Home » Infiniti Used To Make A V8-Powered Crossover For People Who Like Driving: Holy Grails

Infiniti Used To Make A V8-Powered Crossover For People Who Like Driving: Holy Grails

2014 Infiniti Qx70s 5.0 Awd

If you take a gander at today’s crossovers, you’ll see a lot of vehicles that are practical family haulers, but perhaps lack the kind of driving dynamics that enthusiasts love. Crossovers like the Porsche Macan and the Mazda CX-30 stand out for great driving experiences, but there was a time when Infiniti wanted to sell you a sporty car puffed up in a crossover body. Through the Infiniti QX70 and its predecessor, the FX50, you could buy a tall car with funky looks and 390 horses of V8 power.

Last time on Holy Grails, reader Sid Bridge showed us a weirdly rare version of the Chevrolet Monte Carlo. If you were a car enthusiast living in the Malaise Era, you had to deal with V8s that struggled to make 200 horsepower and car design that could easily be replicated by a kid playing Minecraft today. In 1984, the best Monte Carlo that you could get in the United States was the SS, which came equipped with a 305 V8 making 180 HP and an automatic transmission. However, if you lived in Mexico, you could ride home in your own special edition that came with a 350 V8 making 188 HP and a four-speed manual. These weren’t huge changes, but if you’re the kind of person who has to have a manual, you had to get one from Mexico.

Today’s Holy Grail entry is a vehicle that went out of production in the last decade. It’s not a special edition, rather the last of its kind.

2014 Infiniti Qx70s 5.0 Awd

We’re living in an era where V8s get phased out for sixes and those sixes turn into turbo fours. For example, if you want a compact crossover from Infiniti, your only choice is a 2.0 turbo four making 268 HP. That wasn’t always the case, as Infiniti used to sell a crossover infused with the sporting characteristics of the G35 and a whole heaping of power.

The late 1990s and 2000s were a wonderful time if you were in the market for an SUV but wanted it to have big power. This was a time when General Motors sold you the GMC Typhoon and in 1998, Jeep unleashed a previous Holy Grail entry–the Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited–onto the world as a lux SUV with big V8 firepower. These automakers wouldn’t be the only ones creating big vehicles with big power. Ford had its F-150 Lightning, Volkswagen rolled out the Touareg, and Porsche brought home the bacon with its Cayenne. If you bought a Touareg, you could get a 4.2-liter V8 making 306 HP and if you got a Cayenne, you could get something as wild as a 4.5-liter twin-turbo V8 making 444 HP.

The Reason For Coupe SUVs

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In 2003, Infiniti debuted what Taisuke Nakamura, senior design director for Global Infiniti, believes is the first crossover to get a design that mimics a coupe. At the time, Infiniti says that it was going through a bit of a vehicle revolution with the introduction of the G35 coupe and the M45 sport sedan. The automaker goes on to note that at the time, crossovers looked like SUVs, but there was no reason that they had to be. Thus, in making the FX, Infiniti designers decided to incorporate some car design traits:

By definition, crossover SUVs incorporate elements of passenger cars into sport utility vehicles. What is often lost in the transition, however, is a sense of style or personality. In creating the new FX45, its designers sought what they called a “cool fusion” – the blending of a substantial, SUV lower body with the sleek, elegant upper body more reminiscent of a classic sports car or sports GT.

“The FX45 draws on a foundation born of our G35 sport coupe and sport sedan and our experience with our popular QX4 SUV – elements of which come through the first time you set eyes on the FX45,” said McNabb. “Thus the exterior is all about projecting a unique sense of agility and dynamic performance – along with a healthy dose of SUV versatility and the all-wheel drive flexibility to occasionally leave the paved world behind.”

Infiniti says that the FX was based on two concepts going by the same name. One was the 2001 Infiniti FX45 Concept, dubbed the “Bionic Cheetah,” which sported an interior with personalized zones for its occupants, featuring a video game system, a DVD player, and a navigation system. A year later, another FX45 Concept came out featuring sports car-inspired styling and a 4.5-liter V8 borrowed from the Q45.

