Used 2009 INFINITI FX50
Edmunds' Expert Review
The redesigned 2009 Infiniti FX50's price-to-performance ratio makes it a compelling alternative to its European rivals. Lackluster utility may repel some buyers, but overall this crossover has a lot going for it.
Infiniti calls its redesigned 2009 FX50 a "radical expression of sport and utility," and while we're generally skeptical of marketing catchphrases, this one's pretty accurate. The FX50 is Infiniti's top-of-the-line crossover, replacing the outgoing FX45, which debuted along with its FX35 sibling in 2003 as one of the first crossovers to include high performance and showcar style in its portfolio. Designed as a kind of personalized coupe with four doors and extra cargo capacity, the FX45 showcased some segment-leading technology and delivered acceleration and handling on par with the sportiest European-brand crossover SUVs.
The original V8-powered FX45 never quite caught on with buyers, however, partially because it didn't offer much additional power over the V6-powered FX35. So Infiniti is trying again with the FX50. The name change reflects the increased size of the new 390-horsepower 5.0-liter V8, which replaces the previous 320-hp 4.5-liter V8. This translates into serious straight-line acceleration -- try zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds.
All that giddyap is gracefully tamed by a new seven-speed transmission, as well as standard all-wheel drive. If you can live with the premium fuel bills, the FX50 supplies just about all the driving thrills that relatively affluent family men and women could want. Should you find the V8 to be a bit much, Infiniti has also redesigned the FX50s little brother, the V6-powered FX35.
The FX50 is built on Infiniti's latest version of its FM platform (the same one that underpins a variety of products, including the G-series and M-series cars) and is said to be considerably stiffer than before. These changes, along with an improved suspension with available adaptive dampers and active rear steering, deliver nimble, confident handling.
Regrettably, when it comes to the exterior of the 2009 FX50, the designers haven't adhered to quite the same exalted standard as the engineers. The new look is certainly distinctive, but some object that the gaping grille gives the car an unpleasant fishlike look. Moreover, form often trumps function -- the FX50's styling has been contrived in such a way that its swept-back form actually reduces the previous model's already limited cargo capacity.
On the positive side, the 2009 Infiniti FX50 boasts a gorgeous new interior that's crammed with inviting interfaces and a bevy of former options that are now standard. Driver and passengers are cradled in diamond-quilted leather seats. Chrome and brushed-metal accents tastefully adorn the instrument panel and frame the other control surfaces. Suffer from allergies? The FX50's climate-control system has you covered, with an advanced air purifier and allergen-neutralizing filter. There's also a new hard-drive-based navigation system and a bevy of safety features, including active braking and an advanced lane-departure warning system.
Overall, we think the 2009 Infiniti FX50 is a worthy, if still idiosyncratic, extension of its crossover SUV legacy. It's almost in a class of its own -- BMW's X6 is the only other luxury crossover that unapologetically prioritizes style and performance over utility. For better or worse, the FX50 also carries on the tradition of looking like nothing else on the road (other than the first-generation FX crossovers, that is). If you're drawn to a luxury crossover that has always had a distinctive identity, then we suppose standing out from the crowd is part of the fun.
Trim levels & features
The 2009 Infiniti FX50 is a five-passenger midsize luxury crossover SUV. It comes standard with 21-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, a power liftgate, a sunroof, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, heated and cooled power front seats with driver memory settings, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control with a filtration system, a hard-drive-based navigation system and a full-view parking monitor. Also standard is an 11-speaker Bose audio system with a CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, Bluetooth, digital music storage capability on the hard drive and iPod integration.
An optional Sport Package adds adaptive front headlights, active rear steering, adaptive dampers and sport front seats. The Technology Package includes an advanced lane-departure warning system, adaptive cruise control with enhanced capabilities in congested traffic, Intelligent Brake Assist and rain-sensing front wipers. A rear-seat entertainment system and an exterior styling kit are also available.
Performance & mpg
Under the FX50's hood is a 5.0-liter V8 that makes 390 hp and 369 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control and rev-matched downshift capability. Infiniti estimates that fuel economy for this engine is 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway.
Antilock disc brakes with brake assist, front-seat-mounted side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, traction control and stability control are all standard on the 2009 Infiniti FX50. This year sees the addition of other safety technology, including an advanced lane-departure warning system that can help prevent the vehicle from inadvertently traveling out of its intended lane. The new Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA) 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 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the FX 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."
Speed is the 2009 Infiniti FX50's prime directive. With its new seven-speed automatic clicking off admirably quick upshifts, there's hardly a moment when the FX50 doesn't feel geared up for action. The 60-mph mark flashes by in just 5.6 seconds, as compared to the 6.8 seconds required for the FX45's 60-mph sprint. Moreover, when the tach needle sweeps past 4,000 rpm, there is a conspicuous surge of power from the FX50's V8, courtesy of its sophisticated system for variable valve timing and lift.
