As I approached the Infiniti FX50 in the parking garage, I was relieved to see Bridgestone Blizzak snow tires mounted to the massive twenty-one-inch wheels. With six to ten inches of snow expected that night, I wanted a vehicle capable of dealing with the white stuff and the long trip home.
The FX50 is definitely one of the best sounding SUVs around; the 5.0-liter V-8 growls upon startup, and it sounds possessed during hard acceleration. It’s a shame I couldn’t be more aggressive with the throttle due to the winter weather conditions. The lane-departure-warning system was useless on my journey home as the lane markers were all snow covered resulting in the constant alert chime, so I just turned it off. Another feature I turned off was the stability control, which then allowed a little more freedom to slide when the opportunity arose.
I’ve always admired the Infiniti FX50 (and the old FX45) for its ability to combine luxury and performance into an SUV. It comes at a price, however, as our test vehicle rang up a tab of $65,625; that’s well within Porsche Cayenne range.
Overall, the FX50 did a great job in the sloppy weather. My only gripes: the heated seats need to get warmer and a heated steering wheel would be a welcome touch.
Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator
Unlike my colleagues, my night with the FX was relatively clear and I had a few chances to stomp on the gas and unleash all 390 horsepower. This was my first chance behind the wheel of an FX and now I’m wondering what all the hype was about the BMW X6 and X6M’s performance. Infiniti has been building a vehicle very similar to the X6 idea for quite a while and it’s not slow by any stretch of the imagination.
One option I’d certainly skip on an FX is the odd, rear active steering. I’m pretty sure the Blizzak winter tires exacerbate the issue, but I found high-speed turns to be a bit unnerving with active rear steering. There’s a very unnatural feeling that comes from the rear of the vehicle and requires frequent correction during constant-radius turns like an on or off ramp on the highway. Otherwise the FX is very buttoned down given its physical dimensions.
It’s pretty amazing how much nicer the FX is than an EX. Interior materials are a step up as is the infotainment system. While the EX infotainment unit looks like it came straight from a Nissan, the FX unit has an upscale look that is on par with other luxury vehicles. I enjoyed the sport front buckets, but there’s no way I’d ever enjoy them enough to justify the aforementioned rear steering that’s also part of the sport package. Pitty you can’t opt for just the more supportive seats as a stand-alone option.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
I usually have to suppress a mildly disgusted yawn when I talk about one of these newfangled, sporty crossover confections, but the FX is actually quite charming. Like the BMW X6 and the rest, the FX is a heavy, gas-guzzling vehicle whose utility is dubious at best, but at least the FX has character. And by character, I mean an awesome sounding V-8. I risked flying off into the icy abyss a few times just to hear and feel its 390-hp roar. It’s styling isn’t half bad either. Sure it looks like a fish, but at least it’s a well-proportioned fish.
Infiniti does great work these days on interiors, so it doesn’t surprise me that the FX’s cabin has no problem living up to the $65,000 price tag. The general layout is rather similar to that of the smaller, cheaper EX35, but as Phil noted, everything feels much more substantial here.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
I agree with Phil Floraday. In my personal pecking order, I’d be likely to choose the Infiniti FX50 over the BMW X6. Dynamically, the bulging FX lives up to every high expectation established by the insanely capable X6. Best of all, our well-equipped test vehicle had a total price below the base price of a V-8 X6. And it looks just as weird.
Whether due to the rear active steering, the winter tires, or 390 hp, this is one tail-happy truck. Climbing the parking ramp (and taking it rather easy on the throttle) I was able to coax a noticeable oversteer before stability control reeled in the slide-fun and unexpected for an all-wheel-drive SUV this large.
The FX sports the nicest paddle shifters in the automotive industry, including sports cars. That’s because they’re borrowed from Nissan’s GT-R, but they work just as well here thanks to large size, excellent location, and being fixed to the steering column. Functionally, the Infiniti’s infotainment display is among the best out there, but graphically I find it to be standing alone at the top of the mountain. It’s nice to see that Infiniti hired some actual designers to handle the increasingly important art of the user interface.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
The FX50 is sort of an upsized version of the EX35. Like the EX, the swoopy, stylized exterior design makes for some compromised accommodations – a rear seat with less legroom that you’d expect from a large SUV and a cargo area that doesn’t have the capacity you usually get in a vehicle this size. That doesn’t mean, however, that the FX doesn’t have a certain kind of charm. Like the EX, it clearly isn’t for everyone, but its very responsive V-8 combines with a capable chassis to provide an enjoyable driving experience (especially for an SUV). At $65,000 as tested the price is quite steep, but it should definitely appeal to those with deep pockets who are looking for a vehicle that doesn’t fit into the cookie-cutter SUV mold.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
Base price (with destination): $59,265
Price as tested: $65,625
5.0L V-8 engine
7-speed automatic transmission
Speed-sensitive power steering
Vehicle dynamic control
Electronic brake force distribution
Quilted leather seats
Climate control front seats
Dual zone automatic temperate control
XM satellite radio
11-speaker Bose premium audio
9.3GB music box
AM/FM stereo with sigle CD/DVD drive
Speed sensitive volume control
Hard drive navigation system
AroundView monitor with front/rear sonar; rear view camera
8-inch color display
Auto-dimming inside mirror
Power sliding glass moonroof
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Power tilt/telescoping steering column
21-inch aluminum wheels
Options on this vehicle:
Technology package – $2900
– Lane departure warning
– Lane departure prevention
– Intelligent brake assist
– Intelligent cruise control
– Front pre-crash seat belts
– Rain-sensing wipers
– Auto-leveling headlights
Sport package – $3000
– Continuous damping control
– Rear active steering
– Sport style front seats
– Dark-tinted headlights
– Side air vents, and lower trim
– Solid magnesium paddle shifters
Aluminum roof rail crossbars – $325
Vehicle alarm impact sensor – $135
Key options not on vehicle:
Dual rear DVD monitors – $1510
Aerodynamic kit – $2070
Tow package – $680
14 / 20 / 16 mpg
Size: 5.0L V-8
Horsepower: 390 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Weight: 4556 lb
21-inch aluminum wheels
265/45R21 Bridgestone Blizzak DM-Z3 winter tires