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The FX rode on Nissan’s FM platform, which underpinned vehicles like the Infiniti G35, Nissan Skyline V35, Nissan 350Z, among others. Infiniti sold the FX35, which was powered by a 3.5-liter VQ35DE V6 from the 350Z making 280 HP and the FX45, which came with a 4.5-liter VK45DE V8 making 315 HP. Car and Driver summed up the FX45 like “An SUV that thinks, and runs, like a sports car.” At the time the magazine tested it, the FX45 was the fastest SUV it reviewed since the GMC Typhoon. At 6.4 seconds to 60 mph, the Infiniti edged out what Car and Driver considered the competition: the BMW X5 4.6is and Mercedes ML55 AMG

Perhaps the most amusing about that review was a comment from tester John Phillips, who found himself trying to wrap his head around the idea of a fast SUV that didn’t wallow in corners. At the time, Car and Driver’s testers questioned if the sports car SUV formula was going to stick. Considering the number of coupe-style SUVs out there today, Infiniti’s claim that the FX popularized the genre might not be far off.

Even More Speed

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That sounds cool enough, but Infiniti followed it up in the 2009 model year with a second generation. The 2009 FX was a little longer, a little wider, and featured an evolutionary design. It still rode on the FM platform, sharing some underpinnings with the Nissan 370Z. It still adopted coupe styling, too. Perhaps most importantly, it kept the V8 and that engine’s power took a sizable leap up. The 3.5-liter V6 made a return with the 303 HP VQ35HR from the G35 and the V8? It was now the VK50VE and it came onto the scene bringing 390 HP and 369 lb-ft with it.

The new FX35 and FX50 didn’t just bring horsepower to the table, as Infiniti designed them to be luxurious like the competition. This meant features like an adaptive headlight system with automatic leveling and a 17-degree swivel, as well as “Scratch Shield,” Infiniti’s name for paint that would repair its own fine scratches and swirls. Inside, you sat in a 10-way power quilted bucket featuring air-inflated bolsters. The front seats were also heated and cooled, adding to the luxury cabin. Infiniti also focused on increasing rigidity and reducing noise, vibration, and harshness. The automaker made the new FX 1.6 times more resistant to twisting and 3.4 times more resistant to bending while also finding a way to shave 200 pounds.

2009 Infiniti Fx Shot 34 1200x901

The crossover got a facelift in 2011 before getting its name changed to the QX70 in 2014. That year was the last year that you could get Nissan’s sporty crossover with a V8. These later models are the ones that reader TheMecca says is the grail:

Hi, the INFINITI QX70 5.0 is next to impossible to find. Autotempest and autotrader both came back with ZERO results, nationwide. The 5.0 had a V8 making nearly 400 HP in a weird ass body that, in my opinion, has aged quite well. I believe they make it for 2 or 3 years in the mid 20-teens. I owned 2 FX35’s that were an absolute blast to drive, so I can only imagine what that V8 felt like in that bulbous little crossover. I actually tried to buy one recently, and just gave up… so hard to find, and the ones I could find were hundreds (or thousands) of miles from me here in New England.

The Grail

2014 Infiniti Qx70s 5.0 Awd

When TheMecca sent me this email, I scratched my head. By the time that the second-generation FX rolled around, the crossover had already lost its edge. The competition was making their own interpretations on the “coupe SUV” and Infiniti was losing ground and sales. From 2009 through 2014 Infiniti sold 53,400 FX and QX70 models. Well, that’s not rare. Infiniti has never drilled its sales numbers down by engine, but an enthusiast on a forum claimed to get an estimate from a dealership that ranged from 3,000 to 3,800 units from 2009 to 2013. No estimates were given for 2014.

If true, this means that while Infiniti sold tons of these crossovers, around 93 percent of them came with a V6. It would make sense that Infiniti discontinued the V8 given slow sales. And I know that “crossover” is a dirty word with many enthusiasts, but period reviews suggest that this was no mere lifted wagon from Autoweek:

2014 Infiniti Qx70s 5.0 Awd


The Infiniti FX, now the QX70, isn’t the most utilitarian car on the market, or in its segment, but it has to be the most fun.

The 5.0-liter V8 pulls this car off the line using all four wheels, and first gear goes by in a wink, so have your hand ready on that right paddle shifter. It makes a helluva sound, too, like a muscle car. And those paddle shifters, they’re on the column. So if you have a preference, make sure that jibes with what you want.

I kept the suspension in sport mode my entire time with the car. It keeps tight and planted, but still soaks up most of the big bumps. The steering wheel is weighted perfectly for this car and provides a nearly direct connection to the wheels.

