Looking back, it's remarkable that the Infiniti FX45 made it to showrooms with its concept car looks intact. While crossover SUVs had been touted as a brand-new genre of vehicle, at the time of the FX45's launch, most of them simply resembled small SUVs or large wagons. Upon its debut for 2003 and with its sports car muscles and hulking linebacker stance, the slick Infiniti FX45 set a new standard for automotive design.
The FX45's sporty looks are backed up by sharp handling and a throaty V8 engine. However, buyers looking for more sport-utility in their crossover SUV should be aware that the looks and performance of the FX45 come at the price of practicality, as it offers less cargo room than other midsize luxury crossovers in its class and lacks a third-row seat. The FX45 lasted only one generation; when the second generation dawned, it was renamed FX50 to correspond. Those interested in a used FX45 should be aware that relatively few were sold, so finding one (rather than the more popular V6-powered FX35) could be difficult.
Most Recent Infiniti FX45
The Infiniti FX45 was sold from 2003-'08. It was available in one nicely equipped trim level and powered by a mighty 4.5-liter V8 engine that churned out 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. Prior to '06, this engine produced 315 hp 329 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission, stability control, traction control, antilock disc brakes and all-wheel drive are standard. A V6-powered version of the same vehicle was sold as the FX35.
The difference between the Infiniti FX45 and other similarly priced crossover SUVs lies in its character. It rides on an enhanced version of Nissan's FM platform and resembles the Infiniti G35 sport sedan more than any SUV in the Nissan or Infiniti lineup. Aside from its sports car underpinnings, the FX45 came with a sport-tuned suspension and 20-inch wheels and tires. This made it one of the best-handling SUVs on the road; however, it also produced a rather rough ride (which was somewhat improved for '06).
Throughout its life, Infiniti made several changes. For 2005, a lane departure warning system, adaptive cruise control and keyless ignition/entry were added to the options list, while all FX45s got standard side curtain airbags. There were significant changes for 2006, when the exterior was given the slightest of alterations, the engine was upgraded and the suspension was revised for an improved ride. Inside, a new center console design, gauges and interior trim debuted. This year also saw the former Premium package equipment added as standard (sunroof, auto headlamps, roof rails), while a rearview camera, Bluetooth and Bose audio system were also added. As such, Infiniti FX45s from 2006 and later are the picks of the tiny litter. The next year saw the addition of optional iPod integration, while satellite radio was made standard in its final year.
Although the cabin was loaded with premium features, there was nothing fancy going on with the seats, controls and instruments. The leather upholstery was complemented by aluminum trim, not wood. The front seats were more supportive than plush.
Navigation was one of the few features that didn't come standard, but it was available as a stand-alone option or as part of the Technology package, which also included Intelligent Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert and satellite radio. The Intelligent Cruise Control system uses lasers to detect the vehicles ahead on the road and then automatically maintains the preset trailing distance. The navigation system was also available as a stand-alone option.
In reviews and road tests, we found the Infiniti FX45 to be every bit as exciting as it looks. It truly felt like a sport sedan, with quick and responsive steering and agility. The V8 engine was loud and powerful. Even more impressive, the FX45 felt balanced and under control during all but the most extreme maneuvers, while remaining comfortable throughout. One criticism we had was with the FX45's poor rear visibility, which was a victim of the vehicle's sloping profile. The lack of a third-row seat is also something that might turn off potential buyers.