someone who wants the fun of a driver's car without sacrificing the usefulness
of a sport utility, Infiniti's compromise delivers on both fronts. Not surprising
when you consider its rear-drive sports car foundation, a bold move on Infiniti's
part that sets it apart from its Nissan Murano front-drive-based cousin.
either the FX35's 3.5 liter, V-6 iteration (280-HP), or the 315-HP, 4.5 liter
V-8 of the beefier FX45, it moves with road handling authority, capable of rocket
launch takeoffs and an ability to dig into and out of turns with uncharacteristically
firm response. But, yes. This car-based vehicle Infiniti calls a "Bionic
Cheetah" is still an SUV.
its Japanese heritage, it's purely continental in demeanor. Envision Italy's rock-lined
pathways or pine-shrouded German Black Forest roads as backdrops for this sleek,
taut performer that powers along on huge, 20-inch wheels (on the FX45) punched
out to the corners for pure sports car authority. In the "driver's car"
spirit, the all-wheel-drive versions spend
most of life in rear-drive mode,
tapping into AWD when slippage conditions mandate. Rear side curtain airbags anchor
the safety aspect, and a five-speed automatic has manual mode for fun.
a newcomer a year ago, this Infiniti pair that runs on a
"Intelligent Key" didn't rest on yesterday's amenities. For '04, there's
something called "Snow Mode" function. Suspension refinements, more
seating comfort settings, and fresher inside air from a standard microfilter are
new. Available aluminum roof rails and more wheel treatments were added.
FX is lighter in weight than major competitors, and lighter than some in price
-- sandwiched between Chrysler's Pacifica and Lexus RX330 at mid-$30,000 entry-level
for the base, two-wheel-drive FX35, with the FX45 about $10 K more. Despite such
dieting, this forward-looking style setter is a true heavyweight in performance.