Used Vehicle Review: Infiniti FX/QX70, 2009-2015

Vehicle Type

Luxury Crossover

History/Description

Infiniti’s luxury sport crossover, the FX, debuted in its second generation for model-year 2009, and after a name-change and several updates, the model is still on sale now. The FX was once pitched as a sports sedan wearing a backpack. It’s not bought primarily for space or family-hauling abilities, as its sizing and proportions make it more ideal as a personal luxury sport ute for a single professional or active couple prioritizing luxury, performance and added capability and utility, not all-out space.

The FX was once pitched as a sports sedan wearing a backpack.

Unique styling helps set this one apart from the crowd, too.

Feature content includes all luxury performance must-haves, including climate controlled memory seats, automatic climate control, Bluetooth, navigation, premium audio systems with full multimedia connectivity, adaptive xenon lights, keyless engine start and more. Note that a full suite of advanced safety and hazard-detection systems were on board, including lane departure intervention, moving object detection, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and more. Newer models got an advanced OnStar-like telematics system complete with concierge services.

Engines/Trim

Initially both FX35 and FX50 models were available with the numerical nomenclature referencing engine displacement. From 2013, the FX35 (3.5L V6, 303 hp) became the FX37, thanks to a larger-displacement V6 engine with 325 standard horsepower. From model year 2014, all units were called the QX70, as Infiniti reinvented its naming convention. The 5.0L V8 (390 hp) was removed from the options list after 2013. Most used models will have the V6 engine, which should be enough for the average driver, not to mention easier on fuel, brakes, tires and insurance than a V8-powered model.
All units got a seven-speed automatic with manual mode and rev-matching. Models with the Sport package will include paddle shifters, as well as other up-level sporty kit like deeply bolstered seats, bigger wheels and a stiffer suspension calibration.

All Wheel Drive (AWD) was standard, and notably, Infiniti’s AWD system always engages a 50:50 power split when stationary, ensuring maximum off-the line traction at all times. Up to 100 percent of the engines power can be sent to the rear wheels when needed, with a maximum of 50 percent available to the front.

What Owners Like

Exclusive looks, manoeuvrability, a high-quality cabin, punchy performance and great wintertime traction are highly rated by FX owners. Handling and a comfortably sporty ride are also noted, as are the posh cabin trimmings. Performance from the xenon lighting system is commonly praised, and the SNOW switch, which engages a throttle-numbing, AWD-locking slippery-surface drive mode is a favourite feature for winter driving.

What Owners Dislike

Limited rear-seat space, small rear door openings, and high noise levels during highway cruising are among the most common complaints of FX drivers. Models with bigger wheels will ride roughly, and some owners actually wish for a less-sensitive throttle, saying it can require practice before you’re driving your FX smoothly in traffic.

Here’s a look some owner reviews.

The Test Drive

Start your test drive with a full walk around, looking for signs of sneaky rust. Pop the tailgate, looking at the inner, lower edge for signs of rust or bubbling paint. Look at the rear quarter panel area, just above the bumper seam. Open the doors and inspect the lower, inner edge. Look closely at the front edge of the roof, or the area around and inside of the sunroof opening for signs of rust, too. Any signs of excessive rust should be called into pricing negotiations.

Inside, check the condition of the driver’s seat, looking for signs of excessive wear to the leather on the bolsters, signs of rips or tears in the leather on the seat, and confirm that motorized adjustments, heating and cooling functions, and the memory system works as expected, too. Once seated, turn your attention to the dashboard, looking for signs of bubbling, peeling or cracking.

All electronics and features should be run through their paces to confirm proper operation, and shoppers should note that software updates to various on-board systems, available through the dealer, should be installed, if outstanding. The software updates can improve stability, performance and reliability of numerous on-board systems, including the stereo, Bluetooth, navigation and more. Some software updates can even improve your used FX’s battery life and fuel mileage. Bring the VIN number of the model you’re considering to your local dealer and check for any outstanding software updates. Outstanding recall work can be investigated here, too.

Note that some owners of Infiniti crossover models, like the FX, have also reported unusual battery drain issues, which, strangely, might be caused by leaving your iPod plugged into the vehicle’s stereo system while it’s off. Another culprit might be a bad batch of factory batteries. As a precaution, be sure the battery and charging system in the FX you’re considering is healthy with a pre-purchase inspection at an Infiniti dealer.

Keep an eye on the fuel gauge, noting that numerous owners have complained about inconsistent and inaccurate readings. The cause? A bad sending unit (the FX has two of these), or a bad line of communication between the two sending units, which affects the displayed fuel tank volume.

On earlier models with the 3.5L V6 engine, check the valve covers for signs of bad gaskets, which could leak engine oil into the spark-plug tubes, causing problems. Pull the spark plug igniter and coil-pack assembly out of the valve covers and ensure they aren’t covered in oil, and that oil isn’t pooling around the plug in the bottom of the tube. If you’re not mechanically inclined, ask a mechanic to take a look for you.

A scan of the engine computer for stored trouble codes is a good idea, too. In minutes, a technician can pull any stored warning codes from the computer, which could reveal a bad sensor, or bad part. For instance, Error Code P0305, though relatively rare, indicates a misfire that’s likely caused by one or more bad ignition coil packs, and will require attention.

Transmission issues found from some first-generation FX models, and other Infiniti models using the same driveline, seem to have been addressed for this generation, though shoppers should still test drive the used FX with a focus on shift quality and consistency, and have any unwelcome harshness or roughness investigated ahead of their purchase. Note, as well, that the FX’s AWD system has periodic fluid-change intervals which should be observed for maximum durability and performance of this pricey driveline component.

Be wary of aftermarket wheels. A good set is no cause for alarm, but a cheap set could be damaged easily on a hard bump or pothole. Nothing ruins a Sunday drive like turning one of your new FX’s pricey wheels into an octagon, so be sure any aftermarket wheels are of high quality. Also note that lowered or otherwise modified suspension can adversely affect comfort, safety, handling and the durability of various pricey components. Translation? Avoid a model with non-factory suspension unless you’re familiar with custom tuning.

A final note: the Infiniti FX50 was available with a four-wheel steering system, designed to improve handling and manoeuvrability. Most shoppers should avoid a model with this system – though there are no worrisome reports about the reliability of the system yet, your correspondent has yet to find a four-wheel steering system that seems like a good thing to have in your used ride as it ages. The slight improvement in handling and manoeuvrability could be easily offset by extra repair and maintenance costs.

The Verdict

Like many Infiniti models sharing the same powertrain, a used FX37 looks like a very solid and reliable used-vehicle purchase, provided it passes all pre-purchase inspections and has been well maintained. A well-maintained unit with the 3.7L engine will likely be the least expensive to run for the long term.

A list of recalls, on the FX35, and a few more on the FX50. Note the model year on the right side of the spreadsheet.

Crash Test Ratings

IIHS

Infiniti’s luxury sport crossover, the FX, debuted in its second generation for model-year 2009, and after a name-change and several...