REVIEW: Redesigned QX50 adds value to Infiniti

The Infiniti QX50 is back on the scene and is completely redesigned for 2019.

The QX50 is built on an all-new powertrain platform with flexibility in mind. The new version is so different from its predecessor that it really deserves a new name in my opinion – but regardless of the name, the 2019 model is a vastly different SUV with substantial technology under its belt.

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The QX50 goes head-to-head with recently introduced models such as the Acura RDX, BMW X3, and Audi Q5, as well as the older entries like the Lexus NX.

Design

Infiniti uses the term “Powerful Elegance” as the inspiration for the exterior and interior. The exterior features a handsome, strong and yet refined appearance. It turns some heads but won’t make passersby stop dead in their tracks to stare. The overall appearance is elegant and modern, but the general public may have a hard time distinguishing the QX50 from the vast number of other SUVs that look similar. In particular, the QX50 resembles the new Acura RDX from a distance, which isn’t a bad thing as both of these vehicles are beautiful.

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The QX50’s interior is blissfully comfortable and quiet, featuring soft, high-quality materials. photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News

The QX50 was awarded in previous years for having one of the 10 best vehicle interiors, and it is easy to see why. As it is a luxury crossover, soft, high-quality materials are found throughout the interior. In fact, the material look-and-feel of the QX50 rivals those cars costing two or three times as much. The stitched features and Alcantara touches look like they belong to a Bentley or Mercedes S-Class.

The Bose system provides noise cancellation in the cabin and active engine mounts also line the cabin to shelter from engine and exterior noise. The Infiniti QX50 is not only silky comfortable, it is blissfully quiet as well.

Room in the rear is spacious thanks to a sliding rear seat that offers top-in-class leg room with 38.7 inches. With those seats up, cargo space is 31.4 cubic feet, and when folded down cargo space doubles to 64.4 cubic feet.

There is a dual-screen infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity and powered front seats included with every trim level. One downside is the lack of compatibility for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, even in 2019! While the dual-screen infotainment system looks high-tech, the system is awkward to use, like in so many new models these days. If car companies can simply adopt the iPad style interface, the world of automotive interior will be so much better.

Performance

The 2019 Infiniti QX50 comes in five trim levels. Luxe, contrary to how it may sound, is the base level trim. Then, the Infiniti also has the Essential, ProActive, Sensory and Autograph trims.

There is only one engine option that replaces the older V-6 engine, and it is brand new for 2019. This engine is the world’s first production-ready variable compression ration engine. It features a design that adjusts its compression ratio to optimize the engine’s ability to utilize efficiency and power. While some critics might wonder why Infiniti doesn’t offer a hybrid or plug-in option in 2019, this engine proves that you can optimize a gasoline engine so effectively that perhaps you don’t need hybrids.

Under the hood you will find a 2.0-litre VC-Turbo four-cylinder engine that produces 268 horsepower and 280 foot-pounds of torque. While it does produce 57 less horsepower than last year’s model, it doesn’t feel any slower (thanks to increased torque range), and the improved fuel economy is a definite plus. Due to improvements with how the engine delivers power by displacing energy, fuel economy is improved by over 30 per cent. The 2019 model also drops the seven-speed transmission in favour of a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

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The QX50 has the world’s first production-ready variable compression ratio engine. It optimizes efficiency and power. photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News

The CVT isn’t the best choice perhaps, but the overall feel of the QX50 is world-class nevertheless with quick acceleration and smooth shifts. The handling is good but the steering feel somewhat numb in comparison to the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5 – the Germans always seem to provide a bit more road feedback. The ride of the QX, though, feels very European with a tight, firm suspension setting.

The QX50 is available in both the front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions, something that other competitors don’t do anymore.

The closest competitor to the QX50 in terms of pricing and design is the Acura RDX. The RDX handles slightly better but the QX definitely has the better interior. It will be an interesting race to see which model will be more accepted by the buyers.

Fuel economy is 10.0 litres/100 kilometres for city, and 7.8 l/100 km for highway driving. The great fuel economy is all thanks to the improved powertrain, a slightly lighter load and an engine that is more efficient but less powerful.

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Infiniti QX50 exterior detail. photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News

The base level Infiniti QX50 comes equipped with automatic emergency braking, rearview camera and forward collision warnings. If you would like more advanced active safety features like parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, heads-up display, automatic parking etc., you will need to upgrade to the top trim level.

Summary

Thinking back to the 2017 model (the 2018 model year was skipped), that QX50 was an enjoyable SUV with smooth handling and a powerful V-6 engine, though it lacked refinement. The 2019 version has more fuel efficiency, tons of standard safety features, ample cargo room, and an amazing level of design inside and out.

Other competitors such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Lexus NX are all proven SUVs in the North American market, and therefore the QX50 has big shoes to fill.

The 2019 Infiniti QX50 starts from $44,490 for the Luxe trim and goes all the way up to $57,990 for the Autograph trim. According to Infiniti, the QX50 embodies everything the brand stands for: performance, advanced technology and beautiful design – and we couldn’t agree more.

editor@automotivepress.com

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