In a quest to find the perfect vehicle for day-to-day driving plus occasional road trips with the family, I recently put our long-term certified pre-owned 2011 Infiniti FX35 to the test. The FX35 is well known for its sporty attributes, but I questioned whether it could provide the comfort and space required for a family of three with all the cargo necessary for a week-long beach trip.

While packing the FX35, the first thing I noticed was how well my daughter's car seat fit. The LATCH anchors were easy to access, and with the reclining rear seats, she was in the perfect position for safety and comfort. The front passenger seat also had plenty of leg room, even with the child seat directly behind. I was surprised to find the cargo space more expansive that I had originally thought - large enough to handle a full-size 60-qt cooler, along with luggage and a few beach toys. Interestingly, however, we found the cargo space to be more accommodating with all the seat backs in their original positions, as opposed to folded forward in the 40/60 split option.

Packed up and ready to go, we hit the open road and were very quickly impressed with the plethora of technology features the FX35 offers. The safety features, such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning, intelligent cruise control, intelligent brake assist, and distance control assist, were not only easy to use, but they dramatically improved the highway driving experience. With the distance control assist, it actually nudges the gas pedal up to alert you to decrease the vehicle's speed when approaching another vehicle. Once I got used to this feature, I found it very useful. Another technology feature we really appreciated was the Around View Monitor that makes parking in tight or unfamiliar spaces a breeze.

The driving dynamics were exactly as expected, very sporty with terrific acceleration and braking. What I was surprised about, however, was how composed the FX35 remained when loaded with the three of us and our gear. I could hardly tell any difference in how it drove. Unfortunately, all of this performance does come at a cost, as we only averaged 18.3 mpg during our mostly-highway 1,100-mile trip, and that's with premium grade fuel.

We all found the interior very luxurious and loved the look of the Bentley-like seat stitching. One of the best features of this car for my family was the heated and cooled seats. Typically, we can have disagreements on the ambient temperature inside of our car, but not this time; I simply turned on the cooled seat for my driver's seat and we all found ourselves extremely comfortable.

At the end of each of our 8-hour drives, I found myself less worn out and tired than normal, which I largely attribute to the safety features. It's simple to set the intelligent cruise control and let the vehicle make adjustments as necessary. And since I heard no complaints from my fellow passengers, I would conclude that the FX35 was quite comfortable for them as well.

When we returned home, I unpacked the FX35 and headed to the dog kennel to pick up my two Labradors. They both fit easily in the back with the rear seat backs up or down.

I will soon be in the market for a vehicle that can carry my family of three comfortably (plus two dogs on occasion), is a good daily driver, has some luxurious features, and can handle long trips with moderate cargo. A used FX35 is going to be on the top of our consideration list.

author photo

Ben Cheney heads up the AutoTrader.com automotive data team. He is an automotive enthusiast whose love of almost all vehicles began at an early age. His passion, however, goes to the off road variety with a special love for the Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser.

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