Z DNA also is clearly evident in the way the FX35 handles itself. Here's an SUV that's just itching to go out to play. The FX's rack-and-pinion steering is superb and direct with zero slop or delay. Large-diameter four-wheel vented anti-lock disc brakes with electronic brake force distribution and Brake Assist are equally responsive and give excellent feedback. The ride is nearly as animated as the ML's, but the Infiniti's motions suggest sports-car connectivity, not the machine-age heftiness of the Mercedes. Which means the FX embodies a very un-SUV-like crispness in its steering and braking response. For the most part this is a good thing, although on rough roads (or even on concrete freeways with raised expansion strips), you may wish the FX offered a "comfort" setting on its suspension. Add the 20-inch wheels of the optional Sport Package, and the FX will be riding on four even-less-compliant tire sidewalls.

More 350Z flavor shows up in the interior of the FX35. The supportive front bucket seats feature the Z's inboard power controls for cushion fore/aft and seatback rake angle, and the gauge pod moves up and down with the adjustable steering column. Real aluminum trim is sprinkled about liberally. But there are differences. The cowl of the FX is necessarily taller, and luxury-grade leather and vinyl trim replaces the Z's more techno surface treatments. Rearward vision is compromised by the sharply sloping roof and thick rear pillars, and getting in and out of the rear seat requires a tricky maneuver to get past the rear wheelhouse.

The ATTESA E-TS all-wheel-drive system is a $1500 option. But even without AWD, the FX35 does tricks.