By on June 22, 2009

I love technology. I was an early adopter of the microcomputer (8″ SS/SD floppies, anyone?). I spent way too much on a TI calculator in college because it could *gasp* do square roots. My car has rain-sensing wipers, self-leveling headlights and power headrests. However, spending a week with an Infiniti FX35 made me wonder if, just as electronic calculators have given us a generation who can’t do simple math in their heads, the technical fripperies in our cars are going to produce a generation of drivers who can’t drive.

The FX35 is a gadget geek’s wet dream. It gives you an alphabet soup bowlful of technosystems at your beck and call. Not only do you have the usual VDC, TCS, ABS and TMPS but your menu also includes IBA, FCW, LDW, LDP, DCA, ASC, DRM, CVTCS and ICC. (Click here to break the code.)

Want to back out of your driveway? First, you can’t see anything through the FX35′s gun-slit rear window. The blind spot created by the SUV’s huge D pillar means your neighbor’s mailbox is at risk. Then, when you engage reverse, both outside rearview mirrors tilt downwards, giving you a nice view of the driveway next to the car—instead of where you’re backing. But don’t worry. The dash-mounted screen shows what’s to the rear along with what’s on the other three sides as well. It’s like the car’s saying “I’m sorry, Dave. I can’t let you do that. Here, look into my ‘Around View Monitor’ and I’ll show you what you need to see.”

Once underway, HAL’s on full alert. If you get too close to the [non-powder] white line whilst unwrapping your Big Mac, the Infiniti’s Lane Departure Warning (LDW) system sounds an alert. If you ignore that, the Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) system gooses the brakes on the opposite side of the car to nudge the car back towards its own lane. They’re incredibly intrusive. Fortunately you can actually shut off the LDW permanently and the LDP is off by default, but why pay for them if you aren’t going to use them?

The FX35′s Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC) keeps you from getting too close to the car ahead of you while you’re sipping your grande soy half-caf cinnamon dolce no whip latte—to the point of applying the brakes automatically (if needed). I’m wondering how long it’ll be before someone has an accident because they were too stupid to realize they were in a car without this feature. “Officer, I don’t know what happened. The car just plowed right into that other car.”

Don’t worry about paying attention to traffic. The Forward Collision Warning (FCW) will alert you to things you don’t notice while you’re texting your BFF. And if you can’t be bothered to notice those alarms, the Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA) will apply the brakes to slow you down. And if you’re still too engrossed in your happy place to react to this, you deserve to crash.

But if you do, the active head rests, advanced air bag system and seat belt tensioners will all do their best to make sure you don’t reap the reward of your incompetent driving.

Or you can save almost $3K by not ordering the technonanny package and enjoy the car that’s underneath all the gizmology. The FX’s 3.5L V-6 gives you 303 horses, which can haul you from rest to 60 in about six seconds. The CUV’s seven-speed transmission shifts almost imperceptibly; the Downshift Rev Matching (DRM) gives a satisfying blip on the throttle when you use the steering-wheel mounted paddles.

Thanks to a double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, the FX35′s handling is definitely un-SUV-like. At slow speeds, the speed-sensitive power steering feels a bit heavy. As you pick up speed, the fun begins. Drive this thing like you stole it and it shrugs and asks, “Is that the best you’ve got?”

Head out on the highway, turn on the air conditioned seats, set the cruise control at a comfortable speed, crank up some Miles Davis on the excellent 11-speaker Bose audio system and the FX35 is in its element. It eats up the highway like Oprah at a benefit buffet.

As far as its looks are concerned, the pictures say it all. The front’s ugly and the rest isn’t bad.

The price of admission depends on how heavy-handed you get with the option sheet. The FX35 starts at $42,150. Adding the Premium Package (climate controlled seats, memory seats, Bluetooth, power tilt/telescope wheel) will cost $2,350. The Navigation Package, which includes the “Around View Monitor,” is another $2,850. The Technology Package gives you the electronazi systems for $2,900. The whole nine yards brings the “as tested” price to $50,250.

