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Thread: 2009 Infiniti FX50

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2009 Infiniti FX50

    Infiniti had a ballsy idea when it created the FX - a strange but compelling combo of mid-sized luxury-sport sedan, one-off custom and honky tonk primo SUV.

    This thing may look like a crossover, but its RWD-based chassis and a suspension system that's very similar to what you'd find under Infiniti's M45 and G35 sport sedans set it as far apart from the typical FWD-based, minivan-in-drag crossover as Chuck Zito is from Ryan Seacrest.

    Toss in the Sasquatch footprint of 21 inch Enkei rims and the IC guns of a 390 hp 5 liter V-8 (new for 2008) behind that toothy grille and you begin to get the drift.

    ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

    Even the standard engine in this thing is a beast - a 303 horsepower 3.5 liter V-6 straight out of the Nissan 350Z (and Infiniti G) tied to a new 7-speed automatic, with your choice of RWD or (optional) AWD. Right off the bat, that gives the $40,950-$42,350 (RWD/AWD) FX350 more firepower than car-based mid-sized FWD/AWD crossover rivals such as the $40,195-$47,995 Acura MDX (3.7 liters, 300 hp) and the $37,700-$39,100 Lexus RX350 (3.5 liters, 270 hp) as well as 4WD sport SUV rivals like the $46,200 BMW X5 3.0 (3.0 liters, 260 hp), $43,400 Porsche Cayenne (3.6 liters, 290 hp) and even the $58,225 Range Rover Sport, which packs two more cylinders and a full liter of additional engine displacement yet comes up 3 hp shy of what the Infinit's V-6 dishes out (4.4 liters, 300 hp).

    None of the above offers a 7-speed transmission, either (athough you can get a six-speed manual in the Porsche).

    But that's just for openers.

    The step-up Infiniti FX50 ($56,700) bristles with a Mr. Bone Stripper 5.0 liter V-8 featuring variable valve timing and 390 hp - 70 more than last year's FX45 and almost 100 hp more than the two grand more expensive Range Rover Sport V-8 and enough muscle to head-kick the 290 hp Porsche Cayenne all the way back across the ocean to Stuttgart with its tail tucked between its legs. Stacking this mean SOB up against flimsy little crossovers like the Lexus RX and Acura MDX would be an outright slaughter.

    The FX's only real direct competition - in terms of RWD-based chassis, hi-perf engines and sports-car handling dynamics - is the just launched (and all-new) BMW X6. It comes standard with a 3 liter, 300 hp six from the 3-Series sedan tied to a RWD-biased AWD system - with a 400 hp V-8 available optionally. It offers comparable performance - and its look is obviously inspired by the FX.

    But with a base price of $52,500 to start and $63,000 for the V-8 X6, the BMW is way pricey relative to the FX - which equals, meets or beats it in most every objective category of power/performance/functionality and luxury brand bona fides - for about $10-$12k less.

    Equipped with the new, more powerful V-6, the 2008 FX350 is as quick and fast as the outgoing V-8 powered FX45 - while the new 5.0 liter V-8 powered 2008 FX50 is flat-out ferocious, capable of reaching 60 mph in about 5.4-5.5 seconds (vs. 6.1 or so for the '07 FX45).

    That's quick for a car; for a 4,500 AWD lunker (the big V-8 is - understandably - paired with only with AWD ) that can carry five people and nearly 25 cubic feet of their stuff, it's downright eye-popping.

    Only downside: This engine reee-quires premium fuel only - and consumes oceans of it. EPA rates the FX50 at a 1970 Olds Vista Cruiser-like 14 mpg in city driving, 20 mpg on the highway. (The V-6 FX35 is a little better, but not much, at 16 city/21 highway.)

    RIDE & HANDLING

    The FX differs from virtually every other crossover on the market in that it is basically a high-riding sports sedan built around a RWD (rather than FWD) platform, with a longitudinally (rather than transversely) mounted engine with a transmission bolted behind it, feeding into a driveshaft and from there to a rear axle - instead of an engine/transaxle combo with most of the drivetrain's weight hanging over the front wheels. This gives the FX the innate handling advantage that comes with a closer to 50-50 weight split, front to rear.

    The suspension system is fully independent, all around - with a double wishbone front and a multi-link rear, each featuring extensive use of lightweight forged aluminum pieces to reduce both weight and unsprung mass. It is very similar to what you'd find underneath Infinit's M45 and G-Series sedans - with a similar overall feel to it, just much higher off the ground courtesy of the super-tall Enkei 21 inch mags built specifically for this vehicle.

    Once you get over the initial fear that comes with pushing a vehicle that looks like an SUV hard in anything other than a straight line, you realize this is an impressively capable machine, even on those super tall 21 inch rims. The only weak point (subjective call; in my opinion) is the overly intrusive electronics that come along for the ride, kind of like your mother-in-law only you can't just open the door and kick her out. More on this below... .

    You can order up active rear steering and continuous real-time damping (CDC) to further improve the FX's ability to bust a move.

