10 Years Later, SUVs Remain Vital for Luxury Brands

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It has been over a decade since the BMW X5, Cadillac Escalade, Acura MDX and others took the luxury segment by storm. Over time, many may have forgotten what kind of impact this new group of vehicles made on their companies' bottom lines, but they — along with smaller crossovers — still play a major role in the market.

Like NFL fans who didn't fully realize what they were missing until replacement referees embarrassed the league, Infiniti dealers weren't completely aware of how successful a proper crossover could be until the JX arrived. Sales of the two-row, overtly sporty FX had fallen every year since 2004. The big QX, though surprisingly successful, competes in a lower-volume sector. In September, the JX made up 24% of all Infiniti sales. Although the JX, now the brand's best-selling utility vehicle, has been on sale only since March, Infiniti's four SUVs and crossovers have been responsible for 39% of the brand's 86,596 sales in 2012. In 2002, Infiniti sold one SUV; it accounted for 19% of the brand's total volume.

What kind of impact does that have on a brand? Total Infiniti car sales for 2012 are up just 2.5%; its "trucks" leapt up 63.6%. The brand overall for 2012 is up 20%.

By Timothy Cain | October 4, 2012 | Comments (0)

Cars.com Family Reviews the 2013 Infiniti JX35

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The all-new Infiniti JX35 is a seven-seat crossover that almost does everything right when it comes to hauling kids, says Cars.com Family reviewer Courtney Messenbaugh. Unfortunately, Infiniti forgot to inject some fun into the almost-perfect family hauler’s driving experience. Courtney says its V-6 engine seemed underpowered during her weeklong test drive. One thing the automaker got right is the JX’s second-row seats. They easily slide forward — even with a forward-facing car seat installed — to create easy access to the third row.

2013 Infiniti JX35 Review

By Jennifer Newman | September 21, 2012 | Comments (1)

2013 Nissan Pathfinder: From Tough Guy to Family Guy

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It's what's inside that matters, right? In the case of the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, definitely. But the outside is just as much a part of the transformation of this once-rugged SUV.

For 2013, Nissan's three-row SUV was completely redesigned, shedding its blocky, stocky look and trucklike body-on-frame architecture for the curves and unibody platform of the crossover class. The fourth-generation Pathfinder also gains a warm, inviting interior full of family-friendly features, a stark comparison to its old utilitarian self.

By Jennifer Geiger | August 23, 2012 | Comments (21)

Recall Alert: 2013 Infiniti JX

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Nissan's luxury arm, Infiniti, is recalling 7,842 model-year 2013 versions of the JX crossover due to problems with the fuel tank, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The affected vehicles were built from Feb. 15 to June 22 (you can check your vehicle's build date on a sticker on the driver-side doorjamb) and have a fuel transfer tube that was misrouted in the fuel storage tank during assembly. This could lead to an inaccurate fuel level displayed on the fuel gauge, and the vehicle could stall or run out of gas unexpectedly.

Nissan will notify owners starting Sept. 4, and dealers will replace the affected parts free of charge. Owners can call Nissan at 800-647-7261 or NHTSA's vehicle safety hotline at 888-327-4236 for more info.

Related
Research the 2013 Infiniti JX
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Check out Other Recalls

By Jennifer Geiger | August 23, 2012 | Comments (0)

Daily News Briefs: July 31, 2012

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Pre-collision systems that prepare or apply the brakes when they detect an impending crash have become widespread among luxury cars, and one of the systems is under scrutiny. Left Lane News reports the Infiniti JX35's system, called Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning, is being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because of two complaints of JX35s inadvertently stopping. See a demo of the system here. NHTSA is investigating the matter on some 8,000 2013 JX35s; the agency has not yet announced a recall.

In other news:

By Kelsey Mays | July 31, 2012 | Comments (0)

Bench Seats Versus Captain's Chairs

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I've been test-driving the 2013 Ford Flex this week, which I've been waiting to drive for years. Overall, my impressions are highly favorable (stay tuned for the complete review) with the exception of one major point. My test car came equipped with a second-row bench seat, so the car seats a total of seven. Captain's chairs in the second row are also available, taking the number of seats down to six. While many families may think they want the extra seating capacity that comes with a second-row bench seat, I'm here to save you from making that mistake.

If you have kids in child-safety seats or booster seats, you're most likely to put them in the second row's outboard positions where a parent, grandparent, caregiver or carpool driver has the easiest access to help them climb in and out and get buckled and unbuckled. The problem is in most three-row SUVs like the Flex the only real access to the third row is by sliding, folding and/or flipping one of the outboard seats in the second row. When a car seat is installed in the outboard, there are limited options as to getting to the third row.

By Kristin Varela | July 26, 2012 | Comments (6)

June's Fastest and Slowest Selling Cars

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Seven all-new cars are off to a fast start. The Cadillac XTS hit dealerships just last month, but GM's flagship luxury car averaged just five days to sell. It tied the Hyundai Accent sedan and Subaru BRZ for June's fastest sellers. The nimble BRZ and its Scion twin, the FR-S, meanwhile, are taking just five and eight days to sell, respectively. Both cars hit dealerships in May.

We should see how many of each model sold in June when sales figures are announced later today.

Ford's redesigned 2013 Escape, Infiniti's new JX35 and two new Acuras — the ILX and redesigned RDX — also made June's Movers. The well-marketed Kia Soul, meanwhile, extended its tenure on the list to three months. Sales for the popular hatchback were up 22% through May. It's the most affordable car on the list, with a starting price (including destination) under $15,000.

By Kelsey Mays | July 3, 2012 | Comments (2)

Mind the Gap: The Downside of Sliding Second Rows

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We love second-row seats that slide back and forth for the legroom versatility and easy access to third row. It’s extremely relieving to sit in the second row of an SUV, pull a lever and instantly gain five generous inches of legroom. But in some cases, there’s an unfortunate side effect: You may curse this versatility when loading cargo.

By Joe Bruzek | June 25, 2012 | Comments (5)

Infiniti's JX Takes Sting Out of Traffic Jams

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One day — sooner than you'd think — you'll be able to purchase a new car that is fully capable of driving itself. Although it's still a few years off, many automakers now offer elements of what will become an automated driving system. Infiniti's new-for-2013 JX35 offers just a taste of this technology.

The radar, sonar, lidar or light detection and ranging, cameras and brake/accelerator/steering actuators that will comprise these systems are already offered on some of today's luxury production cars. An automated driving system will remain out of reach for most car shoppers for a while, but it's easy to imagine some driver support systems becoming as common as electronic stability control or anti-lock brakes. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is already advocating the use of frontal collision warning systems and lane departure warning systems, and it's proposing to make them mandatory on future vehicles.

By Colin Bird | June 21, 2012 | Comments (0)

Infiniti JX's Smart Second Row Means No More Squeeze Play

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In a lot of crossovers, getting into the third row is usually a tricky exercise for adults. If a child seat is installed in the second row, it's almost impossible. According to Infiniti, the second row of its new JX crossover not only makes the maneuver possible, but easy. But how well does it actually work? We put it to the test with and without a child-safety seat and came away impressed.

Infiniti says the second row slides forward and backward 5.5 inches to ease third-row access, and we found that there's plenty of room for an adult to get by. The doors open wide, too, easing the process, though the step-in height is very high. Smaller children and older adults will have trouble with the height.

By Jennifer Geiger | June 15, 2012 | Comments (2)

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