The FX35 doesn’t need so much wizardry. A terrific driver’s car lurks underneath all that code. Unfortunately, most owners will never know this; they’ll never turn off the electronic doo-hickeys to let the goodness shine through. They want to be insulated from the driving experience. Don’t they?

[Nissan provided the vehicle, a tank of gas and insurance for this review.]

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40 Comments on “Review: 2009 Infiniti FX35 (RWD)...”


  • avatar
    mpresley

    Generally speaking, I do not comment on style and design, since it’s pretty much subjective. But, this vehicle is one of the ugliest machines I’ve seen, lately–both inside and out.

  • avatar
    commando1

    I owned one of the last Q45′s before Infinity stopped importing them. It was, to this day, the most amazing car I had ever owned. Being a 2006, it only had 3/4′s of the alphabit soup in your review vehicle, but even then, it was waaaaaay ahead of anything, including Lexus, M-B, BMW, et. al. The speech recognition was the best part.
    ME: “Temperature: 75, please.”.
    CAR: “Temperature set to 75.” Freaked out my passengers every time. LMAO!
    The speech recognition Nav was evem more amazing. It alone came with it’s own two-volume manual the size of the Manhatton phone directory.
    I don’t think I ever used more than 10% of it’s capabilities. I’m pretty sure if I got in it and said “I’m drunk”, it would have taken me home automatically, scolding me all the way.

  • avatar
    skor

    A sports SUV that does everything it can to hide its performance potential from the driver? I just don’t get it.

    Around these parts, I see most of these things being driven by women.

  • avatar

    I have no doubt this thing is a capable vehicle, but when it comes to the looks, it had to be designed by someone who hates people, nature, and all things beautiful. While beauty is subjective to some degree, there is a universal beauty base line; for example, nobody can call the shape of a healthy female breast ugly; nobody can call a Mozart symphony ugly; nobody can call the colour of clear blue sky ugly. I’m sure nobody can call this four-wheeler nice (at least nobody of clear mind). Yeah, make it look like a boob and you have a best-seller. When it comes to all the electronics – it’s too much. ABS and VSC may have some merrits, but the rest…

  • avatar
    Tummy

    I have a 2004 FX45 and it drives just great and IMO looks a lot nicer than the new models. Still I like all the techno toys. I believe the 2003 FX was one of the first cars, along with Mercedes Benz, with Keyless ignition and adaptive cruise control.

    The price of the new models is a little disappointing since they moved it too much upmarket, IMO. Some of the interior bits are still cheap feeling and I have not had good luck with the quality of the some things on my FX. Rust being a problem after only 5 years fouling up some of the exterior electrical switches and a rusty loud exhaust I had to replace.

    I would have traded in and upgraded if the front end wasn’t so ugly. Back in 2003 I felt the same way about the 1st gen FX, so maybe the look will grow on me.

  • avatar
    lewissalem

    mpresley, agreed. It’s the headlights. The awful headlights.

  • avatar
    klossfam

    I’m an Infiniti guy (I drive an 08 G35xS) but I cringe every time I see this rig in the flesh…Cartoonish is the best description. This will not age well ala the new Acura TL…

  • avatar
    jmo

    Hum… I’m noticing a trend here…

    “the technical fripperies in our cars are going to produce a generation of drivers who can’t drive.”

    The vast majority have never been able to drive – why do you think 45,000 people a year die in car accidents? And those that claim they can “drive” are the ones who are taking things to edge thus ending up as dangerous as anyone else.

    The other point is – why all the hate for the dynamic curise control? That I can’t understand.

  • avatar
    skor

    @jmo

    Dynamic cruise control deserves hate. It may work fine in sparsely populated states, or in places where you have disciplined, polite drivers, but it’s worthless in New York or New Jersey.

