The Driver Assistance Package
Infiniti offers a host of driver assists on its JX35. The Driver Assistance Package sells for $2,200, and includes everything from adaptive cruise control to lane keep assist. There's so much optional technology here, in fact, that it starts to feel like we're really, really close to an autonomous vehicle.
Intelligent Cruise Control
The JX35's adaptive cruise control works across the entire speed range, and is really quite excellent. Unlike some systems that require you to assume control under 20 MPH, Infiniti’s Intelligent Cruise Control will stop the car in traffic and even hold the brakes for a couple of seconds before handing the reins back to you.
Infiniti's implementation relies on a front-mounted infrared laser that constantly monitors and analyzes the speed and any potential obstacles ahead.
We found Intelligent Cruise Control to be an excellent feature for rush-hour traffic, where the speed of other cars fluctuates often. Simply set the cruise control and watch the system work its magic (even if it takes some getting-used-to before you really trust the technology). As with most adaptive cruise control systems, Infiniti's lets you choose between three different following distances, though we found the shortest setting to be well within the textbook definition of safe.
Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning
Given the drive- and brake-by-wire systems that replace conventional mechanical and hydraulic components, it's easier for manufacturers to implement more complex safety features. For example, Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW) in the JX35 utilizes the adaptive cruise control system's sensor to predict collisions. In the unfortunate event that an imminent collision is detected, you're presented with an alert. If you don't react, the system engages the brakes.
We were able to test this feature, and it works very well. As with the adaptive cruise's follow distance, you can adjust the range at which you start getting warnings. The alerts are loud and annoying, but that's why they're there. Automatic braking does its job too, effectively stopping the JX35 in typical city traffic. If you'd rather dispense with the unsolicited intervention, you can disable IBA with FCW using the steering wheel controls.
Back-Up Collision Intervention
Backing out a big vehicle in a busy parking lot is always a pain, particularly if your view is obstructed by surrounding cars, trucks, and vans. Infiniti's answer is the Back-Up Collision Intervention (BCI) system, which utilizes ultra-sonic proximity sensors mounted on the rear bumper that scan behind and to the sides of the vehicle for oncoming cars and light poles.
When an obstacle is detected, the driver is notified with an audible warning and a flashing Blind Spot Warning indicator. The BCI also triggers the Eco Pedal to make it harder to hit the gas. As a last resort, if you refuse to intervene, BCI automatically engages the brakes to prevent a collision.
Technologically, it's really cool to see all of those subsystems working together, and as enthusiasts, we can really appreciate what Infiniti enables on its JX35. At the same time, attentive drivers shouldn't feel compelled to spring for the Driver Assistance Package, particularly if they've already paid for the Premium Package and its awesome Around View Monitor technology.
Blind Spot Warning System
The Driver Assistance Package includes a Blind Spot Warning System (BSW). In the JX35, warning indicators are inside, on the sail panels opposing the side mirrors. They're orange and easy to spot from the driver's seat.
There's not wrong with Infiniti's placement per se, but we prefer the side mirror-mounted indicators on the previously-reviewed Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE. After all, we're more inclined to look at the mirrors while we're driving, rather than the sail panel.
The BSW system utilizes the same ultra-sonic proximity sensors as the BCI system. When a car is in the JX35's blind spot, the indicator flashes once. If you change lanes and use your turn signal, the indicator light flashes continuously and sounds an audible warning if a vehicle is detected in your blind spot.
Given the JX35's size, the BSW system is more useful than it was in Toyota's Camry. The audible warning does get annoying. However, if you need a feature like BSW to make safe lane changes, then the nag is probably appropriate.