2006 Infiniti FX45

Nov. 9, 2006
Eight-cylinder sport-utes might not be the most popular vehicles these days, but they may still be among the most fun to drive.

— Lee Teschler

That was one of our impressions of the Infiniti FX45, a crossover ute that shares the same platform as the Nissan 350Z sports car and Infiniti G35 sedan. Powered by a 4.5-liter V8, the sharp-looking SUV gets a 14-mpg city/18-mpg highway mileage rating. But that's the price you pay for 320 hp and 335 lb-ft of torque at 4k rpm.

If its mileage ratings are not for you, consider the car's cousin, the FX35, which sports a V6 (the same as in the Infiniti G35). But its mileage is only marginally better.

There is a lot to like in the luxurious FX45, however. The ride befits the ute's image of an upscale chariot. A strut suspension handles the front and the rear is an independent A-arm affair with a traction bar. Its relatively long 112.2-in. wheelbase contributes to a smooth ride over bumpy roads. Steering is responsive thanks to a quick steering gear ratio. The whole suspension package gives the ute a confident, smooth and unruffled ride.

A five-speed automatic tranny coupled with the all-wheel-drive system derived from the Infiniti QX45 SUV makes for a nice combination. You gather speed nicely as you accelerate onto freeways though the ute weighs in at 4,300 lb. The zero-to-60 mph time is 6.3 sec. Highway riding is quiet, though the exhaust system has been tuned to give a sporty report.

The interior features chrome, inlaid rosewood trim, comfortable leather seating, and easy-to-read gauges. One interesting standard feature is an intelligent key, which isn't really a key at all. Stick the fob in your pocket and turn the start switch. The FX45 senses its presence and comes to life. Our review vehicle carried a technology we came to appreciate. It included a rearview TV camera that beams you an image of what's directly behind the car as you back up and radar cruise control that keeps the FX a predetermined distance from the vehicle ahead.

We liked the legroom in the front and could fit three people in the back seat. But potential buyers should note there is no third-row seating, and cargo space in back is nothing special, though flipping down the back seats expands it to 64.5 cu ft.

Outside, the car is a head-turner. Ours had a liquid-copper paint job that makes it stand out in a crowd. Big 20-in. aluminum-alloy wheels come standard. Most people like the contemporary styling, which has been likened by some writers to that of a concept vehicle.

The upscale FX45 starts at $49,750, which includes a lot of features that are options on the FX35. Our vehicle's $4,200 technology package included a nav system, intelligent cruise control, lane-departure warnings, and other safety features. It's a nice ride for those who want to travel in style.

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