CDs to the hard drive using the CD/DVD slot, and the car's internal Gracenote database correctly tagged the resulting MP3 files. There is also satellite radio and good iPod integration in the form of a USB port to which we plugged in an iPhone. This system also allows Bluetooth streaming.
The Bose audio system in the car uses 11 speakers, including two subwoofers and a center fill. The sound quality is very good, although not up to the level of some premium systems by THX and Mark Levinson. It produces a strong sound with solid bass, but the highs are not quite as distinct as we would like.
We were suitably blown away by the 2010 Infiniti EX35's cabin tech. The traditional features--navigation, stereo, and Bluetooth phone system--were all high quality, but the addition of the driver aid features pushes this car over the top. We love the around-view camera system, and the Distance Control Assistance was at least intriguing.
Although the power train and suspension did not push the tech envelope, they are well-engineered to make the EX35 a very enjoyable car to drive. We appreciated the compact dimensions and could see it as a comfortable multi-use vehicle. As for design, the cabin tech interface is attractive and one of the most usable we've seen. As for the exterior, the car cuts a pleasing profile, and is unmistakably an Infiniti.
|Model||2010 Infiniti EX35|
|Powertrain||3.5-liter V-6 engine|
|EPA fuel economy||16 mpg city/23 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||19.1 mpg|
|Navigation||Hard drive-based with traffic|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||MP3 compatible single CD/DVD player|
|MP3 player support||iPod integration|
|Other digital audio||Onboard hard drive, USB thumb drive, Bluetooth streaming audio, satellite radio|
|Audio system||Bose 11 speaker system|
|Driver aids||Rear view camera, around-view camera, side-camera, front camera, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention, adaptive cruise control, distance control|
|Price as tested||$44,695|