Infiniti FX45: Everything you Want, Nothing you Need
- September 1, 2006
- Infiniti, On The Road: Driving Impressions
- Posted by George Peterson
- Comments Off on Infiniti FX45: Everything you Want, Nothing you Need
If Nissan’s Xterra is a tough, rugged, and capable off-road, dust and dirt-gobbling machine providing owners with everything they need and nothing they don’t. Xterra’s pavement-pounding antithesis is the Infiniti FX.
I’m now convinced that Japanese is the new German in the automotive kingdom and the Infiniti FX is a testament to that fact. Fit, finish, gaps, ride, handling, and performance; the infiniti FX has it wired. Introduced in January 2003 and given a minor facelift for ‘06 the FX is more fun and fashionable than most SUV’s, but then again it’s not technically an SUV.
The Infiniti FX is classified as a CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle). Infiniti even gets extra credit for brazenly branding the FX as a ‘crossover’, as they confidently displayed the term on their window sticker. I do think that most would agree a ‘crossover’ loosely translates into a car-based SUV. However, I’m not sure that the average car buyer is quite ready to interpret and use that term to identify a vehicle segment.
In a lot of ways the Infiniti FX reminded me of the Volkswagen Touareg. It has a relatively high center of gravity and definitely felt heavy but at the same time it was agile and fast. Contrary to popular belief, the Infiniti FX is NOT a really nice Nissan Murano. The Murano is based off of the front wheel drive Nissan Altima platform while the FX shares its platform with the rear wheel drive Nissan 350Z, Infiniti G35 and Infiniti M35/45. True to form, once behind the wheel of the Infiniti FX “crossover”, its sports car platform definitely shines and helps to blur the crossover segment even more.
More sport, less utility
Launching from 18-inch rims spinning to the tune of $38K for a base model the nicely equipped 320 horsepower FX45, on a set of factory 20-inch rims, leads to a price tag over $50K. The FX is available as either an all-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive vehicle with a conventional but incredibly smooth five-speed transmission (with ‘manual shift mode’). Nissan planted their ubiquitous 3.5 liter V6 in the engine bay, or for an extra kick in the pants you can order it up with their 4.5 liter V8. Some may not be convinced that the V8 makes enough positive gains in horsepower over the V6 (320V8 vs. 280V6) to warrant the additional weight and/or fuel consumption. Nevertheless, if you can afford the FX45 you can afford the fuel. In both highway and city driving our V8 managed to drink about a gallon of premium every sixteen miles.
Even though the FX could be criticized for having a whole lot of sport with not much room for utility I for one would be willing to make that kind of sacrifice. So too were over 26,000 people last year. Most people seem to either love or loathe the FX’s exterior styling but I’ve got to hand it to Nissan for being bold enough to build a vehicle that looks more like a concept car than your neighbor’s box on wheels.
Inside the FX
Unfortunately, the ingress/egress is about as easy as getting into a Mercury Space Capsule, especially for any astronauts wanting to duck into the rear seat before launch. Luckily the interior will more than make up for anyone’s aversion to the exterior and any space cadets who make it into the really comfortable seats will find both an intelligent and functional interior. The center stack was well laid out. Controls were intuitive, I personally loved the backup camera and virtual guides, but the tire pressure monitoring system left something to be desired.
The tire pressure monitoring system indicated four tire pressures from top to bottom. First, second and fourth tires indicated 34psi while the third one down indicated 32psi. I wasn’t sure if the third one down correlated with the left rear tire or if I should get out and check. What a simple but truly important piece of information.
In two words: ‘Japanese Touareg’. I think anyone with a budget of 40-50K interested in a quick, nimble, unconventional CUV or SUV, who doesn’t need a whole lot of utility should definitely take the Infiniti FX out for a test drive. It may not exactly be everything you need in a utility vehicle, but it might just be everything you want.
Comfortable, Intelligent, Usable interior
Second row seats adjust and fold flat
Binnacle and steering wheel adjust in unison
Great back-up camera with guides (day and night use)
Rear seat cup holders (great placement!)
Power windows, door locks, window locks were not ergonomically positioned for either driver or passenger (citing: interior door grab bar and length of reach)
Not many cubbyholes/storage compartments
Not a lot of storage space in rear cargo area
Rear axle had some float and a little wheel hop (*Only really noticed when going over a bump around a corner)