2009 Infiniti FX50: Road Trip Day 2 -- Canyon Country
September 02, 2009
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.
Route 89A, Northern Arizona
"Beastly power from the 5.0-liter V8, but somehow the NVH demons from the VQ-Series V6 have found their way into this motor as well. From about 5,800 rpm to the 6,800-rpm redline, the smooth baritone rumble is displaced by a nervous buzz, and there's some perceptible vibration in the steering wheel and gas pedal. It's not nearly as bad as the 370Z's V6, for example, which is strident from 5,000 rpm on up, but I expect more from a $60k SUV that wants some of Porsche's market share.
Shifts aren't particularly smooth, either, and while the manual-mode downshifts are supposedly rev-matched, all I noticed was some nebulous lurching around -- nowhere near as sharp as the G37 in this regard."
North Rim Parkway, Grand Canyon National Park
"Like the GT-R, the FX50 could use a more comfort-biased setting for its [two-mode] adjustable suspension. There's only so much you can do with 21-inch tires, but shoppers in this segment might be disappointed with the impact harshness. Structure feels exceedingly solid over broken pavement though."
Point Imperial, Grand Canyon. 8,803 feet.
"Really pushed to get here before sunset. FX was up to the task. Steering is remarkably responsive by SUV standards; most SUVs have an exaggerated yaw delay [time lapse between steering input and response], but this steering feels like it hasn't been dumbed down at all from G37 duty. Thank you, Infiniti. With suspension in Sport mode, body roll is minimal, and the FX just goes where you point it, no fuss, no drama. Fun to drive? Absolutely. I like this thing's dimensions, too -- feels quite managable in tight corners."
Thunderbird Restaurant, Mt. Carmel Junction, Utah
"Utah's got a sense of humor."
Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor