Infiniti’s all-new crossover does its best to dazzle us.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Pricing: 2019 Infiniti QX50
Base price (Autograph trim): $57,990
Options: $650 Hermosa Blue paint
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $60,785
The all-new QX50’s cabin-forward design looks modern and muscular, with some major sculpting happening on the sides and the hood – I loved looking down the hood and seeing those bulges. It definitely has presence and cuts a handsome profile. The signature D-pillar’s shape seems to capture motion and adds a nice dynamic detail.
LEDs are everywhere – headlights, foglights, turn signals, daytime running lights and tail lights. My top-trim review car got the 20-inch rims with massive 255/45-sized tires.
It’s a nice, cohesive look and I found it was a nice mix between the familiar (from Infiniti) and something fresh and compelling. It certainly got a lot of looks, in particular from other Infiniti drivers.
Infiniti’s designers didn’t rest when it comes to the cabin either. The interior is stunning and has a hand-tailored, luxurious feel to it. The styling is fantastic, as are the materials and the details. Soft-touch plastics, soft stitched leather, Ultrasuede and genuine silvery open-pore maple wood trim cover nearly everything and are beautifully integrated with each other – it feels absolutely world-class. This is a really, really nice interior.
We reviewed the white leather interior and as much as I loved the look, I could already see signs of how difficult it is to keep pristine when I took delivery of it – particularly on the door panels and the edges of the seats. This package combines a dark brown leather on the top of the dash, then a swath of blue Ultrasuede all the way around the cabin (and also on the centre console), then a white leather trim below. The pillars and headliner are all clad in a brown Ultrasuede. Take it all in, and it really is something else to look at.
There’s a grippy heated steering wheel, and heated and ventilated seats finely crafted out of beautiful white leather with quilted panels. We thought they were very comfortable and supportive but also a bit slippery.
The cabin ergonomics are pretty good, and it feels as though the cockpit is designed around the driver. Where the ergonomics fall a bit flat is with the two-screen system (8″ on the top, 7″ on the bottom). The system, as a whole, controls the excellent 16-speaker BOSE system, phone functions and navigation. They both work as touchscreens and can also be controlled by the rotary joystick knob on the console. Even though they react as most modern screens do to swiping, pinch in and out, etc., the system only really makes sense if you’re using the top screen as a navigation screen.
There’s a huge panoramic sunroof overhead, letting plenty of light into the interior.
The QX50 feels completely stuffed with driver assistance technology – our review vehicle had 360-degree surround camera with front and rear parking sensors, adaptive headlights and highbeam assist, heads-up display, pedestrian emergency braking, forward collision warning, blind-spot warning and intervention, back-up collision intervention and rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and prevention and adaptive cruise control with steering assist.
Sitting in the back is quite comfortable but the seats lack almost any kind of bolstering and support, which feels a bit strange. They do recline and slide fore and aft. When they are moved all the way back, I was left with a significant amount of leg room and good head room as well. Conversely there’s not a lot of room for shoes under the front seats.
Rear passengers get a USB and 12V plug, their own climate control panel and manual side window sunshades. If you are putting child seats in, there are two sets of LATCH anchors.
The front of the console has a small bin that isn’t really useful for anything but coins – there’s a 12V and two USB plugs there. Behind that are two cupholders, which is really the only place to put your phone, if that’s important to you. That whole area can be covered by a scrolling lid. The armrest lid covers a deep, carpeted bin with another USB plug.
You can access the 895L trunk via a powered trunklid (which also has the hands-free opening feature). It feels quite huge but you can also fold down the rear seats in a 60/40-split which makes the trunk 1822L. That’s very big.
Under the Hood
Here’s some of the big news – Infiniti’s turbocharged 2L 4-cylinder puts out 268HP and 280 lb.ft of torque and boasts that it’s the world’s first variable-compression-ratio engine. This technology allows it to automatically adjust the compression ratio between 8:1 to give more power when you’re asking for it and 14:1 to consume less fuel when you’re not needing the extra power. It’s seamless, and frankly, it’s likely the way of the future for internal-combustion – as long as we still have those engines.
Infiniti is sticking with their CVT transmissions, so you’re getting one here, and of course there’s an all-wheel drive system.
Fuel economy is rated at 10/7.8 L/100 km (city/hwy). I ended up with an average of 11.5 L/100 km after my week in the QX50.
I liked the amount of power the QX50 puts out, but I wasn’t always fond of how it delivers it. Off the line, it often felt a bit soft and reluctant, and then suddenly it would surge ahead. Now once you’re moving, it’s fantastic. It has a lot of power and passing is easy. You can select between a number of drive modes – Standard, Eco, Sport and a custom setting – each of these tune the responsiveness of the engine, transmission and steering accordingly. The CVT is smooth and works pretty well, and can be manually “shifted” using paddles.
The ride was smooth and comfortably firm, and the handling is outstanding. The car feels very rigid and is always predictable and controlled.
The QX50’s all-wheel drive is touted as an intelligent system that “lets you take command of any terrain”. In the end it felt a lot like many other slip-and-grip systems. It definitely starts as a front-wheel drive system, and with this much power on tap and the surging that I mentioned earlier, I often felt the front tires slipping before the all-wheel drive sent power to the rear. It’s not nearly as invisible as I’d like it to be, although the whole mostly-front-wheel-drive part certainly contributes to the fuel efficiency.
We found the QX50 to be relatively quiet. The engine noise is a bit weird. It doesn’t sound great, but it’s not bad either. Braking capability is solid and visibility out of the QX50 is good.
The QX50 comes with a somewhat surprising 3,000 lb towing capacity.
A few things caught my attention right away and never stopped bothering me. There is no wireless charging, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. As in, it’s not even available.
For a brand-new model, that is touted as one of the most advanced cars in the world, and comes across as a wholly modern vehicle – that’s ridiculous on a number of levels. First of all, many lesser vehicles offer wireless charging, and it’s not like the Nissan/Infiniti world doesn’t have access to that technology. It’s been out there for years. In my opinion, that should be standard equipment on all vehicles these days, as should CarPlay and Android Auto, but to not offer it on the top of the line trim in your newest vehicle for a brand that is trying to target a younger audience and sells itself as modern and technologically advanced comes across as a terrible business decision.
Something a few passengers commented on, and I noticed as well, is that you are not able to change the angle of the headrests. They tilt forward more than I and some of my passengers liked, and it constantly felt like something was touching the back of my head. I hunted high and low for a way to adjust them and looked in the manual – it doesn’t appear to be possible.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was very high. She thought it looked great inside and out, and she enjoyed the driving experience. She didn’t like the two-screen system to control things, but otherwise gave it high marks.
I really loved the Infiniti QX50 at first. There’s a lot to love here. It looks fantastic and the cabin is work of art. But after living with it for a week, I felt that some things need to be addressed. The way the powertrain lurches ahead occasionally got annoying quickly. And the lack of some relatively common technology pieces (wireless charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) just felt weird at this price and in such a modern vehicle.
It’s a great start, but in some places, the beauty is only skin deep.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Infiniti Canada.
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