Road test: 2011 Infiniti FX35
My neighbours may not have known I was driving a 2011 Infiniti FX35 last week but they certainly recognized luxury when they saw it.
I was just driving down the block in Infiniti’s midsized crossover/SUV when my neighbours made very complimentary comments about the FX35. Infiniti may be a luxury brand, but it isn’t as top-of-mind as Mercedes or BMW, so I was both surprised and impressed. Surprised because they don’t always notice or comment on the scores of vehicles I have driven home. Impressed because they could tell that this was a luxury vehicle.
Popular rivals of the FX include the Mercedes-Benz ML350, BMW X5, Lexus RX350, Volvo XC90 and others.
First introduced in 2003, the 2011 is the second generation of the model.
Although it is similar in size to the Nissan Murano, it is actually quite different. While the Murano shares a front-wheel-drive platform with the Altima sedan, the FX35 shares a platform with the rear-wheel-drive G35 sports sedan.
This sports-car DNA carries over under the hood. The FX35 comes with a 3.5-litre V-6. The more powerful FX50 is equipped with a 5.0-litre V-8.
Both powerplants make the FX a spirited ride. Ours was equipped with the V-6, which produces 303 horsepower. Both models feature a seven-speed automatic with standard all-wheel drive. Owners of the V-8 get 390 hp under their right foot.
The FX is now equipped with a double-wishbone front suspension, a change from the first generation’s front struts. Usually found on high-end sport sedans, the FX’s new suspension provides superior handling and ride. Despite its size and weight, the FX is quite supple on the road and pleasantly manoeuverable on twisty country roads. Standard 18-inch wheels with fat 265/60 rubber all round is a definite advantage as well.
The seats are wide and comfortable and there are an infinite number of adjustments that will cater to the majority of bodies. The interior is a bit subdued, but luxury features and touches abound. As expected, the steering wheel has a number of audio controls. I found the audio system’s button – which is probably the one used the most -on the small side.
The seats can be heated and cooled. I found the seats slow to heat – but it could just be me.
While front occupants revel in the lap of luxury, rear passengers have to endure less-than-spacious accommodation. Even the door is smaller. A swooping body is pleasing to the eye, but results in a skimpy cargo area. The low roofline also results in less glass area, affecting outward vision somewhat.
To counter that, Infiniti has equipped the FX 35 with what may be arguably the best supplemental visibility system on the market. Cameras give an all-round view when the vehicle is stationary. As well, the driver can switch cameras, choosing between forward, back or allround views. The forward one disengages once the vehicle is in motion. To top it off, the system allows operators to magnify an image. A virtual yellow line on the screen helps people parallel park with precision.
Our car was equipped with an optional Technology Package. This had a number of useful features: intelligent brake assist with forward collision warning; lane departure prevention; intelligent cruise control; distance control and adaptive lighting.
On the highway it warned me anytime I changed lanes without indicating. What was missed is a warning that there is a car in the driver’s blind spots, a feature becoming more common on vehicles in this group.
The navigation and rear entertainment package features a large eight-inch screen front and centremounted nine-inch screen rear. The navigation and audio system is voice-activated.
The FX 35 is a bit wider than some of its competitors. While this is a good thing for passenger comfort, it may be a tight squeeze in some parking spots where its width works against it.
When shopping, it is important to distinguish between a 2011 and a 2011.5. The biggest difference between the two vehicles is the inclusion of a powered liftgate in the midyear model, a very popular feature that is absent in the earlier vehicles. Trim in the interior is also upgraded, with faux wood to brighten it up.
The FX 35 impresses with its sports-sedan-like handling and ample power. While its high-tech and entertainment features are equally as impressive, they come with a $9,350 additional tab. But once you see the system in action, it’s hard to turn it down.
It may be difficult to articulate what sets the FX35 apart from its competitors, but its luxury appeal is never in question.
THE SPEC SHEET
Type: mid-sized luxury crossover, front-engine, all-wheel-drive
Engine: 3.5-litre V-6, 303 hp at 6,800 r.p.m., 262 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 r.p.m.
Transmission: seven-speed automatic
Dimensions (mm): Length, 4,859; width, 1,928; height, 1,680; wheelbase, 2,885
Curb weight (kg): 1,950
Price (base/as tested): $52,800/$64,040 (includes $1,890 freight)
Options: Technology package (includes intelligent brake assist with forward collision warning; lane departure prevention, etc.) $3,500, Navi and mobile entertainment package, $5,850
Tires: 265/60 R18 on alloy wheels
Fuel Economy (L/100km): 13.3 city, 9.3 highway
Warranty: four-years/100,000 new car and roadside assistance, sixyears/110,000 powertrain