Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: 2011 Infiniti EX Journey AWD

 The 2011 Infiniti EX35 is a stylish compact crossover that competes against the Mercedes-Benz GLK, BMW X3, Audi Q5, and Acura RDX. I had the opportunity to drive a Journey AWD model with the premium package for the past two weeks.   The last EX35 I drove was the 2008 Journey AWD model.  There are many crossovers offered by luxury automakers, but in my opinion not many come close to the EX.

For the 2011 model year the EX gets quite a few enhancements. Replacing last year’s five-speed
transmission is a new seven-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. Standard on both trim levels are 18-inch wheels, iPod input, Bluetooth connectivity, side curtain airbags, stability control, traction control, and dual-zone climate control. I feel that dual-zone climate control should have been standard on all levels when the EX was first introduced. The EX is offered in Base or Journey models, they both come in rear wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

The exterior of the EX is a mixture between the G and the FX. There is no denying that this vehicle is a part of the Infiniti family. Compared to other compact luxury crossovers, the EX sits lower to the ground making it look like a G wagon rather than a CUV. The EX was the first vehicle to have “Scratch Shield” paint which lets the EX heal itself from small scuffs and scratches. 

Compared to the competitors the EX really has a great presence and stands out from the crowd. While driving I got many points and stares from people mainly because this may be one of three EXs in Greenville, NC they’ve ever seen.
The term “Luxury” is defined by the interior of the EX. The materials that are used in this vehicle are of great quality. The Audi Q5 is the only other crossover that comes close to offering a great interior. But the EX’s interior just stands out once you’re inside of the cabin. What I really liked about the interior is the easy use of the touchscreen monitor and the simplicity of the knobs and buttons. While there were many things I loved about the interior there were three things I didn’t like so much. The backseat of the EX is much smaller than many of the competitors. I’m 5’8” and felt if I was any taller I would probably be very uncomfortable. Another issue I had is the size of the cargo hold which is a lot smaller than other vehicles I have come across. The other issue I had was with the navigation screen. There was a lot of glare from the sunlight which made it difficult at times to see everything on the screen. One of my favorite features was the Around View Monitor which made pulling in and out of tight spaces easy.

The 2011 EX uses a 3.5 V6 engine that produces 297 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. The fuel economy is rated at 17 city and 24 highway with a combined rating of 20 mpg. I can say that I didn’t even come close to the combined mpg rating; in mixed driving I achieved 15.9 mpg. My driving experience with the EX was amazing; it offered a great balance of handling and performance.  The ride quality of this vehicle was very smooth but the standout star of the EX is its V6 engine. It may not use the same engine as the G37 but there is more than enough horsepower and torque to satisfy me. I found myself going over the speed limit plenty of times but I couldn’t help it!

Overall I think that the Infiniti EX is great to look at and very exciting to drive. I should be seeing more of the Infiniti EX on the road but I don’t think that will happen until Infiniti addresses a few things. In order for the EX to really compete in sales with the Q5 and X3 it has to grow in size and offer more of a CUV stance. I feel many people who do look at the EX are not happy with the cramped backseats and the cargo area. Anyone who looks at the G37 should also take a look at EX35 the only thing you will be sacrificing is horsepower. The EX is still one of my favorite Infiniti models mainly because it offers amazing styling, a terrific engine, and a luxury interior for a good value.

What are your thoughts on the EX?

For more information on the EX and other Infinitis check out Infiniti's website:

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