NEWS EDITOR GREG MIGLIORE: The Infiniti FX is one of my favorite crossovers to look at. It is one thing to make a sports car look good, but this five-passenger crossover is killer. The bulging fenders bookend a long hood, the headlights are piercing and there's chrome in all the right places, calling attention to vents on the quarter-panels and highlighting the greenhouse. Plus these wheels look like something straight from SEMA. It all flows and works together in harmony, making an everyday vehicle anything but average.
I was impressed with the cabin, which is nicely done in black leather in this tester. It's simple and presents well. The atmosphere is also quiet, with just a bit of wind and tire noise entering at expressway speeds. The navigation system is sharp, too, offering three-dimensional graphics to show off landmarks along the way. I saw Detroit's historic Fox Theatre in dramatic clarity on the screen even before I realized I had almost rolled past it on Woodward Avenue.
The V6 is strong, eager and propels this decent-size vehicle to speed with ease, and it works well with the seven-speed automatic. The FX35 is a solid execution, and I think it's one of the standard-bearers in the segment.
DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: I've been hard on some of our Infiniti fleet cars. The G37 IPL and the M35h just never really clicked with me, being reasonable entrants in their respective classes but nothing special. And for the price Infiniti still commands, they'd better be something special.
Fortunately, the FX35 lives up to its billing. It's not often that a crossover stops me in my tracks, especially one from the Ace and Gary School of Design. But the theme works well on the FX: 20-inch wheels help what's essentially a tall design appear to squat down in fluid motion even standing still, and the black chrome adorning everything from the wheels to the grille to the luggage carrier was just gorgeous against the deep blue paint worn by our tester.
Inside was more of the same. Where I've found some Infiniti models sterile because of the lack of appointments, the FX seemed to offer just the right blend of luxury and European spartan design ethic. The driving position was instantly comfortable, and I thoroughly enjoyed the glove-leather texture of the steering wheel--get the steering wheel right and I can forgive a few sins. After all, it's the gateway to the driving experience.
The FX sports Z-car roots, and the heritage is apparent after just a short drive. Unlike the similarly sized Nissan Murano with its dowdy CVT and front-drive bias, the FX35 requests that you sit back, look out over the long hood and proceed to go as fast as you like, as quickly as you care to get there. The outstanding VQ-series V6 and the seven-speed autobox are happy to service your request. Big binders clamp down to get you out of trouble, and the FX handles with aplomb in most situations short of an actual racetrack.
Quibbles are limited to steering that's a bit too sensitive at freeway speeds--it adds to the sporty feel but can require too much concentration at times--and the Infiniti's rather prodigious thirst. A mere 21 mpg highway doesn't cut it in this day of the 28-mpg three-row Ford Explorer. Even the Infiniti's direct competitor, the BMW X3 xDrive 35i, manages a solid 26 mpg on the open road.
The FX35 is expensive, too, slotting comfortably into BMW and Mercedes-Benz territory in the low-$50,000 range. It's so different, though--an avant garde sport-luxury crossover?--in so many ways that it's tough to pigeonhole the Infiniti into any specific category. That alone makes it worth consideration.
EXECUTIVE EDITOR BOB GRITZINGER: Infiniti's FX models have been the odd ducks from the start, with the tall slab sides, high sills and slammed lids. It's a look that takes some getting used to, but for those looking for an alternative in the boxy or egg-shaped world of crossovers, it's a truly different styling statement. Almost artsy, in an automotive-sculpture way.
Points by other editors are spot-on--the underlying chassis and powertrain feel eager and ready to be pushed, whether that's off the line to redline or around a corner at the limit. The engine runs strong, and the suspension backs up the vehicle's sporty appearance. It might even be a little too hard-charging for those who want more comfort in their ride, but I thought it was just about right.
As noted, the steering is on the over-responsive, darty side, but that could have as much to do with the big meats on these 20s as anything. It could get tedious on a long drive.
Everything inside is done in luxury fashion, with all of the right goodies and a great driving position. The FX might not be everyone's favorite, but that's only another reason to be among those in the FX crowd.
2012 Infiniti FX35
Base Price: $52,445
As-Tested Price: $52,445
Drivetrain: 3.5-liter V6; AWD, seven-speed automatic
Output: 303 hp @ 6,800 rpm, 262 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
Curb Weight: 4,284 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA/AW): 18/18.4 mpg