REVIEWS: 2011 Infiniti FX35 AWD

April 5, 2011
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.
2011 Infiniti FX35 Front Three Quarters
The 2011 FX still successfully marries those qualities and is as entertaining to drive as ever. The FX35's V-6 may not be as brutally fast as the V-8-equipped FX50 but unless you're looking for bragging rights, the V-6 is the wiser choice. It provides more than enough grunt and ups the EPA rating by 2 mpg for a combined rating of 18 mpg. The smooth automatic's seven gears help keep the revs down when cruising at high speeds, which tend to happen quite often. Like the BMW X5, the Infiniti FX responds like a sports car when pushed, managing to feel planted and nimble, despite its not insignificant weight-nearly 4300 pounds-and its elevated stance.
The exterior is an attractive evolution of the original eye-catching design, if overly chromed and a bit fussy. Unfortunately, the sharply angled windshield and exaggerated curves over the front tires that enhance the FX's swoopy style hinder visibility and can make it difficult to accurately judge vehicle width. And speaking of visibility, I was seriously wowed when I put the FX in reverse and the "Around View Monitor" came up on the nav display. Basically, the system combines images from four separate cameras on the exterior to create a bird's eye view of the vehicle and the area surrounding the vehicle. It's so very cool and strikes me as extremely useful. It's one of the many entertainment and luxury options included in the Premium package, and although it's a staggering $4800, it also adds gorgeous quilted-leather seats and the excellent Infiniti navigation system. My only complaint is that Around View activates only when the vehicle is in reverse.
Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor
2011 Infiniti FX35 Front In Motion
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.
2011 Infiniti FX35 Front Three Quarter
By now, we've all had plenty of time to decide whether we love or hate the FX's styling. I kinda like it and furthermore find that it has stood the test of time. That bass-fish mouth still stands out in a parking lot. The cabin has a ritzy, almost bespoke feel -- special props go to the brown leather seats in our model and their beautiful cross-stitch pattern. Like every Infiniti, this one boasts an easy-to-use navigation system.
The FX was also one of the first crossovers with dynamic performance that is up to an enthusiast's standards, and it remains so. The Infiniti easily conquers highway with the sort of ease we usually experience in sporty sedans. The coarse old VQ V-6 is at home here, providing ample torque on demand and giving the Infiniti its signature exhaust growl.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
2011 Infiniti FX35 Front In Motion
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.
2011 Infiniti FX35 Front In Motion
Even with the base six-cylinder powerplant, the FX is pretty quick and is one of the more fun-to-drive crossovers on the market, with responsive handling and a firm yet not overly harsh ride. I wouldn't want wheels any larger than this car's twenty-inchers, though. (Twenty-ones are optional on the V-8-powered version.) I especially like the fact that the FX is available with rear-wheel drive, as well as all-wheel drive.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
Our brown over brown-and-black test FX35 looked great. The quilted leather seats remind me of two things: Chanel handbags and Lamborghini cabins. Both are good company.
I parked the FX35 next to our Four Seasons QX56 and had to conclude that one of these things is not like the other. There's no family resemblance between the two vehicles. One, the QX56, is big, bulky, and unattractive; the other, the FX, is as sleek and as stylish as can be.
I used the very good Bluetooth interface as I drove to work and called Automobile Magazine contributing writer and columnist Ezra Dyer. As I accelerated out of my driveway, he said, "Are you driving an Infiniti?" I said, "Yeah, how did you know?" He replied, "I could tell from the sound of the exhaust."
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
2011 Infiniti FX35 Rear In Motion
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.
2011 Infiniti FX35 Rear In Motion
That day and the next, the FX proved to be a very capable all-weather vehicle, but it's also a car that cossets the driver. The quilted leather seats add to a true sense of luxury, and the abundance of user-friendly electronic devices (navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth, etc.) means the driver has all the modern conveniences he would expect in car of this price.
The styling of the FX has grown on me. On their own, some of the features (the overly long hood, the truncated rear, the odd stance) seem strange, but when you put them all together, you get a vehicle that somehow works.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
2011 Infiniti FX35 Front In Motion
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.
2011 Infiniti FX35 Side
There isn't a company in this price segment that does interiors as well as Infiniti. Not BMW, not Mercedes-Benz, and certainly not Lexus. And yes, I'm dethroning Audi. While that brand still builds solid, luxurious cabins, Infiniti loads on the luxury with superb style and manages to do so with better ergonomics. Controls are easy to find and safe to use at speed, which is impressive considering the number of driver aids and the technology in this FX35. I also love how you sit low in the cockpit, helping to mask this Infiniti's size and better connecting you to the driving experience. You could argue that the young professionals and empty-nesters driving Infiniti FX35s would be better suited with sedans or even coupes, but when a vehicle drives this well, who cares?
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
2011 Infiniti FX35 Rear Three Quarters
2011 Infiniti FX35 AWD
2011 Infiniti FX35 Front End
Base price (with destination): $43,925
Price as tested: $54,325
Standard Equipment:
3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6 engine
7-speed automatic transmission
Intelligent all-wheel drive
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Vehicle dynamic control
Traction control
Tire pressure monitoring system
Leather seating surfaces
60/40 split rear seats
Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
Black lacquer trim
Tilt/telescoping steering column
Bose 11-speaker premium audio system
Single in-dash CD player with MP3 capability
2.0GB music box
XM satellite radio
7-inch color display
Bluetooth connectivity
Rearview monitor
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Power windows/locks
Power tilt/slide moonroof
Auto-dimming mirror
Options on this vehicle:
Premium package -- $4800
Climate-controlled front seats
Quilted leather-appointed seats
Power tilt/telescoping steering column
Single in-dash CD/DVD player
9.3GB music box
Navigation system
8-inch color touch screen
Around view monitor
Front and rear sonar system
Technology package -- $2900
Intelligent cruise control
Lane departure warning
Intelligent brake assist
Adaptive front lighting
Rain-sensing wipers
Deluxe touring package -- $2700
Maple interior accents
Aluminum pedals
Tonneau cover
20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels
Key options not on vehicle:
5.0-liter V-8 engine -- $13,450
Includes all options above as standard equipment
Rear seat entertainment -- $1510
Fuel economy:
(city/hwy/combined)
16 / 21 / 18 mpg
Engine:
Size: 3.5L DOHC 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 303 hp @ 6800 rpm
Torque: 262 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Drive:
Four-wheel
Transmission:
7-speed automatic
Curb weight: 4279 lb
Wheels/tires: 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels
265/50R20 Bridgestone Dueler H/P all-season tires
Competitors: Lexus RX 350, Mercedes-Benz GLK 350, BMW X3
2011 Infiniti FX35 Rear Three Quarters

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