Infiniti FX35 Review

Infiniti FX35 Review

It's remarkable that the Infiniti FX35 made it to showrooms with its concept-car looks intact. While crossover SUVs had long been touted as a brand-new genre of vehicle, most of them at the time of the FX35's launch simply resembled small SUVs or large wagons. When the FX35 debuted in 2003 with its sports-car muscles and hulking linebacker stance, it ushered in a new emphasis on style that other automakers are only now beginning to match.

But the Infiniti FX35 doesn't just look sporty -- it's been engineered to feel that way on the road. This crossover SUV handles like a sport sedan on stilts, and it also comes loaded with standard equipment. Unfortunately, high style has resulted in a sacrifice of some measure of practicality, as the FX35 offers less cargo room and versatility than most other midsize crossovers.

Most Recent Infiniti FX35 Models
The second-generation Infiniti FX35 first rolled into showrooms in model year 2009, but for those models produced for 2011 or later, please read our Infiniti FX review.

The bold sheet metal that made this crossover such a standout in its first generation carried over into the second, with a couple of tweaks: Its nose was lengthened, its grille restyled and prominent new fender vents added a touch of class or kitsch, depending on who you ask.

Changes were also made under the skin. The FX35's 3.5-liter V6 got a slight bump up to 303 horsepower, and it was teamed up with a seven-speed transmission. Lots of standard and optional technology was added as well, including adaptive cruise control and a hard-drive-based navigation system with digital music storage.

One well-equipped trim level was offered in either rear- or all-wheel drive. Standard features included 18-inch alloys, xenon headlights, leather upholstery, a back-up camera, Bluetooth, satellite radio and a Bose surround-sound audio system with a six-CD changer and USB port. A bevy of packages were offered, allowing buyers to add options such as the navigation system, an upgraded sound system and adaptive cruise control.

With its sleek looks and sporty performance, the Infiniti FX35 is undoubtedly a jock among its contemporaries. It shares a platform with the Infiniti G sedan and the nimble EX, so carlike handling is encoded in its DNA, even though there's ultimately no hiding its higher center of gravity. Another plus is the abundance of technology- and safety-oriented gadgetry. One notable drawback is its skimpy rear passenger and cargo space, which trails that of competing models. Nonetheless, Infiniti's distinctive-looking hauler is a must-see for used buyers seeking a stylish, energetic alternative to the typical bland crossover SUV.

Past Infiniti FX35 Models
The first-generation Infiniti FX35 was offered from 2003-'08 in one fully loaded trim level. Power came from a 3.5-liter V6 engine that cranked out 275 hp with a distinctive exhaust growl. A five-speed automatic was the only available transmission. Traction control, stability control and antilock disc brakes were standard.

The original FX35's cabin was both sporty and luxurious, with an attractive gauge layout complemented by aluminum trim. Additional standard features included power-adjustable front seats, reclining rear seats, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, HID headlights and a six-speaker CD stereo.

Other features were available as options. A 300-watt, 11-speaker Bose audio system spruced up the sound, while a Sport Package added larger 20-inch wheels and a sport-tuned suspension, and a Technology Package added a navigation system, Intelligent Cruise Control and Lane Departure Alert, among other items. The navigation system was also available as a stand-alone option, and the FX35's cabin could be upholstered in leather.

In road tests, we found the first-generation Infiniti FX35 to be every bit as exciting as it looked. We liked its strong V6, and found its steering quick and responsive, much like a sport sedan. Despite its elevated ride height, the FX35 felt balanced and under control, even in fast corners, while managing to provide an acceptably compliant ride. One concern that our editors raised was regarding the FX35's poor rear visibility, a consequence of that taut exterior design. And like the current model, this one was tight on cargo space and lacked a third-row seat.

A handful of changes were made to the FX35 during this era. Earlier models (2003-'05) came with a weaker standard stereo and fewer standard features, although side curtain airbags joined the list for '05. Major changes occurred for '06, including revised exterior styling and a slew of new standard features, among them the Bose audio system, leather upholstery, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel and a rearview camera. IPod connectivity was added to the options list for '07, and satellite radio became standard in '08.