Don’t think of the EX37 as a premium compact crossover. Instead, think of it as a hatchback version of the G37 sedan… on stilts. After all, it rides on the same platform and uses the same V6.
|1. A larger 3.7L V6 for 2013 now delivers 325 hp and to 267 lb-ft of torque. 2. Fuel economy rated at 17/25 mpg (city/hwy) for RWD model, or 17/24 mpg for the AWD. 3. Pricing starts at $37,895 but climbs to $51,645 for a well-equipped AWD “Journey” model.|
GOOD AND FAMILIAR
For 2013, the EX moves from the 3.5-liter to the 3.7-liter V6, hence the name change from “35” to “37.” That also means the car jumps from having 297 to 325 hp along with a 14 lb-ft bump in torque to 267.
Remarkably, the increased engine displacement and output don’t increase fuel consumption. Instead, the rear-wheel drive model actually gains one mpg on the highway – though the numbers are well short of segment leaders. EPA figures for the rear-wheel drive model come in at 17/25 mpg city/highway while the all-wheel drive dips to 17/24.
People buy crossovers for a variety of reasons and practicality is often near the top of that list. That’s not true of Infiniti’s EX small crossover – at least not next to similarly priced products.
Despite that, a couple of minutes behind the wheel will make a compelling case to put practicality behind pleasure.
ATTRACTIVE INSIDE AND OUT
Infiniti has curvaceous appeal down to a science and the EX37’s size plays perfectly into that hand.
The brand’s bulbous design borders on baby beluga territory with the much larger QX, but the EX avoids all that. Instead, a sloping hood and roofline leave it looking clean and stylish – something BMW bungled with the X1.
Truth be told, there’s almost nothing to complain about with the EX37’s exterior except for the fact that it doesn’t take any chances – perhaps due to the fact that it’s been on the market for half a decade.
Pleasing aesthetics abound in the cabin as well. Take your pick of the buttons, shift lever or aluminum navigation wheel found in so many other Nissan and Infiniti vehicles. Once again, the design stays well within familiar territory, but in this case it’s hard to criticize the decision.
In fact, if you’re a fan of the eight-button infotainment control system mounted on a rotating bezel, now might be the time to buy. Or if not in the 2013 model year then very soon.
Those familiar with the brand will find Infiniti DNA in spades, with the same seats and buttons as any other of the premium brand’s products.
But just in case you haven’t had that chance, here’s what to expect.
Curvaceous front seats that are a joy to sit in are surrounded by aluminum and soft touch trim. All the knobs and buttons deliver satisfying feedback with just enough resistance to remind you that this is a luxury product.
An available Bose sound system with two sub woofers delivers rich bass and maintains a clear sound, even at high volume.
The shift knob is short and feels smooth and mechanical to maneuver like a well-oiled rifle bolt.
Infiniti’s signature analog clock is there too, along with a small, skinny steering wheel.
IMPRACTICAL COMPARED TO THE COMPETITION
Sadly, the story isn’t so pleasant in the rear seats. With only 28.5 inches of available legroom, the foot wells feel cramped. For some perspective, Mercedes’ GLK 350 offers 6.6 inches of extra space while the Acura RDX delivers roughly an extra 10 inches.
That’s not the only place where the car’s shape holds it back. There’s also only 18.6 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats raised. Once again, the boxy Benz beats it by a big margin with 23.3 while the RDX sits at 26 cu-ft.
VQ V6 SOUNDS GREAT, FEELS EVEN BETTER
It’s funny how expectations can change based on which car you’re driving. The EX37 shares its powertrain with the G37 Coupe. Saddled with the sportier, smaller car, it’s a bit disappointing. The seven-speed automatic transmission feels pokey when you ask for snappy downshifts and power is good but not great – or at least that’s true of the $60,000 IPL convertible model we tested recently.
Slap that same system in a small crossover, and it’s remarkable how quickly that story changes. It’s fun to drive the EX37. Period.
Floor the gas and you’ll get a deliciously tuned exhaust note chortling from the tailpipes. The car surges forward with the sort of comfortable, linear acceleration so many crossovers lack.
With a 0-60 sprint in 5.7 seconds this isn’t a rocket, but it’s also pretty damn quick.
Engaging to steer, turn the wheel and you’ll get a lively response – much more so than Mercedes’ GLK350.
Nissan’s AroundView monitor system is also available and takes parallel parking from guesswork to an entertaining game. You really shouldn’t need a bird’s eye view of any car to park, but it’s handy – especially in tight city spaces.
ADD-ONS ADD UP
Pricing starts at $37,895 for the rear-wheel drive base model. At that level, you’re missing out on all the gizmos and technology in Infiniti’s roster of nickel-and-dime add-ons – similar to what any other luxury automaker does.
That reaches $51,645 even if you skip the smaller extras like a plastic hood protector for $112 and illuminated kick plates for $300. Costlier items contributing to that price include 19-inch split-spoke wheels, as well as the “Premium Package,” which adds Bose speakers, navigation and the AroundView monitor among other things.
It also includes the “Deluxe Touring Package,” which adds an eight-way adjustable passenger seat, HID headlights, power folding side mirrors and more.
Finally, that price also adds the Technology Package to tack on full-speed adaptive cruise control system, blind spot monitoring, a forward collision warning system with brake assistance and lane departure warning.
That equipment is necessary to help the EX remain relevant next to other luxury products. On the other hand it’s superfluous to the car’s driveability, and that’s its strong suit.
There’s no good reason to buy the EX37… but the bad reasons are too damn fun to ignore.