2010 Infiniti FX35 AWDPosted on March 14th, 2010
Crossover vehicle melds form and function
By Nina Russin
The FX is Infiniti’s five-passenger crossover vehicle, with available all-wheel drive for four-season performance. Last year, the automaker introduced the second-generation FX, replacing the model introduced in 2003. The 2010 models come with a choice of V-6 or V-8 engines, and rear or all-wheel drive.
Engineers refined the 3.5-liter block in the new model, and introduced an all-new 5-liter V-8. The smaller engine produces 303 horsepower, coming close to the power of the 4.5-liter eight cylinder on the original car. A seven-speed automatic transmission minimizes shift shock, while enhancing fuel economy.
The new FX has a longer wheelbase and wider track than the car it replaces, providing a more stable footprint. Buyers can upgrade from the standard 18-inch wheels to 20 or 21-inch rims. The FX comes standard with V-rated all-season tires.
Infiniti’s crossover features a front midship platform similar to the M and G passenger cars: a more rigid chassis enhances steering feedback. The all-wheel drive model has a 53/47 front-to-rear weight balance, offering rear-wheel drive handling characteristics on dry roads.
Standard comfort and convenience features include keyless entry and start, leather upholstery, power front seats, 60/40 split folding rear seats, a Bose audio system with satellite radio and Bluetooth interface, four 12-volt power outlets, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel column with redundant steering wheel controls, and a power sliding glass moonroof.
This week, I spent time in the FX35 all-wheel drive model. A wet spring in Arizona presented an unusual opportunity to test the FX in rain, snow, and on some very muddy unimproved roads around Sedona.
Base price on the test car is $43,850, not including an $865 destination charge. Two premium option packages and navigation bring the MSRP to $52,920.
Test drive through the high country
The Beeline Highway runs north-south through eastern Arizona, climbing from 1500 feet on the east end of Phoenix to 5600 feet in the town of Pine. Our route to Sedona followed the Beeline Highway to Pine before heading west through Ponderosa pine forests to Cottonwood. Route 89A connects Cottonwood to Sedona, twenty miles north.
Landscape on the drive changed from low to high desert before giving way to the pine forests, where the ground was covered with three feet of snow. Snow banks on either side of the road were high enough to obscure road signs along the way.
I use the Beeline highway for a lot of my test drives, since it’s is a good test of how vehicles perform at altitude. Some wide sweeping turns and corkscrew turns through granite formations around the town of Sunflower are ideal for evaluating steering response.
The more powerful V-6 provides excellent power under most conditions. The engine’s peak torque of 262 foot-pounds enhances acceleration in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range, making it easy to merge into high-speed traffic. The engine has plenty of power to pass slower vehicles on two-lane roads.
The V-6 does suffer from a noticeable loss of power at altitude. This is a problem with many naturally aspirated engines, although fuel injection and variable valve timing limit the effect on performance. The power loss was much less obvious in Sedona at 4500 feet than it was in the mountains around Pine.
Engineers mounted the engine low in the chassis to maintain a low center of gravity for high-speed performance. The FX benefits from the automaker’s Formula racing experience. The crossover vehicle handles like a passenger car, with outstanding steering response and traction in challenging situations.
When the driver shifts to manual mode, a downshift rev matching feature automatically smoothes out gear changes for better performance. The fully independent suspension does an excellent job of isolating passengers from potholes and bumps in the road, while standard front and rear stabilizer bars keep the chassis flat in the corners.
Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel antilock braking stop the car in a firm, linear manner.
High-intensity discharge headlamps, standard on all models, throw a long beam of light that’s close in color to daylight. The bright headlamps did a good job of illuminating poorly lit or unlit roads on the outskirts of town.
The optional navigation system comes with a rearview camera and around-view monitor that displays obstacles on the vehicle’s perimeter. Together, the camera and monitor make it much easier to park the FX, and maneuver it through crowded parking lots.
A rain-soaked dirt road outside Sedona made for a good test of the all-wheel drive system. At several points, washes overflowed onto the road. The area authorities had not graded the surface since the rains began in the Fall, leaving large potholes and exposed tea kettles throughout. The FX has 7.3-inches of ground clearance: not enough for serious off-road driving, but plenty for clearing the types of obstacles we encountered.
Not wanting to bend the test car’s wheels, I kept my speed moderate. But the FX handled the bumps, rocks and standing water with aplomb, traversing terrain where we saw few other vehicles.
The design team maintained a similar profile to the original FX on the new car, with a long hood and raked roof, similar to a coupe. Large wheels and wheel arches give the vehicle a panther-like stance.
The front wheels are further forward than on the outgoing model, with large air scoops behind the wheels. A touring package on the test car replaces the standard rims with 20-inch wheels, enhancing the exterior design.
One of the most obvious changes is the grille, which now features twisted black chrome slats. I had mixed emotions about the new front end when I first saw it, but it grew on me over the course of the week. I like the fact that the designers took a risk with a unique design element, making the FX stand out from the crowd.
A rear spoiler brings the eye to the back of the car. The new FX has an improved coefficient of drag compared to the original, thanks to small adjustments in the front bumper, rear spoiler and tailgate.
Inside, the FX offers comfortable seating for up to four adults. A tall floor tunnel limits legroom in the middle rear position. A vent behind the center console circulates air through the back of the cabin.
A premium option package adds quilted leather seats, with heated and cooled front seats. The heated seats were a nice feature on mornings when the temperature dipped below freezing. The same option adds memory for the driver’s seat, steering wheel and outside mirrors, making it easier for multiple drivers to share the car.
Graphics for the optional navigation system are easy to read. Infiniti’s hard drive navigation includes XM traffic and weather updates, as well as a Zagat restaurant guide. A 9.3 gigabyte hard drive enables owners to download their favorite playlists.
Passengers in both rows should find plenty of cupholders and storage cubbies. The large glovebox can hold a small purse or pack.
Map pockets in the doors held stacks of literature and trail maps that we took on our trip.
With the rear seats in place, the FX has plenty of room to hold luggage for several passengers or the weekly groceries. An optional tonneau conceals the cargo area.
Folding the seats flat makes the FX meet our bicycle-friendly standards. A first aid kit in the cargo area comes in handy to fix up bumps and bruises from the trail.
Standard 100-pound rated roof rails make it easy to install a gear rack up top. The V-8 FX has a 3500-pound towing capacity, meeting our ALV minimum standard.
All models come with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, electronic stability and traction control. Infiniti’s four-year warranty includes 24-hour roadside assistance, and complimentary loaner cars when the vehicle is being serviced.
The new FX is on display at Infiniti dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A stylish crossover vehicle with seating for four adults that combines a spacious cargo area with the ride and handling characteristics of a passenger car.
Dislikes: Engine is somewhat anemic at high altitudes. Lack of legroom in the second-row middle seating position.
Model: FX35 AWD
Base price: $43,850
As tested: $52,920
Horsepower: 303 Hp @ 6800 rpm
Torque: 262 lbs.-ft. @ 4800 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: Standard
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Towing: Yes, for the V-8 model only
Fuel economy: 16/21 mpg city/highway
One response to “2010 Infiniti FX35 AWD”
I like it. The head lights are kinda 7 series head lights at an angle but I still like it more than square head lgihts
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