By KBB.com Editors
There are only a handful of true performance-oriented crossover SUVS. Among the more notable are the Porsche Cayenne, the BMW X6 and the all-new 2009 Infiniti FX. Like its competitors, the FX is more a tall performance sedan than a rugged off-road explorer. True to its Infiniti roots, the new FX is fast, loaded with luxurious trappings and technological gadgetry and is one of the most alluring and fun-to-drive vehicles in its class. And, if you can live without the V8 engine, the V6-powered FX35 can even be classified as affordable – at least by luxury car standards.You'll Like This Car If... You May Not Like This Car If...
If you like open and airy cabins and need plenty of cargo space behind the second-row seat, the FX's cocoon-like cockpit and diminutive cargo hold won't cut the mustard. Enthusiast drivers with these needs might be better off in the Porsche Cayenne or Land Rover Range Rover Sport.What's New for 2009
From a distance you can still make out the familiar silhouette, but draw nearer and the changes to the totally redesigned 2009 FX become clearer. Beyond its wild grille and headlamp treatment, chrome side fender vents and racy wheels, there's a new 5.0-liter V8 engine, prompting the FX50 nameplate.Driving It Driving Impressions
We drove the FX50 on a number of winding mountain roads and it performed to expectation, exhibiting excellent steering and braking response, a well-balanced chassis and quick acceleration. The rev-matching seven-speed transmission seemed to have a problem making quick decisions, but we were able to bypass the computer brain with the paddle shifters. Push the FX50 into a turn too quickly and you'll activate a whole host of electronic chaperones (the Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive, Vehicle Dynamic Control, Rear Active Steer and Continuous Dampening Control suspension assist) that quickly return control to the driver. When not pushing the FX hard, we thought the ride was a bit harsh over uneven or rough surfaces, with the large 21-inch wheels being a possible reason. Those looking for a softer balance between ride and performance might prefer the FX35.Favorite Features
This feature not only maintains a set distance between the FX and a vehicle ahead of it, the Distance Control Assist can actually slow and even bring the FX to a complete stop with no driver intervention.
Around View Monitor
Using strategically placed cameras under the side-view mirrors and at the vehicle's front and rear, a full 360-degree outside view can be displayed on the FX's LCD monitor, helping reduce blind spots when parking.
The FX's interior was designed to create the feeling of driving in a low-slung performance sedan. The narrow side glass and ten-way adjustable front seats (FX50) create a cozy cockpit, while the rear seat provides two adults with surprisingly good rear-seat head and leg room. Available steering wheel-mounted magnesium shift paddles help the driver keep both hands on the wheel when shifting gears, and a large console-mounted LCD display set at eye level provides at-a-glance access to the navigation and audio settings. Although the instruments are generally well arranged and easy to operate, the myriad of buttons that accompany the Technology Package can be a bit overwhelming, and are clustered near the driver's knee where they are difficult to see and reach.Exterior
Although the overall shape is still familiar, fresh sheetmetal and an aggressive new front end make the 2009 FX a bit more edgy than the original. The three-dimensional grille is patterned after rippling water, while the swept-back cat's-eye headlamps create a rather menacing scowl. When viewed from the side, there are prominent and massive wheels, a short hood, even shorter front and rear overhangs and a very short rear end. Infiniti has also tacked on a few things we think the design could do without, such as the side fender vents that are becoming quite common on many new cars.Notable Standard Equipment
The V6-powered FX35 features dual-zone automatic climate control, Intelligent Key with push-button start, a power moonroof, eight-way power seats with power driver's lumbar support, 18-inch wheels, leather seating surfaces, a rearview monitor and an 11-speaker Bose audio system with CD player and an auxiliary audio input jack. The FX50 adds a V8 engine, Intelligent all-wheel drive, Around View parking monitor, heated and cooled front seats, a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, 21-inch wheels, hard-drive navigation and an iPod interface. Standard on all FX models are front side-impact and front and rear side-curtain airbags, electronic stability and traction control and anti-lock brakes (ABS).Notable Optional Equipment
Most of the FX's options are bundled into packages, with many of the FX50's standard features being made available on the FX35. The Premium package adds climate-controlled front seats with driver's-side memory, Bluetooth, tilt-down side-view mirrors, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel and paddle shifters. The Navigation Package adds a hard-drive navigation unit with voice recognition and 9.3 gigabytes of music storage, XM NavTraffic, Around View monitor and front and rear sonar parking assist. The Technology Package is offered on both trims and adds Intelligent Brake Assist, Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Control Assist and rain-sensing wipers. Unique to the FX50 is the Sport Package, with adjustable Auto and Sport-mode suspension, Rear Active Steer, Adaptive front headlamps with auto-leveling feature and driver's seat with power side bolsters.
The FX35 is powered by the same 3.5-liter V6 engine as in last-year's model; with 303 horsepower, it's all the FX really needs. Status and speed will lure many to the all-new 5.0-liter V8, which employs Infiniti's Variable Valve Event and Lift (VVEL) technology to maximize fuel economy and performance. Rated at 390 horsepower, the V8 provides a big increase in power over the V6 without much difference in fuel economy.
303 horsepower @ 6800 rpm
262 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 (RWD), 16/21 (AWD)
390 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
369 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20
The rear-drive FX35 has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $43,000, while all-wheel drive adds about $1,500. The FX50 starts around $59,000 and, when fully loaded, approaches the $70,000 mark. The Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7 are similarly priced, while the BMW X6 starts at about $10,000 more. To make your best deal, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price, which shows the typical transaction price paid for the FX in your area. We expect the FX to hold its resale value as well the previous generation, which is to say, very well indeed. Over time, resale values should be on par with the Porsche Cayenne V6 and Land Rover Range Rover Sport, but below those of the BMW X6 and Audi Q7.