Avant-garde looks in a conservative market
The list of sport utility acronyms grows each year. At first, there were SUVs, then CUVs (cross over utility vehicles), XUVs (Xtreme utility vehicle) and now, the S2UV. It seems as if each manufacturer is looking to differentiate their family mobile from others; and, in 2004, Infiniti has accomplished just that with their FX45 the one and only S2UV.
Defined as twice the sport with all the utility, or rather a sportility (our own new word), the FX45 was designed as a mixed breed of sorts: Half athlete, half multi-tasker. And, indeed with a 0-to-60 mph rating of around 6 seconds and a total cargo volume of 64.5 cubic feet, this 4,300-pound vehicle lives up to the hype.
It truly handles well for a utility vehicle; its low to the ground, has 315 horsepower and lies flat when cornering. Wed even go as far as to classify it in the fun to drive category. Furthermore, wed throw our wholehearted support behind Infinitis foray into the sportility market except for the fact that its profile is so incredibly squatty. Call me unhip, but I think the FX45 looks like a vertically challenged sumo wrestler. Its a little too lumpy for my taste. Of course, to each his own and for those readers who like their vehicles heavy on the sheet metal then this may be the car for them.
As previously mentioned, the Infiniti FX45 is one car/wagon/utility vehicle that refuses to blend into the litany of plain Jane, family mobiles. Au contraire, it sticks out like a pair of chukka boots among Nikes.
Inside, Infiniti continues their quest for bold, original design. Aluminum trim offsets the shifter plate and the busy dash, which is a menagerie of sound-system and climate controls clustered around a 6.3-inch information display monitor. Its here where you use a mouse-like knob to increase/decrease the temperature and fan speed or to scan your favorite preset radio stations. Fortunately, there are also corresponding buttons on the steering wheel, which require less attention and help keep your eyes focused on the road.
Sports car mentality
Perhaps the main purpose of checking out the FX45 lies in its hearty appetite for devouring pavement. Decked out with massive 20-inch wheels, racecar-sized brakes, a taut suspension and an available Bose 300-watt 11-speaker stereo system, youre only one accelerator stomp away from experiencing as close to driving nirvana as you can with a backseat filled with kiddies and soccer gear.
The steering is responsive and provides a good connection to the road not in a light and loose manner, as weve experienced in some higher end SUVS, but with a stiffer, more restrained feeling. Additionally, the ride feel is stable. During our test drive, we could take corners at freeway speeds without experiencing the urge to press the brake as we would in a more top-heavy vehicle.
The FX45 is available with a premium package that further adds to the sportiness factor with a sunroof and audio upgrade. Theres also a technology package, which includes intelligent cruise control, DVD player, tire-pressure monitor and a navigation system whose screen doubles as a display for a rear-camera for backing up.
Because of the FX45s price and engine output, it has positioned itself as an entry-level option in a category of elite, high priced SUVs who are also on a quest to differentiate themselves from the more common utility vehicles: BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne and Mercedes M-Class.
Compared to all three, the FX45 starts the bidding at the lowest price although not by much. With a base MSRP of $44,675, the FX45 is only $1300 less than the Mercedes M-Class and $7700 less than the BMW X5. The Porsche Cayennes base MSRP is noticeably higher at $55,900.
When it comes to engine output, the FX45 ties with the BMW for 315 hp and beats the Mercedes 288 hp rating, but gets smoked by Porsches 340-hp. All come with a V8 engine and an automatic transmission with the FX45 and Mercedes offering 5 transmission speeds and the other two offering six.
Overall, in price alone, the FX45 comes out ahead. In engine speed, its right there in the middle of the pack. However, in the looks department, its in a class all by itself. All three competitors BMW, Porsche, Mercedes would blend easily into the country club valet line, snuggling beside the sedans without causing so much as an eyebrow to be raised. On the other hand, zip the FX45 into the lot and youre sure to be the talk around the barof course, theyre probably just envious of its bold, distinctive styling and your refusal to conform to the monotony of bland, boxy-looking [yawn] family mobiles.
The Infiniti FX45 is for any parent who cringes at the thought of owning a minivan or an oversized SUV, but who at the same time, needs their cargo-toting capabilities. The FX gives you plenty of room in such an individualistic way that theres no way its ever going to let itself be labeled a soccer mom car.
Copyright 2017, Michele Brooke
Copyright 2017, SmartTrac Computer Systems, Inc.
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