2009 Infiniti FX50 Long-Term Road Test

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Goodbye Wash

February 01, 2010

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As the 2009 Infiniti FX50 prepares to leave our fleet for good, I took it this morning for its final visit to Blue Wave, our local car wash.

Watching the wash worker dress the Infiniti's tires, I thought about how much I'll miss the FX50 when it's gone. Not for its smooth, compliant ride, but for allowing me to look down on FX35 drivers (literally) from my perch atop its massive 21-inch wheels.

Goodbye, FX50. It's been tons of big-wheeled fun.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 29,616 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Our Favorite Caption

December 18, 2009

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Thanks to mrryte for this week's favorite caption. You can always get me with a Star Wars reference.

Here are the others we dug:

Arm wrestle? (oldchap)
Did the Earth move for you too?! (ergsum)
Love struck, the FX50 asked if it could D8R! (ergsum)
Don't tread on me (mnorm1)
Ugly and the Beast (e90_m3)
Separated at birth? (dougtheeng)
Cat meet catfish. (dougtheeng)
Come here ya big lug and let me plant one on ya (626gt)
Infiniti's top secret front facia department (imarcr2)
Time to feed the CAT (ergsum)
I think that hood scoop is actually *hurting* your top end (zc1)
The FX prepares to meet its maker. (hybris)

What was your favorite?

This was the last caption contest until the New Year. Thanks for playing.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Infiniti FX50: You Write the Caption

December 18, 2009

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Senior Editor Ed Hellwig sent me this picture of the Infiniti FX50 at Angeles Forest. The bulldozer was there to help fight the fires.

We suggest: Vanishing Pointless

What is your caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Still Feels New After 27K Miles

December 07, 2009

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Someone noted in the comments section last week that our FX50 has suffered little in the way of problems. They were right. Other than normal scheduled service, our FX hasn't had a single mechanical issue in its first 27,000 miles.

That I pretty much expect. It is a new car after all. What surprises me is how tight the FX feels after that many miles. Most cars loosen up after a year or so no matter how well they're built, yet the FX still feels new. No rattles, no squeaks and no hints that anything has worked it way loose even a little bit. An admirable feat given its stiff suspension.

And FYI, photo was shot in the fire-ravaged Angeles forest which was recently reopened.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 27,110 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50: It Grows On You

December 04, 2009

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I'm the first to admit that the FX is a slightly silly vehicle. Too small to be a utility vehicle and too big to feel truly sporty, it's one of those crossovers that seemingly has no business case.

Then I drive it and like it which makes me think Infiniti is on the something. If I had some money to spend and wanted something fast, luxurious and completely different compared to the BMW and Mercedes sedans already crowding the office parking lot, the FX might make my list.

There's the still the issue of ride quality, which is not good, and the almost comical cargo capacity. Then again, it can rip freeway on ramps as well, or better, than many sedans and the V8 barely seems to notice the substantial weight. Looks pretty cool too in my book.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 26,678 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Who Lives in This House?

November 23, 2009

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I've been hooked on a popular TV series for the last four seasons, and this fall I realized the main character's new house on the show is in a southern California neighborhood near mine.

Last night I parked our long-term Infiniti FX50 in front of the house for a quick photo. The "For Rent" sign leads me to believe filming in this location is already complete.

The FX would be a useful size for this character to drive, but he might find it attracts too much attention.

Any guesses who "lives" in the pink house?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 26,599 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Home Improvement Duty

November 11, 2009

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Here's a snap shot of the FX50's door pocket holding the ticking time bomb our home's former owner left me. I'm no chemist or plumber, but when this bit o' kit was attached to a copper pipe, there were 3 different metals (copper, galvanized steel, and brass) within 4 inches of one another. Even I know that ain't right. A quick trip to the local home improvement store solved the problem.

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2009 Infiniti FX50: You Cannot Touch This

November 04, 2009

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For the past couple months or so every time I bring a car home and park it on the street, there are, what I like to call, little effers who mess with the passenger side mirror of those cars. These strangers who apparently have nothing better to do with their time will either fold the entire mirror in or press the mirror glass itself angling it outward. And it's not like they do it because there isn't enough room on the sidewalk. There's plenty. And naturally I don't notice the tampered mirror until I'm on the road and have to look at it before switching lanes and then "D'oh!" If it's just a matter of moving the mirror glass with the power function then it's not a big deal. Annoying, but no harm done. But when the whole mirror is folded in? Can make for a dicey situation.

