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Infiniti QX50: All-New for 2019

By James Raia, March 23rd, 2019

Less than 20 years ago, the term "compact luxury sport utility vehicle" wasn't in the automotive language. Now, it's the most popular top-line segment in the marketplace, with over half a million new models selling in 2018. It's also among the most competitive markets in the industry.

Like the others, Infiniti wants a bigger slice of the market. The second-generation QX50 is vastly different than its predecessor, which was last available as a 2017 model and had been around for about a decade.

The new exterior has more appeal with a modern, handsome design. It showcases superior craftsmanship replete with complementary curves, creases, and angles.

An industry first, the QX50 is equipped with a Variable Compression Turbocharged engine, called the VC-Turbo. The 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine produces 268 horsepower and advances with front-wheel drive. The VC-Turbo adjusts the compression ratio, offering high-compression efficiency with light loads and low compression for turbocharged power under hard acceleration.

One major result is improved efficiency, with EPA fuel economy averages of 24 miles per gallon in city driving, and 31 miles per gallon on the freeway.

The overall top-notch driver experience is the new Infiniti's best attribute. Handling is superior with an impressively small turning radius and a quiet ride regardless of speed.

The interior design is spacious and constructed with quality materials and workmanship. Luxury aside, the QX50 is ideal for transporting lots of luggage, supplies, and other stuff when storage space is required. With the rear seats up, 31.4 cubic feet of cargo space is available; with the rear seats down, cargo space jumps to 65.1 cubic feet. It's impressive for a vehicle categorized as a compact SUV.

Infiniti utilizes a two-screen information interface. It's a worthwhile concept, but there's too much to decipher and various features are unintuitive. And while double the area for technology possibilities seems like a good idea, it's not. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren't supported. And the screens? Well, the readouts aren't particularly sharp.

Three trims are available, with unique names like Luxe, Pure, and the top-line Essential. The Luxe and Pure levels are adequately equipped, but Infiniti only offers its major options on the Essential trim. It's the most appealing for several reasons, notably current top safety functions. Pricing starts at $36,550.

But the comfort, safety, and technology options don't come cheap. My review vehicle, the QX50 Essential, had a base price of $43,350. The Sensory ($7,550), ProActive ($2,000), and ProAssist ($550) packages, plus illuminated kick plates ($465), welcome lighting ($425), and a $995 destination charge pushed the total price to $55,285.

The option list features include such state-of-the-art technology, safety, and comfort additions as 20-inch wheels, a maple wood interior, heated and cooled seats, and host of detection warnings. Standard, Eco, Sport, and Personal driving modes are also part of the mix. Its ProPilot Assist lane-keeping system seems to function at its best on the freeway where lane changing is gentle.

A 16-speaker Bose Performance Series audio system replaces an old-school, six-speaker system standard on the lower two trims. Luxury and convenience features also include a panoramic moonroof, heated and ventilated front seats, quilted leather upholstery, open-pore wood and aluminum interior trim, active noise cancellation, and a motion-activated liftgate.

Still, it wasn't too long ago that a non-exotic vehicle in the mid-$50,000 range was uncommon. It's now the norm. Still, $12,000 in options seems extravagant, although it's justifiable since the QX50 isn't the highest-priced vehicle in its class.

Overall, the smooth ride, variable compression turbo engine, and the smorgasbord of niceties give the QX50 a deserved high perch in the compact luxury SUV hierarchy.

Specifications

Base price $43,350 (as tested: $55,285)
Curb weight 3,827 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Engine type 16-valve 4-cyl. VC-Turbo w/DI
Epa mileage rating 24 mpg city, 31 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 16.0 gal.
Horsepower (net) 268 at 5600 rpm
Overall length 184.7 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 280 at 4400 rpm
Transmission CVT
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD compact SUV
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