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2012 Detroit auto show video: 2013 Infiniti JX

Consumer Reports News: January 18, 2012 12:23 PM

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The Infiniti JX is aimed squarely at the suburban DIMK bracket—decent income, multiple kids—a segment that the brand has largely avoided for years.

These are the type of buyers who shop for luxury, three-row SUVs such as the Acura MDX, Audi Q7, Buick Enclave, and Lexus GX. Infiniti never really played in this segment, as the sporty FX is a (small) two-row SUV and the QX56 is sized to practically carry a division into battle. Admittedly, it can transport troops in style, in comfort, and with all their gear.

But when designing the JX, Infiniti seems to ignored the pedigree of the rest of their corporate SUVs. And let me tell you, on paper that actually seems to be a good thing.

First, the JX isn’t a body-on-frame design. Instead, it is a car-based SUV that eschews rear-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive being optional. Not only does it show that Infiniti knows the buyers in this segment don’t want an FX-like driving experience, but it also allows Infiniti to carve out what appears to be a decently-roomy third-row seat.

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter, 265-hp V6 that is mated to a continuously variable transmission. In speaking with an Infiniti representative, it appears that they feel customers want smoothness first and foremost, and won’t care about the CVT’s lack of gear changes.

Some slick technical features are found in and out of the JX. Parents will appreciate the ability to set speed and distance notifications in the telematics system, which will send them messages if their teen violates the parameters when driving the JX. And those with little kids who need third-row access will appreciate the ability to tilt-and-slide the passenger-side second-row seat forward even with a (unoccupied, please!) child seat installed. (Check out the video for a demonstration.)

There’s an Infiniti mobile concierge service that, like OnStar, can cater to your needs. Unlike OnStar, this system is connected to the owner’s phone, not the car. So owners can use the service away from the car, as well as inside it. And the backup collision system will actually override the driver and stop the car if it believes a crash is likely to occur when reversing.

Personally, I’m looking forward to trying some of these features out when we pick up a JX this spring to test. With a two-year old and an infant on the way, that sliding second-row seat is especially appealing.

See our complete 2012 Detroit auto show coverage.

Jon Linkov

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