In creating the recipe for the wild-eyed FX45, Infiniti’s engineers didn’t restrict themselves to the usual-and nearly undetectable-pinch of sport in their utility vehicle. No, they dumped in a whole jar of the stuff. And for the most part, we’re thrilled with the results: blazingly quick acceleration, seriously effective vented disc brakes, eager cornering response. But the foamy-mouthed pursuit of sport created a vehicle with one major drawback: a tiring, stiff-legged ride. Blame the FX45’s standard sport-tuned struts and dampers, twenty-inch wheels, and 50-series tires. But behind the glory-grabbing FX45 lies the slightly less extreme FX35, whose more balanced ingredients yield a tastier dish. The FX35 rides on somewhat less stylish-but hardly puny-eighteen-inch wheels and more forgiving 60-series rubber. Its strut/multi-link suspension is a bit less stiff. And as a result, its ride is far better.
Despite this, the FX35’s character is otherwise very close to that of its sibling. Thanks to its low-for-an-SUV center of gravity, handling is still very responsive. The 3.5-liter V-6’s 280 horsepower (only 35 less than in the FX45’s brawny V-8) means performance drops only from crazy fast to darned quick. And the cabin has the same style and comfort-provided you pop for the $2600 Premium package to get leather. But even with the Premium package, the FX35 still runs a cool $5925 less than its high-strung stablemate. Think of the FX35 as a tasty dish garnished with fifty-nine $100 bills.