2010 INFINITI FX35 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
November 4, 2009

The 2010 Infiniti FX35 and FX50 are great choices for those who need a little extra versatility but above all want to look good; those interested in hauling plywood need not apply.

In order to compile this comprehensive review covering the 2010 Infiniti FX35 and FX50, the experts at TheCarConnection.com have driven both variants of this performance utility vehicle, then scanned a wide range of reviews for the most useful information for shoppers—especially how the FX stacks up against other vehicles like it.

From some angles, the 2010 Infiniti FX might look more like a coupe, and that’s exactly the effect that Infiniti was going for with this curvy crossover vehicle. Unlike other vehicles of this size and relative shape, the FX is geared toward sport-sedan buyers—those who want great overall performance and handling, not off-road ability or an optimized space for changing diapers. The high-utility wagonlike profile is there; it’s just not the priority in this design.

With last year’s redesign, the FX became even more coupelike in its profile—in some ways taking a step in the direction BMW forged with its X6, and Acura with its ZDX. Along with the even more aggressive shape and a lower front grille, Infiniti adds quite a few styling details to the exterior—including rippled headlight and taillight designs and metallic ducts just behind the front wheels. Inside, too, although the design of the new Infiniti FX feels warmer and more sophisticated than the previous version, it’s also undeniably more cluttered. The sheer busyness of the design might bother some—with too many curves and cues that are shared with the Nissan Cube MPV—though otherwise it feels rich and elegant.

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As before, the Infiniti FX can be had as an FX35, with a 303-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, or as an FX50, with a 390-hp, 5.0-liter V-8. Both offer a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive and get a new seven-speed automatic transmission. For most buyers, the V-6 will be plenty fast, and the engine is still among the sweetest V-6 engines around. The V-8 is even faster, but V-6 version with rear-wheel drive are clearly the best-handling of the bunch, with all-wheel-drive models possessing a different steering feel and V-8s seeming noticeably heavier. And steering feel is about as good as it gets in a utility vehicle of any kind. Fuel economy was slightly improved with the FX’s redesign for ’09, but it’s still embarrassingly low by some city-dwelling standards, at 16 mpg city, 23 highway with the V-6 (down to 14/20 mpg with the V-8).

For those who plan to carry much cargo behind the backseats—or even the front ones—the FX still isn't a great choice. The load floor is high, and the rake of the hatch and back window is somewhat limiting. Backseats also are tough to get into with the arch of the roofline in the way, but once you're in, there's just enough space for two adults. The FX has great poise without feeling tanklike, and a ride that's firm without being at all jarring. And unlike Infiniti's G and M sport sedans, the FX's interior doesn't become much noisier on coarse road surfaces. Materials are like those used in luxury sedans, not SUVs, and there are plenty of delicate details, like the soft leather, with criss-cross stitching, for the sport seats.

The 2010 Infiniti FX hasn’t been crash-tested by the federal government, and it likely won’t be, but the insurance-funded IIHS has awarded the FX35 and FX50 scores of "good" for frontal offset and "good" in the seat-based rear-impact test. In addition, it has all the safety features that buyers of this type of vehicle should expect: standard front side airbags, side-curtain bags that protect outboard front and rear passengers, anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control.

There’s not very much of a difference in features between the FX35 and FX50. Aside from bigger, showier wheels for the FX50, they both come as well equipped as any luxury vehicle. Options are limited to big-ticket tech features like a lane-departure warning system, adaptive suspension, and a navigation system with an especially good display and interface.

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2010 INFINITI FX35

Styling

The 2010 Infiniti FX is good-looking but also cluttered to some eyes, and it packs some attitude.

The 2010 Infiniti FX might look like a coupe; that’s the intent. With last year’s redesign, the FX inherited an even more aggressive form, with a lower front grille, plus a few more styling details to the exterior—including rippled headlight and taillight designs and metallic ducts just behind the front wheels.

The new look is certainly divisive from the outside, though more reviewers express admiration for it. Autoblog says the Infiniti FX “looks pissed. Not angry in a 'you used Equal instead of Splenda in my soy vanilla latte,' but more of a 'if you don't give me your chocolate, your money and your first born, I'm going to channel Ghenghis Khan and get 13th century on your ass.'” Automobile Magazine is a bit more genteel in its assessment of the new FX Infiniti: “we think it's a striking design and a worthwhile follow-up to the iconic first-generation vehicle.”

