Now ending its first decade, the Infiniti FX is a mid-size luxury crossover SUV manufactured by Nissan's luxury brand. The FX replaced the QX4 and debuted at the same time as the Porsche Cayenne and Volvo XC90.

Sometimes called a "Bionic Cheetah" because of its unique combination of a SUV lower body and sleek upper body, the Infiniti FX blurs the boundaries of a sports car and SUV. It's both performance-oriented and functional, and since 2009 is in its section generation.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

My test drive for the week was the Limited Edition. It's less powerful (but still plenty powerful) with a 3.5-liter, 303-horsepower engine with all-wheel drive. There's also the FX50, the 5.0-liter V8 option that's standard with all-wheel drive.

For 2012, there are only slight adjustments from the 2011 model, including a revised front-end design and standard heated front seats. The Limited Edition has a more advanced suspension and the navigation system is standard equipment.

All images © James Raia/2012
Like other high-end SUVs, the Infiniti has a lot to offer. With its dark, handsome console, leather seating and long-list of standard engine, suspension and exterior features — xenon headlights to a power sliding, tinted glass moon roof with sliding shade — the Infiniti is a joy to drive.

The FX35 features a seven-speed automatic transmission that shifts quickly and responsively, and there's a manual shift mode option. The engine has a stern, non-offensive growl.

In freeway driving, the Infiniti has a stiff, but not rough feel. And it's never shy whether accelerating to pass or powering down the open road. It has a bigger SUV presence than its appearance.

Perhaps it's because I tested a small sedan the previous week, but the FX35 often required hard braking, and it was more noticeable in lower-speed, city-driving stopping than high-speed braking.

Likes:

It's handsome inside/out.

High-tech features not intimidating.

Strong acceleration.

Comfortable seats/Spacious interior.

Intuitive features, including navigation system.

Dislikes:

Small rearview visibility.

Powerful engine translates into disappointing fuel economy.

Heavy tailgate doesn't feature safety catch near closing.

Facts & Figures: 2012 Infiniti FX35

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 9.3 seconds.
Airbags: Six.
Fuel economy: 16 mpg (city), 21 mpg (highway), automatic transmission.
Government Safety Ratings: NTHSA, Not rated.
Horsepower: 303.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $51,500.00
Manufacturer's Web site: www.infinitiusa.com.
Price As tested: $52,445.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 6 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 6 years/70,000 miles; Corrosion: 7 years/unlimited mileage; Roadside Assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.

What Others Say:

"FX stands out from the pack for its combination of unique styling, sporty handling, and relative utility. It does, however, make some sacrifices in the ride and rear-visibility departments. It compares favorably against the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne. FX might not have the overall polish of these German rivals, but it does undercut them on price, even taking into account the Infiniti's expensive option packages.” — Consumer Guide.

“What the Infiniti FX35 lacks in practicality and utility, it makes up for with heady performance, unique styling and leading-edge technology.” — Edmunds.

What The Wife Says:

"It's a steady, secure car and I feel safe driving it."

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

"The Infiniti FX35 is among the small fraternity of vehicles that immediately feel comfortable to drive. It's powerful and confident on the road, which, of course, seem like logical attributes for any $50,000 vehicle."

 

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