Poised isn't a word we write too often when talking about crossovers. The Infiniti FX (next year, the Infiniti QX70) is different. Related to the G37, the FX can't help but feel more composed, and more content to tackle the road than the duller utes at other luxury brands.
Though it's near the end of its current model life, the FX merits a new engine this year, with the old 3.5-liter, 303-horsepower V-6 yielding its space to a 3.7-liter, 328-hp six shared with other Infinitis. As the Nissan/Infiniti V-6 has grown in displacement, it's grown a little less tame, and there's slightly more noise and vibration than you'd find in a similarly sized six in, say, the Lincoln MKX. Power's never in question, though: it's still among the sweetest engines around, and it's plenty quick, with 0-60 mph times in the 7.0-second range.
A seven-speed automatic with a sport mode and rev matching--and on V-8s, paddle shift controls--is the only gearbox, and its sport mode and paddles are in step with the FX's aggro personality. Left in D, the FX doesn't go out of its way to snap off downshifts until you're more than a quarter-deep into the throttle--where it lets out a rasp and leaps forward with some mild shift shock. It's easier to drive more smoothly using the semi-manual controls.
Adding all-wheel drive to the six-cylinder also puts on a couple hundred pounds, and weight's already the FX's archenemy. It may be the only crossover of its kind where we imagine how much better it would be if it dropped 300 or 400 pounds.
Closer yet to the sporty-coupe borderline is the FX50, shod with Infiniti's 390-hp, 5.0-liter V-8, the seven-speed automatic, and standard all-wheel drive. For most buyers, the V-6 will be plenty fast, but the V-8 is clearly even faster—about a second faster to 60 mph, in well under six seconds. Still, we tend to think its appetite for premium gas and for vacuuming up speed limits will make the FX37 the default choice.
Despite the chunky curb weight (4,200 pounds minimum), the FX crossovers handle as if they're considerably lighter, and they have a sense of poise and balance on a curvy road that's better than most other SUVs and crossovers. All-wheel-drive models add some all-weather ability, but beware that the systems still have a rear bias, plus low-profile performance tires, so the FX isn't a great Snow Belt crossover. We've also noted that AWD models have a somewhat less communicative steering feel, and the FX50 AWD feels (and is) hundreds of pounds heavier.
Ride quality varies depending on which model you choose. In the FX37, it's firm without being at all jarring, though opting for the 20-inch wheels over the standard 18-inchers can induce some real ride harshness. The FX can get very choppy on urban interstates, where pavement junctions don't always meet eye to eye. Thankfully, unlike Infiniti's G and M sport sedans, the FX's interior doesn't become much noisier on coarse road surfaces. The FX50 offers an adaptive set of shocks along with an active rear-steer system, which come with 21-inch wheels; they add cost and complexity, and don't necessarily net the major handling gains to justify either.