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2009 Infiniti FX50 Sport Test Drive

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On The Cutting Edge of Performance and Luxury

The all-new 2009 Infiniti FX50 stands at the top of the performance luxury sport utility segment. I can say that because after my first drive, I was so impressed with the added power, handling, the luxurious appointments, high-tech gear, and the multitude of safety systems that also includes more sensors than you can shake a stick at. My only disappointment was that there is no power liftgate available. No big deal but it could come in handy when you are carrying cargo to the rear with both arms.

None the less, the new FX50 continues with head-turning styling and sporty proportions that enabled the first generation FX45 to stand out from all other performance luxury crossovers on the market with its long hood, stretched wheelbase, short front and rear overhangs, and a low stance.

The aggressive styling serves notice of its performance capability, yet FX50 also offers room for five and the cargo capacity to hold four full-size golf bags.

New distinctive, chrome side air vents have been added behind the front fenders and are functional, allowing air to flow through the engine compartment and out the side of the vehicle, reducing front end lift by a full 5%, thus improving high-speed stability.

The front fascia retains the FX’s lustrous Infiniti signature double-arch front grille, fog lamps, and Adaptive High Intensity Discharge bi-xenon projector headlamps. The wheelbase has been stretched 1.4in. with the front wheels moved forward and out-providing a more pronounced performance stance.

The aggressive silhouette is once again highlighted by a strong front-to-rear shoulder line, a tight greenhouse with a wraparound chrome strip, kicked-back roofline and integrated rear spoiler. The large LED taillights extend beyond the body, helping create aerodynamic downforce, while big dual exhaust outlets with chrome tips cap the action-ready appearance.

The vehicle’s unique sporty styling works for me with its sexy, curvy lines, lowered stance, and big, 21in. wheels and tires stuffing the flared, rounded fenders. Black molding wraps around each wheelwell to further the aggressive look.

The only straight line is at the bottom of the doors that now feature a tasteful chrome strip. Deep side extensions below give it a lower the center of gravity, enhancing stability even more.

Under the FX’s polished, assertive styling is an equally advanced body structure. It uses the rigid platform architecture from the performance-oriented Infiniti G sedan, G coupe and M sedans. The FM (front-midship) flatform offers a performance foundation and balanced front-to-rear weight distribution for exceptional handling.

Efforts were taken to reduce weight and enhance body strength, including the use of new aluminum outer door panels. The overall FX body structure weighs nearly 200lbs. less than the previous FX, but the overall vehicle weight is increased due to additional equipment.

The new FX comes standard with the industry’s first use of Infiniti’s Advanced Scratch Shield paint which is a special ‘self-healing’ clearcoat paint that repairs fine scratches, such as fingernail scratches under door handles. Over a period of several days, using sunlight to heat the clearcoat, causes the small scratches to fill in.

Open the wide-opening doors, easily step over the stainless steel Infiniti kick plate, and you’ll discover a driver-oriented cockpit design that is sporty, comfortable, ergonomic, and luxurious with several breakthrough innovations.

The command center-style cockpit is designed to enhance your driving experience. The optional quilted leather-appointed 10-way power-adjustable sports driver’s seat includes variable air-inflating side bolster and lumbar support, and available thigh extensions. The front passenger seat offers 8-way power adjustments, and both seats are available with a new, quieter, more efficient heating and cooling functions for maximum comfort in any season.

The attention to detail and materials such as the real, hand-cut and rubbed wood, premium leather, aluminum, chrome, and quality soft-to-the-touch materials are designed beautifully around the Infiniti signature double-wave instrument panel, door trim, and easy to see white/violet Fin Vision electroluminescent gauges.

Optional is a new Automatic Driving Position system, which moves the seat, steering wheel and outside mirrors adaptively into the correct position-allowing you to change seat position while driving and keep the same mirror viewpoint and relationship between the steering column and your shoulder position.

