And why you should go out and buy a used one.
Infiniti used to build one of our favorite SUVs before it was eventually killed off in 2017. It was called the FX and lived for just two model generations from 2003 to 2017, changing its name to the QX70 in 2013 to align with Infiniti's new nomenclature. For this Smart Buy, we wanted to focus on a very particular version of the second generation of the FX (and QX70), built from 2009 to 2014.
Most second-generation FX models were sold with a 3.7-liter V6 producing 325 horsepower but Infiniti also built one with an incredibly rare V8 engine.
The Infiniti FX50 was powered by a unique 5.0-liter VK50VE V8 engine, which produced 390 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 369 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. This engine was also sold for a single model year in 2014 after the FX50 was rebadged as the QX70. So what is so special about this engine? Well, it was newly developed for the FX and (as far as we know) isn't found in any other Nissan or Infiniti products in the US or Japan.
We even mentioned this engine to a few Infiniti product planners during an interview and they seemed as surprised as we were to learn this engine was never used in another production car. We say production car because this engine was used in various LMP3 racing cars where it produced 420 hp. That's right, Infiniti built an SUV with a V8 racing engine and almost no one knew about it. We don't know exactly how many FX models were sold with this engine but they are much harder to find than the V6 models and virtually impossible to find with a QX70 badge.
When it was new back in 2009, you could pick up a base FX50 for around $54,000. Thanks to depreciation, you can now find one for less than $14,000. Unfortunately, many of the examples we found are nearing or have already exceeded 100,000 miles, which isn't surprising given their age. If you're willing to spend a bit more, we did find several examples in the 60,000 to 80,000-mile range for less than $25,000. We also found one pristine 2010 model with just 34,000 miles on it with a rather high asking price of $34,176.
Finding a 2014 QX70 with the 5.0-liter V8 is far more difficult - we could only find one for sale during our search. Since there isn't much of a difference in price, we'd say it is fine to settle for an FX50 that is only one year older. Of course, all of these examples are now past their warranty and finding a certified pre-owned example will prove difficult.
With a V8 racing motor under the hood, you'd rightfully expect the FX50 to be fast. 0-60 mph takes only 4.8 seconds, 0-100 mph takes just 12.6 seconds, while the quarter-mile takes only 13.6 seconds at 104 mph. Not only are these numbers quick even today, but they were also better than a Mustang GT back in 2009. Infiniti even launched a limited edition Sabastien Vettel version of the car, though it was only sold in Europe.
All FX50 models sent their power out to a rear-biased AWD system through a seven-speed automatic transmission. Other performance features included 21-inch Enkei wheels, downshift rev matching, magnesium column-mounted paddle shifters, adaptive suspension, and rear active steer (like a Skyline GT-R).
Inside, the FX will have trouble matching the level of technology found in a modern SUV, though it isn't too bad considering Infiniti and Nissan still use this same infotainment system on brand-new 2019 models like the QX60 and 370Z. Of course, the system doesn't feature Android Auto or Apple CarPlay compatibility, though basic Bluetooth and navigation functions are available. The FX also had plenty of advanced safety features including adaptive cruise control with stop and go, a surround-view monitor with parking sensors, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention, and blind-spot monitoring.
Since this is a mid-size SUV, it is also quite practical. The trunk offers 24.8 cubic feet of storage, which can increase to 62 cubic feet with the second row folded. The FX also has plenty of luxury touches including quilted leather, heated and ventilated seats, passive entry with push-button start, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Even compared to a modern SUV, the FX50 can hold its own in terms of luxury features.
We don't think we are wrong in saying the FX50 is the most unique car Infiniti ever built. Not only does it look incredibly aggressive for an SUV, but it also has the performance to back it up. For less than $30,000, how many other SUVs can you think of with a racecar-derived V8 under the hood? The FX50 is the only Nissan or Infiniti production car to ever use the VK50VE engine, which we feel is a bit of shame. Still, it makes this one of the most unique SUVs on the used market and one that won't break the bank. If you're in the market for a highly depreciated SUV that can offer a bit of excitement, check out an Infiniti FX50.