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Infiniti

2009 Infiniti FX50

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When it comes to performance SUVs, the Infiniti FX50 is definitely near the top of the segment.  The 2009 FX50 has undergone some changes that, while not immediately apparent to the eye, make a lot of difference in the performance department.  How much of a difference?  How about 0-to-60 mph in 5.2 seconds.  In an SUV.

The frame and chassis of the 2009 Infiniti FX50 has been redesigned to incorporate the company’s FM platform, which is used for the G37 coupe.  By going with this chassis, which was designed for sports coupes and performance, the body rigidity and torsional resistance have been increased significantly over the previous generation of the FX50.  What that translates to is a much more controlled and responsive handling, so taking corners is a breeze.  This new chassis, as well as a bigger engine do weigh more than the previous models, but the Infiniti engineers counterbalanced this gain by incorporating lightweight aluminum for the body panels and doors.  All told, the 2009 FX50 is only 80 pounds heavier than its predecessor.

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The 5.0-liter V8 under the hood (there is a smaller V6 option available) pumps out 390 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, which is a significant increase over the 320 horses and 335 lb-ft of the old V8.  Also, because of the way the engine is tuned, and by utilizing a new Variable Valve Event and Lift system, the designers were actually able to increase the model’s fuel efficiency by 1 mpg city and 3 highway, bringing the figures up to 14 and 20, respectively.  The engine is mated to a seven-speed automatic (sorry clutch fans, no manual option) that helps you put that power on the road.

The new chassis and the new engine combine to make a superlative driving experience.  Despite how large and heavy the car is (4,641 pounds), it still feels nimble and agile around the corners.  Also, due to the gear ratios in the transmission, accelerations are fast and responsive in the lower gears, while still being able to reserve the 6th and 7th gear for more efficient highway driving.  Be warned though, the 2009 FX50 is tuned for performance, so the ride is a bit hard.  If you are looking for an SUV that is soft with a suspension that shields you from even the biggest bumps, the FX50 is not for you.  The car’s little brother, the FX35, provides that sort of ride.

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In the style department, the FX50 delivers what every Infiniti model does:  glorius and elegant curves.  Looking at the grille head-on brings to mind a low-slung sports car, and as the lines travel rearward, they maintain the feel.  Saying than an Infiniti is “boxy” is like saying the sky is green.  It just doesn’t happen.  Combine that style with all of the performance, and the 2009 FX50 looks to be one of the best performance SUVs on the market.  BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and a host of others also offer similar models, but the FX50 has comparable, if not better performance, and style to spare, all while staying in the same price range.  A well-equipped FX50 with the V8 engine runs about $60,000, depending on options, which is about the middle ground for the segment’s price range.

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