The incredible FX50 interior comes standard with an array of comfort and convenience equipment, including a sporty, tilt/telescoping 3-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel for the perfect reach and angle, leather-wrapped shift knob, front door pockets, front seatback pockets, dual front and rear cupholders, locking glove box, center console with soft leather armrest, four assist grips, overhead sunglass holder, four 12-volt power plugs, power windows with front/rear one-touch up/down on FX50, dual map lamps, thick-cut pile carpeting with signature Infiniti front/rear/cargo floor mats, Infiniti Intelligent Key with Push Button Start/Stop ignition, power door locks, sporty aluminum pedals, auto-diming rearview mirror, power-remote/heated side mirrors, cruise-control with steering wheel controls, front/rear intermittent wipers/washers and a special Welcome Lighting system with 12-point sequential lighting that starts by turning on the puddle lights under the side mirrors as you approach the vehicle, and continues to light key areas as you and your passengers settle into the interior. All buttons, dials and switches are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safer nighttime driving.

Another new option is an Advanced Climate Control System with Plasmacluster ionizer that removes or neutralizes interior airborne contaminants. The system includes a ‘clean mode’ which emits a low concentration of negative and positive ions that attach to airborne particles (mold, fungi, spores, etc.); causing an attraction to interior surfaces so they are no longer floating around, while rendering them harmless.

An ‘ion mode’ creates a high concentration of negative ions to impart a freshness and crispness to the air, similar to what people say they experience after a thunderstorm or near a waterfall.

In addition, the FX50 utilizes a new filter using fibers impregnated with natural grape seed polyphenol, which has the ability to neutralize allergens that conventional filters cannot remove due to their incredibly small size (0.3 to 0.5 microns).

The new FX comes equipped with state-of-the-art audio-an advanced Bose audio system, acoustically engineered by Bose to optimize sound within the FX’s interior. The 11-speaker system features an AM-FM-6CD player, an advanced Burr-Brown digital-to-analog converter (DAC) system, XM satellite radio, diversity antenna and steering wheel-mounted remote buttons.

The optional Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation System features XM NavTraffic with real time traffic information and a 9.3GB Music Box Hard Drive for digital music storage and playback. The Interface System works with an iPod, the compact flash card slot, and Voice Recognition system for climate control, navigation, audio system and phone functions.

Other high-tech features inside include RearView Monitor and an optional Infiniti DVD Mobile Entertainment System with a 9in. flip-down console-mounted rear monitor, two wireless headphones and remote controller. Both the front and rear screens can display DVD content (front only when parked), a good idea.

I was blown away by the new interior design, sportiness, luxury, convenience and high-tech creature comfort and fun-to-use features. The FX50’s fully loaded interior really gives me the feeling of being more connected to the vehicle. Once acquainted with all of the controls and features, it just further moves the FX50 on up the ladder to the top of the luxury class sport utilities.

Firmly placing the all-new 2009 FX50 atop the segment is the exhilarating power and responsive, high-performance handling that I experienced once I put my foot down hard on the throttle.

The FX50 features a new 5.0 liter DOHC 32-valve, all-aluminum V8 engine rated at 390hp and 369lb.ft. of torque. The engine also features a high rev limit, a powerful, throaty engine sound from the specially tuned dual exhaust system, and improved fuel economy verses the previous 4.5 liter V8 engine. One of the keys to the new V8’s impressive performance is the adoption of Infiniti’s patented Variable Valve Event & Lift (VVEL) valve control technology, which was first introduced on the high-performance 2008 Infiniti G37 coupe.

The VVEL system continuously adjusts valve event and lift amounts, enabling higher fuel efficiency with higher torque and improved emissions over conventional VV designs. The VVEL intake camshafts, which feature continuously variable lift control teamed with a continuously variable valve timing control system (CVTCS), allow for a 6,800rpm redline and a high compression ratio of 10.9:1.

For those economical-minded consumers, the FX35 comes with a 3.5 liter DOHC 24-valve V6 engine that is rated at 303hp at 6,800rpm and 262lb.ft. of torque.

