2009 Infiniti FX50 Long-Term Road Test

Audio & Technology


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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: Satellite Radio

January 29, 2010

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I can always tell when our time with a particular long-term test vehicle is about to end. That's when the subscription to satellite radio ends and the electronics tell us to make a call to Sirius or (in the case of the 2009 Infiniti FX50) XM.

It's a sad moment, really. You never know how much you depend on satellite radio until it's gone, especially in a vehicle that has seen as many cross-country trips as this one.

When satellite radio first became available, there was a lot of talk about improved audio quality. Although, really, there wasn't much talk about satellite radio at all, since almost everyone was too busy downloading music onto his iPod to care about someone else's programming. But now that we have all these choices for audio entertainment in an automobile, I find the thing that makes satellite radio a great thing for me is the surprise factor.

You're never quite sure what you'll hear on satellite radio, whether it's a matter of changing from one genre to another or simply the sequence of music or programs. Everything is a surprise.

Even with an iPod memory full of music, an MP3 player always seems predictable even when it's selecting randomly, probably because you've loaded the music yourself. Also it's only playing music or programming that you've heard before. Meanwhile, conventional radio stations have become so rigorously formatted that the same loop seems to repeat every 21 minutes. And as far as talk radio goes, the only surprise is how angry and bad it is.

Maybe it's all in my head, but satellite radio seems to make the time pass on a cross-country trip in a far more pleasant way than other entertainment options. (It's particularly better than any kind of travel companion.) If it were my money, I'd spend it for a subscription.

So now that the 2009 Infiniti FX50 is about to disappear from our fleet, I'm scouting for another candidate for cross-country travel. Satellite radio is required.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 29,405 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50S: SQUEEEEEEEEEE

January 07, 2010

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...and we're not talking the super-cute pictures of baby animals type squee. What we're dealing with in our 2009 Infiniti FX50S is a super-high-pitched (probably out of some people's hearing range) squuuuuueeeeeee every time you depress the accelerator with an iPod connected.

It's caused by improperly shielded/separated wires that are mixing signals when a current says, "Hey! Fuel pump....GO!" If we were to rip the FX50 apart we'd most likely find that the wires powering the iPod connection hard-wired in the center console are, in some spot, in close proximity to the wires that make fuel pumps pump. They could even be wrapped in the same harness. *gasp*

Bush-league mistake that every rookie car audio installer would catch before turning the system on. Never had this happen in any other Nissan/infiniti...only this one. Lame.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 28,511 miles

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2009 Infiniti Fx50: Preset Hell

December 15, 2009

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There are many ways to switch radio stations in the Infiniti FX50. But for some reason, all of the buttons, knobs, and dials skip through the presets only.

See that big dial in the middle? Turn it and it advances you through the presets. Try the arrows. They don't help. Push the AM-FM-SAT button, it sitches between the presets on the screen, jumping between bands.

Push the SEEK-CAT arrow. It seeks through the presets. Try the scan button. It scans through the presets.

Turn the tuning knob. It moves through the presets. Push the numbered buttons. As expected, they choose the specific preeset stations.

Shouldn't the tuning knob at least allow you to go station by station so you can set the presets to your liking? I'm sure it is possible to change the settings but looking in the manual while driving? Not a possibility.

Give up and listen to the classic rock station? My only choice.

Look in the manual after you get home? No longer care.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 27,778 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: Silence, Please

October 20, 2009

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The only thing better than being able to turn off warning chimes associated with back-up cameras and other safety features in today's high-tech-laden cars is being able to turn them off without digging through a bunch of confusing menu pages.

Our Infiniti FX50 makes it oh-so-easy to silence the beep. When you put the car in reverse, this screen automatically comes up. Don't want to listen to the beeping? Hit the virtual button labeled "beep" and all's quiet on the reversing front. It's just that easy.

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: Sounds Good, Smells Weird

October 01, 2009

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I secured our long-term FX50 for the night and was thoroughly impressed by the audio system. Reviews for the Bose system has been mixed, but retty much every track I cued up sounded great - playing Fleetwood Mac's Never Going Back Again made me feel like Lindsay Buckingham was right in the car with me. Holst's Jupiter gave me goosebumps. Orchestral strings were as clear as inside the Disney Music Hall and I found the bass to be more than up to the task of some L.L. Cool J.

