By on December 12, 2012

When car companies need to stretch out a model’s useful lifespan, there are a number of tricks they use. After the first year, new colors are added. The next few year options and trim parts are tweaked. Around year four, a limited edition surfaces followed by a drivetrain revamp in year 5. And so it is with Infiniti’s sporty FX crossover, now entering its fifth model year as the “new” 2013 Infiniti FX37.  You guessed it, the only thing new about the FX37 is the engine. Today’s burning question is: does a new engine give a luxury vehicle a lease on life? Or is this thinly disguised crossover life support? Click through the jump to find out.

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Exterior

Infiniti’s latest styling cues have been polarizing to say the least. Our own Michael Karesh was less than smitten by the FX’s bulging proportions and large grille. Much like Infiniti’s M however, my opinion has shifted from believing Infiniti’s signature gaping-maw grill and fender bulges were unattractive to a feeling that the Infiniti products present a unique style to a fairly repetitive segment. With the new “Gillette” grill and functional side vents, the FX is athletic, modern and heavily styles. It is the cross-trainer of the luxury CUV/SUV world compared to the “wingtippy” BMW X5 and Mercedes ML with their “safer” styling.

Interior

Compared to the exterior, the interior is elegant and perhaps a hair sedate. Owing to the age of the FX’s trappings, you won’t find a stitched pleather dash, color changing ambient lighting or Alcantara headliners. Instead you will find acres of impeccably finished maple, squishy plastic dash bits and Lexus-like fit and finish. Despite turning five this year the interior of the FX is very competitive with the Germans, a testament to how luxurious it was in 2008.

While my 6-foot frame found the driver’s seat extremely comfortable, shoppers should know the thrones don’t offer the same range of motion as the competition and the front passenger seat lacks adjustable lumbar support. The rear seats are upholstered with the same care as the front buckets but due to the vehicle’s proportions, rear passenger room is limited. From a functional standpoint, the tall dash and high belt-line hamper visibility especially for shorter drivers. The curvaceous side profile and small rear windows impact rearward visibility as well as cargo capacity. While the 24.9 cubic feet of cargo volume sounds competitive with the X5, the severely sloping rear profile made it difficult to squeeze bulky box-store purchases in the FX’s shapely booty.

 

Infotainment & Gadgets

The FX37 comes with a standard 7-inch infotainment screen that does everything but navigate you. iDevice/USB integration, Bluetooth and an 11-speaker Bose audio system with a single disc CD player and XM radio are standard on all models. Opting for the $4300 “premium package” gets you Infiniti’s easy to use navigation system with a high-resolution 8-inch touchscreen, voice control, Infiniti’s slick all-around camera system (updated to detect moving objects), memory driver’s seat, roof rails and a powered tilt/telescope steering wheel. Regardless of which system you get, Infiniti’s are among the most intuitive systems available. They also allow navigation of the system via a steering wheel toggle so your eyes can stay on the road. The 8-inch system adds touchscreen functionality to the mix giving you three ways to navigate the system: the steering wheel toggle, the rotary joystick in the dash, or just stabbing the screen with your finger. Unfortunately neither system allow for voice commanding your tunes ala the SYNC system in Ford/Lincoln products and neither provides enough power to charge iPads or other high-draw USB devices..

Should you desire the latest in nannies driving safety, (and have $2,950 to spend on the “technology package”) Infiniti will oblige with headlamps that steer, radar cruise control, collision warning, collision prevention, lane departure warning and lane departure prevention. The system also offers “Distance Control Assist” which (when enabled) pushes the accelerator pedal back at you if it thinks you’re closing on the car in-front of you too quickly. If the car decides that releasing the throttle isn’t enough, it will apply the brakes and can take the vehicle to a complete stop. This shouldn’t be confused with “adaptive cruise control” as DCA can operate at all times and at essentially any speed.

Drivetrain

Ah, the section we have all been waiting for. The reason we’re looking at the FX again is that engine upgrade. Instead of giving the FX a one-two punch by dropping their 3.7L V6 and 5.6L V8 under the hood, Infiniti upgraded the V6 and left the 5.0L V8 unchanged (maybe next year?) The new six-cylinder engine improves power by 22HP to 325 at a lofty 7,000RPM while torque rises an imperceptible 5lb-ft to 267 at 5,200RPM. Power is still routed to the  wheels via a 7-speed JATCO transmission and shoppers can still opt for the $1,450 AWD system. If this sounds familiar, Infiniti has used this engine in the European FX for a while now. Paradoxically with the engine enlargement come improved fuel economy, figures rising 1MPG in both city and highway tests to 17/24. Strangely, the combined number remains the same at 19MPG.

