- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2003

I wasn't prepared to be surprised as much as I was when I first drove the all-new Infiniti FX. I knew it would be luxurious. I knew it would perform like other Infiniti vehicles.

But, I did not prepare myself for such a dramatic impression I got on the highway and I sure wasn't ready for the wonderful aptitude this vehicle had on twisting country roads.

The reason for much of my astonishment came from the preliminary information I had received about this Infiniti. It was, after all, another crossover vehicle, half sport utility, half station wagon. Going on past ideas of what we could expect from these types of vehicles, we tend to conjure up all sorts of odd beliefs. Forget all that you have learned about crossovers, the FX35 and FX45 will change the way you look at these vehicles.

Again, the preliminary information got me differentiating unfairly between the two models. I thought since the FX45 was equipped with a 315-horsepower V-8, it would be the favorite. Not so, after spending equal time in both I was much more impressed with how the V-6 powered FX35 performed. Perhaps this was because I was not expecting so much from the more basic of the two models. But then I would be hard-pressed to say that it is anything close to basic.

The FX is, at this time, the most dramatically designed crossover we have on the market. Its low profile, swooping front end and nontraditional rear end makes it stand out in a crowd. This is a vehicle you most likely drooled over at the auto show just a few short years ago.

The FX 35 is powered by the same 3.5-liter V-6 that makes many over Infiniti models perform so well. With 280 horsepower and 270 foot-pounds of torque, the FX35 functions so well it reduced the effect the FX45 had on me and most of the media folks on the drive that day. The FX35 is also the only model that is available with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

The FX45 is really a move upward. The 4.5-liter V-8 makes 315 horsepower and 329 foot-pounds of torque. It also includes mega-large 20-inch alloy wheels with wide tires. Combining these features with a sports carlike suspension system gives the FX45 incredible handling abilities. One of Infiniti's goals with the FX45 was to meld sports car performance and handling into a vehicle that would be as functional as a SUV. They have achieved those goals in aces.

Inside, the FX offers the typical Infiniti interior, well planned and although appearing a little cluttered at first, it is pretty easy to operate all of the controls. Even the navigation system is easy to toggle through the commands.

Although the FX has a much lower stance then most of the competition, it offers excellent visibility, partly because of the power front driver's seat. The driver's eight-way adjustable bucket seat raises or lowers a full three inches.

The lightweight composite steel framed rear tailgate is easy to open and close. It also has a power close feature so you do not have to slam the thing to get a tight seal.

Ground breaking styling, luxurious interior and sports carlike performance makes the new FX one of the first un-SUV sport utilities.

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