I'm not going to wax poetic about how great a family car the 2012 Infiniti FX50 is because it isn't the most practical car for families due to its cramped second row and lack of cargo or storage space. But maybe practicality is overrated; if it isn't your main concern, I highly recommend the FX50.
Apart from its pragmatic shortcomings, there is a lot to like with the FX50. Its looks are fresh and stand out in the crowd of conservative-looking midsize luxury SUVs. Its interior is filled with high-tech features and luxurious surfaces.
Best of all, the 5.0-liter V-8 engine is a wonder. It forces you to let your hair down and have fun when behind the wheel. It quickly responds to your need for speed. This all-wheel-drive crossover handles curves, corners and mountain roads with equal enthusiasm. It makes driving to the grocery store wildly fun. It also makes driving the kids to school wildly fun, even if you do have trouble squeezing them into the FX.
Its last major makeover was in 2009, and the 2012 FX50 sees many updates. The grille and front end have been redesigned and the gauges' lighting also has been revised. Adaptive headlights are now part of the Sport Package.
The 2012 Infiniti FX50 has a starting MSRP of $59,350. Thanks to the addition of the Technology and Sport packages, my test car cost $66,545.
The midsize luxury crossover market has always struck me as lackluster looks-wise. The majority of cars in this class seem conservative in their styling. However, the 2012 FX50 is an original. It's got flair with its aerodynamic detail, and the new grille and higher hood give it some edge.
Other standard features that complete the FX's look include 21-inch alloy wheels, automatic bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights, heated side mirrors, a power liftgate — a practical offering for those of us with wee ones — and a power-sliding moonroof.
My 18-month-old couldn't climb into the FX unassisted. My 3- and 5-year-olds could get in by themselves, but it was a struggle. My younger kids also had a difficult time opening the doors on their own in part because they lacked the strength needed to yank the door handles. My oldest child did manage to get the door open on his own.
The 390-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 engine begs to be driven. It growls as the automatic transmission works through its seven gears. My test car had the optional Sport Package ($3,100) that includes paddle shifters and Continuous Damping Control with Auto and Sport modes that elevates the driving experience by tightening or softening the suspension.
Intelligent All-Wheel Drive with Snow mode is standard, and it came in handy since I drove the FX50 during an onslaught of heavy snow here in Colorado. It gets an EPA-estimated 14/20 mpg city/highway, and premium fuel is recommended.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On
The FX50's cabin is filled with luxury. Since I find luxury to be completely practical — I don't get enough of it in my daily life, I might add — I partially rescind my statement that this isn't a practical family car. Maple wood trim and aluminum accents decorate the cabin with a mix of warmth and flair. A crystal-clear screen showcases the standard Around View Monitor, Bose audio system and navigation system. While the multitude of buttons on the center stack looks imposing, it's intuitive to use.
Quilted leather upholstery offers a balance of cushion and support for the driver and front passenger. Heated and ventilated front seats are standard. My test car also had optional thigh support for the front seats as part of the Sport Package. It's a great option for longer-legged drivers.
Comfort in the second row isn't as forthcoming because it's cramped back there, and this is a large part of the FX's impracticality. Taller passengers and those who have more than one child in a child-safety seat will suffer the most.
Another area of impracticality is the limited cargo and storage space. There are only four cupholders in this five-seat crossover. Aside from the small center console and small rear armrest cubby, there is a distinct lack of storage. Rear cargo volume is a miserly 24.8 cubic feet with the rear seats in use, but it expands to an improved 62 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. This is meager compared to the Lincoln MKX's 32.3 cubic feet of cargo space or the 40 cubic feet that the Lexus RX boasts. But then again, when I compared the FX50's looks and engine to those competitors, I started to feel OK again.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
The FX50's impractically continued when I tried to install child-safety seats in the backseat. The two sets of lower Latch anchors, which are in the outboard seats, are awkwardly embedded in slits in the leather. By awkward, I mean tough to find despite the slit and a pain to use. Two forward-facing convertible child-safety seats fit in the FX, but they leave little room for maneuvering. Three child-safety seats won't fit in the second row, and the front passenger should be warned that he'll be kissing the glove box if a rear-facing infant seat is installed behind him. Click here to learn how the FX performed in Cars.com's Car Seat Check.
The FX50 is impressive when it comes to its other safety measures. It has standard all-wheel drive, active front head restraints, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, an electronic stability system with traction control, and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows.
What makes it stand out are its standard vehicle immobilizer system and Around View Monitor that makes a normal backup camera look shabby. The Around View Monitor uses four cameras to create side, top, front and back views of the car. Infiniti's Personal Assistant service is free for four years with this car; it's a 24-hour concierge service that's useful in the event of an emergency, if you're lost or if you simply want to find the nearest Indian restaurant. Even I'll admit to some practicality in that.
The FX50's brakes also merit attention. While testing this crossover I noticed their responsiveness. They're equipped with four-piston front and two-piston rear aluminum calipers, which is car-geek speak for sporty and awesome.
To up the safety quotient, opt for the Technology Package ($2,900) with lane departure warning and prevention system, adaptive cruise control, intelligent brake assist with forward collision warning, and adaptive headlights.
Get more safety information about the 2012 Infiniti FX50 here.