- The 2019 Infiniti QX50 is one of the latest contenders in the compact luxury crossover and SUV market.
- Its rivals in the market include the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus NX, and Mercedes-Benz GLC.
- Power for the QX50 comes from a 268 horsepower, turbocharged, variable compression ratio, four-cylinder engine.
- The QX50 is the first production model to feature a variable compression ratio engine.
- We were impressed by the QX50 stylish design, comfortable cabin, innovative engine, and available drivers assistance technology.
- However, we were less than enthused by its unrefined transmission programming and arcane infotainment system.
- The base 2019 Infiniti QX50 Pure in front-wheel-drive starts at $US36,550, however, our 2019 QX50 Essential AWD came to an as-tested price of $US49,685.
The compact luxury SUV is a relatively recent development. It’s a genre of vehicle that didn’t really exist until the early 2000s and yet it’s now the single largest segment of the US luxury auto market. According to data from Kelley Blue Book, US consumers have purchased or leased more than 563,000 compact luxury crossovers/SUVs over the first 11 months of 2018. That’s up more than 20% over the same period in 2017.
The segment may be substantial, but so is the competition.
There is a myriad of recently released options from leading luxury car makers ranging from Audi and BMW to Acura and Lexus.
Now, Infiniti has unleashed its new entry into the segment. The second-generation, Mexican-built QX50 hit showrooms in 2018 as a 2019 model. It’s the replacement for the long-serving first-generation QX50, which debuted back in 2007 as the Infiniti EX and was more than due for retirement.
The new QX50 is also the first production car to be equipped with a variable compression ratio engine. The use of various compression or VC technology allows the QX50 to physically change the engine’s performance characteristics on demand to maximise power and fuel efficiency.
Recently, we got the chance to spend some quality time with a new silver QX50 over the period of a week.
The base 2019 Infiniti QX50 Pure in front-wheel-drive starts at $US36,550. The mid-grade Luxe trim starts at $US39,400. Our top-of-the-line QX50 Essential starts at $US43,350. All-wheel-drive is available on all trim levels as $US1,800 option. With options and fees, our 2019 QX50 Essential AWD came to an as-tested price of $US49,685.
Here’s a closer look at the 2019 Infiniti QX50.
Here it is! Our second generation 2019 Infiniti QX50 test car.
It replaced the long-serving first-generation QX50 that began life more than a decade ago as the EX.
In the Infiniti line up, the QX50 slots in above the Mercedes GLA-derived QX30 crossover and…
… The three-row Nissan Pathfinder-based QX60.
In the marketplace, the QX50 will be tasked with competing against the Audi Q5, …
… Acura RDX, …
… BMW X3, …
… Cadillac XT5, …
… Lexus NX, and …
…. Mercedes-Benz GLC.
Let’s start from the outside in. First things first, the QX50 is a real looker. The sculpted sheet metal with its numerous creases, curves, and angles make for a modern and stylish crossover SUV.
Up front, the QX50 is standard issue Infiniti complete with the corporate grille.
According to Infiniti, the QX50 boasts a slippery 0.32 coefficient of friction.
The rear end is dominated by the twin exhaust outlets, a subtle roof-top spoiler, and a liftgate.
Also, check out the Hofmeister kink on the D pillar! Very nice!
In contrast to the bold exterior design, the interior is stylish, but much more restrained.
In front of the driver is a button-heavy, but well-designed leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Beyond the steering wheel is a pair of concise analogue gauges flanking a digital information display.
The QX50 is equipped with the twin-screen infotainment system found across the Infiniti lineup. It features an eight-inch upper touchscreen that’s home to the navigation and the multi-view 360-degree camera system as well as …
… A seven-inch lower touchscreen that houses the climate controls, entertainment functions, and various apps. This is the low-point of our experience with the QX50’s cabin.
We first experienced the QX50’s twin-screen infotainment system back in 2014 during our review of a Q50 sedan. Back then, we found the navigation system to be archaic and the processor speed to be lagging. Fast forward nearly half a decade and the bar for what is a great infotainment system has shifted dramatically.
What was decent back in 2014 simply won’t cut it today. And while Infiniti has certainly made an effort to tweak and enhance the system, it hasn’t done enough.
The user interface is confusing and unintuitive. The two touchscreens are very different in layout and tactile feel, which creates an odd incohesive user experience.
In addition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available.
The infotainment system can also be manipulated using this rotary controller.
However, the 16-speaker Bose stereo proved to be quite impressive, delivering a crisp and clear sound.
In addition to the great stereo, the QX50 is also available with an impressive suite of in-car and drivers assistance tech including a head-up display, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, predictive forward collision warning, remote start, backup collision intervention, adaptive cruise control, and rear cross traffic alert.
The QX50’s rear cabin boasts ample room for two full-size adults.
However, the raked roofline limits headroom for the tallest amongst us.
The large panoramic roof really gave the cabin a open and airy feel.
Overall, the QX50’s cabin proved to be an inviting and comfortable place to be. Material and build quality are solid. Active noise cancellation has made the cabin a quieter place to be.
Lift up the power-rear hatch …
… And you’ll find an impressive 31.4 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold down the seats and that figure goes up to a voluminous 65.1 cubic feet.
Pop open the hood and you’ll find the centrepiece of the QX50 experience. It’s the first variable compression ratio engine ever used in a production car. The 2.0-litre, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine produces 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.
The VC technology allows the engine to operate at a low 8:1 compression ratio which helps it deliver more power and low-end grunt when needed, but it can shift to a high 14:1 ratio for better fuel efficiency during highway cruising.
The engine is hooked up to a continuously variable transmission that can send power to all four wheels.
The 2019 QX50 delivered a 0-60 mph time of 6.4 seconds during testing by Motor Trend.
Source: Motor Trend.
The QX50’s all-wheel-drive system and 8.6 inches of ground clearance puts it on par with other crossovers in the segment.
So, what’s it like to drive?
The Infiniti QX50 is a solid performer. Its well-sorted steering and suspension make it a pleasure to drive.
The new turbocharged VC engine delivered as advertised. It’s punchy under hard acceleration and smooth and relaxed in highway cruising. The Environmental Protection Agency expects 24 mpg fuel economy in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and 26 mpg combined for the all-wheel-drive version. Add one mpg for front-wheel-drive models.
While the VC engine delivers the goods, it was let down by the continuously variable transmission Infiniti paired with it. The CVT simply doesn’t do an effective job in maximizing the capabilities of the engine. Under hard acceleration, the CVT forces the engine to the upper end of the rev range. It’s a common occurrence in transmissions of the type, but the result is a less refined feel that’s unbecoming of a vehicle of the QX50’s genre. In addition, others such as the Subaru Ascent proved you can pair a turbo-four-cylinder with a CVT in a large SUV and have it not sound like an underpowered economy car when you floor it on an on-ramp.
The Infiniti QX50 is so wonderfully likable and yet infuriating. It boasts great handling, a comfortable ride, a quiet cabin, and some seriously stylish sheet metal.
But glaring faults always seem to spoil the experience. For instance, the brilliantly executed interior and cabin ergonomics are spoiled by the infuriatingly obtuse infotainment system. And the driving experience created by the innovative engine and the well-sorted suspension is ruined by the clunky transmission.
All in all, the 2019 Infiniti QX50 is a very good luxury compact crossover SUV and a major step forward for the brand. But it’s a few tweaks away from perfection.
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