2012 Infiniti FX35 Limited Edition

Michael Karesh
by Michael Karesh
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2012 infiniti fx35 limited edition

As auto enthusiasts, we champion cars that deviate from the soporific segment norm. If we don’t, who will? Most manufacturers offer, at most, one or two such vehicles. Then there’s Nissan and its luxury arm, Infiniti. In the crossover / SUV / minivan arena they field a fiscally insane hodgepodge of deviants: cube, JUKE, Xterra, Quest, EX, FX. Automotive deviants rarely sell well, and (like their human analogues) often die tragically early deaths. Not the Infiniti FX, now in its tenth model year. But will there be a third generation?

The first generation Infiniti FX’s exterior was timeless near-perfection: so clean, and such an intriguing combination of feminine curves with masculine proportions. The second generation, typical of follow-ups to icons, transformed the original into an overstyled cartoon. Revisions for 2012 continue this unfortunate trajectory, adding the grille from the rhino-like QX. Someone clearly felt that some visual punch was lacking, for there’s also a new Limited Edition coated in Iridium Blue and shod with gray turbine-bladed 21-inch alloys that appear oversized even within the FX’s generous curves. So, do you love it or hate it?

Inside there’s also a special blue…on the floormat piping. The 2012 FX’s interior is as tasteful and cosseting as the exterior is outlandish and off-putting, with calming curves, premium materials, and large, comfortable seats. The Infiniti EX35’s interior is infamously tight. Inside the larger FX, the retro-positioned windshield and many curves yield an atmosphere that’s nearly as intimate (along with outstanding ergonomics), but there’s actually enough room for four full-sized adults. Cargo space falls short of the segment norm, as does the lack of a third row, but as the prices of designer’s-wet-dream exteriors go these aren’t bad ones.

The FX’s electronics can be irritating. The Bluetooth system requires too many steps, the voice recognition system often becomes an exercise in frustration, and reactions to button presses are often delayed, so you hit them again, only to have the second push reverse the first. To an even greater extent than the typical system, the nav displays too few street names even when zoomed in. The around-view monitor, on the other hand, makes parking or backing out of a curvy driveway a joy. Want the full array of gadgetry, including adaptive cruise and lane departure warning? Then no Limited Edition for you. The “Technology Package” is only offered on the regular FX.

The Limited Edition isn’t offered with the suitably gonzo 390-horsepower 5.0-liter V8. The mandatory 303-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 moves the ovoid SUV well enough, but induces no adrenaline rush. Being charitable (for once) about the sound of the six we’ll say that its loud, couth-deficient character fits the rest of the vehicle. The seven-speed automatic transmission behaves well, shifting quickly in manual mode (though there are no paddles to assist with this).

The FX35 drives very much like a G37 that’s packed on a quarter-ton (for a curb weight of 4,284 pounds) and been lifted a few inches. Which is essentially what it is. The basic dynamics are the same, just surreally altered. The steering doesn’t feel precise or provide a very direct connection to the front wheels, but the wheel is small, the system is quick to respond, and together with the chassis it yields a surprisingly chuckable chunk of SUV. A touch soggy and unwieldy, but oddly entertaining. The view forward over the long, dramatically undulating hood enhances the experience. Think Corvette, just much higher off the ground.

Though the FX’s feel is distinctly that of a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, all-wheel-drive (mandatory on the Limited Edition) effectively blunts the platform’s inherent tendency to insufficiently linear throttle-induced oversteer. With the V6 it’s only easy to hang the tail out on loose surfaces or at low speeds. But the stability control kicks in too hard and too early anyway. Despite their size—265/45VR21—the tires aren’t very grippy, and lapse into a safe, mushy slide at their limits. Credit the odd choice of tire model: Bridgestone Dueller H/L 400s. Not high-performance rubber, and a sign (along with the lack of the FX50’s Sport Package option) that the FX35 Limited Edition is more about show than go.

The payoff for the ride-oriented rubber and softer suspension tuning than in earlier FXs: livable ride quality. Even with the 21s impacts are only occasionally harsh. My wife, who couldn’t stand the ride in the sport-suspensioned G37, found the FX35 quite comfortable.

The sticker price for all of this sport truck goodness: $52,445. A regular FX35 AWD with Premium Package lists for $2,700 less. Figure $2,500 for the LE’s special blue paint and 21-inch wheels. A similarly-equipped Porsche Cayenne with 20-inch wheels lists for over $12,000 more, about $1,400 of which can be attributed to feature differences according to TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool. Or, if utility truly isn’t needed in your sport utility, the Acura ZDX is $1,040 less before adjusting for feature differences and about $875 less afterwards.

