When there's a vehicle that claims to offer the utility of an SUV with the driving experience of a sport sedan, what better way to test it out than with a cross-country road trip? That's exactly how we tried out Motor Trend's long-term Infiniti FX50 S AWD, opting to go from California to Virginia-and back.

Starting before sunrise, cargo area stuffed full, we headed south, nearing the Mexican border to connect with the first of several Interstates. As with any long trip, the adrenaline disappeared quickly after the drone of the road took over and we settled into a steady pace. The highway turned twisty, and we got to enjoy the excellent handling and sporty suspension this vehicle has to offer.

Just outside Yuma, Arizona, we discovered two important things: first, it's very easy to drive the FX at a high rate of speed, and second, the Arizona Highway Patrol likes to park, semi-concealed, in the center divider. I deserved the ticket, but I have to blame the vehicle for at least part of it: How is it entirely my fault when the Infiniti has 390 horsepower, hits 60 in 5.7 seconds, and sounds so good doing it?

There were stretches with potholes and uneven road surfaces, all transmitted into the cabin. But the combination of well-bolstered, quilted-leather seats and seat heaters made up for the occasionally rough ride. After about 17 hours, we stopped just outside Midland, Texas. If ever there's a time when you'll appreciate the Around View Monitor, which shows you an overhead view of the Infiniti, it's when you're trying to park this long-nosed, fairly wide vehicle between a big-rig and a lifted Silverado HD at one a.m. after a full day on the road.

The next morning, frost covered the grass along the highway, and we found occasional sneaky patches of ice on the Interstate, but the FX wasn't fazed. There's a lot of straight road in Texas where we were glad to have the Lane Departure Warning system and Intelligent Cruise Control, especially when fatigue set in. After another full day of driving, we reached Memphis, where it was 14 degrees and windy. The trip east turned north, as we went through the twists and turns in North Carolina. Three days and 2700 miles later, we arrived in Virginia. Soon thereafter, we were on the road again, returning by the same southern route.