For 2013, the FX37 replaces the F35 as Infiniti's midsize sport-luxury crossover, bringing a slightly bigger engine to its already carlike performance. It's a stylish way to set yourself apart from the SUV pack in the school car line or the company parking lot.
Appearance: When we drove the V-8 version of this Infiniti crossover — the FX50 — a couple of years back, we likened its profile to a shoe or a bulked-up Porsche Cayenne. Lyra still thinks it looks bulky up front, but overall we find it a touch sleeker, with curvy fenders and flowing body. The look is accented by a four-bar chrome horizontal grille, thin upswept headlights, chrome trim, functional side air scoops and 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Overall, the design is attractive and sporty, utility be damned.
Performance: The FX37 gets an upgrade with a new 3.7-liter V-6, replacing the previous model's 3.5-liter powerplant. The horsepower rises to 325 from 303 — an impressive output for a nonturbo V-6. The 7-speed automatic has Infiniti's rev-matching feature, which makes for smooth downshifts. For manual shifting, the paddles are magnesium, a detail we appreciate. (Some luxury carmakers use plastic.) The ride is controlled and carlike, as befits a sporty SUV, but that comes a sacrifice, with a stiff ride that's unforgiving on bumps or uneven roads. Lyra felt the FX37, while having plenty of pickup when you floor the gas pedal, hesitates during a more controlled start. Our tester had a lot of safety technology, such as cruise with distance control, so if you approach a slower vehicle, the car slows, but reaccelerates to the set speed once you've made a pass. The sensitive lane-keep warning system's beeps, however, can be annoying.
Interior: It's comfortable and well-appointed, with excellent fit and finish, plenty of maple trim and brushed-metal accents. The plush, quilted leather seats are well-bolstered and feature added thigh support for longer legs. Our tester came equipped with three option packages: technology, deluxe touring and premium. Did we like the extra comfort and gadgetry? Yes, but it quickly adds more than 10 grand to the bottom line. Two features stand out: The Around View Monitor shows where the car is in relationship to other objects and is great in tight spaces or street parking. There's also a new Moving Object Detection that detects cross-traffic movement. Infiniti also is tops in air filtration with its Advanced Climate System. The one thing the FX37 doesn't have is plenty of room, either for passengers or cargo. The sloping roof line and small rear window compromise visibility and rear headroom. The cargo space doesn't measure up to some of its competitors at 62 cubic feet.
Our 3 favorites
Infiniti attitude: The luxury carmaker places a premium on sportiness and style.
Chrome accents: From the optional roof rails to the side scoops, they add pop.
Rev-matching: One of my favorite transmissions.
Not boxy: Curvy and fluid design.
Waiting to inhale: Filtered and purified air, great for allergy season.
Safety tech: Front and rear sensors detect movement in front of and behind the car.
The bottom line: If you value sportiness and looks over practicality and roominess, then the FX37 is the crossover for you. Be prepared to shell out a lot of money for those cool option packages, though.