Test Drive: 2003 Infiniti FX45 – Autos.ca

28 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Test Drive: 2003 Infiniti FX45 – Autos.ca
Infiniti FX35

August 15, 2003

Story and photos by Greg Wilson

Bold looks, bold performance

The Infiniti FX45 is one of a growing number of high-performance luxury #8216;crossover#8217; SUVs which now include the BMW X5 4.4i and 4.6is, Mercedes-Benz ML500, Porsche Cayenne S, VW Touareg V8, and Volvo XC90 T6.

To the usual SUV attributes of four-wheel-drive, high ground clearance, a five-passenger interior and a flexible cargo area, high-performance crossovers add more horsepower, improved handling, more aggressive styling, and additional luxury features. Prices for V8-powered examples range in price between $60,000 and $100,000.

The new 2003 Infiniti FX45 is advertised as an #8220;SUV for people who really want a sports car#8221;. In fact, that#8217;s the general idea behind all these hot-rod SUVs: they attempt to combine the performance of a low slung two-seater with the practicality of wagon-like utility vehicle.

Of course, this is impossible.

SUV characteristics, such as a higher ground clearance and taller body height, mean a higher centre of gravity, and thus more body lean and worse handling. A heavier curb weight takes its toll in accelerating, braking and fuel consumption. Conversely, sports car attributes like wide tires and sporty styling detract from the purely functional capabilities of a four-wheel-drive utility vehicle.

So what we have here is a compromise #8211; but a surprisingly good compromise.

Nuts and bolts

Click image to enlarge

Based on the same platform as the Infiniti G35 sedan and coupe but with additional structural reinforcements for off-road use, the new FX is available in two models, the FX35 ($52,500) with a 280 horsepower 3.5 litre V6, and the FX45 ($59,900) with a 315 horsepower 4.5 litre V8 #8211; the same engine used in the Q45 sedan but with 25 less horsepower. A 5-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability is standard.

The FX45 has a fairly long wheelbase (2850 mm/112.2 in.) and a very wide track which enhances its overall longitudinal and lateral stability. As well, the front and rear overhangs are quite short. Its front/rear weight balance of 54/46 is close to the ideal balance of 50/50.

Infiniti FX35

A sophisticated all-wheel-drive system car vary the engine#8217;s power from 0:100 front/rear to 50:50 front/rear. As well, the driver can lock the AWD system in 50:50 for maximum traction. Traction control and Vehicle Dynamic Control, which adjusts brake pressure and throttle input to correct oversteer or understeer, is standard on the FX45.

A four wheel independent suspension (front struts/rear multi-link) and large diameter stabilizer bars are standard. Ventilated disc brakes with emergency Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution are also standard. Huge 265/50R-20 inch all-season tires are also standard on V8-powered FX45s.

The FX45#8242;s base price is $59,900, and my test vehicle had the optional $7,500 High Tech Package which includes a navigation system, DVD rear entertainment system, intelligent cruise control, keyless start, rearview monitor, tire pressure monitoring system. With Freight and PDI, my test vehicle came to $68,669.


The FX45 is certainly one of the most distinctive SUVs out there. Its standard 20 inch tires and wheels really dominate the side view of the FX45, particularly as the FX45 has such short front and rear overhangs. As well, the FX45 has narrow slit-like front and rear light clusters, an aggressive front grille design, and unusually rounded corner.

It#8217;s a bold design that really stands out #8211; that is, if you don#8217;t mind standing out everywhere you go..

One thing about its design causes problems for the rear passengers. The rear door openings are not as large as the front doors because of the intrusion of the large rear wheelwell into the passenger compartment. This makes it more inconvenient to get into the rear seat, although not difficult.

Interior impressions

The interior, though less bold than the exterior, is quite attractive and very well finished. My test vehicle had unique copper-coloured leather upholstery (which Infiniti calls #8220;brick#8221;)which matches its unique exterior colour.

Infiniti FX35
Infiniti FX35

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