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2013 Infiniti JX35: Getting Us One Step Closer To A Driverless Car

Infiniti complements its Hard Drive Navigation system with maps from Navteq. They're fairly current, and had no issues finding our home base in a housing tract built in 2010.

The Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation system's layout and user interface are both easy to use and understand. We were particularly fond of the JX35's side-by-side mode, where upcoming directions appear on the left side with the map on the right. This lets us keep the next instruction in mind, which is most useful in a city, where you make subsequent turns and need to choose lanes wisely.

If you live in a city like Seattle, the Hard Drive Navigation system offers 3D maps when you're zoomed in close enough. I rarely visit Seattle, so I can say the 3D maps actually come in useful for navigating a crowded urban area. They also look a lot cooler than the standard two-dimensional maps.

Since the infotainment system includes Sirius XM, NavTraffic and NavWeather are integrated. In our previous experiences with the technologies, we found we were better off using our own judgment. When NavTraffic told us there was traffic up ahead, we'd sail through. When it told us the path was clear, we ended up in congestion. The same applies today, though this is perhaps less the fault of Infiniti and more SiriusXM's problem.

The Hard Drive Navigation system excels when it comes to points of interest. Infiniti even goes so far as to integrate restaurant reviews from Zagat Survey in its restaurant POIs. You also get more detailed information on the restaurant, which is pretty helpful when you get hungry in an unfamiliar place.

You might not like the asking price for Infiniti's map updates (though this is really the case for any luxury-oriented ride these days). The JX35's preinstalled maps are naturally included, and the newest available. But when new maps come out, expect to pay $249 for an update.

Personal Assistant

Infiniti provides a 24-hour concierge service called Infiniti Personal Assistant with its JX35. The company claims you can ask the concierge random state facts, weather forecasts, activity recommendations, and other questions along those lines. Unfortunately, you cannot get dating advice from the concierge.

We were unable to test this feature during our week with the JX35; however, Infiniti does provides free access to the Personal Assistant for the first four years you own your JX35.

Phone Connectivity

You also get Bluetooth connectivity with basic phone profiles for hands-free communication, phonebook access, and audio streaming. The JX35's system does not support text messaging or Internet tethering.

We had no problems connecting our Galaxy Nexus reference device to the vehicle. Pairing is intuitive; you press the phone button and the system asks if you'd like to add a phone (if there aren't any previously-paired phones available). Infiniti employs noise cancellation in the JX35, and conversations were exceptionally clear on both ends of our conversations, free of road noise.

Voice Commands

Infiniti employs an archaic sub-menu voice command system that requires you to instruct the JX35 step-by-step, rather than enabling a more natural sentence-based flow, such as what we saw from SYNC with MyFord Touch. The voice recognition is accurate enough, but we still found it to be cumbersome. We gravitated toward the physical control knob for most of the week we spent reviewing Infiniti's JX35.