I have very fond memories of our Four Seasons 2003 Infiniti FX45. Back then, closing each print issue required a trip to Chicago and, more often than not, I was one of two designated to make the drive. There was never a shortage of excellent vehicles in our test fleet, but after driving the FX45 once, I was hooked and it became my go-to vehicle for the monthly 500-mile trip. It provided the perfect mix of speed, handling, and luxury, and its elevated ride height allowed for a good view of the road ahead and eased the claustrophobia of the inevitable Chicago toll road traffic.
The FX35 is the progenitor of a growing segment that now includes the BMW X6 and the Acura ZDX. (As an aside, it says something about the American car-buying public that we now have a choice of three large, expensive, low-utility crossovers with froglike profiles but only one affordable rear-wheel-drive roadster.) Despite the fact that it's had only one minor redesign in its seven years on the market, this pioneering crossover coupe has held up well.
The Infiniti FX is probably one of the least functional crossover vehicles on the market today, thanks to its compromised interior space and-particularly-luggage space. (The cargo area offers no storage under the floor, either, an area that's completely filled by an eighteen-inch spare wheel and tire.) The FX does deserve credit for looking distinctive, though. I personally don't find that overstyled look very attractive, but the "midnight mocha" paint of our test vehicle complemented the Infiniti's curves very well.
A heavy, wet snow started falling when I was visiting a friend at the hospital, and by the time I left, the roads were at their most slippery, as the plows hadn't yet been dispatched. This FX35 wasn't equipped with snow tires, and the first turn I took was a little unnerving as I braked, turned the wheel, and the tires lost grip. However, ABS, a little bit of corrective steering, and then a step on the gas quickly righted things as the all-wheel-drive system kicked in.
Infiniti is easily the most underappreciated luxury marque and the FX35 is an excellent example of the brand's dynamic yet cosseting character. When it comes down to the crossover segment, Infiniti can go toe-to-toe with the likes of BMW. The FX35's V-6 is a far cry from the smoothness of a BMW inline-six, but it moves the heavy metal with authority. Only the most self-indulgent drivers need to consider the optional V-8. The FX35 steers and handles nicely, yet I'm equally impressed with the ride quality.