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By Jim Flammang
March 10, 2005
Vehicle Overview With the FX45 crossover, Infiniti sought to combine sports-car performance with sport utility vehicle functionality. The FX45's 4.5-liter V-8 generates 315 horsepower and teams with a five-speed-automatic transmission that incorporates a manual-shift mode. All-wheel drive is standard, and the FX45 has a sport-tuned four-wheel-independent suspension. Nissan's luxury division also produces a similar FX35, which uses a 3.5-liter V-6.
Safety enhancements for 2005 include standard roof-mounted side curtain-type airbags. A newly available Lane Departure Warning system alerts the driver to unintended movement out of the vehicle's lane at speeds above 45 mph. Infiniti says this is the first automotive use of such a system in North America.
Exterior Flaunting a tapered back end and "taut canopy" greenhouse/pillar design that evades the customary SUV profile, Infiniti's boldly styled crossover has a wide stance, a long hood and a relatively long, 112.2-inch wheelbase.
Alloy wheels hold 20-inch tires. Aluminum roof rails and chrome-plated wheels are available. Ground clearance is 7.6 inches.
Interior Up to five occupants can fit inside the FX45, which features leather-appointed seats and a wraparound-style cockpit with aluminum accents. The steering wheel and gauges move up and down, and drilled metal pedals are installed. Rear occupants get a 60/40-split folding bench seat. Cargo volume is 27.4 cubic feet, which expands to 64.5 cubic feet when the rear seat is folded.
Automatic dual-zone climate control is standard. The optional Technology Package includes a DVD-based 3-D bird-view navigation system, a rearview monitor and "intelligent" cruise control. The Lane Departure Warning system is bundled with the optional DVD-based backseat entertainment system.
Under the Hood The FX45's 4.5-liter V-8 produces 315 hp and 329 pounds-feet of torque; it teams with a five-speed-automatic transmission with manual-shift capability. The all-wheel-drive system starts off with a 50/50 torque split, front to rear. If no slippage is detected while cruising, it begins to send 100 percent of engine power to the rear wheels. The FX45 can tow up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped.
Safety All-disc antilock brakes, Infiniti's Vehicle Dynamic Control electronic stability system, side-impact airbags and side curtain-type airbags are standard. A Snow-Mode function can enhance traction in slippery low-speed conditions.
Driving Impressions Both the FX45 and its FX35 sibling deliver a road-going experience that comes considerably closer to a sports car than a typical SUV. Each grasps the pavement tenaciously, even through demanding mountain curves. Even better, these automobiles provide a satisfying ride.
What you get in the FX45 is a healthy helping of fierce power that goes beyond the impressive capabilities of the V-6-powered FX35. The FX45 is solid throughout and has a heavy overall feel, but in a truly satisfying sense.
The new Lane Departure Warning system can discern and analyze lane markings, even in rainy weather. As the FX45's tires reach the marking � whether through driver inattention or drowsiness � the system delivers a series of mild but immediately audible beeps. A dashboard switch can shut off the system, and it doesn't operate at speeds below 45 mph.