The original Infiniti FX explored the boundaries of sportiness in an SUV, though not without some drawbacks in utility. In its redesigned successor, Infiniti appears to have edged the performance quotient even higher: A 390-horsepower V-8 powers the FX50, while a 303-hp V-6 powers the FX35. A number of luxury SUVs, from the Lexus RX 350 to the Mercedes M-Class, compete with the FX.
Rear-wheel drive is standard on the FX35, and all-wheel drive is optional. The FX50 has standard AWD. Borrowing on several technologies introduced in the smaller EX35, the FX's options include an Around View Monitor system, which uses several cameras to create a bird's-eye view of the SUV's immediate surroundings. A Lane Departure Prevention system is also optional, and Infiniti's Scratch Shield paint can supposedly heal itself from minor scratches over time.
The FX's beady headlights and snout-nosed grille are at least as controversial as those elements on its predecessor — if not more so. The taillights and bumper are comparatively easier to swallow; they haven't changed vastly from before. Along the side, functional air vents reduce the FX's lift, Infiniti says.
At 191.3 inches long, the FX is about 2 inches longer than its predecessor. Overall width and height stay about the same. With rear-wheel drive, the FX35's front/rear weight distribution is 52/48. An electronically adaptive suspension, which continually reacts to changing road conditions, is optional on the FX50. So is Rear Active Steer, which can angle the rear wheels slightly to enhance turning precision.
The cabin has the same high dashboard as did the original FX. A ledge just below the windshield curls around to the window sills, and A/C and stereo controls sit below a high navigation display. The leather seats can come with quilted center inserts. Power adjustments for the front seats are standard, and heated and cooled seats are optional.
The 60/40-split rear seat can recline a few degrees. Cargo volume behind it is 24.8 cubic feet; with the seats folded, it totals 62.0 cubic feet. Both figures are slightly lower than the previous FX's, and they're well short of many competitors'.
Under the Hood
The FX35's 3.5-liter V-6 makes 303 hp, while the FX50's 5.0-liter V-8 — an all-new engine — makes 390 hp. Both engines use a seven-speed automatic transmission, a first for Infiniti. Steering-wheel paddle shifters are optional.
Standard safety features include active head restraints, side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags for both rows. Traction control, an electronic stability system and four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are also standard. The FX50's brakes sport four-piston, aluminum front calipers — hardware that suggests serious stopping performance.
A range of high-tech options include Lane Departure Prevention, which can scan the road for lane markings and, should the FX drift too close, apply light brakes to keep it in its lane. There's also a forward-warning system that uses infrared lasers to scan ahead for slowing vehicles or other obstacles. It can warn the driver of an impending collision or, if impact is imminent, apply the brakes. An advanced cruise control system can bring the vehicle to a complete stop in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Finally, a Distance Control Assist program can push back lightly on the gas pedal to warn drivers that traffic ahead is slowing down.
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