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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Consideration: If your daily transportation needs require carrying lots of stuff and several large people, the EX35 is not for you. This is a boutique, compact luxury sport-utility model designed primarily for affluent households with relatively few hauling needs.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Excellent marks in all three categories. To drive it is to be seduced.

Head-turning quotient: A design gem inside and out. You never get tired of looking at it.

Body style/layout: The 2008 Infiniti EX35 is a compact luxury, front-engine crossover utility/wagon built on a car platform -- in this case, the Infiniti G35 sedan. It is available with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. There are two trim levels, Base and upscale Journey.

Engine/transmission: The standard engine is a 3.5-liter, 24-valve V-6 that develops 297 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 235 foot-pounds of torque at 4,800 rpm. The engine is mated to a five-speed transmission that can be operated automatically or manually.

Capacities: There is seating for five people. Hint: When carrying three passengers in the rear seats, always put the smallest person in the middle. Cargo capacity is 16.8 cubic feet with rear seats up. The 60/40 split rear seats can be lowered or raised at the push of a button. Lower the seats for more cargo, fewer passengers. The fuel tank holds 20 gallons of recommended premium unleaded gasoline.

Mileage: We averaged 22 mpg in highway driving.

Safety: Antilock brakes, head and side air bags, and electronic stability and traction control are standard equipment. This column strongly recommends the purchase of the optional AVM backup camera system. Also, consider purchasing the optional lane-departure warning system, which reduces the risk of crashes caused by drifting across traffic lanes.

Price: Base price of the 2008 Infiniti EX35 Journey is $36,250. Dealer's invoice price on that model is $33,330. Price as tested is $41,065, including $4,150 in options and a $715 destination charge. Dealer's price as tested is $37,578. Prices sourced from Infiniti and http://www.edmunds.com.

Purse-strings note: The perfect vehicle for the person who loves driving more than hauling, but who has to haul a little something every now and then. Compare with Acura RDX, BMW X3, Land Rover LR2 and Lexus RX 350.


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