On a twisty road, the FX50 handles like a sport wagon, negotiating turns quicker than one would expect. There is one significant caveat, however. During our instrumented testing regimen, we detected an unusual amount of brake fade after several high-speed passes. However, it should be noted that when subjected to brake testing that more closely mirrored the real world, brake fade wasn't an issue for our test vehicle.
The 2009 Infiniti FX50 has a comfortable, well-appointed cabin befitting a luxury crossover SUV. The use of chrome and brushed-metal accents is restrained and tasteful, as is the deployment of hand-stained maple wood trim. A host of standard features, along with optional entertainment configurations, provides passengers with ample entertainment possibilities and equips the driver with comprehensive navigation tools and long-haul labor-savers. Rear legroom is diminished compared with the 2008 model, as is cargo capacity. There are fewer than 25 cubic feet available with the rear seat up, growing to only 62 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down. Most midsize crossovers offer considerably more cargo volume.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
More About This Model
It would be easy to dismiss the 2009 Infiniti FX50 as completely irrelevant, a mutant crossover vehicle.
Going on past sales figures alone, you'd be right, because total 2007 sales of the Infiniti FX45 numbered just 1,598 units, about a tenth of the 2007 Infiniti FX35s that found their way to the street during the same period last year.
But this wouldn't be entirely fair. The all-wheel-drive FX came to market in 2003 as one of the first crossovers that had morphed into a high-performance vehicle — a kind of personalized coupe, only with cargo capacity. The FX looked like a Bionic Cheetah, showcased some segment-leading technology and delivered road-going performance on par with European-brand sport-utilities the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne. Unfortunately, no one seemed to care.
Yet now people are talking about personal-style crossovers. Have times finally caught up with the 2009 Infiniti FX50?
For a long time, the crossover coupe seemed like some kind of cryptid, a type of legendary beast that seemed likely to exist but for which no conclusive evidence had been offered. The BMW X5 took us in that direction, as did the Porsche Cayenne, Jeep Cherokee SRT8 and Range Rover Sport, but a genuine coupe-style crossover package didn't seem to yet exist.
Fortunately now we have the 2008 BMW X6 xDrive 50i. Whatever the merits of the X6 might (or might not) be, its BMW badge has given the concept of a crossover coupe some credibility in the marketplace, and we all have suddenly understood what Infiniti was hoping to accomplish with the first-generation 2003 Infiniti FX. And with the introduction of the 2009 Infiniti FX50 at the 2008 Geneva Auto Show, we all awoke at last to the FX's possibilities.
We're talking gene-splicing here, a chimera with a 390-horsepower V8. The FX has been trying to be a crossover coupe all along, and now the 2009 Infiniti FX50 makes the breakthrough.
As before, the revised FX rides on Nissan's corporate FM (front midship) platform shared with the G35/G37, M35/M45 and, most recently, EX35 crossover. Think of the FX as kind of like the big M-class coupe (although we'd bet Infiniti would sell more than 1,600 versions of a real, car-based M50 coupe in a year).
Just as you'd expect from a high-profile coupe, the 2009 FX50 is powered by a sophisticated 390-hp 5.0-liter V8 that primarily powers the rear wheels and all four corners when needed. The 303-hp FX35 can still be ordered in either a rear- or all-wheel-drive configuration.
This time around, a generous amount of previously optional equipment becomes standard on the range-topping FX, which helps explain our estimated base price of $54,000, about $4K over that of the outgoing FX45. Now included as standard equipment are the Navigation package (now based on a hard drive and offering 9.3GB of digital music file storage), Premium package and iPod connection, roof rails and moonroof.
As before, standard equipment on the FX50 includes all the usual acronyms: TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system with four-corner readout), ABS with EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution) and TCS (traction control system) with VDC (vehicle dynamic control).
TLAs for Days
As a matter of fact, the 2009 FX50 flaunts more TLAs (three-letter acronyms) than an IT convention. Warning: more alphabet soup ahead.
Our test FX features the optional Technology package that includes: LDW (lane departure warning that beeps); LDP (lane departure prevention through selective brake application); and ICC (intelligent cruise control) with DCA (distance control assist) that maintains following distances at speed, plus IBA (intelligent brake assist) that will bring the FX to a complete stop and then resume a selected speed automatically.
Although we would never condone such a hands-off test (caution, trained professionals on closed course only), the presence of LDP, ICC and IBA in active mode theoretically makes it possible to drive HOME (hundreds of miles easily) without touching a pedal — or the steering wheel. Theoretically, of course.
Riding on standard 265/45R21 Bridgestone Dueler H/L all-season tires, the 4,575-pound FX50 snakes through the slalom course like a true AWD sport wagon at 63.3 mph, almost 4 mph faster than the last FX45 we tested.