But last night I had our 2009 Infiniti FX50 with its handy-dandy folding mirrors and that's just what I did. Tucked those babies in. HA ha! Effers.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: Silent Running

November 02, 2009

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This is what the cockpit of the 2009 Infiniti FX50 looks like when you hit the ignition button too lightly for not long enough and then walk away with the key in your hand and lock the door, thinking you've shut down the V8 and left the lights to automatically extinguish themselves. Only to find that you've left the engine still running.

Which I've done in our noisy parking garage.

Twice.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 24,490 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50: There's a V8 In There, Somewhere

October 16, 2009

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For a vehicle that seems to pride itself on its masculine appearance, the FX50 doesn't exactly show off its massive V8 very well. In fact, barring the giant label on the cover, you would be hard pressed to distinguish this engine from a run of the mill four banger.

This shrouding tactic is getting more popular every year and I'm not sure why. Sure it looks clean and neat, but even the most complex overhead cam V8 can look pretty cool when you can actually see it.

Granted, about .04% of all FX owners will ever actually open their own hoods, but all that black plastic just looks like the designers punted and moved on.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Sales Figures

October 15, 2009

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You asked for it. Below you'll find recent sales totals for the Infiniti FX model line. Annual sales for 2007 and 2008 run January to December. 2009 figures span January to June:

'07 FX35: 19,129
'07 FX45: 1,598

'08 FX35: 12,079
'08 FX45: 581

'09 FX35: 5,357
'09 FX45: N/A
'09 FX50: 531

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: Absence of Lane Departure

October 14, 2009

Our long-term 2009 Infiniti FX50 was delivered with Sport Package ($3000) that includes:

  • Continuous Damping Control with Auto and Sport modes
  • Rear Active Steer
  • Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS, swiveling headlamps)
  • Sport style front seats
  • Driver's seat with power bolster adjustment (4-way) with thigh support (D&P)
  • Dark-tinted headlights, side air vents and lower door trim
  • 21-inch W-rated summers tires and wheels

Unfortunately, we didn't get the Tech Package ($2900), which includes the Lane Departure warning and prevention system.

If we did get Lane Departure, it would work like this:

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2009 Infiniti FX50: A Rare Breed

October 14, 2009

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I've spent the past couple of days in our 2009 Infiniti FX50. Before I grabbed the keys to the Infiniti I couldn't tell you the last time I saw any version of FX on the road. But since I've had the key in my pocket they're everywhere. I saw three (two FX35s and one FX45) yesterday on my commute home in the rain. This morning I encountered another FX35.

These FXs are understandably a rare breed. Do you see any in your neighborhood?

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 23,904 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: When Rain Comes to So Cal

October 13, 2009

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It hasn't rained in our part of Southern California in months, so when the weatherman announced the threat of precipitation this week, I was grateful to already have the keys to our 2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD hanging on my kitchen key rack.

Nothing turns the California freeway system into a spinning, sliding, jacked-up mess like a couple of raindrops, and the FX50's standard all-wheel-drive system was reassuring during my dark early morning commute in the wet.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 23,876 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Open Thread

October 13, 2009

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What do you want to know about the 2009 Infiniti FX50?

Have you driven one? Write a review in the comments section.

Any details you want us to take a picture of? Now is your chance to ask.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Architeuthis

October 11, 2009

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It may look like a giant squid, but it's got motor.

Our Infiniti FX50 packs a 390-horsepower 5.0-liter V8, seven-speed automatic transmission with manual mode, and all-wheel drive.

There may be a lot of crossovers on the market today but the 2009 Infiniti FX50 is a high-performance crossover.

It's big. It's bad. It's Car of the Week.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: View From the Cabin

October 07, 2009

I made this video on my way to work to show you how the Infiniti FX50's large hood makes you feel like you are taking up the entire road.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: To Everything, Turn, Turn...

October 02, 2009

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One thing I've become accustomed to in AWD vehicles is a wide turning circle. Imagine my surprise, then, when I managed to turn our FX50 around in my narrow backyard parking area with ease. The light steering and excellent surround camera make it feel like it's coming about much sharper than its 36.7 foot turning circle would suggest.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 23,170 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Road Trip Day 3 -- Grand Canyon to LA

September 03, 2009

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The trip actually took four days, truth be told, but one involved a lot of driving in darkness, so let's call it three. For my last FX50 trick, I started in Kanab, Utah and ended up at the Grand Canyon's South Rim. That gave me another shot at Route 89A, as well as plenty of time to contemplate my innermost feelings about our long-term Infiniti.

