The Infiniti FX was introduced in 2003 as a replacement for the Infiniti QX4, a luxury SUV based on the Nissan Pathfinder. With the FX Infiniti wanted to meld the functionality of an SUV with the styling and performance traditionally found in a much smaller vehicle. Infiniti could not have said it any better when they called the new 2009 FX a “luxury SUV with the heart of a sports car.” Especially when it has almost 400 HP, nearly 50/50 weight distribution and a radical metallic paint job.
At first glance our Mojave Copper Infiniti FX50S is shocking. The finish is similar to when Nissan offered a rust colored 350Z calling it Le Mans Sunset, however the luster of the FX is brighter and much more appealing. Noticeable changes to the exterior of the vehicle include the dark chrome wave grill, radically redesigned headlamps and the metal vents found directly behind the front wheels. Given a closer look, a trained eye will see that everywhere there was a crease in the sheet metal on the previous generation FX; the modelers have filled them in and smoothed the gaps to create a more powerful figure with even more complex curves.
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Even though the FX appears to be large from the outside, once inside you notice the drawbacks to the round shape. The windshield looks small, the rear glass looks smaller and the driving compartment begins to feel a little short on space. However the seats are great, the quilted pattern is not only elegant looking but comfortable as well, and offer adjustments ranging from the traditional on top of the world SUV seating position to being slammed to the floor like a DTM racecar driver. Once the perfect location is chosen with the 8 way power adjustable front seats, the interior begins to feel cozy, and everything seems to be right where it should.
Complimenting the leather upholstery is a beautiful contrast between the Maple wood and brushed aluminum panels in the doors, and the Maple continues onto the center console. The small diameter steering wheel is excellent; the size is one of those touches that make the driver think they are back behind the wheels of a sports car. The only drawbacks to the steering wheel are the numerous buttons and switches that make it seem more like an F1 item than something out of a luxury SUV and can be distracting to operate while driving.
The center stack is one of the best that I have ever seen in an automobile because there is so much being controlled in such a small space so simply. Starting up top with the navigation screen there are controls for the vehicle’s navigation system, a button to activate the hazard signal, a camera button to view the Around View Monitor and another that cycles between AM, FM and Satellite Radio. Just below the screen are the rest of the audio controls, and even though the driver can cycle through preset radio stations with the switch on the steering wheel, it is nice that Infiniti has kept the easy to use tuning knob that makes for a much better low tech solution. Just underneath the audio are the straightforward controls for the dual zone climate control system. The finishing touch of the center stack, reminding passengers that the FX is truly a luxury vehicle, amidst all the digital technology, is the classic Infiniti analog timepiece.
The FX50S handles like a sports car. The lightweight 21 inch Enkei’s reduce the unsprung mass and the four 265 series tires combined with the ATTESA E-TS all wheel drive system provides the luxury SUV with more than enough mechanical grip. Despite the hefty curb weight of 4686 pounds, that is distributed almost evenly (53/47) across the front and rear wheels, the FX exhibited very little body roll. Our Infiniti featured Continuous Dampening Control, with a Sport and Auto mode. The CDC monitors a multitude of sensors and continuously adjusts the dampening of the shock absorbers to provide the optimal ride and handling for the driver. In both Sport and Auto the FX translated every bump in the road to the occupants, perhaps a Comfort mode could solve the harshness, but that would not be very sports car like. Another drawback to the sports car features is the excessive amount of road noise produced by the 21 inch tires when traveling at highway speeds.
New for the 2009 Infiniti FX are a 5.0 liter V8 that produces 390 HP and the seven-speed transmission attached to it. The new power plant is up 70 horses from the 4.5 liter V8 previously found in the FX, and is enough to push you deep into the seatback when the engine is singing at full throttle. The eight cylinder engine features VVEL, the electronic valve control system works to broaden the torque curve, in the FX50S it peaks at 369 lb-ft. The semi-automatic transmission features a Sport mode that matches revs while downshifting and can be shifted by either the gear lever or the leather wrapped magnesium paddle shifters. The powerful engine/transmission combination means that the FX50S will sprint from 0-60 MPH in only 5.5 seconds, a time typically reserved for sports cars.
So who should buy an Infiniti FX50S? If it is overall comfort that you are after, the luxurious interior and comfortable ride of the FX35 may be more of what you are looking for. However; if you have the need to carry 5 passengers, want the safety and convenience of an SUV, but still want to have lots of fun behind the wheel then the Infiniti FX50S is just what you are looking for.