Driver's Seat: A drive to Infiniti, but not beyond

The Infiniti FX37 replaces the FX35. It looks luxurious, but inside room is tight and it's hard to see beyond the hood.
The Infiniti FX37 replaces the FX35. It looks luxurious, but inside room is tight and it's hard to see beyond the hood.
Posted: December 28, 2012

2013 Infiniti FX37 AWD Limited Edition: Equine agility and appetite, Chihuahua space.

Price: $53,700 (no options).

Conventional wisdom: Edmunds.com says, "Design, performance, and technology drive the 2013 Infiniti FX to the forefront of luxury SUVs. But for a versatile family and cargo hauler, look elsewhere."

Marketer's pitch: "Personality accelerates emotion."

Reality: The new model (replacing the FX35) is luxurious and fun, but all that room on the outside doesn't translate into space inside.

Third time's the charm? This is the third crossover I've had the opportunity to drive from Infiniti. The FX37 is the model that stands out the most from other crossovers on the highways, with its long curved hood and eye-catching lines.

Tusks: But behind the wheel, I quickly realized what it must be like to be a warthog or an elephant, with tusks growing aside either eye. The curvy hood was all I could see as I drove.

Even worse, the raised edges and lowered hood mean the old "line up the hood ornament with the white line" school of driving is finally laid to rest.

But the lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat found the FX37 a handsome, well-styled vehicle, and I must defer to her in matters of style.

On the road: The FX37 is certainly a mannerly beast, like all the other Infinitis I've tested. Driving is pleasant, especially for something as big as this vehicle.

The 3.7-liter V6 engine is new for 2013; thus, the name has changed from last year's FX35, which had a 3.5-liter V6. The larger engine produces 325 horsepower and thus certainly performs admirably, and makes mild-mannered Mr. Driver's Seat wonder about the need for the 5.0-liter in the FX50.

In the parking lot: That big nose is tough to maneuver into parking spaces. It's actually easier to back in than pull forward.

Inside: Like the smaller EX37, rear-seat passengers will not be too pleased with legroom and footroom.

Places for stuff: The large armrest cubby was perfectly CD-size. That sounds like a great idea, until you grab just one or two CDs and toss them inside for a short jaunt to the store. Plan to spend some time fishing the cases back out.

Storage space behind the rear seat is also at a premium for a vehicle this large.

Dashboard: The FX37 interior is as pretty as the other models from Infiniti. It also features the smart radio and heater controls that make the high-tech stereos much more user friendly.

Fuel economy: This was kind of a piggy, showing 19 miles per gallon in a highway-heavy mix of driving. And that'll be premium, of course.

Where it's built: Tochigi, Japan.

How it's built: Consumer Reports gave the old FX35 above-average reliability scores.

In the end: Now here's an Infiniti that gets up into JX35 pricing territory, and offers so much less. The JX35 drive is much nicer, and drivers get a bonus third row that's not too tight. And I found it a much more attractive vehicle overall than the FX37.

Both Consumer Reports and Edmunds.com said the FX37 handled well, but I only found it OK.

Next week: Nothing. We've reached the end of the road for "Driver's Seat" in The Inquirer. It's been a fun ride.


Contact Scott Sturgis at ssturgis@phillynews.com.

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