The latest addition to the AutoTrader.com garage is an Infiniti FX35 crossover SUV. But this isn't a brand new car; it's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO), meaning it's a used car that's been carefully inspected and comes with an extended warranty. Our plan is to keep the car for six months and use it the way you would - hauling the family, taking road trips, and visiting our local Infiniti dealership to see if the CPO treatment is really worthwhile.

New car sticker shock?

Granted, everyone loves to get a new car and we're no different. Still, we think more than a few shoppers have found the car they really want only to be shocked by a price that's outside their budget. Maybe a certified car is the answer.

Our 2011 Infiniti FX35 isn't fully loaded, but is equipped with many of the popular features Infiniti CPO shoppers can expect to find on dealer lots. For example, our FX35 has the 303-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 rather than the more powerful V8 found in the rarer FX50. Our FX35 is also rear-wheel drive instead of the more expensive and less common all-wheel drive version.

But our FX35 does have plenty of options. Included is the Technology Package with features like adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning. The car also has the Deluxe Touring Package, which includes 20-inch wheels, wood interior accents and aluminum pedals. The Premium Package has an even longer list of luxury features including heated and cooled seats, power adjustments for the steering wheel, leather seats and touchscreen navigation with traffic monitoring. XM satellite radio is also part of the package, as is Infiniti's Around View Monitor, which gives a full 360-degree view of what's around the car to help with parking and reversing. A similarly equipped, brand new FX35 costs well over $50,000.

Here's where the CPO part of the story kicks in - our car has 19,266 miles on the odometer. A quick search on AutoTrader.com shows there are about 60 one- and two-year old certified FX35 vehicles for sale across the country, and they're priced $8,000-$16,000 less than a similarly-equipped new 2012 Infiniti FX35.

Doesn't feel used

At this point we've added about 1,000 miles to the FX, and we can honestly say it feels almost like a new car. The only issues we've noticed are a tiny stain on one seat and the driver's-side mirror has a little extra play in it.

Of the 1,000 miles we've added to the FX, the bulk of them were done in a single day. We picked the car up in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. and headed north to AutoTrader's headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. On that 12-hour trip, we noticed a few things: 1) Cooled seats are awesome; get them if you can. 2) The Infiniti's 11-speaker Bose sound system is a must for road trippers and commuters alike. It sounds great without feeling overwhelming - even the truck stop CDs we bought sound great. 3) Cars with 300+ hp don't turn in record breaking fuel-economy, although we did get 23.8 mpg on one leg of the journey, which is a little better than the EPA estimate for highway driving. We're not complaining; all that horsepower is well worth the sacrifice, but it's something to note if you're considering a luxury crossover SUV.

A final note, our FX35's color combination looks really great. We've only had this Infiniti for about two weeks and we've already received many compliments on the color. The exterior is Midnight Mocha, which is a sort or dark brown with a plum tint.

In the coming months, we'll detail just what Infiniti CPO means, how getting service for the car works, see if it's any different than what a new car buyer would expect and find out how a used Infiniti FX holds up under everyday use. Until then, we'll be enjoying the Bose sound system and cooled seats.

author photo

Brian Moody heads up the AutoTrader.com editorial team. An automotive writer and presenter for more than 12 years, he's contributed to such media outlets as CNBC, Edmunds.com, Fox Business, Speed TV and The Today Show.

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