We were conflicted when this 2009 Infiniti FX50S became a part of our long-term test fleet. It was kind of like winning a home swimming pool during a drought.
Amidst a global surge in fuel costs, a crippling global financial crisis and with ever-increasing pressure on going green and vehicular downsizing, the Infiniti FX50 didn't exactly project a very politically correct personality. Even so, its 390-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 had our mouths watering as if we'd been offered a hot whale burger braised in seal fat.
Sure, this hot-rod utility vehicle is not for everyone, but to those with the means and the mind to enjoy the finer things, life can be good even in the midst of troubled times.
We wanted in.
Why We Got It
The Infiniti FX has never been a volume seller. A highly specialized sport-style crossover, the FX has been both a technological and stylistic showcase for what Infiniti can offer for those who live on the edge. In its original form as the FX45, Infiniti's funky CUV thing found its way into the hands of only 1,598 owners in 2007 and just 581 people in 2008.
The 2009 Infiniti FX50 uses Infiniti's FM (front midship) platform, which underpins most everything that carries an Infiniti badge — the EX, the G and the M. But unlike those vehicles, this five-door lifestyle-oriented crossover is straddling an all-new 390-hp 5.0-liter V8 and seven-speed automatic transmission, a new powertrain for Infiniti.
Beyond the obvious mechanical gadgetry, there were open-ended questions to be answered. Does a CUV work when it's styled like a coupe? Does a vehicle really need four independent cameras for a bird's-eye parking view? Does an AWD CUV need 390 hp? (Just kidding; we already knew that it wouldn't be enough.) And what about the 21-inch wheels?
As is the Nissan way, the 2009 Infiniti FX50 was due for service every 7,500 miles and included a tire rotation, oil change and standard checks and fluid top-offs. At 15,158 miles, we had the FX serviced for $215.60 and had a repair performed as part of a recall for a faulty steering-column motor. Also on the same ticket was a diagnosis of low brake fluid, which was responsible for the warning lights for the stability control and emergency brake turning on, something we had noticed intermittently. All told, we spent $575.08 on these routine services over just under 30,000 miles, plus an additional $20 on a tire repair.
Apart from the routine services, we experienced two surprise problems. First, the wood trim on the passenger-side door peeled off, a problem that must have been experienced by a lot of FX owners because it took a few months for the part to become available after being back-ordered. It was installed for free and the vehicle spent zero days out of service. The second problem was that Infiniti of Santa Monica, our local Infiniti dealer, closed down shortly after we took delivery of the 2009 Infiniti FX50. Nissan of Santa Monica took care of us for routine services, but for warranty work, the car had to be taken to an Infiniti dealer in Long Beach.
This was one of the most reliable, trouble-free Nissan products we've had in this office, which was nice because we really liked driving the thing, despite its somewhat troubled ride quality. It was a 2,250-miles-per-month kind of liking it, as in 29,252 miles over 13 months with road trips to Denver, the Grand Canyon and Napa.
When we weren't talking about the FX's dynamics, we were talking about its interior. Magrath thought the iPod was whiney; Hellwig dug the GT-R shift paddles; DeRosa found the seat coolers too loud; Kavanagh liked the small, sporty steering wheel; and Edmunds spent forever underneath the car diagramming the aluminum suspension.
Total Body Repair Costs: $0
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over 13 months): $575.08
Additional Maintenance Costs: $20
Warranty Repairs: 1
Non-Warranty Repairs: 1
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 3
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 1
Days Out of Service: 0
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: 0
Performance and Fuel Economy
When some 4,621 pounds of crossover-coupe assaulted our test track on 21-inch wheels, some serious physics were in play. Zero to 60? That would be 5.5 seconds from a standstill (5.2 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip), probably faster than necessary. The quarter-mile goes by in 13.7 seconds at 101.5 mph, also almost unreasonably fast. And when we ran out of track, the brakes were up to the task of halting what we called the "atomic catfish" in only 117 feet from 60 mph.
On the streets, this performance was completely reasonable, though the new V8 vibrated with more character than we like, much like the V6 that we experienced in our long-term 2009 Nissan 370Z. Noted Sadlier, "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."
The FX's fuel economy was average for this segment of luxury utilities. We managed a best tank of 22 mpg and a worst tank of 11.7 mpg, and averaged 17 mpg over the life of the test. Our longest cruising range, thanks to a careful foot and a 23.8-gallon fuel tank, was a staggering 471 miles.
Best Fuel Economy: 22 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 11.7 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 17 mpg
Longest Range: 471 miles
Our long-term 2009 Infiniti FX50S started life wearing a sticker price of $62,285. By the time 13 months had passed and we'd racked up 29,252 miles, Edmunds' Private Party True Market Value (TMV®) was sitting at $46,907. While that's a reasonable 25 percent depreciation, $15,378 is a decent chunk of change. It's also a decent chunk of change to save if you happen to be in the market for a lightly used FX50.
These numbers are slightly better than the depreciation from our 2008 BMW X5 4.8i, which left with a 26 percent depreciation totaling $17,811.
True Market Value at service end: $46,907
Depreciation: $15,378 or 25% of original paid price
Final Odometer Reading: 29,252
We started our time with the FX50S by wondering about its crummy rear visibility, small cargo area, lack of a third-row seat, oversize wagon wheels and mutant mechan-o-fish styling. But in the end, the 2009 Infiniti FX50S lived up to our standards in almost every way. During a period when the Nissan GT-R and Nissan 370Z in our long-term fleet both made all-too-frequent visits to the dealer for service and repair, the FX50S never broke down, required only infrequent service and was a staff favorite for long, cushy rides.
With most of our questions answered, a new one was raised: Considering the FX50's price, performance, looks, reliability, resale, comfort and feature content, why did the Porsche Cayenne overflow the halls at Porsche with deutsche marks while this is relegated to sales obscurity?
The seas may warm and the automotive market's going to do what it's going to do, but for today, there's still whale meat to be had if you know where to get it. Eat up before it's gone, kids. Eat up.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.