In the world of luxury/performance crossovers, the Infiniti FX-series has stood apart from the crowd. It’s controversial styling definitely separates it from the herd. The first generation FX debuted as a 2003 model, while the second generation was introduced in 2009. The FX is getting a mild refresh for 2012 but is essentially the same as the 2011 model seen above. So while the FX has been around for awhile, this is The Garage’s first crack at living with one for a week, and to see how it stacks up against the competition.
To say the FX stands out from the crowd is an understatement. This is not a crossover for the timid. The FX is all about style and assertion. While in general Infiniti uses restraint in its use of chrome, I could not help but wonder if the side gills were really adding to the design. I liken the FX’s styling to that of a fit NFL player dressed in a Savile Row suit. Elegant, fit, yet aggressive. Charging down the highway with our FX filling the mirrors of slower cars, the FX’s aggressive face and stance was akin to parting the Red Sea. Our test car, finished in a tasteful Blue Slate oozed class, while the 21″ wheels definitely added to the serious sport factor intoned with the FX.
Inside, the FX continues the fine-tailored theme. Fit and finish cannot be faulted, and the quality of materials were exceptional. Swathed in wood, leather, and aluminum, the cabin ranks as one of my personal favorites for the year. The quilted leather front seats looked terrific, and were quite comfortable. As tech-laden the FX is, the controls are fairly intuitive, and should not take long for the average person to mind their way around the FX’s features. Our test car ‘s interior was finished in what Infiniti calls ‘Wheat’, but what I consider a cash cow for auto detailers. The hue is simply too light to be practical. Less than a year old and under 10k miles on the clock, our test car’s floor mats were in dire need of a shampoo job, and every little mark or scratch shows everywhere. This is an interior color that will age and soil very, very quickly.
The FX is available with two engines-an FX35 V-6 or FX50 V-8. While the FX35 is available in rear or all-wheel drive, the FX50 is only offered with all-wheel drive. Our test car was the FX50, featuring a 5.0L V-8, good for 390hp, paired with a seven-speed automatic. Around town, the FX50 is easy to live with, but to experience the FX50 is to unleash it on the highway. Acceleration is explosive once on an on-ramp, and passing power is well, done before you even think about it. The soundtrack coming from the V-8 only adds to the intense character the FX takes on when pushed. However, you pay a price at the gas pump for all this, with 14/20 MPG city/highway. The FX35, which has a still reasonable 303hp, is better at the pump, but the buyer of the FX50 wants that V-8 audacity, and is willing to pay for it.
The FX50 has a base price of $56,400USD, and is very well equipped. Our test car added the Deluxe Touring Package (maple interior accents, aluminum pedals, 21″ wheels), Sport Package (Continuous Damping Control, rear active steer, sport seats, magnesium paddle shifters) and R-Spec high friction brake pads for a total of $62,295, including delivery. Inexpensive? Hardly, But our FX50 has nearly every creature comfort known to man with performance that can keep up with modern muscle cars. The Porsche Cayenne S has similar power, but if optioned like our Infiniti, it would run you $10-15,000 more.
Yet for as much as I’ve sung the FX50’s praises, in closing, I just don’t understand it. It’s seriously fast and luxurious, but at the end of the day, it is a crossover. A crossover is a car/suv mix, and by that definition, the FX isn’t so great. I don’t think I could fit three adults in decent comfort in the back seat. As for cargo space, the FX is pathetic, and its high lift over doesn’t help matters at all. With the FX, Infiniti has chosen style and performance over practicality. While that may be fine with some people, I walked away from the FX50 confused. While I admired the performance and comfort, why would I buy a crossover that offered so little in the way of utility?