Drive

Infiniti based the FX on their G sedan and retained as much of the handling characteristics as they could. The result is a tall crossover with a decidedly RWD bias, sharp steering and a chassis that loves to be thrown into the corners. Think of the FX as the G37′s overweight brother. Out on the winding back-country roads of Northern California you will soon forget about the relative lack of “utility” created by the FX’s athletic proportions and start complaining about a lack of column mounted shift paddles. Infiniti’s gorgeous magnesium paddles are available only as part of a $6,250 option package on the $60,650 FX50 AWD which is a shame because the FX50 doesn’t need them as much as the FX37 does. The reason is in the torque and HP curves of the Nissan VQ engine which Infiniti calls “Acceleration swell” but the rest of us know as “no low-end torque”. Nissan does allow you to “row your own” using the console shifter, but the response from the 7-speed slushbox seems far more sluggish than what is essentially the same drivetrain in the G37 with the paddle shifters.

Infiniti’s has long been known for high revving V6 engines that need to be wound out to the redline to deliver the promised driving excitement. The old 3.5L V6 sounded throaty at 4,000RPM but by the time it reached its HP peak at 6,800 it sounded harsh and long before it reached its 7,500RPM redline you were ready for the song to be over. The 3.7L engine on the other hand is considerably more refined as it calls like a Siren urging you to spend more time at its insane 7,600RPM redline. For the first time in the FX, intoxicating V6 sounds mesh with canyon carving.

If you’re looking for a sure-footed ride and don’t care about being able to hang your SUV’s tail out, or if you want to tow 2,000lbs, the FX37 AWD is the model for you. Infiniti’s strangely named ATTESA E-TS (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Electronic Torque Split) AWD system combines a traditional center differential with a multi-plate clutch that allows for 0-50% of engine power to be sent to the front wheel when the electrically controlled system feels like it (or when a wheel slips). Infiniti has programmed the system to maintain more of a rear-wheel bias than the German competition, making the FX AWD feel more nimble than the X5 or ML. Floor the FX AWD and toss it into a corner and the system will deliver an entertaining AWD power-slide if you can keep from wetting yourself as you slide toward the curb.

For 2013 the FX37 starts at $44,300 with the FX37 AWD checking in at $45,750 without destination or options. The Infiniti undercuts the BMW X5 xDrive35i by nearly $10,000 and even when taking into account the feature content of the two vehicles, the FX represents a nearly $5,000 better value than the Bimmer. While BMW’s drivetrain is more refined and the interior more luxurious, the relatively low-cost of admission, smooth V6 and strong RWD dynamics of the FX37 keep the 5-year-old Infiniti a solid contender for shoppers  interested in the “sport” part of the Sport Utility Vehicle equation. Infiniti’s engine upgrade is unlikely to do much for the FX’s recently sagging sales as buyers gravitate towards newer and more fuel-efficient entries (or even Infiniti’s new JX35), but none the less the FX37 succeeds at breathing new life into Infiniti’s CUV warhorse. Will year 6 bring a 412HP fire-breathing 5.6L V8 and RWD? We can only hope.

 

Infiniti provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.24 Seconds

0-60: 5.59 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14 Seconds @ 99.6 MPH

 

 

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28 Comments on “Review: 2013 Infiniti FX37 (Video)...”


  • avatar
    el scotto

    Druther have a Juke. If you gonna go for ugly at least go cheap.

  • avatar
    Easton

    I find something oddly compelling about a car that can wear such brazenly bold and utterly cartoonish looks and still successfully compete in an otherwise very conservative segment.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    Overall it’s a nice vehicle, but it’s difficult to get in and out of the back seat-I don’t have really big feet, but you almost need cow hooves to pass thru that small space at the bottom of the rear door opening. Another 3″ would have really helped.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    I never saw the point of these. Buying an SUV, but with severely limited cargo capacity.

    • 0 avatar
      tatracitroensaab

      a lot of people like a high ride height. this is something that enthusiasts rarely understand — people arent necessarily getting SUVs or crossovers because they want to pretend to be outdoorsy, they just like the ride height and the interior headroom. Americans dont like bending down to get into and out of a vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        crtfour

        True and good point.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        In heavy traffic, extra ride height means being able to see the road ahead vs. just seeing the back of the vehicle immediately in front of you. I prefer to drive a car and avoid heavy traffic, but many people have brutal commutes where extra height is an advantage.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        That only works if you’re an early adopter. Pretty soon, you’ll be staring at the backs of Tahoes instead of looking over Accords.

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        Most SUV’s at this point just stare at the back of SUV’s now. The extra ride height is a false sense of security and because the center of gravity is higher is actually more dangerous in an emergency situation.