You'll note that I haven't said much about the FX50's high-tech stuff. Four-way parking camera, plasmacluster, et cetera. Hey, this is my road trip, and frankly I don't really care about all of that (though I'll concede that the camera is fantastic). To me, the way the thing drives is what matters. The rest is just details.

And the FX50 drives great. As noted on Days One and Two, the driving position, steering and handling are spot-on, and NVH issues aside (see Day Two), the V8 is a monster. This Infiniti eats up miles with confidence and flair. It's the real deal.

However, one detail that does matter is the FX50's near-$60k base price. Given that rivals like the Porsche Cayenne S and BMW X5 V8 have more refinement and snob appeal, I'd like to see the FX50 start at $50,000, where it would be an easily justifiable stretch from the six-cylinder Cayenne and X5. No wonder the FX35 sells so much better -- it's $15 grand cheaper.

A few final notes and pics below.

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Road Trip Day 2 -- Canyon Country

September 02, 2009

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From the Bryce Canyon region, Route 89 snakes south to Kanab, Utah, where you can either continue east on 89 to Page, Arizona, or take the southerly 89A until it rejoins 89 in Bitter Springs. If you're ever in the area, set aside half a day and do the entire loop. You'll be so busy staring slack-jawed out the window that the time commitment will seem utterly inconsequential.

In between photographic pit stops, I decided to stretch the Infiniti's legs a little on this closed course of sorts, emboldened by the Escort 9500 that I'd serendipitously discovered in the console bin the night before. First logbook comment: "Seventh gear is for the autobahn." Think about how hard your car's working at 97 mph, and now consider that it takes the Infiniti that long to hit 3,000 rpm. I can't think of a taller Japanese cruising gear off the top of my head.

Antelope Canyon (right) was on the itinerary as well, and as dusk approached I made a mad dash for the Grand Canyon's North Rim, which included an impromptu handling test along the winding five-mile road to Point Imperial. More notes and pics below.

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2009 Inifiniti FX50: First Aid

September 01, 2009

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So I have never really explored the guts of any press car's first aid kit until today. And then, for no particular reason at all, I was struck with the uncontrollable urge to see what was in there.

Contents after the jump.

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Road Trip Day 1 -- LA to Bryce Canyon

September 01, 2009

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I won't deny that I was a touch disappointed when I drew our long-term Infiniti FX50 in Mr. Schmidt's V8 sweepstakes. I knew the FX's road-trip credentials were solid, but the S5 or M3 would have been more my speed than a jacked-up $60k G37 on steroids.

At least, that's what I thought before I hit the road.

Well, okay, I still think so. But as I made my way from LA to Bryce Canyon on that first day, I developed a grudging respect for this ostensible exercise in wretched excess. Would I rather have an FX50 than a Cayenne S? Neither, thanks; I'll take a base M3 sedan and save a few grand. Still, this Infiniti fully deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the Porsche. It may look like a victory for style over substance, but there's some serious capability underneath that cartoonish skin.

Detailed day-one impressions and more pictures below.

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2009 Infiniti FX50: 20,000 Deep

August 31, 2009

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Our long-term FX50 wanted to get the whole milestone thing out of the way before we set out for southwestern parts unknown, and I was in an obliging mood. The FX had 19,996 miles on the clock when I woke up on Day 1 of the trip (August 22), so I drove around Santa Monica for four miles and then pulled into a gas station for the customary pre-trip fill.

A gluttonous 14.38 gallons later, we hit the road. To paraphrase the immortal words of Gold Hat, "Fuel economy? We don't need no fuel economy! I don't have to show you any stinkin' fuel economy!"

After 2,255 stupidly scenic miles, we're back. Photos were taken, journal entries were logged, and I developed a newfound respect for this V8-powered G on stilts. Stay tuned for highlights this week. Installment 1 goes live tomorrow; meanwhile, our recent rainbow fixation continues at right, courtesy of amenable conditions along I40 in western Arizona.

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Canyon Carving

August 21, 2009

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I had just one request for keymaster Schmidt regarding my upcoming road trip to the Grand Canyon.

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Park It With The Ferraris

August 18, 2009

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Eenie, meenie, miny, moe.