    Dynamic cruise maintains the “correct” distance between you and the car ahead of you, and slows down the car to maintain that distance if the car ahead of you slows. In NY or NJ leaving more than 3 feet between you and the clown ahead of you invites all the other clowns to whip in front of you. Dynamic cruise leaves several car lengths between you and the dude in front. This causes all the other retarded psychotics to whip in front of you. The dynamic cruise responses by slowing your car which in turn causes everyone, and his grandmother, to whip in front of you which causes your cruise to slow your car……..

    What should have taken 20 minutes will take 6 hours if you use the dynamic cruise.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    The Japanese have always been keen to the Jet Jaguar school of automotive design. This Infiniti, however, morphs the usual into something organically grotesque. The dash was obviously designed by boom-box engineers from JVC or Aiwa, although I’m not certain as to the bulbous hump facing the passenger–I guess there’s an airbag in there, somewhere. Is there an upside to any of this? Well…it’s likely a better SUV than an Aztek, so it’s got that going for it.

  • avatar

    This is one ungainly vehicle. The overall shape isn’t bad, it’s all the horrendous details. Wavy grill, fender gills, lumpy headlamps, lumpy bumpers… it’s all too much.

    Also, when did visibility go out of style. Between high belt lines and thick pillars you can’t see anything. Now our vehicles have to be fitted with cameras and beeping gizmos just to get a sense of what’s around you.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Nice write up Frank – I’m surprised Infiniti are not already using the corporate 3.7 VQ in the FX.

  • avatar
    johnthacker

    Dynamic cruise control deserves hate. It may work fine in sparsely populated states, or in places where you have disciplined, polite drivers, but it’s worthless in New York or New Jersey.

    Hate’s a bit strong for something that’s just useless in certain conditions and can be turned off. I never use regular cruise control, but I could imagine situations on the interstates where I’d use dynamic cruise control. A waste of money, sure, but hate? You might as well hate a car for having an excellent engine and handling that’s useless in your everyday congested commute.

  • avatar

    The new FX is about as fun to drive as an SUV gets, but you can still tell it’s an SUV from behind the wheel. It feels massive, in terms of both size and mass. Which, frankly, is a key part of its character.

    Want an SUV that truly feels like a car? That would be the smaller EX.

    The new seven-speed automatic greatly aids low-speed acceleration–the lower gears are spaced quite closely.

    TrueDelta has no reliability info on these yet–need more participants. Details here:

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    First Gen FX was the high point for the concept (especially styling-wise), every iteration since then has been inferior. I especially hate the shark-gill fake Side Vents.

  • avatar

    paris-dakar
    I especially hate the shark-gill fake Side Vents.

    The vents aren’t fake. Per an Infiniti press release:

    “Like everything else on the FX, the new side air vents are about function, not mere ornamentation. They allow air to flow through the engine compartment and out the side of the vehicle, reducing front end lift by a full five percent, improving high speed stability.”

  • avatar
    stevenm

    I wonder if “I’m sorry I was doing 120, officer, I was trying to get away from a FX35 so I wouldn’t be killed” would fly.

  • avatar
    jmo

    skor,

    What kind of system do you have?

    I’ve only used it on an FX and you can set the distance you want to follow the car in front of you. I know the S-Class can come to a complete stop and inch it’s way forward automatically in traffic and you can set the distance you want as well.

    What systems are you most familar with?

  • avatar
    kovachian

    Four stars? For a vehicle claimed on this very site as a known excessive oil burner? Roger that.

  • avatar

    kovachian
    Four stars? For a vehicle claimed on this very site as a known excessive oil burner? Roger that.

    I base my ratings on my driving impressions not on reports of maintenance problems.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    When, Oh when, will the Japanese OEM’s stop hiring laid-off Anime mangajin artists as designers?

    I didn’t know if I was looking at a picture of a Nissan, or at one of my son’s Pokemon cards…..

    Hid.
    Eeee.
    Us.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    the technical fripperies in our cars are going to produce a generation of drivers who can’t drive

    Too late. A generation of non-drivers was created when automatic transmissions became the norm.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    They want to be insulated from the driving experience. Don’t they?

