The 2009 Infiniti FX50S will surprise you with its level of performance, the luxury of its cabin, and its very advanced cabin and safety tech. What you shouldn't be surprised by is the big SUV fuel economy.
The Infiniti FX50S is an interesting creature. Its tubby bulbous body and angry sports car headlamps and grill seem to be at odds with each other. Is this a soft luxury SUV or a rip-snorting powerhouse? After spending a while in the driver's seat, we've come to the conclusion that it's a little of both and a little of neither.
From the side, there's a bit of a sports car profile in the FX50S' elongated hood and dramatically sloping greenhouse--albeit one that's much taller than any sports coupe or sedan. Big, 21-inch wheels fill the wells nicely and provide plenty of grip for this high-speed heavyweight.
The high beltline and sloping roofline don't leave much room for window glass. As a result, the FX50S' rearward visibility is among the poorest we've tested. Thankfully, there's a plethora of advanced safety tech to make up for it.
Here we have the 5-liter V-8 enumerated in the FX50S' namesake. Sending 390 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque to all-four wheels, this power plant propels the very heavy FX50S forward with a force that belies its weight.
Step inside the FX50S and you'll find a luxury interior. Black leather, piano black finishes, and a wood finished center console show that the FX50S is more than just a big brute. It's a big brute in a tuxedo.
Putting power to the four corners of the FX50S is Infiniti's seven-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and rev-matching downshifts. The manual shift mode's utility is limited by a vague redline and an aggressive fuel cutoff that makes approaching the FX50S' limits a scary proposition.
When you equip the FX50 with the Sport package (making it an FX50S), you get the continuous damping control suspension. Leave the system in Auto mode and it will constantly monitor driving conditions and your driving style and adjust the suspension accordingly. Flip the switch to Sport and you'll lock the system in its most aggressive configuration for the best handling, but the worst ride harshness.
Put the Infiniti FX50S in reverse, or hit the Camera button at low speeds, and the Around View Camera comes online. The AVC is actually a system of four cameras facing downward and two cameras pointing fore and aft of the vehicle. When the computer stitches the four images together, you get a bird's eye view of what's happening around the vehicle.
The Infiniti hard drive navigation system is quick and responsive with very crisp and attractive graphics. The system features XM NavTraffic, but the subscription had run out on our tester. We found that we used the knob controller more than the touch screen, partially because it was closer, but mostly because it's extremely intuitive.
When the vehicle is in motion, the point-of-interest search will only show the first five entries in a limited number of categories. Stop the vehicle and you'll be able to view a more extensive list of destinations. This keep drivers from getting too distracted while the vehicle is moving, but allows them to find simple things--such as a gas station--quickly.
Pop in a CD and you'll be treated to the sounds of the Bose premium audio system. With 11 speakers, including two subwoofers, there's plenty of bass response without distorting the clean highs and mids. Here we also see the Record button for ripping music to the hard drive.