There are a couple things I'd improve upon, though. While the iPod interface is quite good, I wished there was a quicker way to scroll through songs. I was hoping that a couple quick spins of the control knob would intelligently zip through the lists like it does on our BMW 750i, but no. Maybe holding down the page-down button? Nope. A quick jump/scroll would be a welcome addition to an already great system. Also, I discovered that the system won't recognize my iPhone (3G) unless it's already playing a track - which makes initial startup a real pain.

Finally, I got in the FX50 last night and was instantly hit with an odd aroma that closely resembled a hamster cage. No idea what it is, but it was there in the morning as well. It didn't bug me for more than a couple of seconds, but it's definitely in there.

Mark Takahashi. Associate Editor @ 23,150 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50: A Tech Gadget That Actually Works

September 22, 2009

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There's a growing number of us that have become resistant to the latest automotive gadgets, often because they are useless replications of things that already worked just fine. In this case, however, the FX50's proximity sensors actually worked quite nicely.

As you can see from the picture, I was backing out of a tight space that was constrained by our Mazda 6 on the left and a sizable concrete pillar on the right. With the FX's bird's eye view screen I was able to back out with ease.

Now of course, I could have accomplished the same feat by merely swinging my head back and forth a half dozen times, but that's not progress people. Think of all the tendons I spared by looking straight ahead the whole time. My neck feels more relaxed just thinking about it.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 23, 078 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: TPMS Revisited

September 21, 2009

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As you can see here, commenters dubaizen and drewsrx were right: The FX50 does tell you what the actual pressure is in each tire. I just didn't think to look when I was in problem-solving mode last week. You just push the physical Info button and then tap "Tire Pressure" on the touchscreen (of the previous screen), and it gives you the psi for all four tires all at once like a good luxury car should.

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 22,942 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: TPMS says "You're Screwed"

September 18, 2009

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When the FX50 shined that TPMS light at me this morning, I knew I was going to miss the meeting I was already running late for. Checked all four tires and discovered that the rear driver side tire was low by 10 psi (supposed to be 33, it was at 23). I got myself to the nearest gas station and filled it up to spec. The light went off and I gingerly drove it to the office. Checked the tire again and it had held the air for the brief drive. (We also note that it's time for an oil change. We'll take care of that soon.)

I turned the case over to the Mikes. Mr. Magrath took it to our beloved Stokes. A screw in the dead center of the tread was removed, and the tire was patched for the tidy price of $20.

What does it cost to get a tire patched in your neck of the woods?

Bryn MacKinnon @ 22,867 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Bluetooth Operation Amendment

September 17, 2009

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Special thanks to reader foxgtr for pointing out the partial error in my Bluetooth operation blog the other day. I say partial because that's still how Bluetooth operates in the beginning or if you don't RTFM or if you don't have an online community of useful blog commenters to point out the rather hidden way of correcting the issue. Any way, I followed foxgtr's instructions as listed below and the Bluetooth system indeed worked as advertised.

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Bluetooth Operation

September 15, 2009

Infiniti and Nissan Bluetooth Operation

I've lost my Bluetooth earpiece and while I wait for my new Motorola H500 to arrive from Amazon ($9.99!!!), I've found myself trying out our long-termers' Bluetooth connections more than usual. Generally the pairing process is more hassle than it's worth -- after all, this is something that most owners will only do when they get a new phone.

Nevertheless, the Infiniti/Nissan system is pretty easy to pair. Once I deleted one of the five filled spots (Sorry nameless Blackberry-using editor), it was just a matter of putting both phone and car in search mode and entering '1234' into my phone.

Use of the Bluetooth is a different story, though.

In Acuras and Hondas, for instance, you simply have to press the Bluetooth talk button and say "call 310-555-5123." You can say it quickly and it usually nails it on the first try. The car begins to repeat the number for you, but it also displays it in the instrument cluster. Once you confirm by reading that it's what you really said, you can cut off the automated voice with another press of the talk button and say "dial." I also could have said "call Office," pulling a number from the pre-programmed in-car phonebook with essentially the same process involved. It's quick, it's easy.

Not so the Infiniti. Press the voice command button. Read and listen to the available options of "Phone, Navigation, Info, Help." There's no way of cutting off the voice. Wait for beep. Say phone. Read and listen to the available options of "Dial Number, Redial, Phonebook, International Call." Say Dial Number. Listen to the instructions for do so. Say "310-555-5123." Read and listen to the number read back to you, then read and listen to the available options of "Dial, Change Number." If correct, say dial and you're done. If wrong, say "Change Number" and it asks you to try again, this time reading each number block separately. If you want to try the whole shebang again, you can at least press the back button and try again.