    STYLING & UTILITY

    If you want to make an impression, the FX won't let you down. It looks like nothing else on the road - and the heavily updated 2008 version is even more wild-looking than the original. The front end may be a bit nurse shark-looking, but as Capt. Quint liked to say, "she'll swallow you whole, chief." New (and fully functional) side gills add to the sea beast countenance. These work by allowing hot underhood air to vent, thereby lowering the build up of high-pressure air - and front end lift. (My '70s-era Trans-Am had this feature first, I have to add.)

    The interior is equally swoopy - with some very cool detail touches that include solid magnesium paddle shifters for the 7-speed gearbox that are also trimmed with the same high-end leather used for the seats and door panels. The center console controls for the audio/climate control/GPS systems are a little fussy - but that is par for the course in luxury brand cars these days. You get used to it, I suppose. At least some of the controls are of the instantly understandable "turn a knob" type - such as the rotary controls for the driver/passenger seat heater (and bun cooler). I also liked the retro-looking but classy analog clock.

    The FX does not offer third row seating, but the truth is that the third row seats in most crossovers and medium-sized SUVs are useless except for very small kids anyway. If you absolutely must have 7-passenger seating, you'll need to upsize considerably to something like a GMC Acadia or equivalent - and forget about any real sporting character.

    With the second row up, the FX has about 35 cubic feet of cargo capacity; with the second row folded flat, 62 cubic feet. The space is tall and wide, too - so you can use the FX to cart home not just a lot of stuff but also a lot of big/wide/tall stuff that would never fit in a conventional sport sedan.

    QUALITY & SAFETY

    Nissan (Infiniti's parent company) is the Audi of Japanese cars - by which I mean you'll find a pleasing combo of modernistic design rendered with nothing but the finest materials and workmanship short of an exotic/hand-built car. Those solid magnesium, leather-trimmed paddle shifters are just one example. Another manifestation of quality is the FX's "self-healing" paint. Minor scratches are absorbed by a semi-flexible clearcoat that expands as it warms - preserving the new car look that much longer. There's also an air ionizer system integrated with the automatic climate control that emits a low concentration of negatively and positively charged ions that attach to airborne contaminants such as pollen, mold, etc so they don't float around in the cabin's airspace - and get sucked into your lungs. In "Ion Mode," the system creates a high concentration of negative ions to impart a crispness to the cabin's air similar to the way air tastes after a thunderstorm.

    The FX also offers cutting-edge techno features such as laser-guided cruise control that automatically adjusts your following speed in relation to the ebb and flow of traffic and something Infiniti calls Distance Control Assist (DCA), which anticipates the need to slow and brake by backing off the throttle and beginning to apply the brakes as traffic ahead of you slows. There's also an electronic Lane Departure Warning system that beeps at you if you wander over the double yellow - and will actually use the brakes to shepherd you back into your slot, too.

    Even the back-up camera is like no other back-up camera you've ever seen. In addition to providing a closed-circuit view of the area behind the vehicle when you back up, it can also give you a bird's-eye view of the entire vehicle from the vantage point of what looks to be about 20-30 feet up in the air - and will follow your progress at speeds of up to about 5 mph or so. A-mazing.

    Every conceivable active and passive safety gadget is included too - from the "givens" of ABS and traction/stability control to the added accident-proofing of Intelligent Brake Assist (which first audibly warns you and then begins to brake the car for you when an imminent collision is sensed), plus roof-mounted and side impact air bags with rollover protection and sensors.

    If you want safer, the only way to find it would be to stay in bed.

    DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

    Loved the power - and the attitude. I wasn't so happy about the (to me) over-elaborate and overly intrusive driver "assist" technology that encrusts this otherwiserocking, head-busting whatever the heck it is. From the standpoint of technology as such, a vehicle that can begin to apply the brakes (and cut the throttle) for you, anticipating the need, is beyond Buck Rogers. Very impressive. But arguably, it is both annoying because it pre-empts the driver - and potentially unsafe, because it encourages more inattentive driving - which we already have enough of, if you want my opinion.

    My personal view is that it should be up to the driver to notice traffic has stopped ahead - not a computer. Likewise the lane departure warning system - which got on my nerves when it beeped at me during passing maneuvers and was way too sensitive to minor and inevitable straddling of those painted yellow lines. I haven't run off the road in years - but my FX press car seemed to think I might at any moment. Worse, I could not find a way to turn the system off. It probably can be done, but in a week with the car, I had zero luck figuring it out.

    Meanwhile, I had to fight the urge to stick my fist through the dashboard at times.... .

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    The FX is a unique and exotic beast that really stands out from the herd of "crossovers" whose chief virtue is they don't look like minivans (even though that's basically what they are). It's also a much more entertaining ride than SUVs that attempt to be sporty but, being fundamentally trucks at their core, never quite pull it off.

    And it's an absolute steal compared with the nice - but overpriced - BMW X6.

    END


  2. #2
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    Re: 2009 Infiniti FX50

    Just added this article with pictures to the main site:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...1&Itemid=10893

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