2013 Infiniti EX37: An Exceptionally Fun Luxury Crossover

Published on January 3, 2013 in Test Drives by Benjamin Hunting

Drive enough crossovers - especially small to mid-size models - and you will be struck with their overwhelming homogeneity. This isn't exactly a criticism, as crossover SUVs are almost all designed to haul a respectable number of passengers and their associated gear from point A to point B, a mission statement that unavoidably breeds similarities. Being handed the keys of a crossover that offers a genuinely different take on how a compact people mover should feel from behind the wheel is rare enough that it seems almost like a revelation.

Such was the case with the 2013 Infiniti EX 37, a vehicle we recently had the pleasure of piloting for a week filled with long-distance holiday travel, in-city running around, and record-setting snowfall in the Montreal area. With the chance to really put the unique EX 37 through its paces in a variety of situations, we walked away with a strong impression of exactly what this compact luxury crossover has to offer family shoppers.

A Sports Car Among Crossovers

One of the key differences between the 2013 Infiniti EX37 and the other premium crossovers that it faces off against is the philosophy behind its design. The Infiniti EX rides on the same platform as the rear-wheel drive Infiniti G sedan and G coupe, which right off the bat gives it a level of confident performance that most other SUVs simply can't match.

The vehicle we drove was outfitted with the vehicle's Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system, which serves to further enhance the unique handling dynamics presented by the EX's chassis. The system sends only a modicum of power to the front axle when initially launching the car, and once underway it channels all engine torque to the rear wheels during normal driving. If slip is detected, power is shuttled to the front wheels in milliseconds (as well as from one side of the crossover to the other), providing traction when needed and almost complete transparency the rest of the time.

How well does this type of system fare when faced with harsh Canadian winters? With 45cm dumped on Montreal within a 24 period during our time with the EX37, we found ourselves in a unique position to answer this particular question. The EX's center console houses a Snow button that, when activated, evenly splits power 50/50 between the front and rear axles. With Snow mode in effect, we found ourselves able to ford through two-foot deep powder that had sedans stuck and spinning. The additional ground clearance offered by the EX was helpful, but not world beating, as we did find ourselves high siding the vehicle in deeper drifts, but we never got the crossover stuck out on the snow-packed Montreal roads. This kind of all-weather traction from a performance-oriented crossover was unexpected, to say the least, and we came away with a newfound respect for Infiniti's all-wheel drive engineering.

Brand New Engine

The 2013 Infiniti EX37 replaces last year's EX35 trim, and the reason for the new appellation can be found under the hood. The previous model's 3.5-liter VQ engine is gone, and in its place is a fresh 3.7-liter V-6 that churns out 325 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. These figures represent an increase of 28 horses and 14 lb-ft of twist, and the total output gives the Infiniti EX a considerable kick in the pants when the pedal is mashed to the floor. The seven-speed automatic transmission that comes with the EX37 doesn't feature paddle shifters, but it honestly doesn't need them as the crossover feels exceptionally rapid off the line and when pulling out to pass on the highway. Best of all, official fuel mileage figures haven't changed from those attached to the less powerful motor.

The fully-decked out EX37 model we drove came with a number of high-end safety features, including lane departure and blind spot warning and intervention, and adaptive cruise control with automatic braking. We were a bit disappointed with the behavior of the adaptive system, as it seemed to cause the vehicle's acceleration to surge and fall back repeatedly when attempting to maintain a steady pace behind the vehicle ahead of us. Having never experienced this type of behavior with Infiniti's adaptive cruise control in any other model, we wonder if there was perhaps a sensor that was out of adjustment on our particular EX. Unfortunately, we found no way to engage standard cruise control, even with the driver's aides turned off, which was inconvenient at best.

Comfortable, But Cramped Interior

The 2013 Infiniti EX37 is certainly fun to drive, and it delivers exceptional snow-going traction backed by plenty of power. As a crossover, however, it also needs to impress us with its practicality, and here is where the compact EX fell short.

Don't get us wrong - we were quite comfortable inside the EX's cockpit, as the first two positions had us ensconced in heated leather seats and surrounded by easy-to-use controls for the heating and cooling system and entertainment features. Even the second row seats were reasonably roomy, as six-foot passengers didn’t complain about the time they had to spend there.

The trouble started when we attempted to load up the Infiniti for a long-distance trip. Stacking the crossover to the roof with presents, luggage, and one slightly irked kitten in a soft carrier quickly revealed that the EX was not designed to swallow significant amounts of cargo. The tall load floor in the EX, a victim of the full-size spare underneath, had a lot to do with the shallowness of the cargo area. Less than 50 cubic feet of space are available inside the vehicle, and even with 60 percent of the rear seat folded forward we were scrambling to find nooks and crannies to stuff various packages and bags - all for a total passenger load of two human beings and one feline.

Stylish, Fun, But Surprisingly Small

The 2013 Infiniti EX37 is a very easy luxury vehicle to like. Ample power, a full raft of interior amenities, and a great all-wheel drive system make the EX37 one of the top choices for buyers who are looking for a premium crossover that won't take up a lot of space in the driving. If there exists a need to actually haul anything with the Infiniti, however, you're in trouble. This vehicle is more like a tall wagon than an actual SUV, and its plunging rear roofline and restricted cargo space make it a casual transporter at best for anything more than a few overnight bags when there's a full load of passengers inside of it. Even with just two occupants, you might find yourself scrambling as we did, Tetris-style, to accommodate all of your parcels inside the EX's tight confines.

Ultimately, as with many vehicle purchases, it all depends on exactly what you need the Infiniti EX37 to do for you on a regular basis. Busting snow banks and pasting a smile on your face through the corners is definitely on the menu for the crossover - in a way that a wagon with less ground clearance simply couldn't accomplish - and for those that need additional interior volume, the crossover's larger FX sibling is waiting in the wings. Crossovers are often marketed as Swiss Army knives, but Infiniti's philosophy of different tools for different jobs works just fine for us.

Test drive report
Test model 2013 Infiniti EX
Trim level 37 AWD
Price range $39,900
Price as tested CA$53,400
Warranty (basic) 4 years/100,000 km
Warranty (powertrain) 6 years/110,000 km
Fuel economy (city/highway/observed) 12.3 / 8.5 / N/A L/100km
Options N/A
Competitive models Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Land Rover LR2, Volvo XC60
Strong points
  • Great traction from all-wheel drive system
  • Powerful V6 engine
  • Comfortable interior
  • Impressive handling
Weak points
  • Small cargo capacity
  • Balky adaptive cruise control
Editor's rating
Fuel economy 4.0/5 Our fuel efficiency data was skewed by all of the spinning through the snow, but the EX was reasonably thirsty given its power.
Value 3.5/5 In base form, the EX is a better deal, as our fully-loaded tester's pricing crested $50k and nudged up against larger options.
Styling 4.5/5 The EX is a great-looking crossover.
Comfort 4.0/5 The Infiniti offered good comfort on longer trips as well as when fording deep snow banks and rutted roads.
Performance 4.5/5 We were very impressed by the power, handling, and traction of the EX37.
Overall 4.0/5 With a more practical interior, the EX37 would be one of the strongest offerings in its class. Still, it's one of the best-driving luxury crossovers out there.
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