2009 Infiniti FX50
The newly refreshed 2009 Infiniti FX50
is quite a different beast than the last iteration. While the exterior design is mildly refreshed from the previous generation, the 5.0-liter engine is brand spanking new and cranks out 390 horsepower, up from 2008’s 320. As the bigger, more capable sibling to the V-6 poweredFX35
, the FX50 also has more standard features like Bluetooth capability and an iPod interface. The styling of the FX is even more avant-garde than the outgoing model too, with Infiniti pushing the limit when it comes to the car’s design. Whether you’re looking for a swank interior, an eye-catching design or powerful performance, the FX50 has it all in spades.
What's to Like
Since the 4,500-pound FX50 is lighter than rivals like the BMW X5
, the new V-8 engine pulls the SUV well around corners. The exhaust has been specifically tuned to give the engine grunt a more pleasing aural tone, and the touch screen navigation system has easily scrollable menus and straightforward functionalities.
What's Not to Like
Despite the 369 lb-ft of torque, up from the FX45
’s 335, the FX50 has a towing capacity of only 3,500 pounds. The Mercedes-Benz ML550
tops that by almost 4,000 pounds. Buyers may be disappointed with the lack of a third row of seats, something that both the Acura MDX
and Audi Q7
DriverSide Driving Impressions
Nimbly navigating corners, the FX50 feels controlled and balanced in tight turns. Infiniti did this by shaving four feet off the SUVs turning radius making U-turns an easier affair. Wind noise is slightly noticeable through the window joints during highway driving, but is nonexistent when compared to the clamor the open sunroof makes. Even at low speeds, its like five teenagers all playing ‘Rock Band’ at once. The standard 21-inch aluminum alloy wheels make for a rougher ride than the FX35, who rolls on 18-inchers, but the optional sport package adds Continuous Damping Control suspension, which uses nine sensors to analyze input coming from mechanisms like the steering angle and brakes to determine the necessary intensity of the shocks. This ultimately creates a more comfort-oriented ride for the occupants but at a premium price.
Engine and Drivetrain
The standard all-wheel drive FX50 boasts a 5.0-liter V-8 engine with 390 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. The 5.0-liter engine is a first for this manufacturer, as the last generation featured a 4.5-liter version of the engine. A seven-gear automatic transmission, with optional manual mode with paddle shifters, makes for a smoother drive than the outgoing five-speed. Infiniti has also tuned the shift points to function at their highest torque output range so the FX can produce larger amounts of torque when the throttle is punched.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
Two optional packages on the FX35 come standard on the FX50. The navigation package includes a voice recognition gps system, XM radio with real-time traffic, a compact flash drive and Around View Monitor (AVM). The latter feature is a new system that uses four wide-angle cameras to display the FX’s complete surroundings on the navigation screen, thus reducing blind spots while parking and driving. The standard premium package equips the car with manual front seat coolers and heaters, Bluetooth capability, an iPod interface, a power tilting and telescoping steering wheel and quilted leather seats. Did we mention we love cooled seats? We love them.
Key Technology Evaluation
Safety was obviously a primary focus when developing the FX. Beyond the standard array of air bags, crumple zones and traction control there is also a technology package with the latest in advanced safety mechanisms. One of these features, the Lane Departure Warning (LDW), produces an audible alert when the FX starts to drift over the driving lane. Its tandem partner, the Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) system, will brake the necessary individual wheels to keep the car in the travel lane when it senses it drifting too. With these two systems, you’ll have no worry of accidentally ending up on the British side of the road. The FX also comes standard with “self-healing” paint that contains an elastic resin in the clear topcoat that fills in fine scratches when exposed to sunlight. The paint will stay pristine throughout the car’s tenure, and you’ll overcome your fear of supermarket parking lots and trolleys.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
Despite its 2 extra cylinders, the all-wheel drive FX50 only gets 2 mpg less in the city and one mpg less on the highway than the FX35, putting it at 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. Numbers like these are similar to, or even better than, competitors in the field like the 13 city and 20 highway in the V-8 powered Cadillac SRX
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
A fluidly designed center stack mimics the curvy overall look of the interior. The aesthetics of the car takes a priority over functionality on a few occasions though: the hazards button is subtly integrated among the navigation controls and can be accidently pushed by someone simply trying to find directions. That someone was me.
Large fender flares and a wide front fascia blend into aggressively angled headlights. The FX50 is all about its curves, from the wavy grille to the sloping roofline, an element that is also mimicked on the interior. The exterior look will appeal to those who want their car to make a statement, or to look like an angry amphibian.
Market Segment and Pricing
The FX50 starts at an estimated $56,700, a $14,000-plus upgrade from the FX35
. On top of the larger engine, a standard navigation and premium package are part of the price jump between the two models. Infiniti has priced the FX equally among heavy hitters like the Mercedes-Benz M-class
, BMW X5
and the Porsche Cayenne
What We Think
The FX presents an alternative to the standard fare buyers can find in this class. Aggressive styling and a melding of luxury with the performance-oriented V-8 engine will delight driving enthusiasts with a taste for something out of the ordinary.