In its second year after a major redesign, the FX35 offers you lots and lots of, well, everything. This tall wagon/crossover piles on the luxury, safety, and high tech features, while treating you to true comfort and upscale aesthetics.
The restyling of the 2009 FX series last year retained the compact greenhouse but added dramatic new lower body styling. The face features a mouth that, with its twisted, black chrome bars, looks about ready to consume the car in front of it while its eyes stare intensely ahead at its prey.
A silvery functional scoop behind the front wheels adds engine cooling. The taillamps, etched into the body, extend out from it too, helping reduce the coefficient of drag. This is no wallflower, and looks like no other crossover on the road.
Inside are swirls of leather and real maple trim on the dash, doors and console. My tester’s optional quilted leather seats were especially inviting. I enjoyed the hidden USB port for my iPod, which let me cruise through my thousands of stored songs as easily as selecting a radio station.
And the sound from the 11-speaker premium Bose system (with not one but two subwoofers) was crystalline and sublime. Sometimes it was hard to leave the car when I got home. The dash-mounted seven-inch display was especially easy to use and let me view my musical information in the top half and my fuel economy on the bottom—or a map anytime—in rich colors.
The FX comes in three forms: The FX50 AWD (all-wheel drive) with its 390-horsepower 5.0-liter V8, the FX35 AWD and the FX35 RWD (rear-wheel drive). The FX35s have a 303-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 under their curvaceous hoods. My Midnight Mocha test car was a FX35 RWD, but, with nearly $11,000 worth of options, it was loaded.
The FX35 gets EPA fuel economy ratings of 16 City, 23 Highway. All-wheel-drive models get 16/21. I averaged 18.1 mpg. The Green Vehicle Guide numbers are 6 for Air Pollution and 4 for Greenhouse Gas.
The FX appears to be aimed at successful folks who are old enough to be making good money but young enough to appreciate high technology. The Technology Package on my car added numerous features that made beeping sounds—warning me of lane departures (even ones where I didn’t actually depart) and impending crashes (closing in on the car in front in a way that the system thought was too quickly).
There’s also Intelligent Cruise Control, which helps you keep a safe distance from the car in front of you automatically, and Distance Control Assist, which does it when you’re not in cruise control mode. If your foot’s not on the gas, it will actually brake for you to keep you safe.
Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning adds more electronic nannies. While welcome from a safety standpoint, I begin to wonder if this car is designed with the assumption that I will be (illegally) using my cell phone, doing my work, and perhaps finishing my grooming on my commute. It’s halfway to autopilot.
That said, driving the car is a real pleasure. The 303-horsepower engine sings as it pulls the two-ton wagon along the road. Steering input through the leather-wrapped wheel is sufficient to make you feel like you’re controlling the car. I’d rather participate in driving than worry about the activities mentioned in the previous paragraph. I only wish I spent more time with the FX on country roads than on major freeways.
Besides the Technology Package, my tester featured the Deluxe Touring Package, which contributed 20-inch alloy wheels (the standards are 18’s), those lovely maple trim accents, aluminum pedals and a cargo cover.
The Navigation Package provided a full-featured system that was not only intuitive to use, but gave clear graphics and a natural-voiced narrator. You could hear the switch from the standard messages to the specific street names, however, and not every location was perfectly pronounced. Maybe someday.
One really cool feature of the Navigation Package is the Around View Monitor (AVM). It uses four small superwide-angle cameras mounted on the front, side and rear of the car to provide a virtual 360° view of objects around the car. Advanced image processing combines the images from the cameras to provide a birds-eye view, helpful when you’re maneuvering the FX in tight spaces.
The FX starts at $43,515 for the model like mine—minus the packages. My test car came to $54,076. The FX50, which includes the three packages’ contents as standard equipment, starts at $59,805. All prices include shipping.
There’s little you can’t have and enjoy with this car. Load it with features (and your stuff) and go have fun.