According to Cars.com, "The FX's beady headlights and snout-nosed grille are at least as controversial as those elements on its predecessor—if not more so." Motor Trend states that "the 2009 Infiniti FX expands upon the first generation model with a more aggressive, almost angry look."

“Its low-slung body, rounded corners, short overhangs, and sinewy lines set it apart from boxy SUVs,” Motor Trend continues, pointing to the “longer, sharklike snout's sculpted headlights flank a trapezoidal grille filled with horizontal dark-chrome waves.”

Inside, too, although the design of the new Infiniti FX feels warmer and more sophisticated than the previous version, it’s also undeniably more cluttered. The sheer busyness of the design might bother some—with too many curves and cues that are shared with the Nissan Cube MPV—though otherwise it feels rich and elegant.

The cabin of the FX50 “is a big step up from the FX45's,” Automobile adds, “with the same sort of ‘double-wave’ instrument panel that has appeared in other recent Infiniti products.” Cars.com reviewers like the fact that "the leather seats can come with quilted center inserts."

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2010 INFINITI FX35

Performance

Although each model, the FX35 and FX50, has its merits, no one will deny that the 2010 Infiniti FX delivers extremely satisfying performance.

Most reviewers agree with TheCarConnection.com in saying that the standard 303-horsepower V-6 will be plenty fast, and the engine is still among the sweetest V-6 units around. The V-8 is even faster, but the V-6 version with rear-wheel drive is clearly the best-handling of the bunch, with all-wheel-drive models possessing a different steering feel and V-8s seeming noticeably heavier. Overall, steering feel is about as good as it gets in a utility vehicle of any kind.

It’s clear that Car and Driver appreciates the performance in the FX50. “This new V-8 packs a mega-punch. We saw 60 mph flash past in 5.0 seconds in our FX50S, with the quarter-mile dispatched in 13.6 seconds at 104 mph. That’s quicker than a Mustang GT.”

Regarding the FX35, Car and Driver says that “performance is hardly shabby,” citing a 0-60 time of just 6.1 seconds. ConsumerGuide, though, feels that the Infiniti FX35 is just "adequately powerful on the highway."

Motor Trend says, “Power comes quickly and effortlessly as the FX50 rockets to speed, and the transmission makes it easy to keep things in check when descending steep grades.” ConsumerGuide also notes that the "busy 7-speed automatic is indecisive and too quick to shift during hill climbs or highway passing maneuvers."

Autoblog reviewers say when taking the FX on back roads, the FX's capabilities make them feel "less than impressed." Additionally, "shifts are somewhat sluggish and the paddle shifters aren't nearly as immediate as they need to be." In contrast, “the engine and transmission are well matched,” according to Motor Trend, while Car and Driver comments that the transmission in the FX50 can shift in a very rough, unrefined way during light acceleration.

Fuel economy is slightly improved with the FX’s redesign for ’09, but it’s still embarrassingly low by some city-dwelling standards, at 16 mpg city, 23 highway with the V-6 (down to 14/20 mpg with the V-8). A further downside: Premium fuel is required for both engines.

In terms of handling, Autoblog raves about the fact that "the four-wheel independent suspension has been recalibrated (double wishbones up front and a multi-link rear setup) and aluminum has been used throughout the new FX, from the suspension to the doors, to shave 200 pounds off the curb weight."

“The best part about the FX35, however, is that it drives better than the FX50,” asserts Car and Driver, pointing to lighter steering, a suppler ride, and a more carlike feel overall.

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2010 INFINITI FX35

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Infiniti FX has impressive, luxurious materials. Backseat and cargo space aren’t afterthoughts, but they’re not priorities either.

For those who plan to carry much cargo behind the backseats, or even the front ones, the FX still isn't a great choice. Just like a sport coupe in some ways, the 2010 Infiniti FX favors styling and performance over functionality—to a degree.

