Who Needs A V8?

There's something in the water at Nissan. Has to be. There's no other explanation for a company that produces vehicles like the Murano CrossCabriolet and Juke as well as the undeniably bonkers GT-R. Infiniti hasn't escaped whatever's lurking in the well, either. The company's recent shift from a comfortable and logical naming structure to a slurry of Q-based monikers is the most recent example of insanity lurking in the luxury automaker's halls, but it certainly isn't the first. Take, for example, the FX50.

With its 390-horsepower V8 engine and a rear-bias all-wheel-drive platform, the mid-sized SUV is more sports car than family hatchback, and while a V8 in this segment is entirely ludicrous, it's also the engine option we preferred over the less-throaty 3.5-liter V6. Like nearly every other off-tilt offering from Nissan, the FX50 simply made sense in a too-much-whiskey kind of way. But Infiniti has just offered up the best argument yet against that muscle-bound bruiser in the form of the FX37. Powered by the automaker's new 3.7-liter V6 and backed by a recognizably aggressive exterior, the machine is doing a good job of stealing its older brother's spotlight.

Infiniti left the FX largely untouched aesthetically for 2013, and we can't fault its designers for the decision. The model received a full update in 2012, and the SUV continues to look sharp with its judicious use of chrome. While the rounded front-end and pinched grille give the nose a touch of the bulbousness found on the QX56, we can't get enough of the raised fenders and inset hood. Attractive headlight arrays and an aggressive, arched roofline give the FX plenty of style. Around back, the handsome LED tail lamps lend the hatch a glowering, furrowed-brow appearance, which is appropriate for a machine that spits over 300 horsepower out to the rear tires.

Inside, the cabin feels comfortably Infiniti with the driver treated to bold gauges and nicely bolstered front seats. We couldn't help but feel age wearing on the tech inside the FX37, however. With a small, single-color LCD screen nestled between the speedometer and the tachometer and the same old inelegant graphic interface on the eight-inch touchscreen positioned mid-dash, Infiniti has suddenly found itself behind the curve. We live in a time where Dodge Dart buyers can enjoy nicer tech, and that's an issue for a pricey luxury SUV.

The front seats hold fast to the notion that this is a G37 that hasn't quite realized it's lugging around a serious derrière, and the back bench serves up adequate space for hopping to the next town over. Leg space can be a bit cramped for anyone approaching six feet tall, and that attractive, sloping roof line will introduce lofty hairstyles to the headliner with a quickness, but the space is a perfect place for kids and older teens to spend time. That is, so long as everyone packs frugally. There isn't a preponderance of space behind the back seats, with just 24.8 cubic feet available with the rear bench in place. For comparison, the figure is just one cube more than what's available in the diminutive Ford Focus five-door.

Likewise, the back hatch is troubled by what has to be one of the most cumbersome cargo covers on the market. We can count the number of times on two fingers that we've been frustrated to physical violence by a new vehicle, and this cargo cover earned itself one of those digits. We don't talk about the other incident.

Fortunately, the FX37 can quickly help you forget about its less-than-stellar attributes. Plop a heel on the right pedal and the 3.7-liter V6 under the hood sends 325 horsepower coursing through a seven-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels. With 267 pound-feet of torque available at 5,200 rpm, the engine develops a full 22 hp and 2 lb-ft of torque more than the outgoing V6, and since the new 3.7-liter unit will happily wind all the way to 7,500 rpm, there's plenty of thrust to be had. The SUV feels quick, popping off of stop lights and building steam in a delicious linear swell that's come to be the VQ engine family's calling card.

Traction control keeps the party from getting too sideways too quickly – you can feel the electronics rapping your knuckles any time you get frisky with the throttle. But that doesn't exactly dilute the playful rear-wheel-drive dynamics on the FX37. The vehicle still encourages you to get out and drive, unlike nearly anything else in the bloated luxury SUV/CUV amalgam, and the modest nudge in horsepower provides a serious kick in the seat-of-the-pants dyno.

With a fairly quick steering rack and capable brakes, the FX37 will paint a smile on your face if you let it, and while the tall ride height can't help but serve up a bit of body roll, the engineers at Infiniti have done an impressive job of keeping every one of the five-door's 4,209 pounds in check. The seven-speed automatic also delivers quick downshifts when necessary and remains unobtrusive in normal driving, serving up smooth transitions between its numerous gears.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the 2013 FX37 should yield 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, which is a nudge of 1 mpg highway over the old 3.5-liter V6. We observed just over 17 mpg in town and during a few aggressive back-road sprints. Those numbers won't win you any friends among the Prius set, but they do land in the neighborhood of the luxury ute's competitive set. While the BMW X3 xDrive 35i offers buyers just 300 hp compared to the 325 of the FX37, the German SUV returns 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Both machines require premium fuel.

