As the lines between wagons, vans and crossovers grow blurrier, some automakers are stepping up to the plate with an eye toward obliterating those particular distinctions altogether. Depending upon how you look at it, the 2010 Infiniti EX is either a compact luxury crossover or a full-fledged beefy sport vehicle. Whatever your perspective, there is no denying that the EX is a great way to get your blood boiling behind the wheel.
For starters, the 2010 Infiniti EX35 (MSRP $33,800) is drop-dead gorgeous. Its curves, style lines and rounded edges are enough to give observers the impression that the crossover would be equally at home moving rapidly through the sea in pursuit of its prey. This land shark design is a refreshing break from the more drab and function-over-form look of other luxury crossovers, especially those available at the entry-level. The EX’s exterior draws heavily from its popular FX sibling, but never feels derivative – more a family resemblance than an imitation act.
The confines of the Infiniti EX (also known as the EX35) reveal a similar future-forward charm, albeit one that is tempered with a degree of traditional luxury. Aggressively bolstered front seats and race-inspired gauges are balanced out by a cascading center console and the availability of subtle wood trim. A two-tone motif can also be had in the crossover with a light headliner and upper dash contrasting with dark leather seats. In addition, the vehicle features optional power-folding rear seats that can tilt forward in order to increase the EX’s cargo capacity. Despite its compact form, the crossover is more than capable of stowing the results of the occasional trip to the hardware store.
The 2010 Infiniti EX is divided into base and Journey trim levels. Each edition of the crossover benefits from a fairly long list of standard luxury features such as LED taillights, puddle lights under each exterior mirror, push-button ignition and automatic climate controls. A trip computer and MP3-capable stereo system are also included, free of charge, as are leather seats and a rearview monitor. Upgrading to the Journey trim adds in a moonroof, heated front seats, dual climate controls and the aforementioned wood trim. The Journey also provides exclusive access to an optional hard drive-based entertainment system, front memory seats and navigation with XM real-time traffic and voice recognition. To boot, it makes available an expanded exterior monitoring system that Infiniti calls “Around View,” which covers both the front and the rear of the EX with sonar to help drivers avoid any unseen obstacles.
Unlike many other compact crossovers, the EX is based on a rear-wheel drive platform, which helps it to display driving dynamics that are far and away superior to most of its competitors. Perhaps more than any other vehicle in its class, the EX truly does feel like a sports sedan when pushed to the limit, and a luxury cruiser when driven at typical town and highway speeds. The vehicle’s chassis response and suspension design are excellent, and the EX’s link to the popular G35 sedan is clearly distinguishable from behind the wheel. All-wheel drive is, of course, also available across both base and Journey trims. The crossover is motivated by a 3.5-liter DOHC V6 engine with Infiniti’s Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVTCS). This V6 pounds out 297 hp and 253 lb/ft of torque, which is more than enough to satisfy even the most demanding closet racer. An electronically controlled, driver-adaptive five-speed automatic transmission is offered, and it incorporates a manual shift option that is capable of blipping the throttle to help rev match when descending through the range of gears. Fuel economy for the rear-wheel drive EX comes in at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway with a one-mpg drop for each measure after the addition of all-wheel drive.
When it comes to safety, the 2010 Infiniti EX has been given the royal treatment thanks to the availability of several interesting technologies. Forward Collision Warning (FCW) uses a laser rangefinder and can alert drivers to an impending frontal collision through a visual and audible warning system. Tied in with the vehicle’s brakes, FCW can actually slow the vehicle if it has determined that the driver is not reacting quickly enough to the threat of impact. Combined with standard traction control, Vehicle Dynamic Control and a full range of airbags, the crossover is destined to fare well should the unthinkable ever occur out on the road.
The 2010 Infiniti EX is a glowing gem in the luxury carmaker’s crown; a vehicle that challenges drivers to rethink their definitions of what a crossover can accomplish in terms of comfort, performance and beauty.