What's New for 2011
Besides a few minor cosmetic and content-related changes, the Infiniti FX lineup returns unchanged for 2011.
Sporty luxury crossover SUVs like the 2011 Infiniti FX37 and FX50 seem to be gaining in popularity. And with the FX, Infiniti emphasizes "sport" over utility. Built on Infiniti's G37 sedan platform, the FX features a carlike ride and nimble handling and is backed by a confident V6 or a commanding V8 under the hood.
Of course, it's still a luxury crossover, and the Infiniti FX indulges occupants with a plush and modern cabin blessed with all of the high-tech and luxury trappings expected of vehicles in this price range. The interior surrounds passengers with top-notch materials while the driver enjoys multiple standard and optional driver aids enhancing convenience and safety. Notable features include a clever top-view camera, adaptive cruise control, intelligent brake assist and a lane departure warning and prevention system.
Unfortunately, the Infiniti FX has some drawbacks that its high-tech wizardry can't solve. Luggage space is quite a bit smaller than what you get from some competitors, as is rear-seat space -- larger passengers will feel a bit cramped back there. And the FX's impressive handling comes at the expense of ride quality. Some may find the stiffer suspension a bit too harsh for their tastes, especially with the optional larger wheels.
If utility is a priority, the 2011 Infiniti FX35 and FX50 probably aren't your best choices. Though they're not as sporty, the Acura MDX, Lexus RX 350 and Lincoln MKX provide more passenger and cargo space. The BMW X6 and Porsche Cayenne represent the FX's closest performance rivals, but they're more expensive. All things considered, the Infiniti FX lineup deserves a close look if you want a lot of sport from your luxury crossover.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Infiniti FX35 and FX50 are midsize luxury crossover SUVs available in a single, well-equipped trim level. The V6-powered FX35 can be had with either rear- or all-wheel drive, while the V8-powered FX50 is only offered with AWD.
Standard features for the FX35 include 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic xenon headlights, foglights, a sunroof, power-folding heated outside mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, full power accessories, eight-way power front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls. Also standard are dual-zone automatic climate control, a back-up camera, Bluetooth and an 11-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with a six-CD changer, auxiliary audio/USB connections, digital music storage and satellite radio.
Options include a Premium package, which features roof rails, heated and ventilated front seats, driver seat memory, quilted leather seating, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a 360-degree parking camera system, front and rear parking sensors, a navigation system with real-time traffic and weather, a Zagat restaurant guide, a larger touchscreen display, voice-activated controls, expanded digital music storage and Bluetooth streaming audio.
Standard equipment for the FX50 includes all of the above plus 20-inch wheels, a more advanced climate control system with air filtration and a cargo cover.
The FX35 makes available a Deluxe Touring package (which requires the Premium package) that includes 20-inch wheels, wood interior trim, metal pedals and the cargo cover. The FX50's Deluxe Touring is similar but adds 21-inch wheels. The Technology package (which requires the Deluxe Touring package) adds automatic wipers, adaptive cruise control, adaptive headlamps, intelligent brake assist and a lane-departure warning and prevention system.
A Sport package is available for the FX50 only, and adds dark-tinted exterior trim, active rear steering, adaptive two-mode suspension dampers, paddle shifters and sport front seats.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Infiniti FX35 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 303 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. The FX50 is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 390 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed automatic with manual shift control is the only transmission available. Rear-wheel drive is standard for the FX35; an all-wheel-drive system with a rear bias to preserve the vehicle's sporty handling capabilities is optional. The FX50 is only offered with AWD.
Acceleration is quick for either model, with a 0-60-mph sprint taking just 6.6 seconds for the FX35 and 5.5 seconds for the FX50. The EPA estimates fuel consumption for the AWD FX35 at 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined, while rear-drive models are rated at 16/23/19 mpg. The FX50 is estimated at 14/20/16 mpg.
Standard safety features for the 2011 Infiniti FX35 and FX50 include antilock disc brakes with brake assist, front-seat-mounted side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, traction control and stability control. A lane-departure warning and prevention system is optional, as are adaptive cruise control and intelligent brake assist. The latter uses the laser range finder from the adaptive cruise control to analyze closing speeds to an obstacle ahead. If a forward collision is imminent, the system sounds a warning to prompt driver action and can automatically apply the brakes up to 0.5g.
In crash tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Infiniti FX models its highest score of "Good" for frontal-offset impact protection. Recent Edmunds brake testing yielded very favorable results for both FX versions. Stopping from 60 mph required only 114 feet for the FX35 and 117 feet for the FX50.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2011 Infiniti FX features an interior that is as luxurious as you'll find in this category. Supple leathers, rich wood trim and soft-touch materials grace nearly every surface of the cabin. The audio and navigation systems may be a little tricky to use at first, but once acclimated, operation is simple and intuitive. The optional 360-degree camera is particularly helpful when maneuvering in tight spaces, as it provides a top-down view of the vehicle in relation to its surroundings.
The front seats have plenty of adjustments to satisfy nearly any body type, aided by ample head- and legroom. The rear seats, on the other hand, may be cramped for larger folk compared to other luxury SUVs. Luggage space behind the rear seats is about average, measuring 25 cubic feet. Folding the seats flat increases total cargo volume to 62 cubes, still well short of what most competitors offer.
In terms of handling and ride quality, both the 2011 Infiniti FX35 and FX50 deliver similar experiences. On twisting mountain roads, the FX displays impressive road-holding prowess and confidence, aided by strong, consistent brakes and a tight and direct steering feel. The trade-off, however, is a stiffer ride on the highway. Opting for the larger wheel sizes only compounds matters, increasing road noise and impact harshness.
The V6-powered FX35 delivers a smooth stream of power while the seven-speed automatic transmission executes shifts quickly and smoothly. Most drivers will find that this engine provides more than enough power. For those who need more, the FX50 obliges with a flood of torque that launches this big SUV toward the horizon with ease. In most situations, the V8 is pleasantly refined, but closer to the redline it exhibits some coarseness and vibration that's absent in rivals like the BMW X6 or Porsche Cayenne.