What's New for 2008
The Infiniti FX45 enters its sixth year on the market with satellite radio added as standard equipment.
Despite what its tallish SUV profile and comfortable backseat might imply, the Infiniti FX45 is a sport sedan in SUV clothing. By mating a powerful 320-horsepower V8 to a modified version of the previous-generation G35's sport-tuned chassis, Infiniti created a machine that accelerates with vigor, attacks corners eagerly and generally feels alive on the road. To drive an FX45 is to be convinced that a sport-utility vehicle can deliver on the "sport" part of the equation, and its standard all-wheel drive makes the entertainment a four-seasons deal.
The 2008 Infiniti FX45 also does reasonably well on the luxury front. A well-designed interior features pleasant ergonomics and leather-lined seats that we found especially comfortable. Upscale features like a 300-watt Bose stereo and rearview camera make life even easier, and the Infiniti's distinctive shape should make quite a fashion statement at the country club.
Unfortunately, the FX45's emphasis on speed and style comes with a few consequences. That distinctive shape detracts from cargo space and impedes visibility. It also precludes the possibility of a third-row seat, a feature that's been springing up in more and more competitors. Finally, while the FX45 is as comfortable as any to sit in, the firm suspension and low-profile 20-inch tires react somewhat harshly to bumps.
Overall, we found that the best entries in the midsize luxury SUV class make fewer compromises when blending entertainment, comfort and utility. When looking at the FX45, it'd be a good idea to also look at the equally lively BMW X5 and the more spacious Cadillac SRX. It's also a wise idea to try the V6-powered FX35; it provides more than enough power and the same sporty handling as its more expensive brother. This is a fact obviously not lost on other SUVs buyers, as for every FX45 sold, more than 10 FX35's go out the door at Infiniti dealerships across the country. That means sales managers aren't eager to order many, limiting consumers to a scant few examples. If you're willing to search hard for one, though, the 2008 Infiniti FX45 certainly won't disappoint.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Infiniti FX45 is a midsize luxury SUV that comes in one well-equipped trim level. Standard features include 20-inch alloy wheels, a power sunroof, xenon headlights, leather upholstery, power front seats, a power telescoping steering wheel, a Bose audio system with an in-dash six-disc CD changer, a rearview monitor, dual-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories and Infiniti's Intelligent Key keyless entry and starting. An available Technology Package bundles a navigation system, a lane-departure warning system and adaptive cruise control. Other options include a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and run-flat tires.
Powertrains and Performance
A 4.5-liter V8 making a potent 320 hp and 335 pound-feet of torque powers the Infiniti FX45. A five-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode is the sole gearbox, and every FX45 channels its power through an all-wheel-drive system that features a rear bias to preserve its sporty handling capabilities.
Antilock disc brakes with brake assist, front-seat side airbags, full-length curtain airbags, traction control and stability control are all standard, as are a rearview monitor and tire-pressure monitor. The optional Lane Departure Warning System alerts the driver to unintended movement of the vehicle out of a designated traffic lane. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the 2008 Infiniti FX45 scored five (out of five) stars for its protection of occupants in both front and side impacts, and in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset testing, the FX earned the top score of "Good."
Interior Design and Special Features
Even with its leather seating and wood trim, the FX45's cabin doesn't strike us as particularly warm or upscale. There are a few too many small, similar-looking buttons, but ergonomics are mostly well thought out. A more serious matter is how the narrow rear window and considerable blind spots compromise rearward visibility. There's plenty of room for four adults, though the sloping roof can make things tight for taller rear passengers. Cargo space is even more of a squeeze, as there are just 65 cubic feet of space compared to the 70-85 cubic feet found in most midsize SUVs.
Infiniti's efforts to instill the 2008 Infiniti FX45 with a truly athletic character can be felt with every drive. The strong, smooth V8 and well-matched five-speed automatic provide quick response, charging from zero to 60 mph in a quick 6.5 seconds. Steering is responsive, and the tenacious 20-inch tires and firm suspension tuning keep grip high and body roll low. Finally, its braking distances are almost stellar by SUV standards. Our only real complaint has to do with the FX45's ride quality, which might be too stiff for the average luxury SUV shopper. Also worth mentioning is the FX's unseemly behavior when pushed to its handling limits. Its rear end has a tendency to step out during aggressive driving when the standard stability control is switched off. Our recommendation? Leave the stability control on.