By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/7/2011
When introduced in early 2003, the Infiniti FX brought to the market an over-the-top look that was unlike any sport-utility-type vehicle previously available, and the second generation was even more extreme. Now, the 2012 Infiniti FX receives a forward-looking face in combination with what is described as an all-new FX Limited Edition. After several years of using the same basic architecture, time for a new FX approaches but, for the present, you can't disregard the emotional pull of a classic.
If you enjoy combining maximum performance – especially when equipped with Infiniti's 5.0-liter V8 – with a modicum of utility, the FX Infiniti delivers fully on that promise, and does so at a price point below its Euro competition.
Those seeking a reasonable balance of "sport" and "utility" may be disappointed in the 2012 Infiniti FX, as its sporting attributes and in-your-face design tend to overwhelm the utility portion of that blend. That said, it provides more versatility than Infiniti's G37 while occupying a much smaller footprint than the large Infiniti QX56.
For 2012 the Infiniti FX has a new front grille and fascia inspired, we're told, by Infiniti's Essence Concept. There's a new FX35 Limited Edition, built atop the FX35 all-wheel drive (AWD) platform; and new wheel designs, a new color and a slight remixing of option packages sum up the substantive changes for this model year.
The 2012 Infiniti FX's appearance is a blend of sport ute and sports coupe, and the chassis builds on that stylistic premise. Even at its most opulent, the FX50 AWD carries but 53-percent of its approximately 4,500 pounds on the front end – not a lot by sport utility standards. A 2012 FX35 with rear-wheel drive is some 400 pounds lighter, and that lighter weight is distributed 51/40 front/rear. In short, a balanced chassis, all-independent suspension and responsive powertrains combine to make the FX a good handler within the segment of sport utility vehicles. That performance capability is enhanced by a driver's cockpit designed to complement a driver's sporting aspirations, with a smallish steering wheel and performance-oriented gauge package. Finally, with over seven inches of ground clearance you can get to the trailhead, although you may not wish to navigate same with your FX; better to take the mountain bike.
3.5 Liter DOHC V6
Since its introduction, Nissan's 3.5-liter V6 has been a sweet spot in its family of engines. And, while wishing the engineering team had adapted the larger 3.7-liter V6 (found in the G37) for the 2012 Infiniti FX, we continue to like its balance of high horsepower with relatively low weight, compact design and reasonable efficiency.
Rarely does a corporation embrace a love-it-or-leave-it exterior design, but Infiniti threw stylistic caution to the wind tunnel with the debut of the FX. And, while we found the refreshening in 2008 more disarming than the original, there seems to be some semblance of restraint with the new front fascia for the 2012 Infiniti FX. Kudos, then, to Infiniti's risk-taking corporate culture.
You step up, as with an SUV, to get into the Infiniti FX interior but, once there, driver and passenger are enveloped by a cocoon yof luxury fully appropriate to the FX price point (roughly $44K to $60K), and fully inappropriate to the more conventional entries in the segment. Although not as extreme as the exterior might suggest, the FX interior remains daring within a competitive arena that's generally focused on a balance of design and utility. And, although the seating area is reasonably generous, a driver-centric cockpit and a (relatively) small amount of cargo volume make this a more personal expression of the SUV experience. Beyond its cubic volume is cubic technology, especially when fitted with one or two of the optional packages. The centerpiece of the Premium Package is the Hard Drive Navigation, which also includes Streaming Audio via Bluetooth wireless technology and Around View Monitor with front and rear sonar system. The Deluxe Touring Package includes maple accents and quilted leather-appointed seats. Equip your FX50 with the Sport Package and you'll enjoy sport-style front seats and solid magnesium paddle shifters.
With a new grille and front fascia, the 2012 Infiniti FX enjoys a mid-cycle freshening that has stayed true to the design team's original intent. The new look is softer than the previous FX, but you'll not confuse this Infiniti with your cousin's Nissan Rogue. Despite the new face, the general overall proportions remain the same; sheetmetal below the beltline is barely able to contain the wheel-and-tire package (especially when the FX is equipped with 20-inch wheels), while topside the greenhouse looks slightly undersized relative to the SUV's stance. Its overall look may or not play at the neighborhood Walmart, but should be absolutely perfect on Rodeo Drive.
Befitting both the category and Infiniti's pack-it-with-value mantra, both the FX35 and the FX50 benefit from a wide array of standard features. On the outside it includes High Intensity Discharge (HID) xenon headlights, a power moonroof, power rear liftgate, rear privacy glass and dual exhaust. Inside there's even more, beginning with dual-zone automatic temperature control, rear-seat heating and cooling vents, leather-appointed seating, 10-way power driver's seat, 8-way power passenger's seat, black lacquer interior trim and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The FX50 moves the needle a few notches higher, with quilted-leather upholstery, advanced climate control, tonneau cover and entry/exit assist for driver's seat and steering wheel.
First and foremost – in our view – is the availability of all-wheel drive on what was designed as a rear-wheel drive (RWD) platform, giving you all-season capability with AWD and a performance orientation on dry roads. When fitted with all-wheel drive, the FX35 still has only a little over half of its weight on the front wheels, in stark contrast with many crossovers suffering from a 60/40 front/rear imbalance. Most options are bundled into packages. The Premium Package includes navigation, XM NavTraffic and NavWeather, 8-inch WVGA color touch-screen display and Streaming Audio via Bluetooth. The Deluxe Touring Package (FX35 only) builds on all that's inside with 20-inch alloy wheels, maple interior accents, climate-controlled front seats and quilted leather-appointed seating. The Technology Package includes Intelligent Cruise Control, Intelligent Brake Assist, Lane Departure Warning and Distance Control Assist. The Sport Package ups the ante for 2012 Infiniti FX50 drivers wanting to take on BMW X6 drivers, with Continuous Damping Control, Rear Active Steer and various sporting upgrades.
The 2012 Infiniti FX35 is powered by the same 3.5-liter V6 engine as in previous models; with 303 horsepower, it's all the FX really needs. Status and speed will lure many to the more expensive 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. Both engines are connected to a 7-speed automatic transmission with both manual-shift mode and Adaptive Shift Control.
303 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
262 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 (RWD), 16/21 (AWD)
390 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
369 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20
A base 2012 Infiniti FX35 with rear-wheel drive (RWD) starts at just under $45,000, while all-wheel drive (AWD) adds almost $1,500. The FX50 with AWD standard has a base of right around $60,000, and can approach $70K with all options (both factory and port-installed). Infiniti's well-equipped FX35 AWD Limited Edition will have a window sticker of approximately $52,000. The Acura ZDX has the same price spread – $47,000 to $57,000 – while offering even less utility. The Audi Q7, BMW X6 and Porsche Cayenne are similarly priced at the low end of their respective ranges, but both the BMW and Porsche can quickly accelerate past the $100,000 mark. Before negotiating, be sure to check KBB's Fair Purchase Price, which shows the typical transaction prices for the 2012 Infiniti FX in your market area. Residual values for the FX should be roughly the same as those of the Cayenne and Q7, but below those of BMW's X6.