    They’ll buy an RX350 if they know what’s good for ‘em.

    Great review Frank. Infiniti really went to town on that front end (the last gen models were gorgeous and sporty looking compared to this latest edition) but at least they didn’t mess with the driving experience (until of course you factor in all that electronic gee-wizardy).

  • avatar
    Wolven

    I’ll have to echo the sentiment that that would be ANOTHER generation of sheeple that can’t drive. The 55 mph speed limit, state sponsored thieves (cops), and Ralph Nader produced the 80 plus majority that can only aim, hope and proceed with extreme caution now.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    Art on wheels.

  • avatar
    werewolf34

    The rounded body design really cramps any pretense of utility in the SUV, kinda like the Audi Q5 and its ridiculously small boot.

    Infiniti please listen — less chrome, more quality thanks

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Bingo! You hit the proverbial nail right on the head and have brought light to what is so wrong with todays technology crazed society. I would only give it 3 stars.

  • avatar
    ktm

    I owned a 2005 FX35 and loved it, though it is far from practicle. It’s rear “trunk” room is abysmal for a CUV and the 5-speed automatic was its achilles heel. Saying that, I thoroughly enjoyed the vehicle as did my wife.

    My company has an employee purchasing program with Nissan/Infiniti and I was able to procure a Sport model for $36k before TTL. It’s too bad that the base price is now $43k; the old base price for an FX35 was $35k.

  • avatar

    was it Emerson who said it:

    There is no such thing as “progress.” Man creates the wheel and loses the use of his legs.

  • avatar
    Wunsch

    Want an SUV that truly feels like a car? That would be the smaller EX.

    See, now that’s what I expected from the EX. The styling really did make me believe that maybe it was just a sporty wagon that was marketed as an SUV/CUV because that’s what people respond to.

    But driving it did not impress me. It still felt big and heavy. Step on the brakes hard, and the nose would dive way down, leaving the back end feeling downright squirrelly to me. Maybe I just had the wrong expectations, or wasn’t driving it the way I should have been, but I was disappointed.

    I think I also scared the poor salesman who came along for the ride :-)

  • avatar
    Lee

    carguy :
    June 22nd, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Nice write up Frank – I’m surprised Infiniti are not already using the corporate 3.7 VQ in the FX.

    They do, in Europe. I think you’ll see it here before too long.

    paris-dakar :
    June 22nd, 2009 at 10:22 am

    First Gen FX was the high point for the concept (especially styling-wise), every iteration since then has been inferior.

    What the hell are you talking about. “every iteration”? This is the second.

    jmo :
    June 22nd, 2009 at 11:13 am

    I know the S-Class can come to a complete stop and inch

    The FX will do that as well.

    carlisimo :
    June 22nd, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Art on wheels.

    Indeed.

    People complain about the generic look of most of the cars on the road today, yet when a car maker builds something like the FX, you’ll still bitch and complain. Most of said bitching and complaining coming from people who have never set foot inside an Infiniti dealership, much less driven one.

  • avatar

    I like the front of this. Notsomuch with the grill sitting in there. The FX overall has always been a gorgeous design.

    My big question is: Does the 3.5L in this have the same shitlisted problems noted by Sajeev Mehta in this Piston Slap?

    Oh and thanks for taking your own photos, I like that better than the regurgitated supplied photos.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Wow… gouge my eyes out!!!! Nissan Ifiniti managed to build something uglier than their full sized SUV. Looks aside, what’s this thing supposed to be good for anyways?

  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    What the hell are you talking about. “every iteration”? This is the second.

    I thought this was the Third Gen? I guess the last change was just a face lift.

  • avatar
    Lee

    There have been no face lifts, other than perhaps a slight alteration to the front bumper perhaps, but nothing that would qualify as a face lift.

