Infiniti offers four SUV/CUV vehicles: the EX35 which I found to be too small to be a proper family vehicle, the FX which we’ll look at now, the JX35 which is a great family vehicle with a not-so-great power-train, and the huge QX56 which is amazingly comfortable and handles surprisingly well.
My first experience with the FX was when in 2003 when I rented one in San Francisco. I was surprisingly smitten by the then new vehicle, complaining only about rear visibility and fuel economy. In the ten years since then the FX has undergone an evolutionary update, but does it still have what it takes to smitten me?
Many question why people like vehicles such as the Infiniti FX, BMW X6, and the Porsche Cayenne. After all they’re neither proper SUVs, wagons, or sport sedans. They try to be all those things yet do none really well. The answer is in the compromise; they do each of these things just well enough to offer the buyer 80% of they would want in a truck, a wagon, and a luxury sporty sedan, and that’s good enough for most people’s daily use.
The dash layout is a standard Infiniti fanfare, good but with room for improvement. Top-view parking assistance cameras offer much needed confidence in tight spaces as visibility over the long flat hood and small rear windows isn’t great. Overall the quality not only feels top-notch but also feels like it will stay that way for years.
The front seats wouldn’t be out of place in an M Packaged BMW; supportive, comfortable, and adjustable in many ways. The headrests, even with active head restraints, don’t beat you around the back of the head like those on Fords, for instance. Heat and ventilation in seats is a luxury must-have these days and is present here. The rear bench seat is equally nice, heated too, but lacks slightly in the leg room department, a victim of styling-over-functionality design, but it’s not bad.
It’s a heavy (4557 lbs) all-wheel-drive wagon-y thing, and as long as you keep that in mind and respect physics and local laws, you’ll find the FX50 to be just delightful. Really, take it on a twisty hilly road such as the Merritt Parkway and you’ll have a hard time picking between this and a 3-series killer de-jour.
The suspension is a nice compromise between sport and comfort, swaying more to the sport side. Part of the S package in this FX50S is a selectable shock setting that actually makes a difference and four-wheel-steering which I didn’t know was there until I returned the car back to Nissan.
The 2013 FX50S has a 390hp V8 mated to an seven-speed automatic transmission. The good news, which be a function of more power, that unlike the V6-powered Infinits I drove, this vehicle does not seem to tuned for maximum fuel economy. There is power available at all times: low-end power, passing power, and simply more power on-demand power than needed in most road situations. The obvious disclaimer is that this is still a heavy wagon-y thing and, no, it wouldn’t make a good track car.
The base rear-wheel-drive Infiniti FX35 starts at $43,700. The fully-loaded FX50S pictured here came with a price tag of $67,000. Woofa, that’s a lot of money, until you consider its competition. The two most direct competitors to the FX50S are, in my opinion, the BMW X6 xDrive50i and the Porsche Cayenne S. When comparably equipped those two vehicle surpass the price of the FX50S quite substantially. While I wouldn’t argue about the price of a badge, I would argue about which actually drives better.
The FX is not a vehicle for everyone. It’s a vehicle for those who prefer a really nice sporty do-it-all vehicle which also happens to look pretty (in my opinion). In this package come great dynamics and a very nice interior. The new FX has retained all of what I liked in the original, but the fuel economy has improved even with the eight cylinder engine. Call me smitten-ed.