The FX35 is the definition of a Sports Utility Vehicle. It is definitely sporty, it has the cargo space be utility, and it is also a vehicle. When I asked if anyone wanted a review I was surprised at the number of “Yes!” I got. It seems everyone(including me and my non Oppo friends) have a soft spot for this truck. There are also not a lot of them, even here in the land of Nissan NA HQ, adding to the mystique. Very few people seem to have had a real experience so here is mine.
Disclosure: Infiniti wanted me to test drive the FX35 so bad they sold it to my mother in law. Seven years later my LS400 decided that 314,000 miles was enough and that the speedometer needed shipped off and repaired. Rather than driving a car with no speedo for this past week and a half, I asked my mother in law if I could borrow her extra car. It came with half a tank of gas, the tank was refilled, slightly used, and then car was returned to its parking spot so she doesn’t have to take the MB E550 Cabriolet to downtown Nashville. Wow this is the longest “wanted me to test drive a car” ever.
So now on to the review.
Yes it’s a crossover, but let me explain. The FX35 does not age. This car is nearly a decade old and still could pass for brand new. The “scarab” design still has not grown old. This is partly because Nissan has gone the route of updating their cars only every decade, or longer (i.e. GTR, QX90, Titan, etc). This could also be attributed to the fact that they got the proportions right in the first iteration and have resisted messing up a formula that truly was way ahead of itself. The grill has a fantastic 3D design to it that makes me smile every time I walk up from the front. It goes back to it being way ahead of its time. The fake grill vents behind the wheels break up the flow of sheet metal. The biggest detractor on this particular car are the small wheels. The FX50 wheels fill up the wheel well better and to the overall aggressive styling.
Overall it’s a pleasant thing to be in. My biggest complaints are some of the controls are easy to mix-up(climate control and audio are almost identical but at different heights). As a design change, I love how the dash curves by the passenger but I wish they would have worked the gauge cluster area better. My thought was to continue the curve towards the drive and envelop that area. The steering wheel is very worn but I attribute that to general abuse of the car by an ex-husband and the brother in law. The tan helps alleviate the cave like feel but blind spots are still atrocious. This car needs blind spot monitoring if I’ve ever seen it. This car does come with panoramic cameras though which are very helpful, especially in tight parking spaces where the dramatic wheel arches create the blind spot of where the corner of the vehicle is. The back seat is tight for people but has been perfect for my backpack and Preds jersey.
This car handles much better then it has any right too. Imagine a G35 with better seating position. It also gets quite tail happy but the traction control is quick to butt in. Having power sent to the rear wheels is something I dream of in the wife’s RX350. My biggest gripe is the steering. The communication from the wheels into the steering wheel while cornering is fantastic but there’s about a 3 inch gap at center that is almost dead. My dad’s 4x4 Tundra has less play at dead center. As was stated earlier though this car has been abused a bit though and that could be the cause. The other problem is the steering ratio. Wow. It feels like you are turning for days before the wheel gets anywhere. Nearly 180 degrees to get the wheels to turn 40 degrees. This is probably my biggest gripe but it is definitely livable.
Potent. This VQ35HR with 303 horsies is legitimately fast. My wife’s RX350(the closest competitor I’ve driven) has about the 30 less horsepower and you can feel the difference. The power delivery through the rear also helps as the RX tends to torque steer and sometimes has problems laying the power down (the AWD and Hybrid AWD versions are much better and actually a joy to drive overall). Another underrated fact is the exhaust. It sounds wonderful and is miles ahead of the G35 this car is related to. Really a great setup overall. As a side note, this car has had little to no problems that I know of since I started dating my now wife six years ago. This car will sit for two months, start right up, can get wringed out, and will not care. Newer Infinitis have had trouble but 2010 was the end of their glory years and these cars tend to be dead reliable and pleasant(The mid to late 2000’s M35 is one of my favorite DD cars ever). The biggest problem is gas mileage. I saw around 17mpg around town or so with some spirited driving thrown in. Seeing that would make you go “I could’ve had a V8” and had more power for similar efficiency.
This is a fairly loaded FX35 so all the creature comforts are there. Heated and ventilated seats, Nav(lol who uses that), panoramic cameras, parking sensors, keyless access/start and the works. The biggest thing missing is blind spot monitoring which appears to have become an option in 2011. A Countache has a smaller blind spot then a FX35 which makes changing lanes when not fully aware of who is where difficult to say the least. Also, being a more sport oriented model, it rides much harsher then the RX350 but also has the drawback of increased road noise. The oddest complaint I have is how loud the AC seats are. They work great but sitting in traffic the other day it sounded like a vacuum was running beneath the car. Muffled but still present. In comparison the 2014 Tundra ventilated seats are dead silent. Overall, as far as comfort is concerned, there are definitely better places to spend a road trip but for around town it’s great. One of my favorite things is the ride height. I am 5’11’’ and getting in is like butter. I don’t have to bend down, I don’t have to slide across the seat, and I don’t have to step up oddly high (I’m looking at you Tundra). Infiniti made it perfect in that way.
If this were a brand new car I would put my wife in one in a heartbeat. It’s engaging to drive, fills the SUV “need”, and looks great. All this means it wouldn’t matter whose car we take. I would maybe swing for the V8 as the V6 efficiency is not great, the better looking wheels, and also because powweeerrrr(87 more powers to be exact). This receives a pretty good 41/50 while living up to all the expectations I had of one as a kid.