Nimble though this is, such an unnatural test of multiple lane changes makes the FX50 feel a little out of sorts, and eventually it runs out of grip at the rear. Basically it defies the limits of physics at about eight-tenths speed, but things go a little pear-shaped at the limit when the rotating mass of each monster wheel-tire combination gives the electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system a workout.
On the skid pad, the FX50 proves more predictable and shows amazing grip at 0.85g before it begins to oversteer again, which is highly unusual for an AWD vehicle (although we like that). Despite rollin' on 21s, the FX50's ride is quite good, although the interior resounds with a low-frequency boom over sharp seams in the pavement.
Big Engine and Its Consequences
Speed is the 2008 Infiniti FX50's prime directive. The 60-mph mark flashes by in just 5.6 seconds, as compared to the 6.8 seconds required by the FX45's 60-mph sprint. Plus, when the tach needle sweeps past 4,000 rpm, there is a conspicuous extra surge of power from the FX50 V8 courtesy of its sophisticated system for variable valve timing and lift. From behind the wheel, we could hear an unmistakable rumble, but it wasn't so loud as to be annoying.
The FX50's quarter-mile performance of 13.7 seconds at 102.9 mph would be good enough to challenge this year's performance surprise, the twin-turbo BMW 135i. With its new seven-speed automatic clicking off admirably quick upshifts to keep the engine in its power band, there's hardly a moment when the FX50 doesn't feel geared up for action.
But we have a great big caveat here. By the third quarter-mile pass at over 100 mph, we noted dramatic brake fade coming to a halt, and there wasn't even enough brake pressure to activate the ABS. The ventilated brake discs would appear to be big enough in diameter to dissipate heat (14 inches up front and 13.8 inches in the rear), but perhaps not repeatedly, and apparently not from super-legal speeds.
This fading wasn't apparent, however, during the usual five to six stops from 60 mph that comprise our brake test, where the FX50's first stop took 124 feet and its best stop of 117 feet occurred on the fifth attempt.
That's what Infiniti says the FX has, but what it neglected to predict was in which direction the heads would turn. Try as we did to find a flattering camera angle to best portray the color-shifting paint of the FX and its restyled, double-arch, black chrome grille, the Infiniti always filled the frame with its toothy maw. And what new vehicle would be complete without obligatory chrome-plated mandolins adorning the front quarter panels? At least these are functional here and help vent the air that typically builds up underhood in any car, improving high-speed stability.
Inside the cabin, the FX50 gets the deluxe treatment. We love it. Diamond-quilted leather-upholstered seats are comfortable and sporty; the fronts are both heated and cooled and the driver seat is eight-way adjustable. Standard shift paddles click off matched-rev downshifts through the all-new seven-speed automatic.
We don't normally review HVAC systems, but the FX's product information devotes several detailed paragraphs to the Plasmacluster ionizer air purifier and allergen-neutralizing grape-seed polyphenol filter. Cool stuff.
The cargo area has been "reshaped to enhance comfort and utility," but our stats show that its volume has actually shrunk by 2.6 cubic feet with the rear seats occupied and 3 cubic feet when they are stowed. What's more, only the front legroom has grown, while front and rear headroom are both diminished due to the now-standard moonroof.
In a Class of Two?
True, there are extant examples of selectively bred truck-based SUVs like the 425-hp 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 at $41,500, but in terms of refinement, sophistication and equipment levels, the FX50 really does stand closer to the Euro super-utes than it does with the domestic muscle trucks, something that helps validate the 2009 Infiniti FX50's premium price.
You could say that the Porsche Cayenne S belongs in this hyper-ute gene pool as well. But the Cayenne, with its wider range of talents, really is a more specialized beast because of its optional trick off-road gear — and you'll pay handsomely for that extra, mostly untapped, capability. Have a look at the $112,000 2006 Cayenne Turbo S. We'd also have to disregard the $88,000 Bel Air driveway accessory, Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, because its hand-built 503-hp V8 functions as a similar extra-cost feature.
So this leaves the 390-hp 2009 Infiniti FX50 with its estimated sticker price of $54,000 alongside the 300-hp 2008 X6 xDrive 35i with its base price of $53,275 in a class of their own. (The twin-turbo 400-hp 2008 BMW X6 xDrive50i will set you back $63,775.) Crossover coupes to be sure, but so far only a half step away from cryptids.
So for all its specialized gizmos, admirable muscle, undeniably unique skin and what appears to be a relatively fair price, it looks like Infiniti's Atomic Catfish will be a big, weird-looking fish in a little pond yet again.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Used 2009 INFINITI FX50 Overview
The Used 2009 INFINITI FX50 is offered in the following submodels: FX50 SUV. Available styles include 4dr SUV AWD (5.0L 8cyl 7A).
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Should I lease or buy a 2009 INFINITI FX50?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.