When last we tested Infiniti's FX, the SUV was powered by the automaker's 5-liter V-8 engine outputting 390-horsepower. Our current FX35's engine room is home to Nissan/Infiniti's workhorse VQ-series 3.5-liter V-6. This is the same V-6 that can be found in various tunes beneath the hood of everything from the Nissan Altima to the Murano. However, in the FX35, power output has been bumped to 303 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque.
We're a bit surprised that Nissan has chosen to go with the 3.5-liter mill instead of the more powerful 3.7-liter power plant that twists the axles of its G-sedan, but perhaps we may yet see it for a future revision.
Power is sent through a new seven-speed automatic transmission with sport and manual shift modes before being output through the FX's rear wheels. Keeping the rubber on the road is an assortment of traction and stability control systems, but, most importantly, the FX features independent suspension at all four corners and some fairly good chassis tuning.
We were constantly surprised by how well the big FX handled as we charged up winding mountain roads, but perhaps we shouldn't have been. Although it's visually quite large, the FX's dimensions (wheelbase, track, overall length, etc.) are not that far off of Infiniti's G37 sedan. Of course, there is still the issue of the FX's extra 500 pounds.
Quick direction changes somewhat upset the 4,100-pound FX, so tight hairpins and quick switchbacks were a bit dicey if not taken with care. However, through the sweeping curves of Northern California's Highway 9, the FX settled in and gripped through turn after turn, maintaining its composure well over the posted limits with nary a peep from its various electronic nannies. Steering is communicative without being annoyingly buzzy and is direct without feeling heavy, thanks in part to a speed-sensitive power-steering system.
Power isn't neck snapping from a start, mostly because of the FX's weight, but once the vehicle gets moving, the 3.5-liter is more than adequate for maintaining the highway momentum and quick bursts of power for passing. In its sport mode, the seven-speed transmission holds its revs longer and downshifts more aggressively, blipping the throttle to rev-match as we slowed at the approach to a turn.
The FX may not have all of the abilities of sports car, but it certainly has the soul of one. It also has the fuel economy of one, finishing the EPA test cycle to the tune of 16 city and 23 highway miles per gallon. After a week spent casually running errands and an afternoon spent blasting around the mountains in Sport mode, our estimated fuel economy fell short of both of those marks.
With high levels of tech (both for safety and for infotainment), luxury, and performance, the Infiniti FX35 is a triple-threat. Starting at $42,400, it's also a steal next to the less-powerful and less-equipped BMW X5 xDrive30i ($47,600) and the Mercedes-Benz ML ($45,700). Fully load the three vehicles and the Infiniti's value continues to increase.
Our vehicle featured the Technology package ($2,900) that adds all of the gee-whiz safety features such as Lane Departure Prevention and Distance Control Assist; the Deluxe Touring package ($2,650) that adds 20-inch wheels and tires, wood interior accents, and aluminum pedals; and a Premium package ($2,000) that further boosts the interior appointments with, among other things, quilted leather front seats that can be heated or cooled. The Navigation package ($2,800) is a must-have for the CNET reader, with its advanced audio sources, turn-by-turn directions, and the very cool Around View Monitor. Toss in $135 for an impact alarm, $325 for aluminum roof rail crossbars, and an $865 destination charge to reach our as-tested price of $54,075.
That's a full $4,000 to $7,000 less than a similarly equipped Mercedes or BMW. Of course, we'll be the first to admit that such a comparison isn't always apples-to-apples and there's a lot more that goes into buying a car than comparing prices. But when you consider its performance, tech, and value, the Infiniti FX35 makes a seriously good case for itself.