2011 Infiniti FX50S AWD review: Foul weather feline

2011 Infiniti FX50 S AWD

2011 Infiniti FX50 S AWD

If there’s one disadvantage to the typical high performance car, it’s that foul weather puts it at, well, a disadvantage. Not so the Infiniti FX50 AWD.

Of course, the Infiniti FX50 isn’t the typical high performance car. In fact, it isn’t the typical high performance anything. Although Infiniti “refreshed” the FX50 for, with a new grille and fascia arrives for 2012, the mechanicals remain the same and Infiniti left the interior as was. Neither is a bad thing.

Our test vehicle was in fact the2011 Infiniti FX50 S. The “S” suffix indicates it was equipped with the Sport Package, offered on the FX50 only, and not on the Infiniti FX35. The later model is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6, but how are you going to keep them down on the farm when they’ve driven the Infiniti FX50 5.0-liter V-8?

The V-8 in the FX50 is rated at 390 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Infiniti’s big crossover isn’t light, tipping the No Springs Honest Weight Toledo at a hefty 4,546 lbs. But the FX50 launches hard and strong, particularly with its standard all-wheel drive, in any weather more like a big cat than a cheetah. In fact, in our week with the FX50, we came to think of it in feline terms, though with broad shouldered and huge paws, like a Bengal tiger that’s bigger and more powerful the closer one dares to stand.

Part of that impression of size comes from the FX50’s height. It has a high “H-point”—what automotive engineers call the height of one’s hips from the pavement—which provides the “command seating”—what automotive marketers call being able to look over and down on most other vehicles. The better to impose on you, my dear.

The step up into the cabin is rewarded with typical Infiniti styling and style. The front seats are big and plush, though well-bolstered for vigorous driving, and while back seat has seatbelts for three, it’s really shaped for two.

2011 Infiniti FX50 S AWD interior

The interior of the 2011 Infiniti FX50 S AWD, always classy, always chic.

The FX50’s interior design is sculpted in Infiniti’s classic organic contours, a double curve arcing away from the driver and front passenger and rearwards towards the wide center console. The driver’s side is filled with a large instrument pod with big dials for the tachometer and speedometer, and the center stack is topped by one of the largest touch-screens displays in the business, a full-color 8-inch screen large enough for two camera views at once.

Our favorite camera configuration was the common rear view (with superimposed lines showing the direction the vehicle will go when the wheel is turned) and  an overhead view, composed from four down-looking cameras around the vehicle and looking like it was taken by a single camera high overhead. The overhead view was particularly useful in backing up a long driveway. The high sides of the Infiniti FX50, plus thick D-pillars, impair direct rearward sightlines, so backing by television it is.

The cargo area is small for a vehicle of this size, at 24.8 cubic feet—though that should be enough for four in any reasonable kind of expedition—expanding to 62 cubic feet with the rear seat folded. Doing the latter, however, doesn’t make a flat load floor. On the other hand, the Infiniti FX50, however, has a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 lbs, enough for weekend toys.

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