With the upcoming launch of its 7-passenger JX crossover, Infiniti hopes to make up for lost time.
The upscale arm of Nissan Motor Co. has long been an also-ran in the luxury market but has been gaining significant traction, in recent years, as it expands its line-up. Getting into the 3-row crossover segment will put Infiniti on a lot more shopping lists, company officials suggested during a preview in Pebble Beach.
The launch of the Infiniti JX is still some months away, but the event offered a good look at what was officially described as a “concept” vehicle, but don’t worry if you like what you see, hinted Nissan’s corporate design chief Shiro Nakamura, saying, “It is almost identical to what will be in Infiniti showrooms less than one year from now.”
The JX is not quite as radical a step as the original Infiniti crossover, the FX, but it is still reasonably bold in a segment where many makers take the safe road with CUVs that look more like traditional sport-utility vehicles. That’s no surprise considering Infiniti’s relatively recent resurgence has been largely design led, with models like the small G37 Coupe.
“It’s about standing out from the crowd,” asserted Nakamura.
But functionality, safety and fuel economy are particularly important attributes as well, especially these days, and Infiniti officials didn’t downplay those issues during their news conference.
On the safety front, the new crossover is loaded with the usual compliment of brake intervention technologies, such as ABS and stability control, a passel of airbags and, in a world first, it introduces Backup Collision Intervention. If the technology detects the driver might back into something unintentionally it can sound a warning and then, if necessary, bring the vehicle to an emergency stop.
In terms of flexibility, the seats slide and fold, Infiniti General Manager Ben Poore asserting that the new JX has the easiest third-row access of any crossover. The middle row can tilt and slide, even without removing a child safety seat a parent might have strapped in.
For busy parents hustling children from play date to soccer to piano practice, the new Infiniti JX will offer not only a personal concierge service but an auto-sync calendar that will pair with a smartphone to “automatically activate your navigation system to guide you to your appointments.”
Infiniti will wait until later this year, when the production JX is unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show, to provide more details about the crossover’s powertrain but TheDetroitBureau.com has learned it will feature a 3.5-liter V-6 similar to the one used in other Infiniti models. The JX will be available in both front- and all-wheel-drive versions.
“Customers want it to have very good fuel economy, but also the ‘inspired performance’ Infiniti is known for,” explained the brand’s product chief Larry Dominique.
The new Infiniti JX is based on Nissan’s unibody D-platform, a modified version of what’s found under the Nissan Murano crossover and recently updated Nissan Quest minivan.
With the launch of the brand’s first three-row crossover, General Manager Poore said Infiniti has more than doubled the number of buyers in the CUV segment it can appeal to. The primary target customer is one who might otherwise consider the Acura MDX, he added. And while Poore wouldn’t provide his own sales goals he noted that in 2010 Acura sold 42,000 of its three-row CUV.