2009 Infiniti FX35

2009 Infiniti FX35 2009 Infiniti FX35
Short Take Road Test

The new rip-roaring Infiniti FX50 is a fine sporty crossover SUV, but with 390 horsepower, it’s a bit over the top. For starters, who really needs one of these tall wagons to run 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds, as the FX50 does? Second, it rides so stiff-leggedly that it threatens to shake loose the fillings in your teeth. And finally, EPA projections of 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway are disheartening at a time when gas just blew past $4 a gallon.

For those who think that less is suddenly a good idea, the 3.5-liter V-6–engined FX35 makes a case for that. Its looks are every bit as wicked as the FX50’s, even on its standard 18-inch wheels and tires. (The FX50 comes with 20-inchers as standard.) It can be outfitted with most of the techno toys from its larger, V-8–powered stablemate. With 303 horses (up from 275 in the previous FX35), performance is hardly shabby, with the 0-to-60 blast taking just 6.1 seconds. Although our observed fuel consumption of 14 mpg raised eyebrows—it was the same as the stronger FX50’s—the number was skewed by a preponderance of city driving: The EPA numbers are 16 mpg city and 21 highway, not the improvement one might expect over the V-8.

At a base price of $43,165 for the all-wheel-drive version (there is a cheaper rear-drive model), it’s $14,350 less than the FX50. Our loaded test vehicle topped out at $48,915, which included the $2350 Premium package that adds such things as aluminum pedals, perforated leather seating, and heated and cooled front seats, as well as the $2850 Navigation package with its full-view camera system.

The best part about the FX35, however, is that it drives better than the FX50. The steering seems lighter, the ride is much more supple, and it just feels more carlike. If you’re in the market for a tall wagon that has a reasonably commodious cargo area and drives in a sporty manner, and you don’t care about towing (it’s limited to a