Autoblog says, "The seats are heavily padded and provide suitable bolstering; they're also heated and cooled, and come in a variety of materials. The dash is easy to read, and the steering wheel is sufficiently chunky with just enough redundant controls to avoid technological overload." Cars.com gives the FX Infiniti good marks for having "power adjustments for the front seats are standard," though notes that "heated and cooled seats are optional" rather than standard.

Motor Trend is typical of many reviewers regarding the FX, choosing to gush over the beautiful interior finishes more than assess how much actual space is available: “The cabin has undergone major changes, with new gauges, steering wheel, and quality materials.” Car and Driver says, “the FX’s interior finish improves several notches with diamond-pleated leather detailing and hockey-stick-shaped accents of real wood on the doors.”

Still, Motor Trend recognizes “utility is not as high a priority as is performance.” The source notes that cargo space actually decreased with the FX’s redesign last year.

TheCarConnection.com notices that the load floor is high, and the rake of the hatch and back window is somewhat limiting. Backseats also are tough to get into with the arch of the roofline in the way, but once you're in, there's just enough space for two adults.

There’s a lot of evidence that the FX50 has a firmer, almost punishing ride compared to the more compliant FX35. After living with an FX50 for some time, Car and Driver notes that “the big wheels mean a harsh ride most of the time.” Autoblog feels “the ride is certainly better than the outgoing FX and even with the dampers set to Sport it's not the kidney-punishing affair we previously endured." Motor Trend notes that “the ride isn't soft, not by a long shot, but it's much better than in the previous FX.” Infiniti has done better with the second-generation car.

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2010 INFINITI FX35

Safety

Although the crash-test data isn’t complete for the 2010 Infiniti FX, a full feature set and some advanced safety-minded options suggest that it’s a good choice for the safety-minded who’d rather avoid an accident in the first place.

The 2010 Infiniti FX hasn’t been crash-tested by the federal government, and it likely won’t be, but the insurance-funded IIHS has awarded the FX35 and FX50 scores of "good" for frontal offset and "good" in the seat-based rear-impact test.

In addition, the FX35 and FX50 have all the safety features that buyers of this type of vehicle should expect: standard front side airbags, side-curtain bags that protect outboard front and rear passengers, anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control.

Plus, there are a few more high-tech options that might help avoid an accident in the first place. Cars.com says that the Lane Departure Prevention "can scan the road for lane markings and, should the FX Infiniti drift too close, apply light brakes to keep it in its lane." But what's really great is the FX's "advanced cruise control system can bring the vehicle to a complete stop in bumper-to-bumper traffic."

Visibility is an issue, but Motor Trend points to the optional Around View Monitor, “which shows an overhead view of the vehicle” and alerts the driver to obstacles all around the perimeter of the vehicle.

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2010 INFINITI FX35

Features

There’s no skimping when it comes to features in the 2010 FX35 or FX50. And you can option up to some technological marvels that might make everyday driving safer and more convenient.

Whether you go for the 2010 Infiniti FX35 or FX50, either version comes equipped with pretty much everything you’d expect in a luxury vehicle. The FX50 comes with bigger, showier wheels, but that’s about the only difference. Options are limited to big-ticket tech features like a lane-departure warning system, adaptive suspension, and a navigation system with an especially good display and interface.

Autoblog gives kudos to Infiniti’s adaptive cruise control. All you have to do is "set the cruise control at any speed between 1 and 90 mph and the FX keeps a safe (three-second) following distance from the car ahead. It's easy, functional and could turn into a necessity for those of us in traffic-choked urban areas." Autoblog also likes the fact that the Around View Monitor, a safety feature that comes in handy for parking, "worked flawlessly during our drive and prevented us from scraping those delicious dubs when trying to fit into a parking space in San Diego's Gas Lamp District."

Cars.com notes that in the FX, Infiniti installs many new features, such as "an electronically adaptive suspension, which continually reacts to changing road conditions, is optional on the FX 50. So is Rear Active Steer, which can angle the rear wheels slightly to enhance turning precision.” Steering-wheel paddle shifters are optional, they note.

ConsumerGuide points out other features, such as "a 9.3GB hard drive to store digital media files, an advanced climate control system that filters mold and deodorizes air, a voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic information, DVD entertainment, and a wireless cell-phone link."

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