Infiniti FX performs well, is priced competitively

2012 Infinity FX 2012 Infinity FX Photo Credit: Handout

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As a crossover sport utility vehicle, the Infiniti FX combines the versatility of an SUV and the performance of a sports car. In fact, the FX shares its chassis with the Nissan 370Z.

Introduced in 2003, the FX replaced the smaller QX4 as Infiniti's midsize SUV and presented a stiff challenge to the Porsche Cayenne. In the 2012 model, Infiniti revised the front grille and front fascia design, enhanced the dash, made heated front seats standard on all models and added the Limited Edition FX35 all-wheel-drive model.

The FX is sold with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive and a 5-liter, 390-horsepower V8 or a 3.5-liter, 303-horsepower V6. Both engines are paired with a standard seven-speed automatic transmission featuring Adaptive Shift Control.

Prices start at $43,700 for the rear-drive FX35, rising to $45,150 with AWD and $59,800 with the V8.

The Limited Edition FX35, like the review model, carries a base price of $52,000. This is the ultimate loaded vehicle, with 21-inch, 10-spoke aluminum-alloy graphite finish wheels, dark-tinted headlights with Adaptive Front lighting System (and auto-leveling), and dark-tinted side air vents and lower door trim.

2012 Infinity FX Photo Credit: Handout

Other Limited Edition features include aluminum roof rails and roof rail crossbars with graphite finish, aluminum pedals, Intelligent All-Wheel Drive, Rear Active Steer and the Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation System, Around View Monitor -- a system of cameras and software that gives the driver a 360-degree view of his or her surroundings from various perspectives.

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Alongside the Premium, Infiniti offers the FX with the option packages identified as Deluxe, Technology and Sport.

As one of the most advanced cars on the road, the FX uses a truly impressive combination of technologies that include Intelligent Brake Assist, Distance Control Assist, Intelligent Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention to guard against driver error. The systems are voluntary; you can turn the system off. You can also choose whether to use Infiniti's version of adaptive cruise control, which automatically slows, stops and accelerates based on an adjustable distance from the cars ahead of you.

FX's styling is immediately identifiable by its long hood, stretched wheelbase, short front and rear overhangs. Distinctive side air vents behind the front wheels allow air to flow through the engine compartment and out the side of the vehicle, reducing front-end lift.

The external jewelry includes fog lamps and High Intensity Discharge bi-functional xenon headlights. Large LED taillights extend beyond the body, helping create aerodynamic downforce, while large dual exhaust outlets with chrome finishers cap the action-ready appearance.

The FX accommodates five adults and four full-size golf bags. The interior includes leather upholstery and a 10-way adjustable driver's seat. The front passenger gets eight-way power adjusters.

The double-wave instrument panel features Fine Vision electroluminescent gauges. For 2012, meter illumination adds a more pronounced white appearance. Other standard features include leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob to dual front and rear cup holders, four 12-volt power outlets, power windows with front one-touch auto-up/down function, power door locks and aluminum pedal accents.

The FX comes equipped with an 11-speaker Bose Premium Audio system. Also standard are XM Satellite Radio, diversity antenna and steering wheel-mounted remote audio controls.

Safety features include front, side-impact and head-curtain air bags.

As a performance car, the FX competes in an elite class with a highly competitive price tag. But be prepared to pay at the pump, because fuel economy is not its strong point.

WHAT'S NEW: Limited Package with full load of standard equipment.

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PLUSES: Styling, performance, versatility, safety.

MINUSES: Fuel economy, rear window vision.

BOTTOM LINE: Brilliant performance and technology.

2012 INFINITI FX35 AWD

TYPE: All-wheel-drive, five-passenger, midsize crossover SUV.

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PRICE: $51,550 base, $52,445 as tested.

WHERE BUILT: Tochigi, Japan.

KEY RIVALS: Acura MDX, Lexus RX, Volvo XC70, Porsche Cayenne, Range Rover Evoque.

POWER: 3.5-liter, 303-horsepower V6, seven-speed automatic transmission with adaptive shift control.

FUEL ECONOMY: 16 city, 21 highway, 18 combined mpg; estimated annual fuel cost $3,294.

CHASSIS: Unibody, independent multi-link suspension with stabilizer bars; speed-sensitive power steering; power disc brakes with ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, dynamic and traction control; 21-inch alloy wheels; 265/45R21 all-season tires.

LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 191.3 x 75.9 x 66.1 inches.

WHEELBASE X TRACK: 113.6 x 64.4/64.6 inches.

GROUND CLEARANCE: 7.36 inches.

CURB WEIGHT: 4,284 pounds.

STANDARD: Heated/power-adjustable front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; dual front and rear cup holders; four 12-volt power outlets; power windows/locks/mirrors; leather upholstery; Intelligent Key with push button ignition and sequential illuminated entry; 11-speaker Bose Premium Audio system with USB connection, XM Satellite Radio, diversity antenna, steering wheel-mounted remote audio controls; hard drive navigation system; Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention; Intelligent Cruise Control with Distance Control Assist, Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning; rain-sensing windshield wipers; Adaptive Front lighting System with auto-leveling headlights.

WARRANTY: 4-year/60,000-mile basic, 6-year/70,000-mile power train; 7-year corrosion; 24-hour roadside assistance; courtesy car.

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