Our tester was gussied up to $57,828, including a $760 destination fee, though the 2013 Infiniti FX37 can be had for $44,950. Adding in the $4,300 Premium Package with its navigation, voice recognition and around-view monitor, as well as the $3,300 Deluxe Touring Package and the $2,950 Technology Package, meant our FX was as loaded as they come in rear-drive trim. (If you're curious, the AWD FX37 adds $1,500 to the starting price.)

Yes, the FX37 has its shortcomings, but it makes up for those with a bold exterior, well-executed cabin and suitably luxurious drivetrain. While back seat and cargo space leave something to be desired, we love the way the FX37 drives with its powerful engine and smooth transmission. It makes us wonder if there's any reason to consider the FX50 at all.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      There's still an obvious case for the FX50, because it's still a hell of a lot faster. Maybe my viewpoint is skewed from driving very powerful cars for the last several years, but 4200 lbs and 270 lb-ft doesn't make for thrilling performance IMO. 370 lb-ft is a whole lot better when swinging that much mass. I do wish that the FX50 was available in RWD though.
      • 2 Years Ago
      They should just already add DI to their VQ series engines in my opinion... why they haven't done this yet is beyond me. The 3.7 has been out for a while now, it would only make sense to add DI to their engines to make them more powerful and efficient... it sis the logical next step. Maybe we will hopefully see DI in the next generation G or Q.
        • 2 Years Ago
        it is beyond me too why they do not add DI to their V6, but they add it to their V8 with VVEL.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Infiniti recognizes and are taking action on the fact that they need more efficient powertrains. Turbocharging/hybrid etc are the ways to go. They could do a M35h engine type FX model and make it a little lighter overall and larger inside, then you have a supremely competitive and fast CUV that drives like a car.
      Dwayne Hicks
      • 2 Years Ago
      The 3.7-liter V6 is not "new". New to this vehicle but not to Infiniti / Nissan. It's been out since 2008. I do like the engine (it works well in my G37S sedan) but I feel the engine needs an update. A little more refinement and any boost in fuel economy would really help out alot. (18mpg combined in my G37) I know Infiniti / Nissan has been reluctant to boost their V6's engines but even a small single scroll turbo on this engine would help bring the torque up to over 300 which would really make this a true V8 replacement.
      • 2 Years Ago
      When you buy one do you get a big paper bag to cover it up with?? Man that thing is Uh-huh-gleee...
      • 2 Years Ago
      interior screams cheap nissan.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Once it was the coolest-looking SUV out there. Now it's looking a bit....Edsel.
      New Shimmer
      • 2 Years Ago
      From the front 2/3 angle, it looks way too much like a rental Chevrolet Captiva.
      • 2 Years Ago
      to call this thang grotesque is an understatement...typical unsophisticated object for the typical unsophisticated middle class american consumer
        • 2 Years Ago
        Really...so please tell us about how you're any more "sophisticated" than the typical middle class American (I like how you called it a "thang"), and what you drive.
        • 2 Years Ago
        I would hope you're at least slightly above middle-class if you're going to take a 72-month loan on this kind of car.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Charles Chen
      • 2 Years Ago
      The FX design gets a lot of hate, but in person, it has a great presence. I remember not being fond of the second gen redesign when I saw the photos and even the first time in person at NYIAS, but fell for it when I saw it in person a year or so later when I saw one in person (they are fairly rare). Few people who see it in person have negative comments about the design; it has great presence and a beastly glare. Now we've own a 2009 for 4 years now and could not be happier. OK, the fuel economy does get me and sometimes, I do wish I had opted for the V8, but the FX has been an excellent vehicle in terms of its reliability, low cost of maintenance, fun-to-drive ratio, and comfort and amenities. Little known fact (?) is that Infiniti has had $4000-5000 manufacturer to dealer incentives for this vehicle so the car can typically be had for far less than MSRP.
      Jay Tee
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have 09 FX50S and bought it new in 08, I must say that most people making comments here have never owned an Infiniti. I owned BMW X5, Lexus RX 350 & Porche Cayenne S and they were all sold after only owning them less than 2 yrs ! Lexus is too comfortable and the germans are unreliable, Infiniti has both- driving dynamics and excellent reliability ! Coudn't say more !
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