2011 Infiniti FX35 AWD

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 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

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