This is the "The Valets Kept It Up Front Area" of a swank hotel on Monterey's 17 Mile Drive called the Inn at Spanish Bay. Usually there are a few Phantoms and a couple of SLRs in the mix, but as you can see it was a slow day.

I wish I can say that our long-term Infiniti FX50 was placed in that spot by somebody other than me, but that would be called lying. Instead the valets parked our FX around back. Way back.

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Monterey Here We Come

August 13, 2009

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Tonight I'll be driving our long-term Infiniti FX50 250 miles or so due north to California's Monterey Peninsula for the ultimate car weekend. If you've never been to "The Weekend" I highly recommend you mark out the vacation time and tell the wife you've got a seminar in Cleveland.

It really is that cool. With the possible exception of the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK, the Monterey weekend is without equal if your goal is total automotive submersion. For three days it's just cars, cars, cars.

Although there have been events up there since Saturday, tomorrow the real fun begins. I'll spend the majority of my day checking out a few thousand of my favorite Italians at the Concorso Italiano. I'm a Ferrari Daytona nut so it's one of my favorite car shows. Then, tomorrow night, Infiniti will give me a look at the all-new 2011 Infiniti M, which I hear is very cool.

On Saturday I'll watch the historic races at Laguna Seca (Porsche is the honored marque.). And on Sunday you'll find me at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. In between I hope to hit a car auction or two. Or three.

Should be fun. And the FX should prove to be the perfect road tripper for the job. I plan on putting its navigation system to the test, and with any luck I'll drive it enough to get it over the 20,000 mile mark by the time we return on Monday.

I'll let you know if the FX lived up to my expectations with a full report next week.

Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief @ 19,024 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50: How Big Guns Roll

August 10, 2009

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This weekend I drove our 2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD north to Sacramento. The super buff FX scored more looks and comments than anything else I've driven through California's central valley.

Stopping for a quick caffeine fix on I-5, I pulled into the parking lot alongside a Mercedes SL and Porsche Cayenne.

A 20-something guy ambled by and shrugged toward the FX50. "That's an awesome car," he said.

I nodded my head and mumbled, "Thanks." Then I stopped, considered the German company the Infiniti was presently keeping,and asked why he liked it best.

He rolled up his Green Day t-shirt sleeve while striking a body-builder pose and winked, "It's so muscular...like my own guns."

Uh, don't look for me behind the wheel of the FX50 again anytime soon.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 18,908 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: Whaddya Bench?

July 31, 2009

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"Is that your car out there on the street?" my husband asks when he comes in the door.

"Which car?" I say.

"The one that's making a muscle," he says.

Ha ha. Yup.

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: Separated at Birth

July 30, 2009

2009 Infiniti FX50 meet Major Stan Valchek from The Wire.

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Major Stanislaus "Stan" Valchek from HBO's The Wire is played to perfection by actor Al Brown.

Those eyes work on him, not on the FX.

OK, how about this one. 2009 Infiniti FX50 meet Admiral Ackbar of Mon Calamari.

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Not Rational But Still Enjoyable

July 21, 2009

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By most rational measures, purchasing an Infiniti FX50 doesn't make much sense. But this doesn't mean that the FX50 is the leper of our long-term fleet. I've spent a lot of time with this vehicle (a two-week rotational stint last year and then another two weeks this month) and for the entirety the FX50 has been a pleasing companion. And who wouldn't want to drive a vehicle with a buff 390-hp V8, a seven-speed automatic with rev-matched downshifts and paddle shifters (the same as on our GT-R), all-wheel drive, great front seats, a superb navigation/audio interface, respectable handling, a full boat of luxury features and distinctive styling?

There are better vehicles to spend $62,000 on for sure. But for what it is, our FX50 is pretty cool.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor at 16,350 miles

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2009 Infinti FX50: Missing Options?

July 03, 2009

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Yesterday, my son asked to hear a certain song from the connected iPod. "Just say it out loud like in that other car" he said. Good one son, this car doesn't have that feature (Ford's Sync). "But it can start by itself without having to get in for when it's hot right?" Nope, can do that either. "So this car is less expensive than the cars that do those other things, right?" Hmmm, my 6 year old son may be onto something, What do you think, isn't it odd that a Ford or Chevy has better, more useful tech features at a much lower price?

Brian Moody, Automotive Editor @ 15,552 miles.

