Infiniti is hoping to fill a gap in its product lineup and in the process, give the rough shoulder to Acura’s MDX three-row luxury crossover, not to mention Audi Q7, Buick Enclave, Volvo XC 90 and Lincoln MKT.
The fact is that while Infiniti has three premium crossovers — the EX, FX, and QX — there’s a big gap right where that “and” is. The EX is designed for “personal luxury,” the FX is a larger performance-oriented sports crossover, and the QX is a large SUV of the traditional body-on-frame, tow-capable variety. What’s missing (until now) is that family-friendly, mom-capable utility that can seat seven people with an easily accessible third row and lots of safety features.
Enter the Infiniti JX, a three-row crossover on sale now, which the company is backing with a big marketing program for young affluent families based on its “Inspired Performance” platform where performance means design, telematics, safety technology, engineering innovation and the total ownership experience.
Infiniti first unveiled sketches of the JX at the New York Auto Show in 2011, brought a concept to the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance last year, and launched a microsite around the same time. The company then opened the JX up to reservations during the Los Angeles Auto Show. The site allowed consumers to go online and configure the vehicle and retailers would follow up with them.
“We had expected a lot of people with Infiniti sedans moving up to larger vehicles — as they have families — but we also knew we’d get a lot of conquests from Acura and other manufacturers,” says Sam Chung, senior manager of Infiniti model line marketing. He says the numbers of pre-orders for a vehicle that consumers had not actually seen — and would not have a hard time getting once it was in dealerships — was a salubrious. “We got 2,700 reservations during a three-and-a-half-month period. This is a volume model, not hard to find at dealerships, so it was surprising.”
The automaker, which has key partnerships with Red Bull Racing, NCAA and Cirque du Soleil, started talking up the JX during NCAA Men’s March Madness recently. Ads, via TBWA/Chiat/Day for the JX, started on Selection Sunday, and will continue to cycle through the entire tournament and through the fall, per Chung.
The campaign focuses on the three critical technologies: the ability of the vehicle’s second row to shift forward in a way that makes third-row ingress and egress easy; a first-ever radar and sonar-based backup collision avoidance technology that senses what the driver may not be able to see (say, a vehicle approaching from the side as you back out of a shopping center parking space, or a child walking behind the vehicle) that warns of the impending collision, and if the driver does nothing applies the brakes; and Infiniti Connection, a real person who can be reached either via the in-vehicle telematics platform, by smartphone app, or by dialing a number.
Chung says that while the latter service, which launched last summer, is now complementary for four years in all Infiniti vehicles, Infiniti is promoting it for the first time in the JX because it is the first vehicle in which Infiniti Connection is integrated in the vehicle’s own telematics system, rather than being available solely by phone.