2005 FX35 New Car Test Drive
The Infiniti FX is an SUV for people who like to drive. Both the V6-powered FX35 and the V8-powered FX45 give the enthusiast SUVs from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Porsche a run for the money, particularly your money, as the Infiniti models cost less than the German competition. Yet in terms of acceleration and handling, they give up nothing to the Europeans. The FX drives more like a big sport coupe than a truck-based SUV because it is more like a big sport coupe.
Both Infiniti models are exciting driver's cars, smooth, powerful, very stable. They can be driven much harder than traditional sport utilities, thanks to their big, powerful brakes and firm, fully independent suspensions. On the highway, they feel planted and much more confident than traditional SUVs. The V6 engine that powers the FX35 is the same engine used in the Nissan 350Z sports car. It's powerful, giving the FX35 responsive performance. While driving the FX35, we never found ourselves wishing for the more powerful FX45.
In fact, both FX models are based on the same rear-drive mechanical platform as the Nissan 350Z and Infiniti G35 coupe. They are not based on any Nissan truck, nor, as some folks seem to assume, on the similarly sized Nissan Murano SUV. (The Murano shares its front-wheel-drive architecture with the Nissan Maxima and Altima.)
Deriving an SUV from a sports car, however, does lead to some compromises. While the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Porsche Cayenne each deliver varying levels of off-road capability, all are better suited for the rough stuff than the FX. Infiniti designed the FX primarily for on-road performance, with an available all-wheel drive system intended primarily for improved handling and performance in the snow. Although beefed up a bit for SUV duty, its chassis is still not as heavy as that of a true off-road truck, and that of course reduces the weight its powerful engines have to move.
Infiniti also equipped the FX with enormous (optional) 20-inch wheels and tires; race car-sized brakes; and a tight, handling-tuned suspension. The goal was to make the FX as fun to drive as a sports car; Infiniti achieved that, with compromises in ride comfort, space and rock-climbing ability. The end result is a car-based crossover SUV that's full of character and exciting to drive on sports-car roads, but also one that has a stiff ride, a tighter cockpit than some of its competitors and flamboyant styling. But that may be just the thing for committed sports-car enthusiasts who need to lug their winter toys through the snow belt.
FX was launched for the 2003 model year. 2004 brought some upgrades. Safety is enhanced for 2005 with roof-mounted supplemental side-curtain airbags as standard equipment, which provide rollover protection for both front- and rear-seat occupants. Also new for 2005: optional intelligent cruise control, and a Lane Departure Warning system, the first of its kind on a U.S. passenger vehicle.
The 2005 Infiniti FX is available as two models. The FX35 ($34,750) is powered by the 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 from the Nissan 350Z sports car, and comes with rear-wheel drive. An all-wheel version ($36,250) is also available.
The FX45 ($45,250) adopts the 315-horsepower 4.5-liter V8 from the Infiniti Q45 luxury sedan. It comes only with all-wheel drive.
All come with a five-speed automatic transmission, dual-zone climate control with microfiltration, power front seats, split folding and reclining rear seats, tilt/telescope steering wheel, high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights, and a long list of electronic and safety features, including electronic stability control.
The FX45 gets a firmer suspension; 20-inch wheels as opposed to 18-inchers; leather heated seats and trim; a power tilt/telescope steering wheel; and memory for the driver's seat, mirrors and steering wheel. The Premium Package ($2,500) adds a power sliding glass sunroof, 300-watt 11-speaker stereo with steering-wheel controls and a six-disc CD changer, automatic headlights and a HomeLink built-in garage door transmitter.
The FX35 can be loaded with the FX45's luxury features with the Touring Package ($2,900), which includes leather-appointed seating surfaces, heated front seats, the 11-speaker Bose system and a long list of other features. The FX35 Sport Package ($1,950) adds the 20-inch wheels, the stiffer suspension and aluminum pedals. To answer your question: With the Sport and Touring packages, an all-wheel-drive FX35 is equipped identically to a Premium Package FX45, without the V8, for $6,650 less.
Both FX models offer a Technology Package ($4,200) that includes a GPS navigation system, a security system that allows the owner to unlock and start the vehicle without the key, traffic-sensing cruise control, and a rear-facing camera to assist backing up. A rear-seat DVD viewer is now bundled ($1,750) with the Lane Departure Warning system. A satellite radio receiver (XM or Sirius, $400), tow hitch ($600), roof rail crossbars ($240-$340) and 20-inch chrome wheels ($1,600) are also offered separately.
Safety features that come standard include: dual-stage front airbags, front side-impact airbags, full-cabin curtain-style airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters, active front head restraints, a sophisticated anti-lock brake system with electronic brake proportioning, and electronic stability control (VDC).
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