2011 INFINITI FX35 Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
January 29, 2011

The 2011 Infiniti FX35 and FX50 put the priority on looks and performance, and it's no secret that a little utility gets sacrificed in the process.

The 2011 Infiniti FX can look like a coupe if you squint just right—and that's exactly the effect Infiniti was going for with this sexy crossover design. The high-utility wagonlike profile is there; it's just not the priority in this design.

Last redesigned for 2009, 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. 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 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. With either of the engines, the seven-speed automatic shifts quickly and responsively, too. The V-8 is even faster—about a second faster to 60 mph, in about five seconds—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. Overall, steering feel is about as good as it gets in a utility vehicle of any kind, and body control is superb. You'd never guess you're in such a heavy vehicle; the FX has great poise without ever feeling tanklike.

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The interior of the 2011 Infiniti FX35 and FX50 is in many ways also comparable to that of a sports car or sport sedan. While it gives front occupants plenty of comfort and enveloping support, it neglects backseat passengers to a degree, and cargo space suffers because of the curvy design.

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.There are also a few high-tech options that might help avoid an accident in the first place. Lane Departure Prevention follows lane markings on the road, notifies the driver, and can even apply the brakes lightly, while an advanced cruise control system can bring the FX to a complete stop if traffic slows.

The FX50 comes with bigger, showier wheels, but that's about the only difference between the two models. Options are limited to big-ticket tech features like a lane-departure warning system, an adaptive suspension, adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, and a navigation system with an especially good display and interface. The navigation system comes with a 9.3-gigabyte music-storage feature, and Bluetooth is well-integrated.

8

2011 INFINITI FX35

Styling

The 2011 Infiniti FX has a sexy shape and an aggressive road presence, but its collection of details can lead some to assess it as cluttered.

The 2010 Infiniti FX might look like a coupe; that's the intent. 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.

Last redesigned for 2009, 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. Along with the even more aggressive shape and a lower front grille, Infiniti added 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.

9

2011 INFINITI FX35

Performance

Behind the wheel of the 2011 Infiniti FX, it feels like a lower sport sedan and, compared to most crossovers, it's very satisfying to drive.

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. With either of the engines, the seven-speed automatic shifts quickly and responsively, too.

The V-8 is even faster—about a second faster to 60 mph, in about five seconds—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. Overall, steering feel is about as good as it gets in a utility vehicle of any kind, and body control is superb. You'd never guess you're in such a heavy vehicle; the FX has great poise without ever feeling tanklike.

7

2011 INFINITI FX35

Comfort & Quality

In the name of performance and styling, some utility gets sacrificed. But the great front seats and opulent cabin might help you forget about it.

The interior of the 2011 Infiniti FX35 and FX50 is in many ways comparable to that of a sports car or sport sedan. While it gives front occupants plenty of comfort and enveloping support, it neglects backseat passengers to a degree, and cargo space suffers because of the curvy design.

In front, the seats are about perfect—nicely padded and somewhat bolstered for curvy roads, also heated and cooled in most models; most will find them great for a long day of driving. 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—though surprisingly little legroom. And 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.

The FX35 has a ride that's firm without being at all jarring, though FX50 models tend to ride firmer, to the point that Rust Belt drivers might find it uncomfortable over frost heaves and the like. 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.

Interior materials, fits, and finishes are astoundingly good, and the woods, leathers, and other trim materials look just as good up close as they do from a distance.

7

2011 INFINITI FX35

Safety

Although crash-test info is slim, a full feature set and active safety technologies appeal to those who enjoy driving but want to stay safe.

While there isn't much to go on in terms of crash-test results, what's available is good news. While the 2011 Infiniti FX hasn't been crash-tested by the federal government—and it likely won't be because of its relatively low sales—the insurance-funded Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has, and gave it top 'good' ratings for frontal and rear impact (although they also didn't test it for side impact).

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.

There are also a few high-tech options that might help avoid an accident in the first place. Lane Departure Prevention follows lane markings on the road, notifies the driver, and can even apply the brakes lightly, while an advanced cruise control system can bring the FX to a complete stop if traffic slows.

Visibility is of course an issue, as you might guess given the curvy body and thick rear pillars, but it's not as bad as you might think. Since the FX isn't as high as other crossovers and SUVs, so you're more at street level. Get the optional Around View Monitor, and it helps a lot with parking, showing an overhead view of the vehicle.

10

2011 INFINITI FX35

Features

The 2011 Infiniti FX models don't skimp on the features, while they give tech-heads some excellent reasons to option up.

The 2011 Infiniti FX models are true luxury vehicles, meaning that whether you go for the 2010 Infiniti FX35 or FX50, either version comes equipped with pretty much everything you'd expect for comfort. And if you want some cutting edge tech features, that's a little extra.

The FX50 comes with bigger, showier wheels, but that's about the only difference between the two models. Options are limited to big-ticket tech features like a lane-departure warning system, an adaptive suspension, adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, and a navigation system with an especially good display and interface. The navigation system comes with a 9.3-gigabyte music-storage feature, and Bluetooth is well-integrated. For 2011, a power rear liftgate has been made a standard feature across the FX line.

5

2011 INFINITI FX35

Fuel Economy

For what the Infiniti FX is—a rather tight five-passenger vehicle—it's not at all green.

The Infiniti FX line, quite bluntly, isn't very green, as it has quite the thirst for premium gasoline. Based on several different driving experiences, our editors have seen mid to upper teens in mixed driving with the V-6 and low teens with the V-8, and EPA ratings are as low as 14 mpg city, 20 highway (for the FX50).
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