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Infiniti EX: Pretty styling, persuasive ways

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Infiniti EX: Pretty styling, persuasive ways

The Infiniti EX35 is a cleverly disguised tall wagon with a lot of cargo capacity, roomy front seat area and somewhat snug back seat.

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POSTED December 15, 2011 1:48 a.m.

The Infiniti EX35 is a cleverly disguised tall wagon with a lot of cargo capacity, roomy front-seat area and somewhat snug back-seat room. The EX is an ideal downsize vehicle for parents exiting the minivan phase or professionals who need more capacity than a sedan.

The 2012 model is a carryover from 2011, except for the addition of Homelink (gate-garage opener) as standard equipment on Journey models. Sold in four models with rear- or all-wheel drive, pricing ranges from $36,495 to $40,195 for the top-line Journey AWD, today’s test car.

Standard features include intelligent key lock/unlock and push-button start; leather-trimmed seats; eight-way power driver’s seat and four-way power passenger seat; power heated and folding mirrors with a driver’s side courtesy light; dual-zone climate control; six-speaker audio with USB connection and satellite radio; 18-inch alloy wheels; and V-rated (up to 149 mph) tires.

The EX competition is swift and credible, including the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Cadillac SRX and Mercedes-Benz GLK.

Under the EX’s pretty styling is an overall impression of toughness and durability, reinforced by a command seating position behind the wheel. The vinyl lower-body trim strip protects from road rash and ice build-up.

On the road, the EX has its own persuasive ways and is under-recognized for its drivability. The suspension has the fitness for owners to cut loose and take the longer, twistier way home. Ride quality is luxury-class, but there is some road harshness on concrete interstates. Otherwise, the cabin is well-soundproofed and seats comfortable for long commutes.

The 297-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 is almost overpowered, but that’s not a complaint. Even with a curb weight of 3,991 pounds, the EX AWD moves out smartly with good power on the upper end at interstate speeds. The power flows easily through the seven-speed automatic with sport and manual mode, which gives a small rev-matching blip on downshifts.

Nimbleness is helped by a 36-foot turning circle, which trims to 34.8 feet on rear-drive models.

Fuel economy is light at 17 mpg city and 24 highway on premium fuel, but the 20-gallon tank gives a 400-mile cruising radius.

Front head and legroom are long at 40.5/44.3 inches, respectively. The moonroof drops clearance to 38.7 inches. Rear legroom is tight at 28.3 inches, and a tall driveshaft tunnel and narrow center seat make this an ideal four-passenger vehicle.

The EX styling conceals its interior space, which at 107.1 cubic feet is about 5 cubic feet larger than most of the competition, except the BMW X3, which is larger this year. With the seats folded, the cargo area is spacious: almost 5 feet long, 38 inches wide and 32 inches tall. The space is almost flat but is interrupted by an overlap panel to cover the seat gap. Birdwatchers who get up at the break of day could almost curl up and wait for the sunrise. The tailgate is easy to raise and lower.

The Around View Monitor, part of the $2,700 Premium package, will become a handy parking aid. The camera system provides a wide view, side view and overhead view so the driver can judge nearness of other vehicles, people, tricycles, etc.

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