Small car, big technology
Interestingly, the EX35, even though it falls in line with all Infiniti models as a luxury car, is quite possibly the smallest car to have so many full-size sedan tech features. (By the way, Ford is doing the same thing with the new 2012 Focus, which has self-park, touchscreen navigation, and a way to share a 3G card over in-car Wi-Fi.) You might be surprised to find out that the EX35 has not just a lane-keeping feature (although the beeping gets a little annoying) but, like the M37x, will also nudge you back into your lane slightly. The EX35 also has adaptive cruise control, which adjusts your speed for the car in front of you. And, there is a blind-spot warning system.
Perhaps the coolest feature, one that is about the same as the 2010 model and very similar to what you will find in a BMW 5-Series, is an around-the-car camera system. The cameras are actually at about waist height under the mirrors, and in the front grills and rear hatch, but to the driver, it looks like a bird’s-eye view of the road. Like the BMW 5, this helps you judge the car’s position next to other vehicles in a parking lot and also helps you back-up and keep your eye on the road.
The EX35 has a few other tech features that will help you stay safe on the road. One is a snow setting – it is located next to the shifter. This feature is not that high-tech: it basically limits the throttle when you get stuck to give you a slow creep out of a sticky situation. The EX35 uses AWD for normal driving and adjusts wheel speed and applies brakes slightly to help you stay straight. Unfortunately, this AWD option, available in some models, did not really work right. There is a trade-off between the small car size and the sporty pizzazz and the shorter wheelbase. In practice, it meant the EX35 didn’t exactly zigzag on the road, but never felt secure on snow.
Another interesting tech feature: the headlights turn around curves in the road, but not because of any special road-recognition system. The lamps are just linked with the steering wheel (like several Mazda cars). For some bonus fun, as you turn around a corner, you can jut the steering wheel back and forth to make the headlights dance on the road – and probably annoy every other nearby driver.
Infiniti has not added a bevy of new features for this model year, and they have stuck with a size and technical features that make the EX35 appealing for a small crossover. We just had fun driving this car, which is not true about every vehicle we test. Using the manual shift, which works better than most, makes the EX35 even more enjoyable on the road. The full tech package on our test car did add $2,700 to the bottom line, so we do recommend asking about how much the tech features actually cost, but several are included with the base model, including the traction and stability control.
More luxury than sport
Is this the car for you? Depending on what you really want in a smaller car, we will say that the C30 was lower to the road and felt sportier. Compared to most smaller cars, though, the EX35 is definitely a huge step up in quality and fun.