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2009 Infiniti FX50: 15,000 miles

June 22, 2009

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We cracked 15,000 miles on our Infiniti FX50. To date we've spent just $120 to keep it on the road (for the 7,500-mile service). But now its time to address the 15k service and those warning lights. An appointment is scheduled for this week.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 15,000 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Theeeeeeeyyyyyy'rrrrrrrrrre Baaaaaaaaaack

June 14, 2009

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Remember last week I posted about the three warning lights firing up on our long-term 2009 Infiniti FX50? Then, the very next day, Al Austria posted that the lights had gone out.

Well, theeeeeyyyyyy'rrrrrrrre baaaaaaack.

Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief @ 14,821 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Three Warning Lights at Once. Cool.

June 09, 2009

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Driving to work this morning in our long-term 2009 Infiniti FX50 was uneventful. That is if you consider three warning lights coming on at once uneventful.

As you can see idiot lights lit for the traction control, the stability control and the Rear Active Steer systems. The car still drives fine, but obviously something has gone haywire. Something electronic no doubt.

Notice the car is just a few hundred miles shy of its 15,000 mile service so we'll just take it in early and get it all checked out.

Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief @ 14,611 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50S: Of Towing and Being Towed

April 27, 2009

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Here's a few words about the 2009 FX50 for those of you with a diesel pusher motorhome and a need to falt-tow a vehicle: "Don't bother with the FX."

A very short section of the FX owner's manual delivers the bad news. AWD FX models, like our FX50, need to be on a trailer (for recreational towing) or a flat bed (for broken-down towing). Rear-wheel drive models need to go on a tow dolly, backwards (not advisable), so the drive wheels are off the ground. Or, in other words, look eleswhere for your next dinghy vehicle.

As for towing something else with the FX50, that's OK, but it won't light the world on fire. Our V8 is rated to tow 3,500 lbs. That's easily enough for a modest-sized boat or a pair of jet skis, though. The FX35 with the V6 is limited to 2,000 lbs if it's got AWD, but the rated capability drops to zero if it's rear-wheel drive.

The engine itself isn't the limiting factor here. Car-based SUVs have sheet-metal unibodies that don't readily provide a secure mounting point for a hitch--you need a real frame to deal with higher trailer loads properly. And trailers add significant load to the engine and transmission cooling systems, so big grille openings and a hood stuffed full of big radiators are a must.

You simply couldn't have the FX's *gorgeous* styling and a big tow rating.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing and Sarcasm @ 12,027 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50S: Suspension Walkaround

April 24, 2009

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I don't want to overload <Rush> you people </Rush> on this stuff, but the 2009 Infiniti FX50 is the Car of the Week, so I have no choice.

Since Infiniti is a branch of Nissan (gasp!), you'll see quite a bit of similarity between this and the Nissan 370Z I reviewed recently. Some parts even look interchangeable.

The FX series vehicles are rear-drive based, but ours has all-wheel drive. LIke the Z, it uses a double control arm suspension, with a high-mount upper arm. The upper ball joint (green) and the lower ball joint (yellow) define the steering axis (yellow line).

A coil-over spring/shock assy (coral) attaches to the aluminum lower control arm (red). But, because front drive is involved, it attaches via a fork that splits and straddles the front drive axle, instead of being directly mounted, like the RWD Z-car.

The large front stabilizer bar (white), attaches about midway along the lower control arm via short link (sky blue).

The stab bar and the front bush of the lower control arm (LCA) attach to an aluminum subframe that is direct-mounted to the chassis (purple) with no intervening rubber bushings. This makes steering and handling more precise, but it doesn't bode well for ride and NVH plushness. Infiniti apparently assumes that FX customers don't have those things as their top priority, so they've taken the direct-mount approach.

And you can see that the FX50 has 4-pot fixed brake calipers that have easily-removed pads, a la STI.

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Art Appreciation

April 23, 2009

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In the open thread for our 2009 Infiniti FX50, several of you questioned the point of the FX's existence. It doesn't accelerate, stop or handle as well as a real sport wagon, much less a sport sedan, you said, and it has zero off-road ability. And, geez, with those 21-inch summer tires, it won't even have much all-weather ability until you do a tire swap.

So why does the Infiniti FX50 get to exist? Honestly, for its looks.

