About As Thin As You Can Slice A Niche
We Like: Monster power and grip, seven-speed paddles, four-sided camera.
We Don't Like: Swoopy body styling, lane-departure warning, stiff suspension.
AS IF TO emphasize that the SUV and crossover market is slicing itself much too thin right before our eyes, we have three specialized competitors for this year's competition.
They include the all-new BMW X6, the all-new Infiniti EX35, and the second-generation Infiniti FX50, the last of which has the impressive honor of being the fastest SUOTY player we've ever tested. Can you say 0-to-60 in 5.4 seconds?
Although the bottle-nose-dolphin "good" looks have just about everyone on staff scratching his head, not a single driver has complained about the 390-horsepower DOHC V-8. Unfortunately, and maybe not too surprisingly given how most of us drive, it's also gotten one of the worst fuel-economy numbers on our test route, just nipping ahead of the much heavier Toyota Sequoia and Chevy Traverse, but falling a tick behind the (also much heavier) BMW X6 and Lexus LX 570.
In some ways, the FX is a study in opposites: It has a crossover shape, but not much room inside. It wants to compete with Porsche and BMW, but its ride and handling are punishing, with its suspension tuned much too stiffly.
And while it wants to be a driver's choice in the segment, it has so many electronics that it will give anyone who enjoys driving a headache (we especially hate the Lane Departure Beep, Beep, Beep). Additionally, even when cruising around town, the throttle is touchy and jumpy, almost fighting with the engine and all-wheel-drive system.
As you might expect, the FX is not designed for dirt-road driving, let alone a challenging trail. But we can overlook that knowing the engineers didn't intend the FX to be a rock-crawler. However, there are just too many other uncoordinated pieces of design and technology working against each other to make it a strong player with our judges.
In the end, there have been too many missed targets to ignore. But there is a silver lining. The FX may just be the best argument for buyers to look at the smaller, much less-expensive, and more capable and fun-to-drive EX35.
- Mark Williams
| 2009 Infiniti FX |
| Base price range || $41,815-$57,565 |
| Price as tested || $65,065 (FX50 AWD) |
| Vehicle layout || Front engine, RWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV |
| Engine || 5.0L/390-hp/369-lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8 |
| Transmission || 7-speed auto |
| Curb weight (dist f/r) || 4670 lb (53/47%) |
| Wheelbase || 113.6 in |
| Length x width x height || 191.3 x 75.9 x 66.1 in |
| 0-60 mph || 5.4 sec |
| Quarter mile || 13.9 sec @ 100.7 mph |
| Braking, 60-0 mph || 127 ft |
| Lateral acceleration || 0.86 g (avg) |
| MT figure eight || 26.7 sec @ 0.66 g (avg) |
| EPA city/hwy econ || 14/20 mpg |
| MT observed fuel econ || 12.9 mpg |
| CO2 emmisions || 1.20 lb/mile |
| RATINGS |
| Engineering || ** |
| Design || ** |
| Interior/functionality || **** |
| Performance || *** |
| On-road refinement || *** |
| Off-road ability || * |
| Value || ** |
| BOTTOM LINE |
| Built for speed - but too much up front and not enough backside. And be ready for a rough ride. |