2009 Infiniti FX50 AWD: The View From the Batmobile
December 25, 2008
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:
As you can see it not only shows the rear view but also all the space around the SUV. You can also press the "Change view" button on the touch screen and it will change the panel to the right to show only one of the views. The indicator in the lower left of the screen reminds you what you are seeing in the central view.
When the Infiniti is shifted from reverse into drive the view briefly changes to show what is directly in front of the grill. Since this SUV is tall, it's possible that a child could be hidden from the driver's view but visible on the screen. It might also show if you were going to pull forward in a parking spot and hit a concrete divider.
The front and side cameras were covered with snow, water and then dust on our drive from Los Angeles to Denver to visit my parents. It only took a second to clean the lens. The rear camera (the most useful) stayed clear and provides a wide-angle view that's hardest to see.
So how useful is this feature? Well, it comes standard with the Infiniti and my feeling is that anything which improves visibility is a step forward. While the rear camera is nearly essential in a vehicle with poor rear visibility like this FX50, the sideview could prevent you from clipping an adjacent car with the long front end of this SUV as you back out of a parking place. And the front mirror could prevent a family tragedy.
The only difficulty is learning to process what you're seeing on the screen. Basically, it makes it look like you are in a helicopter hovering above the FX watching yourself back up. Once you get the hang of it, it's a huge benefit in an increasing congested urban landscape.
Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 3,089 miles