2023 Infiniti QX50 Sport — Aging QX50 has appeal and likability

But fresher competitors make
it an SUV that's hard to love

By Jim Prueter

(February 27, 2023) The Infiniti QX50 is a five-passenger compact crossover utility vehicle that was completely redesigned for the 2019 model year and continues as a predominantly carryover vehicle for 2023 with few changes and mainly adding more standard features and some updated visual options such as available new appearance package and select trim levels that receive interior enhancements over the years.

The QX50 has the responsibility to not only appeal to entry-level buyers, but to deliver Infiniti richness, comfort and affluence to brand loyalists moving up from Infiniti sedans. For 2023 QX50 is offered in five trims — Pure, Luxe, Sport, Sensory, and Autograph — with a choice of standard front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and an advanced Drive Mode Selector, which allows the driver to select from Standard, ECO, Sport or Personal, depending on preferences and road conditions.

We tested the mid-level Sport with all-wheel drive, with a cabin that’s quiet on most road types thanks to a pair of active sound control technologies. However, we found the cabin filled with amplified engine noise especially around town and under hard acceleration thanks in part to the CVT automatic transmission. Power is directed to either the front or all four wheels.

The ride is compliant and composed on rough road surfaces and smooth on the highway. The QX50 has a soft brake feel and functions inconsistently resulting in a feel of “panic” braking at times with the nose of the vehicle diving forward.

The fit, finish and cabin materials are upscale including perforated leather upholstery with soft touch niceties on door armrests and the center console add to the premium feel. The front seats are roomy with ample adjustments and supremely comfortable. The standard power rear liftgate opens to a large cargo area with plenty of space for golf clubs, luggage and other larger items. There’s even a small cargo hold under the rear floor to store items you don’t want left in plain sight.

The second row is spacious with reclining seatbacks for added passenger comfort. There’s 31 cubic feet behind the back seat and up to 65 with the 60/40 split-folding rear bench seat folded flat.

There’s a dual-touchscreen setup for the infotainment system that’s one of the most confusing, slow-responding systems we’ve tested with dated graphics, and poorly designed menus but wasn’t particularly intuitive or easy to use. For example, the heated steering wheel and custom drive-mode settings are only accessible through the touchscreen. A simple on-off button on the steering wheel or steering column would have been a much simpler operation. Every model has Android Auto, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot. Both 12- and 16-speaker Bose stereo systems are available as is mobile WI-Fi hotspot. Our test vehicle did have several power points, with three USB ports up front and multiple 12-volt outlets, including one in the cargo area.

Regardless of trim level every QX50 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that uses variable compression called VC-Turbo. The engine makes 268-horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque and promised better power and improved fuel economy, but we didn’t find that to be the case. Acceleration was good but we couldn’t see where the acclaimed engine broke any new ground. The QX50 uses an Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) with manual shift mode. We’re not fans of CVTs, but on the plus side, Nissan/Infiniti does make the best in the business.

In terms of handling, the QX50 felt cumbersome, especially in corners; there was significant body roll on sharper curves and twisty mountain roads. Overall, the driving experience was ordinary and unimaginative, neither sporting like an Audi Q5 nor luxurious like the Mercedes GLC.

QX50 has an attractive, spirited exterior design with a premium, high-end interior. It delivers a quiet, comfortable ride with ample space, and loads of standard safety systems that includes lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking. Blind -spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stoop-and-go technology all standard.

The compact luxury crossover segment is fiercely competitive with numerous outstanding vehicles with superb comfort, laudable capability and stand out driving experience. The QX50 is stylish and certainly looks the part providing a luxury sense, but it’s disappointing fuel economy, amplified engine noise, fussy vehicle operating technology and other shortcomings slots it in the lower half of competitors in the compact luxury SUV class of vehicles.

Vital Stats

Base Price: $50,500
Price as Tested: $52,815
Engine/Transmission: 268-hp 2.0-liter Variable Compression Turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with the Xtronic continuously variable transmission.
Fuel Economy: 22/28/25 MPG – City/Highway/Combined
Where Built: Aguas, Mexico
Sears: 5

Crash Test Results: Overall highest possible five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Competes With:
Audi Q5
Buick Envision
Lexus NX
Jaguar F-Pace
Land Rover Discovery Sport
Lincoln Corsair
Mercedes-Benz GLC
Volvo XC60

Roomy seating and cargo space
Upscale styling design
Smooth ride

Noisy engine
Disappointing fuel economy
Controls are confusing to use