2006 FX45 New Car Test Drive
The Infiniti FX is crossover utility designed for the owner who wants a fast, responsive car, but wants to haul five people and their ski equipment. Built on the same rear-drive platform as the Nissan 350Z and Infiniti G35, the FX makes no claims as a backcountry trekker. Instead, the FX offers an SUV-size package that can be driven on dry pavement with much more confidence than traditional sport utilities. It's excellent in wet and snowy conditions.
The FX comes in two models, the FX35 with a 3.5 liter V6 engine, which is available in two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, and the FX45 with a 4.5 liter V8 and 4WD. It's worth noting that the FX has nothing in common with the Nissan Murano. (The Murano shares its front-wheel-drive architecture with the Nissan Maxima and Altima.)
As driver's cars, both the V6-powered FX35 and the V8-powered FX45 are powerful and exciting, with big brakes to match. Costing less than the German competition, but giving up nothing in terms of acceleration and handling, both models challenge SUVs from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Porsche in terms of value.
In terms of off-road capability, the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Porsche Cayenne 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. Its lighter chassis means less weight for its powerful engines to move, making it a comparatively better on-road performer.
Infiniti equipped the FX with enormous 20-inch wheels and tires (optional on the FX35, standard on the FX45); racecar-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, but with compromises in ride comfort, space and off-road capability. 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.
For 2006, the fourth year since the model's launch, the FX gets some freshening in the styling department, with reworked grille, bumper, and wheels and added exterior color options. In addition the 300-watt Bose audio system, Rearview Monitor with seven-inch color display, and Advanced Air Bag System now are standard on both models, and premium accessories are now standard on the FX45.
The 2006 Infiniti FX is available as two models. The Infiniti FX35 2WD ($37,800) is equipped with a 280-hp 3.5-liter V6 and a five-speed automatic transmission. It comes standard with rear-wheel drive, but an all-wheel version ($39,300) is also available.
The FX45 ($49,750) features a 320-hp 4.5-liter V8, a sport-tuned suspension, a five-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive.
All models come with leather seating surfaces, dual-zone climate control with microfiltration, power-adjustable heated front seats with driver's seat power lumbar support and adjustment memory, split folding and reclining rear seats, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, 300-watt Bose audio system with 11 speakers, steering-wheel controls, six-disc CD changer and MP3-CD playback, high-intensity discharge headlights, and roof rails (polished aluminum on the FX45, black on the FX35).
The FX45 gets a firmer suspension with 20-inch wheels as opposed to the 18-inch wheels on the FX35; new aluminum and wood interior trim finish; Intelligent Key with panic alarm, selective unlock mode, and answer-back; Bluetooth hands-free phone system; and memory for the driver's seat, mirrors and steering wheel. Sunroof, automatic headlights, aluminum roof rails, cargo net and cover and universal garage door opener have been added to the list of standard features on the FX45 for 2006.
The FX35 can be loaded with the FX45's luxury features by ordering optional packages. Among them: The Touring Package ($1,300) includes power sunroof, garage door transmitter, automatic headlamps, and cargo net. The Hands-free package ($600) includes Bluetooth and Intelligent Key. The FX35 Sport Package ($1,950) adds the stiffer suspension, 20-inch wheels and tires, and cosmetic upgrades including aluminum pedals, aluminum side rails, etched aluminum interior trim and dark chrome exterior accents.
Both FX models offer a Technology Package ($4,200) that includes a DVD-based GPS navigation system, satellite radio, and traffic-sensing cruise control. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system is bundled with the Lane Departure Warning system on 2006 models ($1,750). Other options include a tow hitch ($600), roof rail crossbars, chrome wheels, and run-flat tires ($350).
Safety features that come on all models include dual-stage front airbags, front side-impact airbags, full-cabin curtain-style airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters, and active front head restraints. Active safety features include sophisticated anti-lock brake system with electronic brake proportioning, electronic stability control (VDC), and the rear-view TV monitor. Optional safety features include intelligent cruise control and a Lane Departure Warning system.