Infiniti has wisely left well enough alone with its FX50 for 2012.
Other than revising the front fascia and grille, and rejiggering a few standard features on various models, the big, bold SUV forges ahead, undaunted.
The focus for the FX remains firmly on the “sport” part of the sport-utility vehicle designation, accented by a heapin’ helping of luxury. A rung or two down the priority ladder comes utility, sacrificed somewhat by the wagon’s aggressive exterior styling.
Its low, sweeping roofline creates a snug cabin, most noticeable in the rear seat and cargo compartment.
But what a cabin it is. It’s crammed full of the requisite luxury and convenience features buyers at this rarefied price level expect. Handsomely quilted leather, lovely maple inserts and metal accents adorn a dash and doors meticulously crafted out of high-end, soft-touch materials.
Our tester’s Sport Package included sport-style front buckets featuring adjustable under-thigh support and side bolsters for a perfect fit for the driver. Of course those seats can be heated or cooled at the turn of dial.
That package also supplies performance enhancements including Continuous Damping Control with Auto and Sport modes. Switch on Sport and the suspension tightens up for even flatter cornering, abetted by Active Rear Steering. And magnesium paddle shifters give the driver instant control over the seven-speed automatic transmission with rev-matching downshifts.
Big, powerful brakes — four-piston calipers in front — haul down the hefty wagon with aplomb. The speed-sensitive steering is direct and perfectly weighted, adding to the driver’s sense of confidence when the tarmac turns twisty.
As a trade-off for the SUV’s handling prowess, the oversized, 21-inch all-season tires tend to deliver a somewhat stiff and jiggly highway ride on less-than-smooth pavement surfaces, accompanied by a bit more road noise and impact harshness than you might expect.
The FX50’s potent V-8 propels the wagon with exhilarating acceleration, but you’ll pay the piper at the gas pump, especially since premium grade is the drink of choice. A long interstate drive from Colorado, driving at (mostly) posted speeds, saw an average of 17.8 mpg, a bit under the EPA’s 20-mpg highway rating.
For drivers who put a premium on sporty performance, the FX50’s over-the-road abilities will far outweigh its limited cargo capacity or its less-than-generous rear-seat room. And for those whose taste runs to aggressive styling, there’s little competition.
Throw in its lap-of-luxury cabin, and the FX is a rock-solid contender.