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2006 Infiniti FX35 reviews

March 6, 2006 02:44 PM EST | Infiniti , Luxury Brands , SUV's | Email to Friend | Comments (0)

View large imageIf you're willing to sacrifice a little practicality, the FX35 offers carlike handling and all-weather capability in a package that will never be mistaken for your average Explorer.

Pros
Standout styling, handles like a sport sedan, roomy interior for four, long list of standard features, strong V6.

Cons
Minimal cargo room, large blind spots, doesn't feel as upscale as some peers, no third-row seat available.

What's New for 2006
The new model year brings an exterior refresh to the Infiniti FX with a new bumper, grille and wheel design. New standard features include a rearview monitor, a 300-watt Bose audio system and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel. A new center console design and revised electroluminescent gauges are also part of the interior changes, while revised suspension tuning helps improve the ride. The FX35 also gains standard leather seating, a 10-way power driver seat with memory and an eight-way power passenger seat.

Introduction:
So your passions veer toward high-performance sports cars, but family obligations have pushed you toward something larger and more practical. As the automotive industry sees it, you're the target buyer for a crossover SUV. But Infiniti knows that a shapeless jacked-up station wagon won't do it for you. Instead, performance and style must be primary, and they must be sufficiently overwhelming to mask any family-friendly nature. And that's why Infiniti's FX35 has a 280-horsepower V6 engine and curvy body that stands out in a crowd. Like BMW's X5 and Cadillac's SRX, the FX35 aims to please those who seek on-road thrills and, when needed, all-weather capability -- should you feel the desire to scale rocky trails, look elsewhere.

As a bridge between a luxury sedan and a true SUV, the FX35 shares a platform with the Infiniti G35, has a four-wheel independent suspension tuned for handling on pavement, and lacks a low-range transfer case. Its relatively low-slung stance, raised rear deck lid and 18-inch wheels give it a more aggressive stance than most other crossover SUVs. Inside, you'll find a spacious five-passenger interior furnished with leather and polished aluminum accents and a central LCD screen. The rear quarters can be equipped with an optional DVD entertainment system that should keep most every rear passenger amused for hours.

Infiniti engineered the FX35 to perform more like a sport sedan than an SUV. Although it's certainly not the most practical luxury SUV on the market, the FX35 delivers impressive performance and a luxurious ride that will surprise anyone who thinks it's just another lumbering sport-utility vehicle.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The FX35 is a four-door midsize crossover SUV offered in one trim level. Standard equipment includes 10-way power driver and eight-way front-passenger seats, a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, a 300-watt Bose audio system, a rearview monitor, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, HID headlights, an in-dash six-disc CD changer and 18-inch aluminum wheels. There are several option packages for adding additional equipment, such as a sunroof, auto headlights and a programmable HomeLink remote transmitter. Available gadgets include a DVD navigation system, intelligent keyless entry (that uses electronic signals in place of a conventional keyless remote), a DVD entertainment system, radar-based adaptive cruise control and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

Powertrains and Performance:
The FX35 is available with either rear- or all-wheel drive. Both models use a 280-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine and a five-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode. All-wheel-drive models have an electronically controlled system that automatically directs power to the wheels with the most traction.

Safety:
Safety highlights include four-wheel vented disc brakes with ABS, BrakeAssist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. Front-seat side-impact airbags are standard, along with front and rear head curtain airbags. Traction and stability control systems also come standard. Infiniti also offers an available Lane Departure Warning System (LDW) that works to alert the driver to any unintended movement of the vehicle out of a designated traffic lane. In NHTSA crash tests, the FX earned five (out of five) stars for its protection of occupants in side impacts. The IIHS gives the FX a "Good" rating (the best rank possible) for protection in frontal offset crashes.

Interior Design and Special Features:
With plenty of passenger room and a clean design, the FX35's interior is comfortable and easy to get used to. Although leather upholstery is standard, the interior has more of a sporty flavor than a luxurious one, as aluminum trim takes the place of wood accents. The center console features a few too many buttons of similar shape and size. The sloping roofline makes for tight headroom in back, but the seatbacks recline for added space when needed. Poor rear visibility is another consequence of the FX's shape, but the standard rearview monitor compensates by allowing you to see exactly what's behind you while backing up. Cargo room is tight as there's just 65 cubic feet of room compared to 80 cubic feet or more in most midsize SUVs.

Driving Impressions:
Built specifically to excel on the pavement where most owners will use it most, the FX handles more like a sedan than an SUV. Minimal body roll, quick steering and the powerful V6 engine all combine to provide a driving experience that few other sport-utes can match. When driven at the upper end of its performance limits, the FX isn't as easy to control as a BMW X5, but the vast majority of drivers will find its road manners exceptional.

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