The Infiniti FX35 is a luxury crossover vehicle that tilts the usual emphasis of a sport-utility vehicle from utility to sport.
Now in its ninth year, the Infiniti FX35 stakes its claim to market share on a bold and forceful design, the choice of a strong V-6 or V-8 engine, and road-holding prowess that flattens the curves more emphatically than most crossovers.
To inject some new life into the second generation of what the company calls its aggressive crossover, Infiniti has revised the grille and front fascia, upgraded instrument lighting and added standard heated front seats to all 2012 models.
In addition, it has added a Limited Edition, which, among other things, features giant 21-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, dark tinted headlights with adaptive lighting and auto leveling, aluminum roof rails, aluminum pedals, upgraded navigation system and a unique system of cameras which gives the driver a 360-degree view of what is happening outside the vehicle.
More than a car but definitely not a truck, the 2012 Infiniti FX35 comes across as a station wagon on steroids.
It has room for only five, two in front and three in the second row. However, the middle-seat occupant in the second row won’t be happy on more than a short sojourn unless it happens to be a small child.
The cargo compartment, accessed through the rear hatch, is rated at 24.8 cubic feet with the second-row seatback in place and 62 cubic feet with the 60/40 rear seatback folded forward.
Ground clearance is a middling 7.36 inches and towing capacity is a meager 2,000 pounds.
There is certainly nothing class leading in those crossover statistics, but then again the Infiniti FX35 obviously considers itself pretty much in a class by itself.
Yes, it has more than adequate accommodations for a typical family of four. And, with a choice of two-wheel or all-wheel drive, it can get most people anywhere they want to go.
But that is not what the 2012 Infiniti FX35 is all about.
It’s also about in-your-face styling, exhilarating power and a driveabiity that will leave many traditional sport-utility vehicles in the weeds (figuratively),
The Infiniti FX35 I sampled was an all-wheel-drive Limited Edition model powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that generates 303 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque.
Combined with a smooth shifting seven-speed automatic shifter, the engine can vault the 4,284-pound FX35 from a stop to 60 mph in about 6 seconds. But, despite the many gears in its new transmission, it won’t race past many gas stations.
The EPA rates fuel consumption at 16 miles per gallon in the city and 21 on the highway. In a week of mostly suburban and highway travel, I averaged 18.5 miles per gallon.
What kept me more entertained than the abundance of power was the way the car drove.
With its raised front fenders offering easily followed sight lines and its accurate rack-and-pinion power steering, the bulky FX35 was easily controlled on even the tightest two-lane roads.
On smooth two-lane macadam, the four-wheel independent suspension made the 2012 Infinii FX35 feel almost car like, swooping around the curves without feeling as if it might suddenly flop over like a tipped cow.
On rougher roads, there is a slight penalty in ride comfort, but the fun-to-drive quotient easily outweighs the occasional jouncing caused by road irregularities.
And, of course, the beefy four-wheel antilock disc brakes are always on call to bring the hefty crossover to a quick stop.
I did have a few mostly minor complaints.
With the seats properly positioned for my 5-foot-9 frame I found I had to basically wedge myself into the vehicle until I settled comfortably into the driver’s seat.
Also, I don’t know why Infiniti stylists decided to give the alloy wheels a graphic finish. To me, it just looked as if a lot of brake dust had gathered on the wheels and the result was a car with a slightly dirty appearance even when it came right from the car wash.
At an as-tested price of $52,445, the Infiniti FX35 is obviously more than just another crossover. Even with no extra-cost options, it is extremely well equipped. Buyers will get everything from a navigation system, to an around-view monitor, to a premium sound system.
And, buyers will also be comforted with a lengthy list of safety features.
Finally, it should be noted that speed freaks who insist on the most power possible can opt for the FX50 and its 5-liter. 390-horsepower V-8 engine. But, for my money the extra $14,500 is not warranted for the upswing in usable power. Instead of 0-60 mph in 6 seconds, the V-8 can make the sprint in 5. The V-6 will do fine for me, thank you and I will be squeezing an extra mile or two out of every gallon of premium unleaded.
For those who treasure the more sweeping views from an elevated ride height, the reassurance of being enveloped in a big, heavy vehicle and the much better than average crossover driveability, the extravagantly equipped 2012 Infiniti FX35 really does gives its owner entry into three automotive worlds — luxury, sport and utility.