Make all the catfish references you want, but in the end you'll still have to acknowledge that the FX is more interesting to look at than the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Porsche Cayenne. Maybe you'll ultimately decide you don't like it, but the Infiniti will hold your attention longer. It isn't trying to look like a mommymobile. It isn't trying to look like a truck. And it isn't trying to look like the SUV equivalent of a a 911. It's just art for art's sake sculpted by designers who admire the organic, biomorphic forms of the late artist Joan Miro.

"If you'd dropped our long-term Infiniti FX into a booth at this year's Geneva auto show and called it the new Infiniti concept car, it would still be believeable," our photographer Kurt Niebuhr says.

Below a small gallery with quick shots of our FX50's most interesting forms.

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: About them rims...

April 22, 2009

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Our long term 2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD rolls on massive Enkei 21 x 8.0-inch 6-spoke aluminum alloy wheels, shod with 265/45WR21 hi-po summer tires. 18- and 20-inch diameters are your other choices.

The 21s look awesome, particularly because of this vehicle's imposing size. Like a lot of guys, I like big wheels. Yes, the ride will suffer due to the short 45-series section height. And the increased unsprung mass will have detrimental effects on acceleration, braking, and handling.

I don't care. They look better.

Infiniti knows that now, and knew that back in 2003 when they beat almost all carmakers in the jumbo factory wheel race when they introduced the original FX.

I was working for a leading carmaker at that time, and we had just purchased a then-new FX35 for extensive benchmark evaluation. Word had spread through the company that the car was sitting in the Human Factors lab.

I came down to the lab to do some work and was met with over a dozen engineers in their 20's drooling over the FX. I stood there dumbfounded. The car certainly was different looking, but attractive enough to provoke that Pavlovian response?

"It's gotta be the rims," I said to myself.

Infiniti was the first (or at least one of the first) carmaker to put on 20" (or larger) factory wheels. If that original FX had just 18" wheels on it (still large in 2003), I doubt it would have elicited that reaction.

Nowadays, you can get subcompacts with 18" wheels, and even the not-a-minivan Toyota Venza is available with 20s. Our visual expectations for wheel size has grown just in the last few years, and you no longer have to go to the aftermarket to fill that need.

Could you imagine what our FX50 would look like on 18s?

I could: like Hell.

Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Eval Engineer @ 11,870 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: Does a Utility Vehicle Have to Be a Box?

April 21, 2009

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We've all had our fun with the Atomic Catfish. Sure, the 2009 Infiniti FX50 doesn't look like any other utility vehicle you've ever seen.

Then again neither does the BMW X6 xDrive 50i or the Acura ZDX concept vehicle just revealed at the New York auto show. (I know, like this helps.)

What's going on here is an attempt to make the utility vehicle more like a high-performance coupe, a personal statement of driving performance and extreme style. It's supposed to be a utility vehicle without all that six-passenger, 4x8-foot plywood, camping gear and trailer-towing baggage that a sport-utility carries around. You know, that whole box on wheels thing.

This should be the kind of utility vehicle that car guys can really relate to.

And yet they hate it.

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: Open Thread

April 21, 2009

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What do you want to know about the 2009 Infiniti FX50?

Have you seen any on the road? Have you driven one?

Write your questions and reviews in the comments section.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Infiniti FX50 S: Tell Me Why I'm Wrong

April 03, 2009

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This FX50's ride is unpleasant. I don't care that it's the S model, I don't care that it has 21-inch wheels and I don't care that this Infiniti SUV will outcorner most sporty coupes. For nearly $60,000 (AWD model) it should handle both sport and comfort equally - it doesn't. I'd like to see a few more storage bins in the front part of the cabin, too.

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Radical Shape?

March 25, 2009

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Sometimes when a certain vehicle has been around, it starts to look familiar. Infiniti's FX is probably one of the most radical looking SUVs on the road but it doesn't always get the attention or credit it deserves.

I don't really care for the way the FX50 drives - maybe a seven speed transmission is one or two speeds too many - there's just too much commotion in everyday traffic for me. I like the way the FX looks though. What do you think, is this sporty SUV ugly or beautiful?

Brian Moody, Automotive Editor

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: Why Isn't This a Porsche Cayenne?

March 10, 2009

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Why doesn't anyone care about the Infiniti FX50?

The Infiniti FX45 came along in 2003 along with the Porsche Cayenne. The Cayenne sold; the FX45 didn't.

