Used Vehicle Review: Infiniti FX, 2003 2007  used car reviews infiniti
2003 Infiniti FX45; photo by Laurance Yap. Click image to enlarge


By Chris Chase

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Infiniti FX, 2003-2007

It was like a special effect from an action movie: when the Infiniti FX was introduced in 2003, it was a crossover SUV that emphasized the “sport” aspect that was missing in most other sport utilities. Its stylish, low-slung body with big wheels and unmistakable exhaust note were more reminiscent of a sports car than a truck.

The FX was available in two models: the FX35, powered by the popular Nissan/Infiniti 3.5-litre V6 engine making 280 horsepower; and the FX45, which used a 4.5-litre V8 making 315 horsepower. In 2007, horsepower ratings changed slightly: the V6 lost five (for 275) and the V8 gained five (for 320). A five-speed automatic was the only transmission choice.

Verdict

Highs: Great looks and performance; strong reliability
Lows: Not cheap; high fuel consumption

Owing to the FX’s sporty nature and a relatively hefty curb weight, fuel consumption was on the high side regardless of which engine was chosen. In Natural Resources Canada testing, V6 models were rated at 14.4 L/100 km in the city and 10 L/100 km in highway driving. The V8-powered FX45 was notably thirstier, at about 16 L/100 km in the city cycle and just over 11 L/100 km on the highway. While the V8 is markedly more powerful (35 more horsepower and 59 extra lb-ft of torque), the V6 model is plenty quick; even if you think you�d prefer a V8 model, try to test drive an FX35 too. One thing worth keeping in mind is that both six- and eight-cylinder engines use premium fuel.

Used Vehicle Review: Infiniti FX, 2003 2007  used car reviews infiniti
2003 Infiniti FX45; photo by Laurance Yap. Click image to enlarge

The FX’s reliability record is impressive, apparently. While there are reports on Infiniti-related websites of some common issues, few are serious; this is backed up by Consumer Reports, which calls the FX a “good bet” as a used vehicle.

Less serious problems include CD players that go bad, something that one poster at InfinitiFX.org says “happens more often than (his service advisor) would like to admit.” Also, exterior window trim apparently easily becomes discoloured, and a few owners at InfinitiFX.org also complain of squeaks and rattles inside their cars.

Used Vehicle Review: Infiniti FX, 2003 2007  used car reviews infiniti
2003 Infiniti FX45; photo by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge

In terms of more serious mechanical issues, several InfinitiFX.org members complain of overheating engines; this seems to affect six-cylinder models only; the root cause is unclear. In FXs with the V8 engine, many owners complain of a noisy engine at start up. A tick coming from the rear end at low speeds might be caused by rear axles that need to be lubricated.

There’s a relatively minor problem with wonky fuel gauges; and there are complaints of problems with the seat upholstery, too.

Used Vehicle Review: Infiniti FX, 2003 2007  used car reviews infiniti
Used Vehicle Review: Infiniti FX, 2003 2007  used car reviews infiniti
2003 Infiniti FX45; photos by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge

Consumer Reports notes brake problems, but in perusing FX forums, it appears this is related more to braking feel than actual reliability.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) first crash tested the FX in 2004; it earned five stars all around in frontal and side impact tests through 2007. Likewise, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the FX its highest “good” rating. The FX came standard with side airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction/stability control.

While the FX hasn’t held onto its value quite as well as European rivals like the BMW X5, resale values are solid. That said, the FX was a good deal to begin with and will be still on the used market, at least compared to similar European models; according to Canadian Red Book, used values range from $24,150 for a 2003 FX35 to $56,975 for a 2007 FX45. Given the FX’s strong reliability history, an earlier model might be the best bet for getting a good deal. All 2003 and 2004 models are worth about $31,500 or less (though options will push the numbers slightly higher); that seems like a good deal for a vehicle that not only looks good, but should be good to you, too.


Online resources

There are a few FX-centric forums on the web, but just two I’d recommend. First is InfinitiFX.org. The posters there seem knowledgeable and helpful. Also, the Nissan-focused FreshAlloy.com forums offer an FX discussion section that is quite popular too. You might also want to check out the forums at InfinitiScene.com, though this site is focused more on performance and cosmetics. The FX forum at NicoClub.com seems fairly busy, but here the FX shares real estate with the similar-looking but mechanically unrelated Nissan Murano.


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Manufacturer’s Website


Recalls

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006377; Units affected: 6,987

2003-2006: Certain vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of CMVSS 108 – Lamps, Reflective Devices and Associated Equipment. The stop, tail, and turn signal lamp function may be too dim when viewed at certain angles. Reduced visibility increases the risk of the vehicle being involved in a crash. Correction: Dealers will replace the rear combination lamps.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006194; Units affected: 7,573

2003-2006: Certain vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of CMVSS 108 – Headlamp vertical gradient. Correction: Dealers will install new compliant headlamp assemblies.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2005376; Units affected: 16,387

2003-2006: On certain vehicles, the fuel filler hose may crack from exposure to ozone. This could cause fuel leakage from the hose while refuelling and the Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL) to illuminate as a result of the onboard diagnostic system detecting a leak in the evaporative emission control system. Fuel leakage, in the presence of an ignition source, could result in a fire. Correction: Dealers will replace the fuel filler hose.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2003278; Units affected: 1,540

2003: On certain vehicles, the tightening torque for the front brake caliper mounting bolts may not be adequate. This could result in the upper mounting bolt coming loose and falling out. If this occurs, it would allow the caliper to rotate on the lower mounting bolt and contact the inside of the road wheel. This would result in noticeable noise and vibration. If the vehicle continues to be driven in this condition, the lower mounting bolt could also come loose and fall out, resulting in separation of the brake caliper from the mounting bracket. This could damage the brake hose to the caliper or damage the road wheel, causing an air leak from the tire. Correction: Dealer will re torque the front brake caliper mounting bolts.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2003133; Units affected: 940

2003: On certain vehicles, the symbol embossed on the tether anchor cover is 2 millimetres smaller than required under CMVSS 210.1(4). These covers have been embossed with the label with a vertical dimension of 18 mm instead of the required 20 mm. Although the symbol is slightly smaller than is required, it is still large enough that it is easily recognized on the cover. The anchor locations are also clearly identified in the owner’s manual. No corrective action required.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2003119; Units affected: 8

2003: On certain vehicles, the transmission was replaced before being shipped from the assembly plant. This involved removing and reinstalling the propeller shafts. When the propeller shafts were reinstalled, the tightening torque of some of the attaching bolts may not have been to specification. Therefore, there is a possibility that those bolts may become loose. Correction: Dealer will replace all drive shaft bolts.

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.