2019 Infiniti QX50

2019 Infiniti QX50

The oldest luxury wagon in the Infiniti fleet finally gets its due

By MALCOLM GUNN
www.wheelbasemedia.com

It’s uncommon for any luxury nameplate to remain essentially unchanged for more than a decade, but in the Infiniti QX50’s case, the wait appears to we worth it.

The new 2019 five-passenger utility wagon, now on sale, has a new platform, new sheetmetal and what’s considered to be one of the most technologically advanced internal-combustion engines on the market.

The QX50, which began as the EX35 for the 2008 model year, now looks like a real Infiniti, and the familial grille projects an image of quality that’s matched by the rest of the exterior design. At first glance, the irregular-cut roof pillar seems oddly superfluous, but it does grow on you after a short time.

Compared to its predecessor, the new QX50 has grown in mostly the right places. Although overall length has shrunk by about two inches, and the distance between the front and rear wheels by more than three inches, the width has increased by four inches and body height by 3.3 inches. That plus the new model’s more upright hind section provides a dramatic increase in cargo volume.

The reduction in wheelbase might concern some, but, fortunately, the rear seat can be adjusted fore and aft by up to six inches to provide some flexibility.

The dashboard is clean and uncluttered and even the steering-wheel controls won’t overwhelm the driver. The lower 7.0-inch touch-screen operates most vehicle functions, while an eight-inch navigation screen is positioned directly above, built into the dash and not sticking up, tablet-style.

For 2019, the QX50 sheds the 3.7-liter V-6 (rated at 325 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque) for a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet. The engine features a first-ever variable-compression-ratio design. Under a light load, cylinder compression is increased to 14:1 for more fuel efficiency, but decreases to 8:1 during aggressive driving so that more turbocharger boost can be dialed in.

The complex hardware required to alter piston travel in each cylinder (which is what changes the compression) adds about 22 pounds to the engine, according to Infiniti. But with a rating of 24 mpg city and 31 mpg highway — compared to 17/24 for the previous V-6 — there’s no denying that the torque-rich turbo four-cylinder is a step in the right direction.

It must be noted that a continuously variable transmission (CVT) has replaced the previous seven-speed automatic. CVTs are known to improve fuel efficiency, but they generally increase noise levels during acceleration, despite continual improvement over the years. Automakers tend to install CVTs in entry models, while traditional multispeed automatics are saved for premium-priced luxury nameplates. Not in this case.

Driving off the lot in a QX50 requires a base fee of $37,500, which includes delivery charges. This model, called the Pure, comes with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, 19-inch alloy wheels, faux-leather seat covers, power liftgate, run-flat tires mounted to 19-inch alloy wheels, and a number of active-safety technologies as part of the Infiniti InTouch system.

Moving up to the Luxe model adds a power-operated panoramic moonroof and LED headlights, taillights and fog lamps. There are also aluminum roof rails and blind-spot detection.

At the premium end is the trim level called the Essential, which includes trizone climate control, navigation, leather seat coverings, remote engine start and around-view camera monitoring with moving-object detection.

There are also a number of available option packages to further boost the content, which also boosts the prices. Some of those features: 17-speaker Bose audio system; premium leather and faux-suede surfaces; adaptive (pivoting) headlights; and genuine maple wood trim.

Although it’s sad to see the highly rated V-6 disappear, the new four-cylinder’s torquier and thriftier nature — plus the vehicle’s improved utility and safety content — is exactly what this Infiniti needs to stand out in a competitive segment.

What you should know: 2019 Infiniti QX50

Type: Four-door, front- /all-wheel-drive utility vehicle

Engine (h.p.): 2.0-liter DOHC I-4, turbocharged (268)

Transmission: Continuously variable (CVT)

Market position: The latest QX50 is just one of an assortment of similar utility models that practically every mainstream automaker has developed as an integral part of their premium-vehicle lineups.

Points:
• New QX50 looks great, but the previous model is a tough act to follow.
• Generous cargo space is a big plus. • Simplified dashboard and control panel are easy to master.
• Kudos to Infiniti for providing standard dynamic safety technologies.
• Variable-compression four-cylinder engine has more torque than the outgoing V-6, but also gives away 50 horsepower.

Active safety: Blind-spot warning (opt.); cross-traffic alert (opt.); active cruise control (std.); emergency braking (std.); pedestrian detection (std.); lane departure warning (opt.)

MPG (city/hwy): 24/31 (FWD)

Base price (incl. destination): $37,500

By Comparison:

Audi Q5
Base price: $42,500
New 2018 model is more stylish and modern. 354-h.p.V-6 is optional.

Jaguar E-Pace
Base price: $39,600
Sporty little brother of the F-Pace can be had with a torquey turbo-diesel.

Cadillac XT5
Base price: $40,400
Stylish wagon is fitted with a relatively potent and fuel-efficient V-6.