Don’t be jealous of its booty

Just don’t say this wagon has junk in the trunk — all of its features are top of the line

CASEY WILLIAMS  | Auto Reviewer

Like a great drag queen, Infiniti’s EX35 wagon is all about the booty. A big round rump is attached to a body that otherwise looks much like the handsome G37 sedan. It’s not really a crossover (the FX fills that role beautifully), and you wouldn’t call it a station wagon, either — no wood sides or long rear quarters here. Instead, it is a very clever extended sedan that provides a lot of utility in its nether region. A butt man who’s also a gearhear could stare at that steel-hard bubble for hours.

EYES ON THE ROAD … AND ALL AROUND | The Infiniti EX35 features the Around View Monitor to see where you can’t and a very sensitive warning system.

What the rump attaches to is also pretty good-looking. Infiniti’s wavy chrome-grass grille puts a bright face on sucking air and eating bugs. Rounded headlamps flow right into a sweeping body that gently curves from the bumper, over the hood and arching into the short tail. If you squint just right, the car looks like a tall Porsche — a 911 crossover. Burgundy metallic paint, dual chrome exhaust tips, satin metallic roof rails, corner-following adaptive front lighting, LED taillamps and 19-in. five-spoke Enkei wheels dress the EX to a tee.

Having a delicious exterior is only an invitation to know what’s inside. A raised ride height makes sliding into the heated leather seats little effort. A leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel, large analog gauges and leather-wrapped gear selector say it means business. Bose audio with USB input sounds like cherubs while concealable cupholders, fold-down rear seats and a large hatch provide plenty of room for all you plunder. Dark wood on the center console and doors adds ambience. You gotta love the cool flip-up hangar on the back of the headrests that are perfect for your purse, jacket or umbrella.

The Beautiful People — and Cars — still have to work occasionally. An advanced undercarriage gives the EX moves usually reserved for European sport sedans. Based on Nissan’s FM platform, which also underpins the Nissan Z and every Infiniti save the QX56 SUV, the EX35 comes from pedigreed breeding stock.
The body structure is solid while the four-wheel independent suspension system is tuned to be compliant on the highway, yet firm in the corners. Steering feel is spot-on, giving drivers a direct connection to the car’s every quiver and breath. Given a firm hand, the vehicle can do anything a rational person could ask and will do its best to please even the most irrational request.

There’s plenty of heart to energize the EX35’s svelte moves. Every EX35 scamps with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that generates 297 horses and 253 lb.-ft. of torque, routed to the extremities by a 5-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel-drive. The clever transmission has a manual shift mode to provide crisp shifts at the driver’s behest. Fuel economy is rated 17/24-MPG city/hwy. Infiniti should consider putting the G Sedan’s smaller 6-cylinder engine on the options list to bump those results a few digits.

Equipped to play, the EX35 is also loaded with the latest safety tech. Front and rear ABS disc brakes with force distribution and brake assist technology ensure the car can stop as well as it goes. Electronic stability control, traction control, and full-range intelligent cruise control keep the car going where intended without hitting things unintended.

Around View Monitor with front and rear sonar, blind spot detectors and lane departure warnings can detect your girlfriend from three galaxies away. Protecting your ego, a rearview camera keeps the EX from making unintended friends.

I’m a big fan of cars that show their techno side, but too much makes a big ol’ nerd. The warning system is so sensitive that it constantly mouths off with beeps and blinky lights as anything passes in town or on the highway.

Note to Infiniti: The EX is a car, and as such, occasionally comes within a solar system of other cars. I don’t always need to be alerted to the occurrence. Try to cross a line on the highway with the system engaged and it brakes wheels to automatically nudge you back into your lane. No doubt, the systems are impressive, but at some point I would like to enjoy the superb handling without back seat nannies bantering about. Of course, I could just turn it off with the press of a button and quit complaining …

The hot thing you’re after can run with toned muscles, change course in a flash, wear the finest threads, and hover over an iPad waiting for the latest app. But, if said thing doesn’t have the perfect booty, then why bother? If you don’t like the shape of the EX35’s, try dating the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, Subaru Outback, Mini Countryman, or Acura ZDX.

Price as tested came to $48,605.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.