But what if utility matters a lot, as it does for the typical crossover buyer? Infiniti gave the FX ten years to carve out a space for itself. For the 2013 model year they’re caving to market demand and adding a Murano-based minivan substitute to the lineup. Compared to the FX35 LE, the JX35 lists for nearly $5,000 less after adjusting fore feature differences. Forego dubs on both and the gap narrows by a grand. Still, the writing is on the wall. In the JX35 most people will see more room for more people for less money. During 2011 monthly FX sales usually failed to break 1,000 units. Once the JX arrives they could well slow to a trickle. The FX35 might not be perfect, but it delivers a unique driving experience. The automotive landscape would be poorer without it. Want the aggressive egg to survive its impending intramural encounter? It needs your support more than ever.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

Michael Karesh
Michael Karesh

Michael Karesh lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan, with his wife and three children. In 2003 he received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. While in Chicago he worked at the National Opinion Research Center, a leader in the field of survey research. For his doctoral thesis, he spent a year-and-a-half inside an automaker studying how and how well it understood consumers when developing new products. While pursuing the degree he taught consumer behavior and product development at Oakland University. Since 1999, he has contributed auto reviews to Epinions, where he is currently one of two people in charge of the autos section. Since earning the degree he has continued to care for his children (school, gymnastics, tae-kwan-do...) and write reviews for Epinions and, more recently, The Truth About Cars while developing TrueDelta, a vehicle reliability and price comparison site.

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2 of 38 comments
  • Red60r Red60r on Jan 06, 2012

    Are the turbine wheels supposed to be functional? Some airflow would assist the smallish brake discs. Your photos don't show the right-hand side of the car, so it's hard to tell if the are R/L specific. Rotating tires with directional tread requires them to remain on the same side of the car, rotating only front-rear. If the "turbine" function is real, the car would pull to the right at high speed if the vanes were extracting air out the left side and pulling air in on the right. I had a Volvo 850 T5 that came with angled-spoke (5 spokes @) wheels that were all the same shape, but no aerodynamic consequences were noticable.

  • Steve_NM Steve_NM on Jan 03, 2013

    I own a 2007 FX35. I got this used about a year ago. I came to this, by choice, after almost 8 years without a car on public transit. Choices boiled down to the FX, a 2008 EX35 or a 2009 CRV after the drawing and stabbing with knives was done with the spouse. In the end, I decided to start putting on the pants again and take the FX35 with all the wife-stress that would come with it. The car has certainly met all my expectations and has been ultra-reliable. I was fortunate to get a car that was well maintained by a friend of a friend after they traded in a the 2012 FX35. I could actually have taken a 2009 or 2010 but preferred the first gen styling. When the particular I picked up came on the market with about 15k in warranty left, I snapped it up although it was a 2007. Less cash out of pocket for what I was sure was a well kept car that I hope will be reliable for at least another 4 years. I am dreading a fast approaching all round tire and rotors replacement massacre but I knew about those coming in. So, the looks are polarizing like it or leave it. I won't argue that. I am in the great white north and consistently get about 18 miles/gallon city. On a 10 day 2500 km Toronto/Poconos/Newark, DE/NY NY trip this last summer, we got 23 mpg which I thought was excellent for a car that is very comfortable to ride in. The 2 kids love the back seat media show. Would never ever have tried to make that trip in a CRV. We enjoy riding in it so much that we plan to make the obligatory Toronto/Disney World Florida migration for the first time this spring. All that said though, The car is not for everyone. I have to second JJ's comment above: I lusted after the car for looks and driving and I do not regret buying it for a moment.

  • Theflyersfan Nope. Has nothing to do with Gladiator sales falling off of a cliff and having 5-figure discounts. Or...YTD 2023 compared to last year:Compass +7%Wrangler -14%Gladiator -31%Cherokee -25%Grand Cherokee +6%Renegade -35%Wagoneer -31%Grand Wagoneer: -14%End of 3Q 2023: 490,106 Jeeps soldEnd of 3Q 2022: 541,297 Jeeps sold490K is still a decent number of expensive SUVs sold, especially Grand Cherokees, but it's still a decline. And people want the 4xe models, so that could reverse the trend if they crank more of them out. But let's blame the government for everything. It'll lead a news cycle on any red hat network.
  • VoGhost California is the reason Dodge and Chrysler were starved of new models for the past decade. OK...
  • Random1 I don't know what the "right" price for transit/tolls/driving should be. I'm currently a commuter from Westchester, and it is cheaper for me to commute by car on days my wife is working (she's part-time so 2x/week, I'm 5x/week). Those costs, if you care, are $18/park and a somewhat optional $6.94 toll (pay or spend about 10min to take a free bridge) vs 23.50 round-trip each on Metro-North. That's absurd, either a)transit is too expensive(and we don't need to add subway/bus like many do) or b)driving/parking is too cheap, or c) bothFWIW, the congestion charge means I'll more or less never drive in again, so I guess it'll work?
  • SCE to AUX I'm not understanding the linkage between the old State v Federal domain debate, and layoffs at Stellantis.Stellantis has serious portfolio issues, so I'm inclined to blame layoffs on them.
  • Analoggrotto Meanwhile, we can't build enough Tellurides, Sorentos, Souls and are driving ATPs that only highstreet can get close to.