Car and Driver went off of the deep end, comparing the 2009 FX50S to Frank Lloyd Wright architecture:

2014 Infiniti Qx70s 5.0 Awd

Frank Lloyd Wright was a unique architect, yes, but he was also a popular one. His work is spread across the country in the form of homes, office buildings, and even a couple of skyscrapers. Beautiful stuff, all of it, but quirky. If Frank were around today and designing crossover SUVs instead of edifices, he might have come up with something like our Infiniti FX.

Its design being more Guggenheim Museum than Taliesin, the FX would most certainly have come at the end of Wright’s design career. When our long-term Infiniti FX50S arrived, we were enamored of its looks and proud of ourselves for choosing pearl-white paint. Especially in this hue, the high-powered wagon on stilts has presence; nothing on the road looks remotely similar. Even toward the end of its 40,000-mile tenure, the FX continued to attract stares from admiring—and perplexed—motorists.


No one, however, complained about the 390-hp 5.0-liter’s V-8 bark. We can’t knock the FX50S for its performance. Our end-of-test numbers match almost identically those gathered when the FX was fresh. The 0-to-60-mph time held the line at a respectable 5.1 seconds; the quarter-mile and skidpad statistics were also unchanged. Acceleration past 60 mph improved by 0.1 second to 100 and 0.2 second to 130—this in spite of our feeling that the seven-speed automatic transmission had become harder-shifting and at times obstinate over the course of the test.

2014 Infiniti Qx70

That engine itself is also a rare oddity. So far as I can tell, it was only ever used for the FX/QX70 and in LMP3 racing cars where it was tuned to 420 HP.

Combing through these reviews, testers raved about the crossover’s engine, platform, and performance, but knocked it for its lack of interior volume and sometimes for its firm ride. I suppose that goes back to Infiniti’s goal to blend sports car performance with the bulk of a SUV. Sure, a 60 mph sprint in 5.1 seconds in a 4,725-lb crossover isn’t super fast. However, that does place it in the ballpark of a period Subaru Impreza WRX, Ford Mustang GT, and just a second slower than a base Chevrolet Corvette. It’s certainly faster than my Saturn Sky Red Line and does so with more seats and a 3,500-lb tow rating.

2014 Infiniti Qx70s 5.0 Awd

This is all to say that if you’re into crossovers, this is a quick and pretty rare one to get. In 2009 a base FX50 set you back $54,000 but today, you can find a decent one for around $15,000. As for a 2014 Infiniti QX70 5.0? Like the reader, I couldn’t find one for sale. That said, if you don’t care about the badge, I’d just grab the FX50.

Do you know of a “holy grail” of a car out there? If so, we want to read about it! Send us an email at tips@theautopian.com and give us a pitch for why you think your favorite car is a “holy grail.”

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32 Responses

  1. My dad bought a FX50 S sight unseen (well, unless you count a Zoom call as ‘looking at it’) during the height of the pandemic and had it shipped all the way from the dealer halfway across the country. His dream car at the time was a Porsche Cayenne, but he could never find one he truly liked within his budget. He always did like the FX though and not long after I suggested the V8 model (when I remembered they even existed), the paperwork was done.

    Driving this beast was, and still is just mind-bending – especially considering it’s a crossover from Nissan, of all companies. There is no soft setting in that car. It’s natural state is just pure, unfiltered aggression. It feels like it wants you break traffic laws. The ride makes my G37 feel like a Lincoln, and putting it into ‘Sport’ stiffens the shocks to the point where the slightest bump will send your spine into orbit. But it handles way better than anything it’s size has any right to, and the way it pins you to the seat leaves you grinning ear to ear every time you punch the throttle. It teeters on the edge of being totally impractical, but that’s okay.

  2. I guess I’m getting old and becoming one of those commenters who recaps past escapades, but alas. My cousin traded in his 2002 wrx prodrive for an fx45 when they first launched amd he drove it like a rally car literally beat the poor thing up for 50k likes or so in a year and half he owned it. It was pretty cool for the time. 315hp felt like a rocket back then but seat of the pants felt a little slower than the ml55 of the time. I also remember it being the first car I knew of with a reverse camera. If memory serves me correct there’s an expensive issue with cooling, or heater core and the dash with v8 45/50s that I’m too lazy to google right now. What’s surprising is the C/D 0-60 time of 5.1 on the later model. Gonna keep that in mind.

