If there were ever a sports car SUV it would be in the Infiniti FX. The FX exterior with long hood and descending roofline is the embodiment of a hot rod with offroad-styling. Infiniti calls it a performance crossover.

In the 4th year of the second generation FX, the most noticeable styling change is a refreshed front grille and fascia, which takes cues from the Infiniti Essence Concept.

I was asked to review the new for 2012 Limited Edition model with the available Iridium Blue exterior, which is exclusive to this special model. Shod with low profile tires on 21-inch graphite finished rims, this FX 35 is knock-your-socks-off beautiful – in a manly kind of way.

The FX is available with a V-8 or V-6 power plant, connected to a 7-speed automatic transmission. The 3.5-liter V-6 delivers 303 horsepower to a full time all-wheel drive system that is part of the Limited Edition model, something I normally wouldn’t recommend for us in Houston. However, since this is a road warrior, it certainly adds grip for autocross bragging rights.

The transmission features a thing Infiniti calls Adaptive Shift Control. ASC logs driving habits and fine tunes the transmission to best fit your individual style, making the transmission more responsive or fuel efficient, whichever cup of tea you choose to sip. Downshift rev-matching is another standard feature that us Indycar driver wannabe’s can appreciate too.

I was disappointed to find out that paddle shifters are available only on the V-8 equipped FX. The whole idea behind this road rumbler is performance and, to me, paddle shifters should be a standard feature across the FX line.

This is a luxury SUV in every sense and there is no questioning that title the instant you open the door and get behind the wheel. The first confirmation is the quality of materials; soft touch hard surfaces, fine leather and a minimal amount of chrome and brushed aluminum.

Sturdy knobs, buttons and switches are the other tip off. Many times we lose track of the fact that well designed machines come with quality nuances that don’t jump out at us until we go from a $20,000 vehicle to a $50,000 one like the FX. And it’s not just subtle things like door handles and lighting either, it includes solid underpinnings, bushings, brakes and the just way things are screwed together.

This mid-size is like many others in its class…it has a limited amount of rear seat leg room and because of its zippy roofline, cargo space doesn’t measure up to what most of its competitors offer. But this isn’t a vehicle you’d typically load up with camping gear either.

FX ride quality is something you either seek out or has you shopping for something else. The word “performance” should have given you an indication of ride quality. Our Limited Edition FX is wound up tighter than Dick’s hat band and there are many suspension items that contribute to the stiff ride; shocks with rebound springs, big stabilizer bars, both front and back AND the 21-inch wheels with low profile tires.

When I was 20, it was important for me and my passengers to feel they were riding in a race car. Not so much anymore, but the FX ride quality reinforces its “performance” label. Its V-8 counterpart, the FX 50, offers driver selectable settings and that may help soften the ride enough to let me give it 5 out of 5 stars instead of the 4.5 it deserves.

Base price on the 2012 FX35 is $43,700. My Limited Edition model starts at $52,000 but comes with everything, including a great nav system. Overall, I love this crossover, just wish I had the option of giving it a little more compliant ride.