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2012 Infiniti EX35

A G hatchback By Any Other Name...

2012 Infiniti EX35

In the past, many of us have been guilty of approaching the crossover segment with the same zeal a toddler typically reserves for mashed peas. Equal parts revulsion, befuddlement and betrayal have danced across our faces as we've struggled to comprehend why anyone would willingly put their hard-earned money towards a vehicle saddled with inherently poorer driving dynamics and fuel economy. As lovers of curve-conquering wagons and hatchbacks everywhere, throwing a couple of extra inches of ride height into the recipe has rarely done us any favors. Not surprisingly, we find ourselves in familiar territory once again: far removed from even the outskirts of popular opinion.

Last year, Honda sold a dizzying 218,373 CR-V crossovers, and despite fuel prices determined to bend us over and give us something to cry about, other automakers have fleshed out their lines with a wide array of high-riding vehicles. Ford boasts a total of five crossovers and SUVs in its stable, and it isn't alone. With vehicles like the Juke, Rogue and Murano, Nissan offers buyers a total of seven different models that fit into the segment. The news doesn't bode well for those of us who prefer a vehicle with superior handling mixed with the ability to haul people and cargo.

And there's virtually no refuge in the suede-lined halls of our favorite luxury manufacturers, either. Brands from every corner of the globe are cashing in on the CUV/SUV craze with unabashed ferocity. So when the 2012 Infiniti EX35 showed up in the driveway, we braced ourselves for a week of eating our vegetables, now fortified with doctor-recommended understeer and an extra helping of body roll. But this isn't your typical CUV. With a 3.5-liter V6 pumping nearly 300 horsepower to the rear wheels and a lower-than-it-looks stance, this is a sport hatch masquerading in crossover clothing.

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