  3. I do like these, but the second gen always struck me as too big and bulky, abandoning the sleek lowness of the first gen which genuinely seemed like a 350Z wagon with an optional V8. I wonder if the smaller EX (aka Nissan Skyline Crossover) which arrived below the FX in 2007 was any good since it was also on the same FR platform but was lighter and lower.

  4. Copycats and Morons. Isuzu in 1995 in an attempt to create a CUV to compete in the Paris to Dakar 4 wheel race created, built, and put on sale in Japan in 1997 and later in the USA the Isuzu Vehicross. With 250 HP A borg Warner AWD on Demand system using ceramic molds to make enough cars to satisfy the rules for commercial sales. It did well, but with no Joe Isuzu promotion and a high cost of production this 2000 CUV stickered at $34,000 was not to be a sales success. But in 2002 I got mine for $23,995. It is surprising as long as you guys have been writing or even just since March 32nd never seen stories of any of the collectables i have known.

    1. I saw one on the isuzu dealer lot in Savannah, GA. I looked at the window sticker, and it had “$10.000 markup” right out there in front of God and everybody.

      It sat there for a looooooong time.

  5. I had an original FX-45 in 03 right when they came out,even in Atlanta it got more stares than exotics. It was an absolutely wonderful vehicle; fast, great handling, stylish, and more tech than about anything short of a S class at the time.

    1. My parents had an ’04 FX-45 that was an absolute hoot to drive. It really was a nice car, with comfort, styling, and power. My mom kept it until last year when it was sadly totaled after an accident.

    1. Not to mention that if I do happen to see one, it always seems like they have been neglected and beat up. Then again, that’s unfortunately sort of the story of the Infiniti brand as a whole these days.

  6. I’ve seen a few of the (presumably) V6 models on the roads and was just thinking about how the styling has actually held up relatively well, even though I wasn’t a fan when they came out. I kinda like it, especially the first gen. This is a lot coming from me, since I haven’t been a fan of…well, anything Infiniti has done in a while.

  7. I really liked these funky clown shoes when they came out and I almost bought a new FX35 in 2011 but it was too pricey for my budget at the time. I sort of forgot about these as I don’t see them around all that often here in metro Detroit. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  8. My old boss’s son had an FX35 that he absolutely loved. He loved it so much he got an FX50 on lease for himself. I had the opportunity to drive it twice. The first time I was gentle because boss’s car. Second time I opened it up to pass a car on a long straight and kept it pinned down forgetting it wasn’t my car. It just kept on going. When I looked down at the highly illegal MPH I realized two things, 1 the thing could move and 2 it was so smooth. I didn’t feel like I was going over 55 but I most definitely was. It never felt underpowered and it never felt like I didn’t have it under control. Thanks for reminding me about it. Now to convince the better half that I need an FX50 for reasons. Haha.

  9. I’m hoping that “smaller vehicle” that Mazda is planning to put their new hybrid inline 6 in is more like this (or better yet, the lower EX) than a smaller CX-90…

  10. I knew a guy who received a first gen FX35 for his med school graduation. Yes, loaded doc parents. It was very different than anything on the road. What was really noticable about it as well as the G35 was the exhaust note. They had a very Turbo Interceptor from The Wraith sounds.

    What I found odd about it was the the headlight leveling scheme. The owner pointed out how cool it was that you could adjust the headlight level with a dial if you were going up a hill or were towing something or just had a bunch of crap in the rear. I thought, meh – my ’01 Audi A4 did it automatically.

    I also wondered why he didn’t get the FX45 rather than the FX35. But i guess “loaded parent’s kids can’t be choosers.”

    The a few years later the EX model came out. Yuck. A bebigulated FX was the attempt. The proportions did not work visually.

    1. yeah, the ex35 was ugly but holy shit was it faster than it had any right to be. it was basically the 3.5vq motor shoehorned into something smaller than a honda crv (seriously, interior space in the ex was garbage). i love this era of infiniti. the qx could hustle too, despite its size.

  11. I was actually considering one of these for a project, until Covid! HUGE potential, this platform.

    These were literally getting blown out as fire sales in BC and Alberta. Now not so much, lol.

