Only a vehicle that comes with the option of a "Liquid Copper" exterior could dare to be as different as the new Infiniti FX45. Liquid what? FX who? Indeed. If you're wondering what liquid Infiniti's designers were consuming when they introduced a cross-breeding of car and sport utility vehicle, we can only imagine what you might think when the FX first rolls up next to you. One friend called our tester a "Matchbox car with muscle." Another said it was downright ugly. Another didn't know what to call it. I'll settle for different. As in, refreshingly unique. How else to sum up a ride that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can't even quite put its finger on? (For the record, the agency calls it a light truck.) Not since the PT Cruiser drove into town have heads had this much swivel in them. Technically, the 2003 FX is a model of what happens when carmakers try to bundle a consumer wish list into one package. Crossovers, car people call them. We've seen this in other forms: PT Cruiser, Pontiac Aztek and the Chrysler Pacifica to name a few. But we've never seen this before: A coupe-like stance, a V-8 engine, 20-inch tires, more trunk space than a sedan and more passenger room than a wagon. It's everything in one, right? Car-like racer, family-friendly hauler and stunning (if not odd) looks? Almost. I'll give Infiniti the edge in edginess, power and appearance. I'll even give it credit for breaking the mold. But I won't let the FX off on this one: You can't possibly satisfy everyone. Don't even try. While the FX is a rocket to drive and a stunner from the street, its ride will leave your passengers with the jiggles, its suspension will leave your back-seat riders stiff, and it won't leave you with much confidence off-road. That said, it works. More than just a tall station wagon, the FX offers several features that make it stand apart from the crowd. Infiniti hopes it's the sedan-SUV-wagon you want if you are performance-minded with kids but hardly stodgy. And that's not a bad thing. Available in two forms - a V-6-powered FX35 and V-8-equipped FX45 model - the first thing you notice about the FX is what can't be ignored. Infiniti's designers call it the "bionic cheetah," a low-slung stance and raised rear deck lid that make it look like a sports car on steroids. The 20-inch tires and seven-spoke alloy wheels help. It looks like it is in constant motion. Under the hood and underneath things get really interesting. Infiniti has lifted the FX45 engine from the Q45 and adapted the all-wheel-drive system from the Nissan Skyline GT-R sport coupe. Both work well. The V-8, our tester, was a 4.5-liter, 315-horsepower animal that was ready to roar. With smooth transitions through the five-speed automatic transmission, it accelerates out of the gate with a wild abandon, ready to tackl e any on-ramp. Those 20-inch Bridgestone Potenza tires stick to the road, allowing for sharp turns and smooth transitions onto highways or byways. Steering is sharp but stiff. Its wide stance creates a strong presence. Strong. Fast. Agile. Cheetah, anyone? But, honestly, the FX is more about on-road than off. Without a low-range transfer case, and equipped with four-wheel independent suspension, the FX won't tackle the wilderness very easily. Potholes? Yes. With nearly eight inches of ground clearance, it is the perfect balance of easy step-in height and the ride that is just above the crowd - on the highway at least. Inside, the FX is decked out in handcrafted leather, polished aluminum trim and a cockpit that offers a "floating" instrument cluster - move the tilt steering and all the gauges move with you. And there are a lot of extras: heated and cooled seats, a premium entertainment system and any item that starts with the word "power." But it is primarily fit for four riders, especially two back-seat passengers with straight spines. The rear seats recline, but with cargo in the back they are forced to sit as straight as a tabletop. Two rear-seat passengers complained of soreness after more than 100 miles. And, buyer beware, this is not a Sunday trip for grandma. The FX's suspension is wound so tight that every bump in the road reverberates around the cabin. Work commutes could be a little intense. For a softer ride and a more nimble trip, the V-6 might be the best option. Some annoyances: Infiniti has placed the seat controls to the right of your thigh and next to the seat cushion. It's an unusual spot that is difficult to navigate. Also, the cargo area is suitcase friendly but will have trouble swallowing a sheet of plywood. And the 20-inch tires make road noise a little intense. Some pluses: It can tow 3,500 pounds, it has lots of headroom, and blind spots are noticeably absent for a vehicle so bizarre. Something noteworthy: This is a vehicle that wants to compete with the BMW, Porsche and Lexus crowd. That means prices start at $34,745 for the rear-wheel-drive FX35 and $36,425 for the all-wheel-drive model. Step into the FX45 and you are really dishing it out - $44,770 for all-wheel drive. Our tester was more than 46 grand. It's ambitious for sure, but even a dressed-up Chevy Trailblazer is nearly 40k. And those are the buyers Infiniti is looking for. It isn't everything, but it's a little bit of something special. It satisfies those image-conscious buyers who want the SUV style with all-weather traction but don't want to give up the car-like characteristics. It's different. And it comes in liquid copper. 2003 Infiniti FX45 Rating: 2.5 High gear: A fun-to-drive, exotic-looking crossover, the FX breaks the mold and sets a different standard. With all-wheel drive and a smooth transmission, it offers the blend of cargo capacity, a load of standard equipment and a ton of safety. Low gear: Rear-seat room is a little tight, ride comfort is a little bumpy, and interior noise can be a little intense. Vehicle type: Rear or all-wheel-drive, front-engine, four-door, five-passenger sport utility vehicle. Key competition: BMW X5, Lexus RX 330, Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Trailblazer Base engine: 315 horsepower, 4.5-liter DOHC, 32-valve V-8 Torque: 329 lbs-ft. @ 4,000 rpm Safety equipment: Four-wheel vented disc brakes, dual-stage front air bags, roof-mounted side-impact air bags for front and rear occupants, traction/stability control. Wheelbase: 112.2 inches Length: 189.1 inches MPG rating: 15 city/19 highway Manufactured: Japan Warranty: Basic warranty is four years/60,000 miles; drivetrain is six years/70,000 miles; roadside assistance is four years/60,000 miles; and rust is four years/60,000 miles. Base price (FX35): $34,745 Price as tested (FX45, including options, destination and delivery): $46,854
People Who Viewed This Car Also Viewed
Closest Dealers Listing this Car
Featured Services for the Infiniti FX45
- Sell your current car quickly and easily on Cars.com.
*Invoice prices are made available by Cars.com and are not dealer advertising. All prices are subject to regional variations. Prices last updated 9/23/10. Click here for more information.