Pre-Owned: 2003 to 2008 Infiniti FX35
“Bionic Cheetah” on the Cheap
When has anything else with such rounded-off lines looked quite so aggressive? The Infiniti FX was truly ahead of its time, not just from a styling point of view but also from a technical standpoint. The FX came out in 2003 when the majority of SUVs were still following the body-on-frame template and the word “crossover” wasn’t in such regular use. Even car-based crossovers were generally conservative—like the Honda CR-V, for example, sticking to a ho-hum front-drive Civic platform.
Infiniti, however, took a different route and built its first premium midsize crossover on a rear-wheel-drive, sports-car foundation. This is the FM platform, which also serves as the basis for the Nissan 350Z and the Infiniti G35 coupe. FM refers to the front/midship location of the engine, placing it slightly back from the front axle and improving weight distribution and steering response. With sleek, low-slung styling, the FX beat other fastback SUVs to the market by at least half a decade. Infiniti was so proud of its styling that it even referred to it as a “bionic cheetah” in some press materials. The man who designed the FX is Mamoru Aoki. He is now executive design director at Nissan and still doing excellent work.
Even the base FX35 is a nimble performer, with plenty of power from its engine. It is, of course, the excellent Nissan/Infiniti VQ-series (VQ35DE, to be specific) 3.5L V-6, shared with the two aforementioned sports cars. This is an all-aluminum engine set at a 60-degree angle, with four valves per cylinder, variable-valve timing, and molybdenum-coated pistons to combat friction. There’s also the higher-rent FX45 variant, with a 315hp, 4.5L V-8.
The FX35 debuted with a healthy 280 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. Naturally, all-wheel drive was available, and this system can send 100 percent of the power to the rear wheels or shift 50 percent to the front when necessary.
As well as energy and agility, there’s a fair amount of standard equipment, such as 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control (with vents in the B-pillar), and reclining rear seats. Cargo space is 27.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats, or 64.5 cubic feet when they’re folded down (measured without the optional sunroof). That’s not as good as its boxier rivals, but such is the price of sleek styling.
The FX line had a facelift in ’06 with a revised grille and bumpers. The suspension was tweaked, the interior was treated to redesigned instruments, and a new center console housed the 7-inch color display for the now-standard rearview camera setup. Other standard equipment included power adjustment for the steering column, 10-way power-adjustable driver seat, leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, and an 11-speaker Bose audio system.
Apart from the option of iPod connectivity, ’07 was a quiet year. Due to new measurement standards, ’08 (the final year of this generation) lost 5 hp and a few units of torque. Satellite radio became standard at the same time.
Some common issues are premature wear of the front wheel bearings, fading of the black trim above the door windows, and inaccurate fuel gauges (reading empty when there’s still a quarter of a tank left and not showing completely full after topping up).
Pricing out an ’06 model with all-wheel drive, about 128,000 miles on the odometer, and in good condition brings up a figure of $7,182 from a private owner. A similar BMW X5 with the 3.0L engine might go for $4,773. The ’06 Cadillac SRX is valued at $4,330. Someone interested in an FX35 might easily find a Lexus RX 330 a bit of a yawn to drive, but applying these same criteria results in a value of $7,754. Lexus is known for enjoying strong resale values, but Infiniti is not far behind.
2003-2008 Infiniti FX35Body type: 4-door crossover/SUV
Drivetrain: Front engine, RWD/4WD
Airbags: Driver, front passenger, front side, side curtain (2003-on)
Engines: 3.5L, 280hp DOHC V-6 (’03-’07); 3.5L, 275hp DOHC V-6 (’08)
Brakes, f/r: Disc, disc, ABS
Price range, whlsl/retail (KBB): $2,654/$6,939 (’03, FWD); $7,285/$12,590 (’08, AWD)
NHTSA frontal impact rating, driver/fr pass: Five stars/five stars