Things should have turned out better for the FX. It arrived just at the correct time to take its rightful place as Nissan's premier luxury vehicle in place of the stodgy Q45 sedan. It had Nissan's hot-rod FM platform, just like the G35 sedan. It had a stonking V8. Most of all, it put aside the fantasy that utility vehicles were designed for off-roading and instead adopted the persona of a bad-ass street machine much like the wildly popular BMW X5.

The Porsche Cayenne went about things in almost the same way. Except that it was heavier and clumsier. And it didn't ride as well. And the interior was utterly impractical for America, with not a cupholder, storage bin or auxiliary jack in sight. And the styling was insipid, in spite of all the blather that the Porsche designers produced about trying to incorporate 911 themes.

So the Porsche Cayenne went on to become a cash cow, providing the income stream required to not only ensure the future production of Porsche sports cars but also fund the takeover of the VW Group by Porsche.

All that happened to the Infiniti FX45 is that it became the FX50, which is the same thing, only more of it. And still no one seems to care.

What happened here? Why isn't the Infiniti FX50 a Porsche Cayenne?

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Tour of California

February 23, 2009

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You're looking at the business end of Stage 8 of the 2009 Tour of California. That's a bicycle race, in case you're not fully up to speed this morning.

Want to experience one of the best driving roads in California? The Stage 8 route is right up there. Literally. Go to the Tour of California website if you want to print out Stage 8 route instructions before they shut the site down until next year.

Riders pedalled uphill for 11.7 miles up to an elevation of 5,123 feet. The route's noodly bit followed S6, a side road from highway 76 that leads up to the Mount Palomar observatory. Accounts differed, but the truth of S6's average gradient settled somehwere between 6 and 7% along its 21 switchbacks. Once at the top, the riders took S7 down the back side of the mountain to rejoin highway 76.

Who's man enough to tackle such a grade on a bicycle?

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Solutions for a Compromised Vehicle

February 13, 2009

Infiniti FX50 in a park -- Photo by James Riswick

Our long-term Infiniti FX50 is patently ridiculous. Any one who's tried to carry people or stuff in it knows it isn't a very good sport utility vehicle. Ditto should you decide to venture into a snowy clime -- the thing has summer tires for Pete's sake. It's also not a substitute for a sport sedan. Oh, it's certainly sporty for an SUV. But that's like saying "it's tasty for vegemite" or "it's attractive for Amy Winehouse."

Therefore, the FX50 satisfies only the "vehicle" part of SUV. In my opinion, why have one compromised truckish sport sedan thing when you could have two dedicated vehicles instead? More is better, right? Therefore, instead of an FX50, I would suggest purchasing the two other vehicles I've been driving this week that each does one of the FX50's goals exponentially better ...

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2009 Infiniti FX50 vs. 2008 BMW X5

February 10, 2009

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I'm going to go out on a limb here; our long-term 2009 Infiniti FX50 is the quickest factory bone-stock SUV we've ever tested. In recent testing it hit 60 mph in 5.5 seconds (5.3 seconds with one foot of rollout like on a dragstrip) and covered the quarter mile in 13.7 at 101.5 mph. Impressive.

Around town, the Infiniti is mellowed by a sluggish throttle tip in, but lay into it and hold on. That big 5.0-liter under the hood really pulls, and it relines at a four-cylinder like 6800 rpm.

But this blog post is not about the FX50's thrust, it's about its other abilities. Which are also impressive; 60 - 0 stopping distance of 117 ft., 63.3 mph in the slalom and .82g around our skidpad. As far as SUVs go, this thing is a hot rod.

Still, I was expecting more.

It's on huge 21-inch summer tires for Pete's sake. Dunlops. SP Sport 01. 265/45R21 front and rear. That's quite a bit of contact patch. Far more rubber than our long-term BMW X5 wears. It rides on all-season Michelins. Latitudes. 255/50R19 front and rear.

Yet, the BMW nearly matches the Infiniti's dynamic performance. It stops from 60 mph in 123 ft., covers the slalom at 62.9 mph and circles the skidpad at the same .82g. Sure the FX50 smokes it in a straight line, but with more aggressive rubber the BMW would certainly stop and handle better.

Oh, you want proof. Then check out our recent road test of a 2008 BMW X6. That truck wore the optional meats. Huge all-season Dunlops. SP Sport Max. 275/40R20 front and 315/30R20 rear. And it smoked the Infiniti in every dynamic track test except acceleration. It stopped from 60 mph in just 111 ft., blasted through the slalom at 65.3 mph and circled the skidpad at .87g.