    This should be depreciating like old land rovers. Somehow enough middle class yuppies are overvaluing this gas guzzler enough to prop prices up for now…

  12. FX50S owner here. I’ve only had it for about a year and ~10k miles, but it’s been a pleasure so far. The previous owner added an exhaust “more fit for the engine”, in his own words. It’s not quite raucous, thankfully, but does have a good tone and sure makes me smile.

    It’s a comfortable and capable cruiser, with the cargo room and fuel efficiency being the notable weak points.

  13. Am I the only one who wouldn’t drive this car even if it had a v-12. Infiniti’s styling is just so bad to me and their current cars continue this trend.

  14. I bought a used FX50 Infiniti from the sole importer here in Western Australia. After they wasted my time for months trying to update the inbuilt maps from UK to Aus, I returned the car very frustrated and got my money back as part of the purchase agreement.

    After reaching out to some higher-ups in Infiniti Australia, they set us up with a new dealer demo for almost half the $120,000 asking price.

    I absolutely loved that car, it was an absolute rocket and still looks better than any other SUV on the road.

    Sadly, I had to sell it when a new job set me up with a work vehicle but I have such fond memories of launching that thing and tearing away from sports cars and, most of all, taking home my first born son from the hospital in the back seat.

    Selling it was actually a huge challenge, as no one in Australia knows Infiniti even exists, and among those few, only a tiny portion were aware that there was a V8 QX70S. I believe it was one of two in the entire country at the time and probably still is.

    Still have the baby Nissan in this photo though!


    1. No edit button: wanted to add, the QX70 had surprisingly little room inside. I had to have the passenger seat completely forward to have a backward-facing child-seat in the back.

      The boot had a good amount of room, but the rest of the cabin was relatively tiny.

      While it was very plush, you could tell that it had the underpinnings of a Murano just wrapped in leather and fake-wood.

      Regardless, it was still awesome.

  15. I recently saw an FX35 and was reminiscing about the FX45 commercials where they used to feature the V8 exhaust sound, like the old Macan commercial, I think it was. I would never drive an SUV, though.

  16. Infiniti used to make a holy grail sedan in the flavor of the 1st gen Q45. No grill, no wood, and no apologies to anyone – just an awesome V8 “rated” at 280HP (more like 330HP) with a badass intake that made the motor look transverse. Those were the days when Nissan’s vision was pure and wasn’t clouded by profit chasing, soul sucking marketeers hell bent on following the crowd. The FX45 was probably the last Infiniti to take a genuine risk and dare to be different.

  17. Well I think I’m officially senile. I would have sworn up and down that it was the FX56 with the same 5.6L V8 as the Titan pickups and the M56/Q70.

    In any case, the FX35/45 came out right after I had finished playing the original Mafia PC game. The rounded looks of the FX really struck me as reminiscent of the sedans of the late 30’s and 40’s. If you think about it, modern CUVs really are a kind of return to this old body style, just minus the body-on-frame design.

  18. Infiniti was a seriously cool automaker in the early aughts but they spent the next decade squandering that goodwill. The G35 was iconic at the time, the M45 was a really cool sedan, and the FX was ahead of its time and a real looker. Hell, even Nissan at the time was really hitting its stride, the original Murano was EVERYWHERE back then, and the Altima still meant something.

    The GT-R capped off that era but it was a slow, painful decline after that.

  19. Hey, this was my submission! Years of posting at “the old site” and I never left the greys… Now I get a 600 word response in the Autopian based on a tip I sent in after a looooong day of Après and eating a gummy! This place rocks. Anyway… I did love the FX’s and QX70. I forgot all about that exhaust note. It was… nice. I feel like Infiniti really hasn’t done anything to differentiate themselves in a long time though. I went to an Infiniti dealer to drive a Q60 AWD last year (sleeper fast btw) and I couldn’t figure out who would spend the money on anything in that deserted showroom. All so dated… and heavy use of CVT’s I believe? huh.

  20. I’ve still got my FX30d, i would have liked the V8 but I couldn’t find one at the time I was looking. The torque of the V9X diesel is pretty good though and makes for an effortless drive.

    1. Wow, the FX30d! That’s a unique proposition, I love all the ‘high-performance’ diesel V6s that were offered in Europe during that era since most were only made for a single generation so they were really a flash in the pan.

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