Close your eyes and stick out your hand. I am going to put a set of keys in your palm and give you some quick stats about which car they belong to. A seven-speed automatic transmission with manual mode and downshift rev matching. This is linked to a 5.0L DOHC V8 engine pushing out 390 horses and 369 lb-ft of torque to an Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system. Dual stainless steel exhaust pipes bellow out a raucous symphony and large brakes to bring the large wheels and tires to a stop. What kind of car is this? Trick question, it’s not a car; it is the 2009 Infiniti FX50 – a luxury crossover SUV.
The keyless-entry fob is in my pocket so I step on the brake and hit the button marked START. The engine sounds like that of a V8 sports car. I put the seven-speed transmission into SPORT mode and the gear selector shows I am in first. I leave the parking lot – and feed it some throttle… I flick the right paddle, marked with a + sign, and the transmission responds quickly, like a sports car. The suspension is firm, like a sports car and keeps the FX50 flat as I take my first corner. The seat does a good job as it is heavily bolstered but still quite comfortable, like a good sports car. I have to stop the Infiniti so I pull over and step out – and that is the only time I realize I am not driving a sports car.
The style is not for everyone, but I am a big fan. The exterior lines are more aggressive than the past generation of FX vehicles, and this new one has been called everything from a fast shoe to a bionic cheetah. I would simply call it sleek, stylish and a shape that lets anyone who look at it realize it is not going off-road anytime soon. From the 21″ wheels to the quilted-leather interior, this car is built to entertain on-road, and it does so quite well.
The interior is very comfortable with powered-bolsters and manual thigh support. The FX50 is also loaded down with plenty of tech goodies, some great – some I found intrusive. The11 speaker + 2 sub-woofer Bose sound system sounds crisp at both the high and low ends. The adaptive front lighting system provides a great view at night, and the headlights are auto-leveling so they are always pointing where you want them to. On the flip side of things, the Lane Departure Prevention system (LDP) is a bit odd for my liking. It senses when you are crossing over a lane that you shouldn’t be and applies slight brake pressure to the wheels on the correct side of the vehicle to gently move you back into your lane. The system sounds great in theory but just felt odd in the real-world application. The nice part however, was that the LDP defaults to off when you start the FX50. Another odd feature is the pre-crash seat belts which squeeze you into place when your first start up the FX. I am glad I didn’t fully test this system but I could do without the reminder that it is there.
Even if I wanted to crash, the rest of the advanced safety features would make it hard to do so. This Infiniti is fitted with a system that warns me about a pending front-end collision, it has another system that warns me if I am heading out of my lane when I shouldn’t be, and it has an intelligent cruise control system which monitors vehicles ahead of me to adjust my speed. All of these are welcome systems but if I wanted to turn them off, Infiniti gives me that option.
The 2009 Infiniti FX50 is filled with the same luxury and technology as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. It has very impressive power and love-it or hate-it standout styling. Accordingly, it has a price to match. The base price for the AWD model as tested here is $56,700.00. The FX50 I reviewed was fitted with the Sport Package, Technology Package, and the Mobile Entertainment System which bring the price to $65,015.00. Not a cheap vehicle by any means but right in line with the lesser-powered 2009 BMW X5, cheaper than the lesser-powered 2009 Audi Q7, and has a slight power edge over the similarly priced 2009 Mercedes-Benz M-Class. The 2009 Infiniti FX50 is a true contender in the performance luxury crossover SUV market and a real pleasure when behind the wheel.