Only one transmission is offered on the new FX-an all-new 7-speed automatic transmission, the first ever offered on an Infiniti vehicle. This new transmission offers both a wide ratio of coverage and a wide lock-up area, as well as a manual shift mode, downshift rev matching and adaptive shift control (ASC).

The standard ASC system adapts the transmission’s shift time, depending on your driving style, ensuring more responsive performance. ASC can switch between several different programs –adjusting gear hold and downshifting, helping the FX feel more like a manual shift transmission when you want. The standard solid magnesium paddle shifters on the FX50 enable you to shift the transmission without releasing you hands from the wheel which helps you maintain stability when accelerating or decelerating or when cornering at high speeds.

FX50 AWD and FX35 AWD models are equipped with Infiniti’s advanced ATTESAE-TS (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Electronic Torque Split) all-wheel drive system, which uses an advanced torque split control strategy that automatically transfers optimum torque to the wheels according to road and driving conditions. The system provides outstanding torque to the wheels according to road and driving conditions. The system provides outstanding handling due to optimum torque distribution from the front to rear (50:50 up to 0:100). ATTESA E-TS also provides high starting traction performance and smooth, stable acceleration, especially in snow-covered or off-road situations with a 50:50 torque split at standing start.

Allowing you to maintain a rock solid ride at speed straight-ahead, when challenging curving back roads, and getting around slow moving city traffic is the fully independent suspension with a new double-wishbone design up front. This new front setup offers better ride and improved handling reflexes.

The rear setup utilizes the multi-link design from the last FX45, but is refined to weigh less and provide more wheel travel-again for improved ride and handling. Large diameter stabilizer bars front and rear keep body lean to a bare minimum improving handling performance. The suspension system also incorporates special ‘dual flow path’ shock absorber technology with rebound springs for a responsive, yet comfortable ride. and firm, tight reactions to your inputs.

A new optional Continuous Damping Control (CDC) suspension system offers special electronically controlled shock absorbers. Using input from a variety of sensors, the system continuously alters the damping of the shocks to provide optimal ride and handling response. A selectable switch on the center console has two settings, ‘Auto’ and ‘Sport’, allowing you to control the shock valving levels depending on how you want the vehicle to react to your inputs at the time.

The FX50 is available with an advanced Rear-Active Steer system-the first of its kind for a SUV, which uses precise, electronic motor-driven control to turn the rear wheels up to one-degree, helping generate a nimble steering response at low speeds, and enhance stability at high speeds, especially on curving roads. The result is a vehicle that is able to change direction with improved quickness, precision and stability.

The FX50 comes standard with huge, 21X9.5in., lightweight, six-spoke aluminum alloy wheels developed by Enkei, and were created using a special type of ultra-lightweight casting and are as light as many smaller 18X8in. alloy wheels. These deluxe wheels are wrapped with 265/45R21in. all-season tires or W-rated high-performance summer tires.

These giant tires improve traction and stability, while improving the already compliant ride over poorly paved roads.

When you want to let your search for thrills take over you can always shut down the Infiniti advanced Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) system with Traction Control by pushing on the VDC button on the lower dashboard to your left, canceling out the computer controlled vehicle intervention that uses the throttle and brakes to prevent oversteer and understeer in certain situations. The ride is like they say,’ riding on rails’.
Powerful and secure braking performance is provided by the FX50’s 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes with Brake Assist, ABS, and Electronic Brake Force Distribution enhancements. The FX50 system includes 4-piston front/2-piston rear (opposed piston) calipers clamping down on large 14in. rotors. The brakes are very strong and when I pushed on the pedal the feel was very linear and precise.

Infiniti engineers and designers pretty much covered everything about what an up-to-date, luxury and performance-driven sport utility should include, and I now want to mention the breakthrough, advanced automotive safety warning technologies and systems.

The intelligent brake assist system (IBA) uses the laser rangefinder from the Intelligent Cruise Control’s (ICC) system and analyzes closing speeds to an obstacle ahead to prevent or reduce damage caused by a rear-end collision.