If you pre-programmed the phonebook, it's a little easier, but still too time-consuming. Get to that second voice command menu and say "Phonebook." Listen for brief instruction and say the "Name." It replays your voice from when you originally recorded the entry and displays what that entry is called in the computer. It then tells you to say "dial." The Infiniti gives the option of "Download Phonebook," but when I pressed that my phone disconnected itself from the car. That doesn't happen with Sync or the system in the BMW 750i. Therefore, I can't comment on that function, or specifically whether I can select numbers from my phone's phonebook using voice commands like in Sync. My guess is no.

As you can see, dialing a number using the Bluetooth controls with the Infiniti/Nissan system is needlessly long. Once you know how to do it, there's no reason you need to listen to the instructions every single time. I fear that people would end up selecting a number from the phone itself, then transferring the call to the car -- which basically makes the entire system moot as looking down at your phone is what causes most cell-related accidents in the first place.

I'll assume that the system in the 370Z is the same, but if not I'll be driving that the next few days and will indicate otherwise if that's the case.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 22,740 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50: +1 for the Interface, -1 for the Sound Quality

July 23, 2009

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I love the iPod interface in navigation-equipped Infinitis and Nissans, and our long-term 2009 Infiniti FX50 is no exception. Aside from voice control, everything I want is right here. There's the artist, album and song title on the left, and there's my scrollable list of tracks on the right.

But there's one problem. My music doesn't sound that great. There's no real bass punch for Killswitch Engage, a metal band that ordinarily has plenty. I cranked up the bass level adjustment, but it doesn't help.

I found a Bose subwoofer enclosure in the spare tire well, similar to what Doug Newcomb found in our Nissan 370Z. But it seems that whatever bass it's generating is getting lost in the FX50's cargo bay.

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Dude, It's Got a Plasmacluster

July 13, 2009

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Start up our 2009 Infiniti FX50 and a grape-cluster-shaped icon appears on the climate control display. For a while I wasn't sure what it meant, but I looked it up today. In addition to having an automatic air recirculation function, the FX50's climate control system has an ion-based air purifier.

Based on Sharp-branded technology, the "Plasmacluster" operates in two modes: Clean and Control. The cleaning mode emits positive and negative ions out of the air vents to "neutralize airborne particles" such as dust and pollen. The control mode just emits stabilizing negative ions. It's fully automated, so there's nothing you can do as the driver to control it, but you can at least tell what's going on as the color of the icon changes from blue (cleaning) to green (control).

This feature comes on the FX50 only and not the FX35. Without a scientific test, it's pretty hard to determine how effective it is at improving air quality. But for what it's worth, I will say that our FX does seem to keep out outside odors better than other cars I've driven with automatic fresh/recirc air functions.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 16,398 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Standard Audio

July 01, 2009

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The FX50's base price is just under $60,000. That's not cheap but check out the standard audio package - It's a Bose system with Bose speakers good for 300 watts driving 11 speakers. There's also a built in hard drive, a memory card slot and one of the best iPod specific interfaces available. The result is deep bass and excellent separation. Audiophiles will approve. What do you think, is a great stereo a must at this price or am I missing the point of the FX50?

Brian Moody, Automotive Editor @ 15,306

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2009 Infiniti FX50: One Redeeming Quality

June 01, 2009

I have to admit, there is not much I like about the Infiniti FX50. This is certainly not the opinion of the rest of our staff. So, bear with me while I explain some of my reasons.

Normally, I like big powerful V8 vehicles, but the FX50 just seems so silly to me. The loooong front nose sticks out like Pinocchio's. There was an FX35, which looked like a dwarf next to my FX50, parked on the corner of my street, right on the corner, actually sitting illegally on the turn. I couldn't see around it as I was trying to cross the intersection. I was inching out and ended up with the big Cyrano nose sticking out so far I might as well have just blown across the intersection before I could actually see.

I also have a hard time judging where I am in a lane. That big nose distorts my view. Looking in my side mirrors I can tell I have a tendency to drive it too far to the right of the lane. So I have to keep compensating.

There is no button on the key fob to pop the back hatch. Vexing. I took The FX50 to the supermarket and there was hardly any room to put grocery bags. I didn't want to fold down the seats just to load groceries, so I put some stuff on the back seat.

I did find something pretty spiffy though: the Around View parking monitoring system. Because of its odd shape, the FX50 sorely needs this. It not only gives a view behind the vehicle, it gives you a top view of the surrounding area. Very cool.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: Parking Cameras and Cliff Diving

May 19, 2009

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Okay, so "cliff diving" is a bit melodramatic, but there's no doubt the advanced parking cameras on the FX50 allow me to maximize my home parking space, despite the close proximity to a sheer drop-off.

