I can't think of two more disparate interpretations of the
vehicle and by the same corporate family, no less. On the one hand,
Nissan's brute Xterra; on the other, Infiniti's svelte FX45. It's as if
these two hands were wearing, respectively, brass knuckles and a velvet
glove. Together, they fairly well represent the broad spectrum along
sport/utility newcomers have evolved out of car and truck forebears.
In this instructive Nissan/Infiniti pairing, it soon becomes obvious
each vehicle is very well suited for certain tasks. These tasks,
are mutually exclusive, which is just another way of saying that "well
rounded" is not a particularly apt description of either one.
Infiniti calls its pair of FX sport/utility vehicles "crossover"
That's meant, I suppose, to refer to some sort of automotive
using both car and truck apparel. For me, however, the swoopy FX
a crossover into an entirely new motoring dimension.
My road test was in the larger, V8-powered FX45, which distributes 315
and 329 foot-pounds of torque through a full-time all-wheel-drive
powertrain. This twin-cam V8 scoots. The FX45 accelerates quickly yet
through the five-speed automatic transmission, and the slightly
throatiness of the exhaust note is highly delectable.
The FX45's reflexes are finely tuned for sporty handling, even a bit
strung perhaps. Big, low-profile tires paw the road, and ride feel is
verging on stiff. Dashing about in the FX45, however, is what triggers
bout of schizophrenia. There are multiple personalities competing for
driver's attention, and they don't always seem to get along.
For one thing, the FX45 is a style maven. Inside and out, its looks are
unparalleled. Simultaneously squat and sleek, the body seems to sit
its haunches, waiting to pounce. Huge 20-inch wheels dominate the
like so many giant Rolex watches. Nobody doesn't look at the FX45.
Inside, buttery soft, caramel-colored leather enfolds driver and
The jelly-beany roundness of the exterior transforms the interior into
sort of luxury bathysphere; and indeed you feel as if you're 20,000
under the sea in this thing. Visibility, especially to the rear,
from stylishness; but the rear-view back-up camera is a welcome,
Otherworldly, too, are the FX45's qualifications. What, in other words,
the FX45 actually do? There's room for five adults; there's sporty
there's a big V8 and runway-model good looks. But the two-ton FX45 is
heavy and round to be a sports car; people-cargo arrangements are only
par with the Subaru Impreza; payload is a scant 1,100 pounds (that
passengers); and towing is limited to 3,500 pounds. (Even the V6 Xterra
earns a 5,000-pound tow rating.)
So I'm tempted to consider the FX45 as the George Hamilton of
Both are handsome and fun to be with; but it's never quite clear why,
exactly, they're hanging around.
4-door, 5-pass.; 4.5-liter DOHC V8 w/ vvt; AWD, 5-sp. auto; 315 hp/329
ft.-lbs.; 15 mpg/city, 19 mpg/hwy w/ regular; cargo: 27.4-64.5 cu. ft.;
3,500 lbs.; payload: 1,092 lbs.; std. equipment: 4-wheel ind.
ABS disc brakes, dual-zone climate control, AM/FM/6-CD/cassette, 20-in.
wheels, front/front-side/front-head airbags; base price: $45,450;