The Infiniti QX50 has an all-new, innovative engine and a roomy, quiet, and well-furnished interior. But the engine doesn’t provide the promised performance or fuel economy gains, and the controls are confusing to use, all of which combined to leave us underwhelmed.
This SUV is the replacement for the EX, which was renamed the QX50 in 2014; It’s now a more competitive option among luxury compact SUVs.
This new SUV sports a novel variable-compression turbocharged engine. We noted quick acceleration from a stop, with hardly any turbo lag. But in more demanding situations, the CVT lets the the engine rev very high for far too long, which in turn becomes annoyingly loud. The QX50’s 22 mpg overall in CR testing is below its key competitors, and Infiniti’s own fuel-economy claims of 26 mpg combined. Plus, it requires premium fuel.
Thankfully, the Infiniti shines with a quiet cabin that keeps wind and road noise out. The only sound that breaks through is the coarse engine buzz under hard acceleration.The QX feels ponderous to drive, even in day-to-day use, partly because of its slow, overly light steering; this SUV handles more like a larger vehicle, even in mildly sharp corners that won’t challenge most SUVs. Clearly, it isn’t in the same league as peers such as the Audi Q5 and BMW X3.
The suspension absorbs most bumps, but some thumps punch through harder than expected.
We found the cabin to be a high point. It’s easy to get into, and the fit and finish matches the high standards of the class with high-quality leather, chrome, and wood throughout. The tailored leather stitching and piping details are particularly nice touches.
Overall, the seats are comfortable except for the too short bottom cushion. Also, the adjustable lumbar support is only two-way, which is unexpected at the QX’s $50,000 as-tested price. The rear seat is roomy and equally easy to get into.
One of the Infiniti’s biggest flaws are its confusing controls, particularly for the infotainment system. The system is convoluted, and we found it a hassle to select the correct function at a glance. It also takes too many steps to execute common tasks, such as programming audio presets. The dual touch screens and rotary controller don’t help, either.
We found the optional surround-view camera helpful when parking. It provides a 360-degree view of the area around the SUV on the center screen when in Reverse.
Nissan's ProPilot Assist system is offered as an option. It combines steering assistance and adaptive cruise control to try to make driving easier. It has no proven safety benefit, but it can make driving more convenient, especially in stop-and-go traffic. Drivers still need to constantly pay attention and be ready to take over when needed.
The key safety features, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, come standard.