The EX35 is a luxury crossover based on Infiniti's G37 sedan. We've driven, and liked, its crossover big brother, the FX50, so we were eager to try the smaller EX. Still, one of the questions prospective buyers must ask themselves: In utility and roominess, wouldn't I be just as well off with the car whose platform it's based on?
Appearance: Even for a crossover, the EX35 sits low to the ground. (When you get out, you instinctively think it's going to be a longer step; it's not.) The vehicle carries Infiniti's fluid design concept with lines that flow from the L-shaped headlights to the rear. The arching roofline gives the EX more of a coupe profile and ends in the somewhat truncated rear hatch and spoiler. The wide rear of the EX is set off by dual exhausts.
Performance: The 3.5-liter V-6 puts out a stout 297 horsepower and is mated to five-speed automatic (somewhat dated) with manual shift mode. The 2011 model promises to update the gearbox to seven speeds. We both liked the car's snappy acceleration and responsive handling. (Lyra felt the steering was overly sensitive.) What we didn't like so much: The EX35, despite its low profile, seems to suffer from undue buffeting on windy days, especially in highway driving. Our tester had all the electronic safety helpers such as Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Brake Assist (which automatically starts braking if you ignore the FCW) and a lane-departure warning system. Peter tried out the FCW and brake assist in I-4 traffic and found both worked well. We both found the lane-departure beeper to be annoying, so we turned it off.
Interior: The EX doesn't disappoint when it comes to style, with a cockpit that features the Infiniti dual-cowl dash, which gives it a sports-car feel. The fit and finish were first-rate, and maple trim softens the overall look. The gauges are large and readable, and the console buttons and dials are intuitive. Like other Infinitis, the navigation controls are angled and more ergonomically friendly. But it's in this feature-laden cabin that, for us, the EX comes up short. That's because it wasn't roomy enough — for either of us. Both the leather seats and footwells are narrow, and the feeling is snug. In the rear, it's even tighter. To quote Peter's elder daughter when he took the family to Orlando: "This legroom is unacceptable." (Indeed, the legroom is less than in corporate relative Nissan's small crossover, the Juke.) The rear headroom is only marginally better. The overall effect can be tiring on a drive of any length.
Our 3 favorites
Options: Our tester was the Journey trim, which includes all the (pricey) electronic goodies.
Gadgets: The Intelligent Brake assist is a helpful safety feature.
Styling: Inside and out, it's an Infiniti priority.
Cameras: An Around View Monitor combines views from exterior cameras; it's great for parking.
Seats: The rear seats power fold, and there are buttons in the cargo area and the front console.
Liftgate: It's light and easy to open and close.
The bottom line: As much as we like the style and technology of the EX35, it's too confined for families or road trips. If all you need are the front seats and some cargo space, then it's a good alternative to a small luxury sedan.