Just over a year ago I replaced a useless dirt mound (surrounded by a low brick wall) with paving stones on the border of my traditional driveway. The idea was to create another off-street parking space in front of my house (for car guys, there's no such thing as "too much vehicle space").

The plan worked, but the layout (and elevation) of my house means this extra parking space is a couple feet above my neighbor's yard. And while technically wide enough for a car between the house and the drop-off, there's no denying the apprehension I feel when parking a large vehicle over there -- except for the FX50.

With those cameras fired up I have an exact idea of just how close I am to the "drop-zone" (to the right of the vehicle in the above shot). I can snug the FX right up against my house with accurate and equal spacing on both sides to allow for passenger entry/exit.

Sweet!

Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief @ 13,680 miles.

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2009 Infiniti FX50: 5 Good. 3 Bad. 1 Ugly.

May 19, 2009

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First the Good

1) The FX has been dead reliable. After more than 13,000 miles in just six months it has needed no repairs or unscheduled service. Zero.

2) It's fast. It's fun blowing off BMW 550i pilots in my SUV.

3) Its nav/sound system interface looks complex, but it's actually very easy to use.

4) The Around View Monitor is fantastic. Every car should have one. The other day it saved me from backing into one of these short poles in a tight bank parking lot.

5) This is one nicely built vehicle. It's perfect. From the door shut lines, to the interior trim, Infiniti's fit and finish is industry leading.

Now the Bad

1) The steering wheel is too small and doesn't tilt up are enough for my taste. I need the wheel to go up or the seat the move lower if I'm ever going to get truly comfortable in the FX.

2) The ride is just too stiff. Not GT-R stiff, but too stiff. Maybe it's because the wheels are 50-inches in diameter and the tire sidewalls measure just 1 mm.

3) The navigation system cannot be used while the car is in motion. I hate this.

The Ugly

1) I used to think the FX was handsome in a muscle truck sort of way. Now it just looks like a carp done up by the crew at DUB.

The funny thing is, I used to think the Porsche Cayenne was hideous. But now I think it looks cool, especially in GTS trim.

Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief @ 13,204 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Too Much Technology?

May 13, 2009

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Open the driver's door of our 2009 FX50 and its overhead lights illuminate. Nothing thrilling here, right? Closer inspection shows that the driver's side is noticeably brighter. Just to be certain I opened the passenger door.

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2009 Infiniti FX50: It Redraws the Lines When You Park It

April 22, 2009

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We've already written about the sub par rear visibility in our 2009 Infiniti FX50, and that's no surprise: Any vehicle that has an interesting and/or unorthodox shape and still meets U.S. crash standards seems destined to have poor visibility.

But you know what? I never worry about backing into or over things when I drive our FX50. And that is because it has the best camera system I've ever used. Note the white corner markers that delineate my parallel parking space in both the rearward and the "overhead" image in the photo above.

Those lines were actually on the pavement, and the cameras are sophisticated enough to pick them up -- notice how they're much brighter and clearer than the Nissan 300ZX also in the image. So in addition to the sensors and the camera image and the green-yellow-red hash marks, I can use those nifty white lines to position the car.

Easiest parallel parking job ever.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

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2009 Infiniti FX50: It's Like Taking a Road Trip in a Big G37

March 04, 2009

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I enjoyed my 450 miles in our long-term 2009 Infiniti FX50. It has a good driving position, a comfortably quilted driver seat, and a surprisingly good ride quality despite 21-by-9.5-inch wheels that must be the heaviest ever cast by Enkei.

The big Dunlop summer tires cause too much road rumble for a $62,285 SUV, though.

Still, if the 4,621-pound FX had smaller tires with taller sidewalls, I supposed its steering response wouldn't be as crisp. And I do like the steering, which weights up nicely and feels surprisingly direct for an SUV. Our car has the active rear steer feature (part of the Sport package) and I didn't feel any of the untoward sensations we noticed in a 2008 G37 coupe test car. Then again, for lack of time, I didn't drive the FX through any tight turns.

Otherwise, though, the things I like about the Infiniti FX50 on a road trip are the same things I liked about our long-term 2007 Infiniti G35 sedan and every G37 I've driven since. I love the navigation system's interface -- I think it might be my favorite of all factory nav systems. I like the audio information display whether I've loaded a CD, hooked up my iPod or simply running between satellite radio channels.

