2010 Infiniti FX Adds Style and Solid Performance

The 2010 Infiniti FX is the second generation of this stylish performance crossover SUV from Nissan’s luxury division. The FX was redesigned for 2009 with a new engine and transmission, as well as even smoother styling. Based on the same platform as the Infiniti G37 and Nissan ZX sports cars, the Infiniti FX is a rear-wheel-drive based vehicle with available All-Wheel Drive (AWD).
The 2010 Infiniti FX comes in three models — FX35, FX35 AWD, and FX50 AWD, which is priced significantly higher than the FX35. The V6 FX (our test vehicle for this review) is still called the FX35, while the V8 version was renamed FX50 in recognition of its 5-liter powerplant, and replaces the previous FX45. Both engines have significantly changed, both vehicles get new seven-speed automatic transmissions, along with many other large and small upgrades.
The eye-catching FX proves that SUV’s don’t have to be box-shaped and boring. Since this is not a high sales volume vehicle, it also offers a measure of exclusivity. The standard FX comes pretty loaded — including moonroof, bi-xenon headlamps, power hatch closure, and Sirius/XM satellite radio. Options on all FX models include lane departure warning/prevention systems, intelligent cruise control with distance control, voice-recognition navigation with real-time traffic, nine-inch LCD DVD rear-seat entertainment systems, adaptive headlamps, pre-crash belts, brake assist, rain-sensing wipers, tow package, splash guards, aero kit, roof rack cross bars, stainless steel illuminated sill plates, stainless rear bumper top, and a cargo organizer. Some features, like the Around View Monitor, are not available on any other vehicle at any price.
Primary competition for the FX is the BMW X6, which offers slightly better performance, but in my view doesn’t necessarily drive better and costs significantly more.
Safety includes dual-stage front airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, active front head restraints, first aid kit, stability control with traction control and antilock brakes, and tire pressure monitors. The only safety options are the pre-crash seat belts integral with the intelligent cruise control/distance control system.
Walkaround: If there ever were a class of vehicle called the four-door SUV sports coupe, a picture of the FX would accompany it. The FX was the originator of the style over function school of vehicle design.
The front tires have been pushed forward thanks to lengthening the distance between front and rear axles by almost 1.5 inches, also giving the FX a long, horizontal, muscle car style hood, that arches over wheels on the sides and engine in the middle. The signature roofline appears as a canopy fitted tightly over a rounded framework with no straight lines and an almost semicircular rear glass.
There’s only minimal use of bling — behind the huge front wheels are chrome, arched vertical vents that duct engine compartment air and reduce front lift. Door handles are chrome while mirrors are paint matched.
Projector headlamps add some character to the front, while the dark chrome grille between has three-dimensional waves rather than two-dimensional slats. The spoiler atop the rear glass is integrated into the hatch, avoiding the obvious seams more common with add-ons. Chrome highlights the license plate recess, and a bumper top cover is available to avoid paint scuffs too deep for the Scratch Shield clearcoat to fix. This special paint covers the steel, aluminum and resin body panels, and uses sunlight to heat it and fill in small scratches over a few days.
Looking carefully, you’ll find a camera above the license plate, on the bottom of each rear-view mirror, and one at the top of the grille.
Interior: The stylish 2010 Infiniti FX cabin is exquisitely finished inside, boasting nicely stitched leather, beautifully stained Maple, and attention to detail, such as matte-finish surfaces trumping the usual chrome-plated plastic. Every FX comes with power leather seats, split-folding and reclining rear seats, leather shifter and tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, dual-zone climate control, power door locks/windows, power hatch closure, moonroof, Intelligent key, illuminated mirror visors with extensions, HomeLink, rear-view monitor, variable/fixed intermittent front/rear wipers, trip computer, power heated folding mirrors with puddle lights, rear privacy glass, stainless logo scuff plates, space-saver spare tire and a kickass, 300 watt, dual subwoofer, Bose audio system with MP3 capability and Siruis/XM.
The FX offers the same front seating room as most midsize sedans with a broad back seat with the ample legroom. Soft-touch surfaces abound, with minimal use of hard plastic.
The Infiniti FX35 comes with a 6CD changer that reverts to single CD when navigation is ordered, and 18-inch alloy wheels. However, 20-inch wheels with all-season tires are available as are matte-finish roof rails. Many FX options come pre-packaged, so you could equip an FX35 with FX50-level amenities and features for under $8,000.
The small-diameter, thick-rim, three-spoke steering wheel features thumb-operated buttons and switches, along with solid magnesium paddle shifters using leather along the back side for your fingers, and long enough to effortlessly change gears. Instrumentation is electroluminescent and lifted from the G37 coupe, although the FX gauge cluster does not move up and down with the wheel as it does in the coupe.
Under The Hood: The FX35 comes with a 303-hp V6 that’s EPA rated at 16/23 mpg, 16/21 mpg with AWD. All versions of the FX are married to a smooth, seven-speed automatic transmission.
Behind The Wheel: The view over the elongated hood reflects the power lurking beneath. The high-revving V6 — which has more horses than torque — easily revs well past 7000 rpm, and the FX35 does the 0-60 drill in just over 6 seconds — even with all-wheel drive.
The seven-speed automatic delivers quick gear changes up or down with a reassuring firmness, as well as offering a snow mode. It also offers downshift rev-matching for smoothness, and two overdrive ratios for highway cruising that are the main contributor to the improved mileage ratings in spite of additional horses. When run in manual mode, the transmission will not downshift automatically, even if you floor it in high gear.
The AWD system works without any driver input or feedback, putting ponies to the pavement efficiently, with help from the traction control when needed.
Brakes are four-wheel discs, and combined with the performance tires, they can stop the FX35 in short order, with no fade after repeated applications.
The FX rides firmly, more like a sport sedan than a crossover, because underneath, the FX is essentially a car with more ground clearance. Most of the suspension is aluminum, and the lightness adds to the car-like ride and good handling.
Whines: The AWD V6 is rated at 2,000 pounds for towing, while towing is not recommended for the rear-wheel drive version. Even with 7 inches of ground clearance, the FX isn’t designed for anything more off-road than a damp beach.
Bottom Line: The Infiniti FX35 is a highly stylish crossover SUV with supurb amenities, enough options to personalize it until your imagination is content, and solid performance at a realistic price. When it comes time to replace Dee’s Volvo XC90, the FX35 will definitely be on our short list.