Review: 2013 Infiniti EX37 Journey AWD

Infiniti looks to up the ante for the luxury compact SUV market with its 2013 EX37 Journey All-Wheel-Drive. Photo: Duane Pemberton

SEATTLE, April 22, 2013 - With its 2013 EX37, Infiniti looks to up the ante and offer its customers what it feels is the best value going in the luxury CUV (compact utility vehicle) market. It carries over the same design cues as the entire line-up of Infiniti vehicles and puts it all into a compact design that is powered by very powerful engine.

Under the hood is the tried-and-true 3.6 liter VVL V6 engine – in the EX37 it’s tuned to 325 horsepower with 267 ft-lb of torque. The end result is an engine that has little hesitation in getting this vehicle up to the speed limit in a rapid fashion. It’s mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission with adaptive shift control – meaning that the computer system “adapts” to your driving habits and will adjust its shift points accordingly.

I found the transmission to be very responsive – it never did seem to have to “hunt around” for the proper shift point, even on the down-shifts.  Its overall balance of power and well-tuned transmission provide for a very exhilarating drive experience.

Inside, we see Infiniti’s eye for detail and nice use of quality materials that really go a long way to create a comfortable, relaxing environment that’s well stated. It has the same audio/NAV system we see in many other Infiniti and Nissan products – it’s not a bad thing at all and frankly works rather well.

Creature comforts include automatic, dual climate control, heated seats in the front and the rear passengers do have a mini-climate control system.

The audio fidelity is really good but not great and far from being sublime as I’ve heard in other CUVs – there’s support for satellite radio, AM/FM, CD, wma/mp3 playback, Bluetooth audio as well as the ability to play music from a USB flash drive.

Telephony Bluetooth isn’t that great in regards to overall audio quality and, unfortunately, this has been my experience with all of the Infiniti cars I’ve tested in the past year or so. Many times, I’d have callers tell me they couldn’t hear me very well - I do hope they make progress in that area.

Legroom is more than ample for the front seats and good for the folks in the rear – it’s not the most room I’ve seen for rear passengers but still good considering the overall size of the EX37. Rear cargo is roomy and gets even roomier if you fold the passenger seats down.

One of my favorite technologies on newer cars is adaptive cruise control and this test model was equipped with it. If you have never driven a car with it yet, it can change your overall experience when on longer road trips. It continually monitors your speed and distance between you and whatever is in front of you – it’ll apply the gas and/or brakes to maintain that distance, even if it means slamming on the breaks in an emergency stop. My primary issue with it is that most new cars – like this one – have a system in place that if there is any tire slippage at all, the adaptive cruise control will automatically shut-off. If you’re not ready for this, it can be a bit alarming as the vehicle immediately have no acceleration to maintain speed. Why it has to be this picky is odd to me, but I’m willing to bet it’s because if it didn’t disengage, there’d be a lawsuit over an accident.

The way it boiled down for me and the EX37 is that I simply fell in love with the way it drives – it has tons of power that beckon the driver to insert his or hers right-foot, hard. It has good handling for a CUV, great ride quality and a decently-quiet cabin at freeway speeds.

I did get a chance to take this rig in some snow and found the all-wheel drive system performed well and even with its all-season radial tires, had little issues getting around the snow-packed roads and parking lot of the Snoqualmie Ski Summit.  There is a “Snow” control button on the center console which adjusts the rear-wheel bias into a more balanced mode for extra traction when things get slippery.

There’s no question that our test model was stacked with just about every option-box checked which put the price near the $50k mark – definitely on the higher side of a CUV but also a premium ride overall.  At its price, it’s taking the likes of the high-end 3.0 Audi Q5 and I do believe it’s very competitive – perhaps it doesn’t have the overall refinement of the Q5 but what it lacks there it makes up for in sheer power and fun.

In the end, Infiniti has done a good job of offering a compelling, premium CUV that should be on your “must test-drive” list if you’re in the market, I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed, overall.

Price as tested: $49,200

Manufacturer website: http://www.infinitiusa.com 


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Duane Pemberton

Duane Pemberton is a food and wine writer who is also the owner of WineFoot.com. Pemberton is also a well read automobile reviewer and critic, all of which incorporates into his travel, wine and food reviews.

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