So I'm not sure I need the FX50's size, torque and price tag to get what I want out of an Infiniti. I'll take a G37 Sport sedan instead.

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Switched on!

February 02, 2009

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This thing has got a lot of switches. It's no surprise -- because this sucker's loaded! It has nearly everything: Navi, Sat radio, backup camera, perimeter view monitor, sonar park assist, smart key/smart start, bluetooth, AFS adaptive (swiveling) headlamps -- everything except ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control). I counted 62(!) switches, not including the window, lock, and overhead console switches.

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Easy-To-Use Nav

January 28, 2009

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Our Infiniti FX50's hard-drive-based navigation system came in handy a few days ago when I drove to San Francisco. My destination was actually Fort Baker, which is just north of the city in Marin County. Since I was coming from the east, that meant using the Bay bridge, driving through the often-confusing layout of San Francisco and then going over the Golden Gate bridge to Fort Baker.

As it was dark, during rush hour and raining for my drive in, the navigation system's prompts allowed me to focus on driving rather than navigating. I particularly liked being able to turn off the voice prompts for turns and just using the system's simple and unobtrusive "dings."

I also like the FX's combination of buttons and the touchscreen display. I don't think the button layout is all that stylistically pleasing -- it looks too busy -- but once you learn the interface it's great for quickly getting what you want.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Traffic Ahead? Maybe

January 09, 2009

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You've probably heard all about the latest navigation systems and their magical ability to steer you around traffic. Well, I'm here to tell you it's not always quite that simple.

In order to steer around traffic, you have to know where the congestion lies. Although our FX's system may do a good job of pointing out accidents, it's rarely very accurate when it comes to finding congestion.

And it's not the only one. I can't tell you how many times I've been sitting in stopped traffic only to look down at the latest and greatest navigation system all lit up with green arrows. Good idea, bad execution - at least for now.

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: When Radio Traffic Reports Don't Work

December 29, 2008

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After having already driven the 2009 Infiniti FX50 450 miles in one day, and endured three hours of congestion between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, the last thing I wanted was to get into another traffic jam. So I kept an eye on the Real Time traffic on the nav screen and listened to the XM traffic channel.

The radio report said little. But I did see a yellow exclamation mark on the nav at the 210 freeway. Pressing the "Details" key on the screen, I read that the lanes were jammed due to a stalled vehicle. I also could see that I could take take an alternate route just before hitting the backup.

I merged all the way to the right just as the brake lights began blinking on. However, the dedicated turn lane was still clear. Without even breaking stride, I merged onto the alternate route and drove home with no further problems.

So, while the radio report was of little use, the traffic on the nav screen gave me the heads up I needed to avoid trouble. It made me a believer in this new technology.

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 4,244 miles

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2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: The View From the Batmobile

December 25, 2008

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With a photograph like this, you might think I was about to launch into a rant about the look of the 2009 Infiniti FX50's grill. True, it's been described in our full test as an "Atomic Catfish" and having a "toothy maw." It seems to beg description and my family has settled on calling this performance SUV with a monster 390-hp, DOHC 5.0-liter V8 the Batmobile.

But this photo was actually taken to show you the position of the front camera lens which is part of the Infiniti's "Around View Monitor" that shows a 360-degree view from the Batmobile. It presents the view in this way:

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2009 Infiniti FX50: Welcome to the IL Fleet

December 19, 2008

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I just spent a few days in our brand new long-term 2009 Infiniti FX50, and I'm looking forward to more over the next 12 months. This is a great addition to our fleet of cars and trucks. I know Infiniti doesn't exactly sell many V8-powered FXs and this 390 hp, $62,000 SUV doesn't exactly line up with a lot of people's idea of what modern transportation should be about.

But Edmunds.com and this blog are about the entire car industry and all the different cars and trucks out there. And we've often had an upscale, high-end V8-powered SUV in this very diverse fleet of long-term testers. Most recently an Audi Q7 and a BMW X5, which is about to leave us. The FX50 is a perfect replacement for those German machines, and I'm expecting to spend quite a bit of time behind its well-shaped, three-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Fact is, this FX has plenty of new hardware and software for us to evaluate over the next year, including its new 5.0-liter V8 engine, its new 7-speed automatic transmission and its new around view monitor system (pictured), which is unique to Infiniti. Plus, ever since our G35 S sedan left us some months ago, we haven't had an Infiniti in our fleet, and it's important to us to keep as many brands as possible represented in this blog space, so it serves you readers as well as possible.

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