So are the Infiniti's dynamics disappointing or are the BMWs abilities so redamndiculous that this entire blog post is worthless?

Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: Keep an Eye on the Weather

December 20, 2008

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I had the keys to the 2009 Infiniti FX50 in my pocket and I was on my way out the door for my holiday trip to see my parents when our fleet manager quietly said, "FYI, it's got summer tires. Just FYI."

Another staffer looked up. "Where are you going?"

Me: "Colorado."

Him: "You're going to have trouble."

Me: "It's all wheel drive."

Him: "I don't care. You're going to have trouble."

I looked unconvinced. So he said, "Let me tell you a little story."

The story was kinda long but the gist of it was this: the FX's summer tires suck in the snow. As Dan Edmunds pointed out in his blog entry some time ago, when he considered taking the FX to Oregon, "Our FX50 has the Sport package, which means that the 265/45R21 tires (yes, you read that right) are Dunlop SP07 summer tires instead of Bridgestone Dueller all-season units. As a result, our FX50 isn't suitable for travel in snowy climes, despite the presence of all-wheel drive."

Well, it was too late change cars, and way too late to get all seasons on it. So I took decisive action: I began hoping it won't snow. In December, in the Rocky Mountains, it requires a whole lot of hope to rule out snow. So chances are, I'll be blogging later this week about exactly how bad the tires were. Or, how having all wheel drive saved my butt.

For purposes of comparison, I made the trip two years ago in a 2007 Hyundai Azera Limited and got stuck in a snow storm. No snow tires, no all wheel drive, and I made it. I grew up in New England well before all wheel drive vehicles. Sometimes we got stuck. Sometimes we drove our way out of trouble. So that's the attitude I'll have to take on this trip.

By the way, I began to compile my impressions about this extreme SUV but found that Edmunds Executive Editor Paul Seredynski pretty well nailed it. I'll save my reactions for when -- or if -- I get over the mountains tomorrow.

Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor, 2,445 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50: All this on 21's?

December 19, 2008

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"Oh boy, here we go..." I thought, approaching the new FX50. The standard 21-inch wheels on the new FX50 look large enough to serve as parts in a hydroelectric plant. Skinned with 45-series rubber, flashbacks of harsh ride quality in the first-gen FX started coming fast and furious. Has the redesign addressed one of the major gripes of the french-curved FX?

After pounding round in this beast for four days, the answer is, "Pretty much." Is the handling/comfort balance completely nailed? Not quite, but it's WAY better than the last model. It's even more impressive when you take the wheel/tire combo into consideration. The FX50 is not quite up to the BMW benchmark, as it's still a tad stiff-legged over the harshest, sharpest road imperfections, but on anything other than tortured pavement, the ride quality is satisfyingly firm and no longer jarring.

Even more impressive is the ripping 5.0-liter V8 and swift shifting 7-speed automatic. This combo makes for a punchy and responsive SUV that lives to slice-n-dice in traffic. From a standstill, this thing flat scoots. An aggressive but non-intrusive traction control system seems well tuned to take full advantage of all-wheel-drive traction. Even on flooded streets the FX refused to get squirrelly - the thrust continued to flow heartily while the dashboard traction light winked away. The throttle earns large praise thanks to a sweet, linear tip-in that bucks the annoying trend of super-aggressive first-touch response. My only gripe are brakes that can occasionally feel like they're lingering on the rotors even after the pedal is released.

Though a bit larger than the last gen, the FX's well weighted steering is combined with an impressively tight turning radius to make this mid-sized SUV a breeze in town or in the mall parking lot. On the open road, our sport-package equipped FX50 has the highly adjustable seats, sweetly appointed cabin and plenty of tech to keep you comfy and entertained on the long haul.

I'd call it a poor-man's Porsche Cayenne S, but the FX50 stickers just $1K under the V8 Cayenne, even if it boasts a stronger list of standard equipment. Very similar in many aspects, the V8 FX provides the same sort of rip-snorting day-to-day fun, in a real-life livable package. If you're fortunate enough to be shopping in this price range, and don't care where the price of gas is headed, you owe it to yourself to take a spin in the FX50. Those 21's, by the way, sweetly fill the spacious arched wheel wells.

Paul Seredynski, Executive Editor @ 1640 miles

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