SUVs took traditional car buyers by storm thanks to their superior capability, greater safety and go-anywhere ruggedness. Styling, however, amounted to an afterthought, which led to parking lots across the country filled with sport utilities that looked like bloated station wagons or two-tone tanks. It took Infiniti – with the introduction of the upscale FX midsize crossover – to put design at the vanguard in this segment. Still the reigning style king, the 2011 Infiniti FX also puts the emphasis on value with lower prices, enhanced personalization packages and newly standard features.
A chart-topper in terms of styling and value, the 2011 Infiniti FX crossover is also one of the most advanced vehicles on the road – a four-wheel, five-passenger showcase of standard and available driver-assistance technology. And don’t let that swooping sportscar silhouette fool you; on the FX, luxury meets the same exacting, world-class standards as performance.
Infiniti bucked the competition by actually dropping prices across the FX model line for 2011 with the base FX35 RWD selling for an MSRP of $41,600. The FX35 AWD has an MSRP of $43,050 while the top-of-the-line FX50 AWD goes for an MSRP of $56,400 (as an example, that price is $2,000 less than last year’s comparable model).
Power for the FX35 models comes from a 3.5-liter V6 engine making 303 hp and 262 lb/ft of torque. The FX50 boasts a 5.0-liter V8 rated at 390 hp and 369 lb/ft of torque. Both engines feature variable valve timing while the V8 offers Infiniti’s Variable Valve Event & Lift (VVEL) technology, which boosts fuel economy and improves torque delivery throughout the rev range.
Regardless of engine choice, power channels through an advanced seven-speed automatic transmission equipped with Manual Shift Mode, Downshift Rev Matching and Adaptive Shift Control (ASC). The ASC system learns your driving style and adjusts shift points accordingly. There are also steering wheel-mounted paddleshifters for drivers who prefer to change gears manually.
True to its acronym, the FX35 RWD features rear-wheel drive. “AWD” models use Infiniti’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system. In slick conditions, the system sends up to 50 percent of torque to the front wheels for maximum traction. Otherwise, 100 percent of power gets directed to the rear wheels for sporting performance.
The FX keeps occupants safe with a full complement of airbags including Infiniti’s Advanced Air Bag System and passive restraints. Guaranteeing safety at speed also means there are many driver-assistance components offered on the FX. The list is long, so we’ll detail a few standouts: Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with Traction Control comes standard on all three FX models. So does speed-sensitive steering and four-wheel, ventilated-disc antilock brakes (ABS) with Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD).
Included in the Technology Package, Distance Control Assist (DCA) helps maintain a pre-set distance with the vehicle ahead by “pushing back” on the accelerator pedal as a signal to the driver that the border has been breached. Once the driver releases the throttle in response to the signal, DCA applies the brakes to maintain the proper distance.
Available on the FX50 as part of the Sport Package, Continuous Damping Control (CDC) enhances the aggressive performance of the FX’s fully independent suspension. Offering two modes – “Sport” and “Auto” – the system continuously alters shock damping to optimize ride and handling.
Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW) is also available as part of the Technology Package. IBA monitors closing speeds with vehicles in front and automatically engages the brakes if the driver fails to respond to visual and audible warnings that an impact is imminent.
Comfort and connectedness are two more areas where the FX outshines competitors. Standard features alone tell the tale including an 11-speaker Bose Premium AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with illuminated audio controls. You also get a seven-inch color LCD display (eight inches and navigation with the FX50), a power rear liftgate, XM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, dual-zone automatic temperature control, black lacquer interior trim and leather-appointed seating (eight-way power for the front passenger’s seat, 10-way power with two-way power lumbar support for the driver). Lowering the 60/40-split rear seatback nets 62 cubic feet of cargo space.
Choose the Premium Package on FX35 models and highlights include the Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation system with eight-inch color touch-screen, voice recognition, 9.3GB Music Box® hard drive for storing audio files and the Around View Monitor (AVM), which uses front and rear sonar to create a virtual 360-degree view of objects around the vehicle. (Premium Package amenities come standard on the FX50.)
The FX35’s version of the Deluxe Touring Package includes Maple interior accents, aluminum pedals and 20-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels (18-inch alloys come standard). Deluxe Touring for the FX50 nets the same interior upgrades, but substitutes 21-inch, six-spoke alloy rims.
The 2011 Infiniti FX stands alone among crossovers, wrapping a bounty of class-leading luxury, value and technology in a bold, wind-cheating skin.