Also available is a Distance Control Assist (DCA) system. Designed for low-speed, heavy traffic situations. DCA uses the Intelligent Cruise Control sensors to measure distance to the car a head. The DCA allows one-foot driving in heavy traffic-you depress the throttle to move forward, but when the car ahead slows, DCA ‘pushed back’ on the throttle, and automatically applies the brakes, even to a stop. You then depress the throttle to get moving again.

The available Intelligent Cruise Control (full speed range) system combines the brakes, throttle sensor and laser rangefinder with the cruise control system to automatically maintain a set distance between you and the vehicle in front.

Also available is the advanced Infiniti Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) system, which takes Infiniti’s existing LDP one step further. LDP utilizes the FX’s Vehicle Dynamic Control System to apply slight brake pressure to the wheels opposite the side of the lane departure direction to help prevent the vehicle from inadvertently traveling out of its intended lane. If no action is taken by the driver, alarm bells will sound.

The breakthrough, optional, ‘Around View Monitor System’ is fantastic, and utilizes four small superwide-angle cameras-mounted on the front, side and rear of the FX-to project an all-around view of potential objects on every side of the vehicle, helping reduce blind spots when parking. The system uses advanced image processing to provide a unique one-of-a-kind ‘birds-eye-view’ of the vehicle, making it easy for you to position the FX for parallel parking by simultaneously confirming the exact placement of the front and rear of the vehicle. I love the system, it even showed the red paint on the curb as I backed as close to its beginning as I wanted to. It really gives you an overhead view.

When you put the transmission into reverse the 8in. screen is split between a TV image showing what is behind the vehicle, and the Around View.

Standard safety equipment includes 3-point front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters, and three, three point seat belts in the standard 40/60 split back seats, dual-stage front supplemental airbags with passenger seat occupant classification system and seat belt sensor, roof-mounted side-impact and rollover curtain airbags for enhanced outboard seat occupant head protection, active head restraints, tire pressure monitoring system and LATCH child seat anchors.

FX also has an optional Pre-Crash seat belts that automatically cinches-up the FX’s seat belts if the system detects emergency braking, skidding movements or an emergency handling situation-based on information from the brake pedal stepping speed and stroke.

I don’t know what I have left out but the all-new 2009 Infiniti FX50 is phenomenal, easily ahead of the rest in the growing luxury sport utility segment with the spirit of a high-performing luxury sport sedan that can’t be beat!

COPYRIGHT:2008:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

Price: MSRP $58.400 Invoice $53,893
Type: Midsize SUV
Where Built: Japan
EPA Class: Sport Utility Vehicle

Dimensions

Exterior
Length: 191.3 in.
Width: 75.9 in.
Height: 66.1 in.
Wheel Base: 113.6 in.
Ground Clearance: 7.36 in.
Curb Weight: 4575 lbs.
Gross Weight: 5766 lbs.
Interior
Front Head Room: 39.3 in.
Front Hip Room: 54.9 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 57.3 in.
Rear Head Room: 38.5 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 57.4 in.
Rear Hip Room: 54.2 in.
Front Leg Room: 44.7 in.
Rear Leg Room: 34.6 in.
Luggage Capacity: 24.8 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 62 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5

Performance Data

Base Number of Cylinders: 8 Base Engine Size: 5 liters
Base Engine Type: V8 Horsepower: 390 hp
Max Horsepower: 6500 rpm Torque: 369 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 4400 rpm Maximum Payload: 1182 lbs.
Maximum Towing Capacity: 3500 lbs. Drive Type: AWD
Turning Circle: 36.7 ft.
0-60mph: 5.3 seconds (some sources have reported 5.0 seconds for 0-60mph)

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 23.8 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway)
Automatic: : 14 mpg / 20 mpg
Range in Miles: (City/Highway)
Automatic: 333.2 mi. / 476 mi.

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