Infiniti FX35
"Unexpected" is the word that describes Infiniti's take on the entry-level luxury- SUV formula. Nowhere in the rulebooks of carmaking does it say you can spin a sport/utility vehicle off a sports-car platform. Yet this new Infiniti does just that. The FX35 is a Nissan Z with stadium seating, decent ground clearance, and plenty of luggage space. Okay, the fast rake of the rear roofline does mean that your new wide-screen television might have to go on the delivery truck instead of into the FX's cargo hold, but what price slinkiness? The FX35 is a vehicle with tremendous curb appeal.

Nissan engineers took the basic structure of the 350Z, added reinforcements in the body side sills and wheelhouses, and replaced the Z's control-arm front suspension with a MacPherson-strut arrangement. Other Z componentry surfaces here and there in the FX's steering wheel, gated automatic transmission shifter, and lots of parts you can't see. One you can feel and hear is the rorty 280-horse VQ DOHC V-6.

As with the 350Z and another stablemate, the Infiniti G35 (2003 Motor Trend Car of the Year), the FX35's power delivery is smooth and crisp, with right-now throttle response. There's ample torque up, down, and all around for any driving situation, always accompanied by a not-too-loud 350Z intake growl. The FX never feels flat-footed. The sound trumpeting from the FX35's large-bore dual exhaust is pure Z, too.