        I’ll take any lower sedan any day over an SUV for just that reason.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    I like the muscular looks of this vehicle. Definitely no feminine traits. (At least not the exterior.)

  • avatar
    JMII

    While its ugly and costs too much for what is clearly a fancy wagon with a raised ride height, you can’t ignore its performance: 0-60 in 5.5 is a tick slower then my ’03 350Z (with the torque-er but harsher 3.5l). This seems crazy for CUV that doesn’t have AMG in its name. Do soccer moms really need to go this fast?

  • avatar
    carguy

    When Infiniti launched the FX it was a truly daring vehicle which was quickly imitated by a number of German car makers. However, as much as I am drawn to it bold style and performance, it makes no logical sense what so ever. There is simply not enough utility to warrant the size and weight and cost.

  • avatar
    lzaffuto

    Unless the styling turns you off, I’ve never really understood the car guy’s hate of the EX and FX. They are powerful, RWD hatchbacks based on a sports sedan platform. What’s not to like?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      “Unless the styling turns you off”

      Asked and answered. The stereotypical “car guy” wants something that doesn’t look like a marital device. They also despise the Miata, Solstice, etc. for similar reasons.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Legions of stereotypical “car guys” are also member of the Miata Jihad. Cheap, easy to work on, and damn helpful support groups like Miata.net. If easy to work on and helpful support groups don’t appeal to the stereotypical “car guy”, I don’t what does. I’ve found the owners of jacked up big ole pick em trucks and long hood short trunk muscle cars dislike Miatas. Out of courtesy I won’t go into the phallic symbology of big trucks and muscle cars. Compensation.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Add Solara to the list.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Full disclosure, I drive a CUV. I find that some SUVs/CUVs resemble a high-top tennis shoe. Most have a “masculine” design. Few will be put in a museum for their beauty.

    • 0 avatar
      tprefo

      Dude, couldn’t agree more ! Car guys are just that, car guys. Just traded in my M37x for a 13′ FX 37 and I love it. I’m a Nissan guy and I love the style of this years model. The engine is the same that is in my 10′ 370z and its pretty cool. I’m 6′ 3″ and I have plenty of leg room. No children, so I could care less about the backseat room or cargo room. Finally, there is not another suv that has the style of this one. Like it or not (I love it) it stands out in the crowd of boring suv’s. Be well. Pre

  • avatar
    SqueakyVue

    $60k for a CUV that handles well. When will people realize the physics of tall wagon with a narrow wheelbase? CUV’s are perfect for the small-large family who dont want to be seen in a station wagon or minivan. However they are the wrong way to go for anyone who gives a damn about handling. The FX37 may be a happy medium with it’s $6,000 package but you can get 3 cars for that.

  • avatar
    hifi

    Aside from the outgoing G series, this is the only Infiniti that I find attractive. I think the style has held up will over the past several years. Great engine also. And Alex, dude. Is that a grapefruit in your pants? Your wife must be very happy.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Though I have never been much of a SUV/CUV fan I have always been taken by the 1st generation FX with it’s late 40′s early-mid 50′s car like proportions and ride height. If I needed a wagon like vehicle I would consider one.Then the 2nd generation just turned me off with it’s stretched out of proportion front with fish eye, almost 59 Buick like grill and lights.

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    Alex, your observation that the VQ engines lack low end torque is seemingly at odds with my recent experience with a G37 loaner, unless they over compensated with ridiculously short gearing in the first three gears and tailored the throttle mapping as well. Tons of fun on the street – like a muscle car that could handle a corner.

  • avatar
    Wodehouse

    Though lumpier and more bulbous (a prerequisite today?) than its sublimely designed predecessor, I still think it is the best looking car of its type. I wish it were available in a 2 door body with Jeep Liberty type Sky Slider roof. It would be the perfect PLC of today.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    My wife and I love her ’08 FX35, never had an issue with the cargo space on week long roadtrips to Cape Cod. Drives nice, lots of power, looks great and not like every other SUV/CUV out there. I much prefer the exterior styling of the first gen (’03 – ’08) although the interior of the 2nd/3rd Gen is far nicer. Ideally I’d like to see the exterior of the 1st Gen with the interior and 3.7L of this latest vehicle…..that’d be the perfect FX!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    A couple things struck me about the interior. One, this is lots better than the previous version which had less wood. Two, the maple is VERY nicely finished. Three, the black shiny plastic behind the stereo controls etc looks out of place, too shiny, and like it would collect insane fingerprints.

    I remember the first gen one in that burnt orange color everyone was so crazy about for a while. You rarely see them now.


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