Infiniti FX 35 AWD Review

Last week, my wife and kids and I went out for a burger. I hadn't eaten all day, so I was hungry and probably not thinking really clearly. I forgot to ask for cheese, and when the burger landed in front of me, I didn't even bother to put the condiments on...I just picked it up and ate.

Best thing I'd ever done. I could actually taste the burger. It was terrific...the meat itself, the seasonings, the smoky grill taste.

Afterwards, we walked outside and got in the Infiniti FX35. And I wished I could have ordered it plain. Somewhere under all the tech is probably a really good car.

The FX35 is the less-outrageous sister to the FX50 that I reviewed in August, packing only 303 horsepower (only?) through a seven-speed automatic transmission, and returning a reasonable (for this kind of vehicle) EPA estimated 16 city/21 highway miles per gallon.

It's rarely a good sign when the owner's manual for a car doesn't fit in the glove compartment. Infiniti had to create a special space for it on the inside right rear wheel well back in the cargo area. Stretch before you try to lift it. Some mental exercise (a crossword, maybe?) may be a good idea before you tackle all the acronyms within: IBA, FCW, LDW, LDP, DCA, AABS, VDC, TCS, BA, TPMS.....

Now, a lot of that tech is good stuff...but somehow, in the FX, it's obtrusive.

The base FX35 AWD is $42,350 and comes with everything you could want. But the tester took it up several notches. First, the Premium Package ($2,350), adding climate-controlled front seats, Bluetooth (that should have been standard) iPod interface, memory driver's seat, power tilt/telescope steering column, paddle shifters, quilted-leather seats, aluminum roof rails (bad for aerodynamics and mileage) and a cargo cover and cargo net.

But wait...there's more:

The Navigation Package ($2,850), with navigation (um..yeah), Around View Monitor (four cameras placed strategically around the car as a parking aid), voice recognition for audio and navigation, XM NavTraffic, a 9.3 gig hard-drive music jukebox, a single CD slot in the dash, and front and rear sonar.

And then...

The Technology Package (you mean we didn't have any already?), in which $2,900 buys Intelligent Brake Assist with Front Collision Warning System (keep your eyes on the road and push harder on the brake), Lane Departure Prevention System (in which the cameras on the sides of the car, underneath the outside mirrors, look for the white lines on the road and sound alarms if you get too close to them), Lane Departure Warning System (which warns you when cars are too close....like, oh, at any stop light)...pre-crash seat belts, intelligent cruise control with Distance Control Assist (always fun on a left curve when you're in the left lane and a semi 10 car-lengths ahead in the right lane begins the curve and your car thinks it's in your lane and begins braking hard) and rain-sensing front windshield wipers.

If you've lost count, the price is now $51,315...$9,000 more than when we started and only $5,000 less than the base price of an FX50, which has all but the Technology Package standard.

Like I said, somewhere under all that is probably a really good car. I'd like the next one plain, please.