2011 INFINITI FX35 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

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 it's this exactly this look Infiniti aimed for when penning this sexy crossover design. The high-utility wagon-like profile is there; it's just not the priority in this design.

A pair of performance-oriented engines, a quick seven-speed automatic, and class-leading handling characteristics make the FX the SUV for enthusiasts.

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.

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In addition, both FX models come with the standard safety equipment expected by today's buyers, plus there's a roster of optional higher-tech safety features.

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.

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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 Infiniti FX is aimed at sport-sedan buyers and sacrifices utility and off-road capability on the altars of performance and style. It was last designed in 2009, when it gained a more expressive face featuring a lower front grille, rippled headlamp and taillamp designs, and metal-look ducts behind its front wheels. Inside, the Infiniti FX is warmer and more sophisticated than in its previous generation, but also more cluttered. The sheet busyness of the design may bother some--with too many curves and cues shared with the Nissan Cube MPV--but it feels rich and elegant otherwise.

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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 gets its power from two available powerplants. The base engine is a 3.5-liter V-6 with 303 horsepower on tap. Want more? Infiniti has the answer with the FX50 and its 5.0-liter V-8 good for 390 horsepower. Both engines transmit force to the rear or all four wheels via a new seven-speed automatic transmission. You can't go wrong with the base V-6 engine in the FX35. It's plenty fast and emits one of the sweetest engine notes around. With either engine, the seven-speed automatic shifts quickly and responsively, too.

But if it's speed you want, it's the V-8 you need. The FX50 is nearly a full second quicker to 60 mph, completing the task in about 5 seconds.

We think the rear-wheel-drive V-6 is the combination that offers up the best handling. All-wheel-drive models possess different steering characteristics and you'll certainly feel the V-8's heavier nose. Still, regardless of engine or driveline, steering feel is as good as you'll find in any utility vehicle this size and body control is superb. You'd never guess you're in such a heavy SUV.

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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 volume suffers because of the curvy design.

In front, the seats are about perfect—nicely padded, somewhat bolstered for curvy roads, and heated/cooled in most models; most will find them great for a long day of driving. Unfortunately, the FX's svelte roofline hampers rear-seat ingress and egress and legroom is surprisingly absent, but there's enough space to carry two adults in comfort. Don't expect much room behind the rear seats for cargo either. The FX's sloping roofline conspires with a high load floor to further intrude on space.

Both V-6 and V-8 models ride on the firm side, but the FX50 tends to ride firmer still, to the point that Rust Belt drivers might find it uncomfortable over frost heaves and the like. While neither are proper off-roaders, the FX does cancel out a lot of noise produced by coarse road surfaces unlike Infiniti's G and M sedans.

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.

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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 for crash-test results, what's available is good news. While the federal government hasn't tested the 2011 Infiniti FX—and likely won't because of its relatively low sales—the insurance-funded Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it top 'good' ratings for frontal and rear impact (although they also didn't test it for side impact). Both FX models come with the safety features you'd expect most pricepoints, such as standard front side and side-curtain airbags, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes.

There are also a few high-tech features that might help you avoid bending metal before it happens. Lane Departure Prevention follows lane markings on the road, notifies the driver, and can even apply the brakes lightly, while its advanced cruise control system uses forward sensing and can bring the FX to a stop in traffic.

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 with its birds-eye view.

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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 both the FX35 and FX50 come equipped with nearly everything you would 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.

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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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8.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 9
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 7
Features 10
Fuel Economy 5
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