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Sheetmetal can lie, but the Infiniti FX doesn't tell fibs. The look is coupe-like, and so is its performance.
So how does that affect what it's actually supposed to be--a crossover utility vehicle? The quick answer is that It makes the FX a flawed, but enormously fun car to drive. One with not a lot of back-seat or cargo space.
At first glance, the FX is the best example of its kind, the usually awkward marriage of a fast, sleek shape and a tall-wagon body. It doesn't work on the BMW X6, but the FX is mostly a success. It's low, sculptured, with a roofline that drops quickly once it clears the front doors. There's some excessive detailing in the lighting and on the front fenders, but on the whole, it's a shape that's still fresh and intriguing five years into its current look--even longer on the same general theme. The same's true for the cabin, which doesn't lack for buttons or switches, but mutes the clutter of switchgear with rich finishes like available quilted leather and subdued wood trim.
Whether you choose the V-6 or the V-8, the FX has startling acceleration--especially when you consider its chunky curb weight. The V-6 is upgraded this year from 3.5 to 3.7 liters, and from 303 to 328 horsepower, which nets a mild gain in gas mileage--not the FX's strong suit, still. It's quick enough to rip off 0-60 mph times in the six-second range, but if that's still not up to snuff, the 390-hp V-8 will cut that by about a second. A rev-matching seven-speed automatic is the only transmission, and it's at its best in sport mode. Shift quality isn't quite as seamless as the latest eight-speed ZF boxes, though. All-wheel drive is an option on the FX37, standard on the FX50, and it's a significant penalty in weight and gas mileage. Handling is the FX's forte: "for a crossover" hardly applies to its quick, more natural-feeling steering and very firm ride that gets choppy as wheel sizes rise from standard 18-inchers on base models.Inside, the FX37 and FX50 are delightful—provided you're in the front seats. Like many sports cars and sport sedans, the FX seems to give those in front good comfort and enveloping support while neglecting backseat passengers. It's surprisingly cramped back there. Cargo space also suffers because of the curvy design and high cargo floor.
All the standard safety features that you might expect here come standard in the FX, and as with most luxury vehicles in this price territory, a number of (expensive) high-tech active-safety options might help you 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. A surround-view camera system is one of Infiniti's most useful new tech pieces, with its 360-degree view of the parking space around you.
Between the two models, there's very little feature difference at a standard-feature level; the FX50 comes with bigger, showier wheels, but with the new Limited Edition, you can get 21-inch graphite-finish wheels, dark-tinted headlamps, adaptive front lighting, and other extras on the FX37 AWD. The available navigation system comes with a 9.3-gigabyte music-storage feature, and Bluetooth is well-integrated. Other big-ticket tech options include a lane-departure warning system, an adaptive suspension, adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, and a navigation system with an especially good display and interface.
With the FX, Infiniti has a smart character actor. It needs more like it--the lineup is a little shy on star power, compared to the broader offerings at Lexus, Mercedes, and Audi. It's not right for every role--but when it is, the FX can be perfect.