Base Price: $42,350
As Tested: $53,915
Gas Tank: 23.8 gallons
EPA: 16/21mpg (city/hwy)
Engine: 3.5-liter, V-6 , 303-horsepower
Curb Wgt.: 4,299 lbs.
Length: 191.3 inches
Width: 75.9 inches
Wheelbase: 113.6 inches
Height: 66.1 inches
A High-top Sneaker on Wheels.
A Station Wagon that Morphed with an SUV on Steroids.
What the Aztek should have been via Photoshop.
Road Test: 2009 Infiniti FX35 AWD
Words: Gerry Miles | Photography: Zane Merva
The SUV that collided with a Sports Car.
Those, and many more since this is a family publication, are some of the names that onlookers gave to the 2009 Infiniti FX 35 when it arrived for a week, bathed in a bright gold – it is Mojave Copper – and sitting on optional 20-inch wheels.
Actually, Infiniti calls the all-new second generation 2009 FX series – there’s an FX 45 and the tested 35 – a bionic cheetah for its athletic, sculpted looks. It’s an apt phrase for such a vehicle that looks fast, athletic and expensive.
However the tested model AWD model, with its optional 20-inch wheels (265/50R20 tires), and shorter, smallish upper body better resembled a puppy that hadn’t yet grown into its paws.
Regardless, this is one vehicle that stands out for a number of reasons, least of which is the polarizing styling that leaves little equivocation in the eye of the beholder.
This is one vehicle that will only take a short drive to discover the copywriters undersold this vehicle’s achievements and abilities.
There’s no way to properly describe the abilities, agilities and technologies that are packed into this amorphous shaped vehicle that has the deft handling of a, well, cheetah, a raw and raucous yet refined ride that belies the FX’s size, and is a technological test bed of the most amazing passive and active safety items I’ve yet seen inside any vehicle that was not a concept car at an auto show.
Since one never gets to make a second first impression, the FX’s distinctive styling is such that once it’s seen you’ll never forget it – and that’s a reason some will buy this because it won’t be seen on every street corner en masse. Its polarizing stance also sends others running.
From its oversized snout to the short, bobbed backside with short front and rear overhangs, the FX is a stylist’s dream. The large front end is accented by a wide-mouthed grille with rippled inserts and the Infiniti emblem, a thin line of embedded headlights along the top of the fenders that show off the arched hood lines atop the wide open wheel wells. And those gills behind the wheel wells? They work. They funnel air into the engine well and back out.
A 5-passenger mid-level luxury SUV, the FX 35 is big on style and performance but less so with interior space. Up front there’s plenty of room in the tall-backed bucket seats, but those in the back – where two adults rather than three would fit in extended comfort – have a traditional, yet leather clad, 60-40 split bench seat that converts to yield very little in the way of interior cargo capacity.
Though the company claims you can put 4 full-sized golf bags inside, no one or few, as a friend pointed out, would really expect this to masquerade as a minivan/wagon/crossover on steroids.
The cockpit is full of style, knobs, buttons and a two-tiered dash with a large 8-inch dash screen with more controls, systems and auxiliary functions than one can imagine, especially in a week’s time.
For starters, there’s a Lane Departure Warning (LPW) system that beeps constantly unless switched off, telling you that you probably could not color between the lines nor keep the FX35 between the road’s white lines either.
If the traffic closes in on you as it does in Massachusetts, say on Route 128 and you have to stop before you realize it, the FX35’s Distance Control Assist (DCA) kicks in, slows you down, pushes on the brake and prevent you from running up on the trunk of slow or stalled traffic.
Perhaps the best feature, and one I hope migrates to other vehicles, is the “around view” monitor that shows what’s behind you but also around each side. Four, small wide-angle cameras give a complete 360-degree view that is a great safety aid. Ironically, despite the vehicle’s tall stance and swoopy styling, and what appears to be a narrow rear window, the greenhouse is spacious and there never were blindspots as one would have imagined.
Backing into any spot is a breeze with a clear view from the dash and a colored path on the screen behind the FX that moves as you move the steering wheel, ensuring an accurate parking job.
Regardless of its 4,244 pound curb weight, the FX is light and deft on its 265/50R20 tires and nimble merging through Market Square as well as along the Exeter waterfront, along Route 108 into Durham and across lightly rutted roads.
Equipped with all-wheel-drive, and an independent front and multi-link rear suspension kept things on the level without any feel of leaning or tilting that its size predicts could be possible.
Rather it’s a refined and righteous ride that doesn’t disappoint and could be considered rewarding with its 16/21 EPA numbers for its 3.5-Liter, 303 hp, V-6 engine offering. For those desiring the need for speed, opt for the FX 50 and the larger, 5.0-liter, 390 hp, V-8 engine. A rear-drive only FX is rated at 16 mpg city/23 highway and 19 combined.
The power is channeled through the only transmission offered for any of the FX models, a new 7-speed automatic transmission that’s hardly no matter how urgently one presses the pedal.
Amazingly, the need for premium unleaded for its motor belies its size as I registered 21 mpgs on my commute, according to the multi-function car computer.
Call it whatever you want, but the FX35 AWD is a dream car/SUV/crossover that does a lot of things well and even thinks for you with the optional systems available.
You can get performance at a price if you add options that run the sticker up quickly, but I doubt you’ll have a bad day driving this vehicle, enjoying its amenities and all it has to offer, providing cargo room isn’t high on the list.