The FX45 looks like a giant scarab, shaped by the wind and forces of nature. Its body is all bulging, rounded shapes that project muscularity and strength. A rising beltline is met by an arcing roofline, resulting in a teardrop shape and a bulbous rear end. Big High Intensity Discharge (HID) Bi-Xenon headlights give a bug-like intensity to the front, and multiple array LED taillights aid visibility in the rear. The fixed glass window in the tailgate is a little bit of a mail slot -- cool-looking, but it doesn't make for much of a view while backing up.
Fit and finish on the FX45 are superb. Deep rich paint, high shine chrome accents, uniform seams and gaps everywhere you look. The attention to detail is impressive, and the FX45 is eye-catching because of it. You may love the look of the FX45 or you may hate it -- you will not overlook it.
Continued below . . .
In the Driver's Seat
Infiniti's dash layout and design is excellent -- I commend the use of real rosewood and aluminum trim throughout. The FX45's center stack looks almost like a piece of fine furniture, so rich are the materials. Infiniti's trademark oval analog clock sits low at center, topped by a big LCD screen that acts as a command center for heat/air conditioning, audio and navigation controls, as well as a much-needed rear view monitor. The FX45's design compromises views directly to the rear and to the rear sides, the one big flaw with this vehicle's design.
The FX45's rear seat is set up for two passengers, three only in a crunch. There's plenty of leg room, but shorter passengers complained a little about the height of the windows -- they couldn't see out the window when they sat back in their seats. I'm not short, and don't spend much time in the back seat, so I didn't care.
On the Road
I don't know if I'd elect to take the FX45 on a road trip, however. There are a couple of penalties for all that power and style. The big one, of course, is 14 mpg city/18 mpg highway -- awful numbers, even though they are totally in line with the power to weight ratio on display. Cargo space is just okay -- the styling of the FX45's sloped rear roofline eats in to the cargo hold. You wind up with a space behind the rear seat that, at 27.4 cubic feet, is smaller and less useable than the luggage space in a Ford Escape (29.0 cubic feet). Add in the horrible sightlines to the rear, and the FX45 is more fun around town than on the road.
That said, I loved driving the FX45. The sound, the speed, the agility and the overall feel of the Crossover is hard to beat.
First of all, drive the Infiniti FX35 and FX35 AWD -- cosmetically very similar to the FX45, but with a smaller (3.5 liter V6) powerplant under the hood. You'll get better mileage and a substantially lower buy-in -- and only slightly less fun. You should also check out the Nissan Murano, which shares a platform and some styling cues with its Infiniti cousin. Starting under $30,000, it can save you a lot of money, and still get you into the genuine crossover field.
Infiniti isn't the only crossover in the sports luxury field. Audi's Q7 is an excellent vehicle. So is the VW Touareg and the Porsche Cayenne, though all three vehicles will run you a little more cash than a comparably equipped Infiniti. Lexus' RX350 is more luxury, less sporty, and the RX400h brings a hybrid to the party. Acura's RDX drops a turbo into the mix, and BMW's X5 is a sporty entry to the field. The Mercedes R-class, Chrysler Pacifica and Ford Freestyle are out of their league in this competition, tending more toward minivan-dom than fun.
When I dream of a crossover vehicle, it's the FX45 that fills my heart. Part muscle car, part fashion statement, it projects the kind of athleticism and charm that I wish I could muster. And isn't that what your daily driver should do?