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2006 Infiniti FX45 reviews

March 6, 2006 02:48 PM EST | Infiniti , Luxury Brands , SUV's | Email to Friend

View large imageIf you like the styling, the rest of the vehicle isn't likely to let you down, as the FX45 delivers surprisingly adept handling and spirited performance for an SUV.

Pros
Standout styling, handles like a sport sedan, potent V8 engine, roomy interior for four, long list of standard features.

Cons
Cabin lacks the upscale feel of the competition, minimal cargo room, large blind spots, no third-row seating available.

What's New for 2006
The new model year brings an exterior refresh to the Infiniti FX45 with a new bumper, grille and wheel design, along with a slightly increased horsepower rating (now 320). New standard features include a rearview monitor, 300-watt Bose audio system and a Bluetooth hands-free system. A new center console design, revised electroluminescent gauges and new aluminum and wood trim finish are also part of the interior changes, while revised suspension tuning helps improve the ride. Finally, the FX45 gains last year's Premium package as standard equipment; it includes a sunroof, auto headlamps, aluminum roof rails, a cargo net and cover, and a universal garage door opener.

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 FX45 has a V8 engine lifted from the Q45 and a curvy body that stands out in a crowd. Like BMW's X5 and Cadillac's SRX, the FX45 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 luxury sedans and true SUVs, the FX45 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. In terms of styling, the FX45's relatively low-slung stance, raised rear deck lid and 20-inch wheels give it a more aggressive look 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 a DVD entertainment system to keep most every rear passenger amused for hours. Cargo capacity is below average for this class, so if serious hauling projects are in the plans, the FX might not be right for you.

Infiniti engineered the FX45 to perform more like a sport sedan than an SUV, and indeed it will have you looking for the scenic route more often than you might think.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The FX45 is a midsize crossover SUV offered in one trim level. The long standard features list is highlighted by full leather seating and trim, power 10-way driver and eight-way front passenger seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, HID headlights, a 300-watt Bose audio system, a rearview monitor, 20-inch aluminum wheels and an in-dash six-disc CD changer. Additional standard luxury items include a sunroof, steering wheel audio controls, auto headlights and a programmable universal remote transmitter. Various optional upgrades include a DVD navigation system, intelligent keyless entry that uses electronic signals instead of a conventional keyless remote, a DVD entertainment system, radar-based adaptive cruise control and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

Powertrains and Performance:
All FX45s feature a 4.5-liter V8 engine that produces 320 hp. A five-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability sends the power to the ground via a standard electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system. Performance is impressive for an SUV, as the FX can accelerate to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds.

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 FX's interior is comfortable and welcoming, provided you don't mind its decidedly sporty flavor. The brushed aluminum trim and leather upholstery look great, but there's a bit too much hard plastic for a vehicle in this class. Additionally, the center console has 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 capacity compared to 80 cubic feet or more in most midsize SUVs.

Driving Impressions:
The 4.5-liter V8 delivers effortless acceleration and a thrilling exhaust note that's unexpected in an SUV. The FX also handles surprisingly well for its size, but the trade-off is a stiff suspension that can be uncomfortable on rough streets. Further, when driven at the upper end of its performance limits, the FX isn't as easy to control as a BMW X5. For a softer ride, consider the FX35 with its smaller wheels and more forgiving setup.

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