2010 Infiniti FX35
2010 Infiniti FX35. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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2010 Infiniti FX

I’m guessing that when “sport” became the first word in sport utility vehicle, or SUV, it was meant more along the lines of sporting – vehicles that would make their way out past the pavement to the hunting camp. Now, many manufacturers put “sporty” into SUV, including Infiniti’s FX35.

There aren’t any radical changes for 2010: it’s mostly trim, including the questionable removal of paddle shifters on the FX35 (on the FX50, they’re now part of the available Sport package, rather than being standard equipment), a new design for the heated and cooled seat switches, navigation system upgrades, and an iPod interface. It isn’t easy on the wallet, either: prices start at $52,300 for the FX35, and $64,050 for the FX50.

2010 Infiniti FX35
2010 Infiniti FX35. Click image to enlarge

Our tester, the FX35, uses a 3.5-litre V6, producing 303 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. I’ve never had the chance to drive the FX50, which contains a 5.0-litre V8 making 390 horses and 369 lb-ft, but I can’t help but think it would be overkill: the FX35 is quick off the line and pulls hard just about everywhere on the speedometer. Published fuel figures are 13.3 L/100 km (21 mpg Imp) in the city, and 9.3 L/100 km (30 mpg Imp) on the highway. In combined winter driving, I averaged 12.8 L/100 km (22 mpg Imp).

While it’s not quite like piloting a Nissan 370Z around a curvy road, I’d tag the FX as the closest to it among its SUV peers. It’s based on the platform used for the G coupe and sedan, and feels far more car-like than utility-like. The ride is choppy, but the suspension is firm and well-planted, steering is communicative, and it takes corners sharply, rather than swinging out around them. It may be taller and have a higher centre of gravity than a sports car, but it never feels that way. The default is all-wheel drive, a system that goes by the unwieldy name of Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Electronic Torque Split, or ATTESA E-TS, which can distribute torque from 50/50 right up to 100 per cent to the rear wheels. A “snow” setting on the centre console can also be activated to reduce engine output and better control wheel spin on slippery roads.

2010 Infiniti FX35
2010 Infiniti FX35
2010 Infiniti FX35
2010 Infiniti FX35. Click image to enlarge

Counter to the otherwise exceptional driving experience is the braking, which feels mushy and needs better bite on the pedal.

The FX’s curvy profile looks really sweet, but it does come with a price: the rear seats aren’t very roomy, and should the front-seat passengers move their chairs backwards, those behind will really feel the squeeze. Visibility also suffers with the short greenhouse and sharply raked rear window. The grille, introduced for 2009 and resembling ripples on a pond, looks great but turned out to be difficult to clean up for photos: it’s tough to get the chamois in between the bars.

Inside, the design is simple and elegant, with centre stack controls placed in an easy-to-find configuration around Infiniti’s signature analogue clock. The memory-equipped seats are long-distance comfortable and include both heating and cooling functions; finding the right driving position becomes even easier with the power tilt-and-telescopic steering column. The rear seats recline for extra comfort, and they fold forward, although not flat, increasing the cargo area from a length of 90 cm to a length of 170 cm when they’re dropped. I’d like to see a new design for the inside front door handles, though, and it’s a problem that isn’t unique to Nissan: they’re too far forward. You simply can’t get enough leverage when opening the door on a windy day, or when trying to squeeze out in a tight parking spot without dinging the car next door. If the handle must be this close to the hinge, then there should be a secondary hand-hold at the rear of the armrest so the door can be stabilized.

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