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    It’s the Acura TL of SUVs … the new version having considerably less visual appeal than the old.

  • avatar
    peejay44

    I hate it.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    I just put about 1,000 miles on an 2009 FX35 AWD rental without nav, 90% of the electronazis (great term BTW), but with the Premium Package.

    The Pros:
    This thing MOVES!  Everyone that hops on in for a lift might think it’s a usual crossover, but you might want to ask them to strap in and hang on.
    The interior materials are top notch.  Infiniti appears to have finally gotten out of cost-cut mode that the first gen G35 was rightly ripped into about.  Everything your arm might rest or your fingers might grab on a regular basis is a soft, textured surface.  Of course like every car, the minor surfaces are of the hard, hollow kind and the center console didn’t feel that sturdy.
    The 7-speed automatic is amazing.  You do not feel any kind of shifting unless you gun it to all hell.  The paddles aren’t really needed though.
    The 11 speaker Bose speaker stereo finally sounds like the Bose speakers of old. 
    In addition to the USB iPod hookup, there are L/R/Video hookups in the console – according to the manual, DVD players and video games can be played when the vehicle is in park or if the rear screens are ordered.
    The screen is there for info only…it isn’t needed to run the show like the Germans.
    The A/C seats make no noise unlike others I’ve sat in.
    The rear seats have more than enough room for two adults.
    Did I mention the performance???  You don’t need the V8.

    Cons:
    It has to be said.  The cargo area is a bad joke.  I was barely able to fit in a standard size laundry basket, a Samsonite carry-on bag, two backpacks and a sleeping bag.  That was cramming it in.  Others in the car had some pillows and jackets around them.  It is WAY too small for a family.
    Visibility is beyond awful to the point of a safety hazard.  The review is right.  When backing out, you MUST use the screen.  My rental didn’t have the all-around view, but the rear view mirrors combined with the screen is better than nothing.  In fact, the visibility problems might give me enough of a thumbs down to not recommend this vehicle.
    As expected, fuel economy isn’t a strong point.  I took it very easy on the freeways and country roads, and after doing my numbers and comparing them to the somewhat unreliable computer numbers…barely cracked 20 mpg on 93 octane.  With a light foot and a seven speed automatic, I was really expecting around 23-24.  Most driving had me in the mid-teens.  303 hp and 4500+ lbs takes a toll.
    Styling was 50/50 with friends and a lot of family members.  Many liked the daring design and the very stylish interior.  Many also didn’t like the fender “gills” and the squnted headlights.  All loved the look of the back…they weren’t driving and didn’t have to see out of it though!
    The FX was under 20,000 miles, but the quality of the center console was already really showing wear and tear.  The integrated USB port was broken and missing (literally…there was a hole) and there were some cracks around the top hinges.  Note though the rest of the interior looked brand new and the seats still felt and looked top quality.
    You REALLY feel the weight at times.  Braking feels natural but in the corners, no amount of electronazis can cover up the 2.5 tons of vehicle, people, and fuel with the heavy, tipping feel.  You do sit lower than in other crossovers, but it still doesn’t feel natural being that high up and trying to pull those moves.  Note though that I haven’t driven any Porsche or Audi crossover, but I have driven the X5.  The Infiniti felt more planted and sporting than the X5.

    So, is this worth getting instead of the upcoming 2011 M-series?  That’s tough to say.  If you love the looks of the FX and can live with the tiny cargo area and want AWD, yes, get this FX (w/ AWD.)  If you want to keep it RWD, get the M or a loaded G. 

    Overall this was a great drive with the amazing engine/transmission combo, stylish interior and exterior, and comfort.  Recommended with the “pauses” I listed above.

    And now after typing all of this, maybe this should have been a “Take Two” review!!!

  • avatar
    skysharad

    Dont hate this car cause you cant afford it. Once you test drive it…you will buy it(provided you got the money).

  • avatar
    skysharad

    Dont hate this car cause you cant afford it….the average age of this driver 37+….


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