2013 INFINITI JX Driving Impressions

On the road the INFINITI JX is quiet, mannerly, competent, and exactly as exciting to drive as your living room sofa. The 3.5-liter V6 provides fairly lively acceleration in the Murano, but in this heavier vehicle (by some 350 pounds) forward progress is more deliberate. Expect 60 mph to come up in about 7.5 seconds, and passing acceleration to be unhurried. This may not be particularly important to someone in the market for an upscale family wagon. The JX delivers adequate acceleration, and adequate will probably fill the bill.

Fuel economy is good by the standards of a two-ton SUV designed to carry a small tribe. EPA ratings are 18/24 mpg City/Highway for the front-wheel drive version.

Ride quality is nice and cushy. Quick handling maneuvers won't be particularly quick, however. Hard cornering will provoke resolute understeer and body roll (lean) will be abundant.

Steering feel could also be better. The electro-hydraulic power steering is as devoid of feel as a missing limb. There's zero tactile information when the steering wheel is near center, and aside from a little more effort when vehicle speed increases, there's none when the driver turns the wheel, either.

The continuously variable transmission is another soft point. As noted, INFINITI has programmed in some artificial shift points, to simulate a 6-speed automatic for drivers, who usually prefer the feeling of a conventional self-shifter. This is accessible by clicking the shift lever into sport mode. The resultant shifts are a little soft, but tangible enough to satisfy traditionalists. In standard drive mode the CVT keeps up with the engine in unhurried situations, but sudden power demands still produce the slipping-clutch sensation that's been a drawback for this type of transmission since its invention. Nissan has done a better job with CVTs than other carmakers, and there are definite fuel economy advantages. But it's still not a device that scores well on the fun-to-drive meter.

While the INFINITI JX measures up well versus its Acura MDX target in many areas, in terms of being fun to drive the JX trails the MDX by three car lengths, two football fields, and a lap of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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