2017 Infiniti Q50

PHOENIX — The Q50 is a compact entry-level luxury sedan and Infiniti’s best-selling vehicle. Introduced for the 2013 model year, it replaced the popular Infiniti G37 sedan. We weren’t fond of the new Q50 when it was introduced, and felt Infiniti took a step backward from both the G37 it replaced and competitors in the segment like Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Jaguar XE and Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedans.

But last year, Infiniti updated the Q50, bringing it much closer to those competitors, especially with the significant powertrain enhancements including all-new 2.0-liter turbo and 3.0-liter twin-turbo engines, new Dynamic Digital Suspension and a new design package for V6-equipped sport models.

For 2017, the Q50 built on those enhancements and includes two new models — a 2.0-liter Sport and Sport all-wheel drive — bringing the number of 2.0-liter turbo models to six. Infiniti also offers a choice of three 300-horsepower V-6 powered models, two hybrid models and the performance-oriented 400-horsepower Q50 Red Sport available with either rear- or all-wheel drive.

We tested the 2017 Q50 3.0t Sport powered by the twin turbo, 300-horsepower,  V-6 3.0 with rear-wheel drive. I recommend this as the one to get if you’re considering the Q50. For about the same money, you only get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Power came on quickly and effortlessly with the twin-turbo V-6, but fuel economy fell short when compared to other vehicles in its class. The Q50 uses a smooth shifting seven-speed automatic transmission.

On the road, handling was nimble and confident, the cabin quiet. But the ride might be too firm for some drivers.

Interior and exterior styling of the Q50 did not change, and is a carryover from the updated 2016 model. Inside, the cabin is comfortable with quality leathers, metallic looking trim and wood appliqués, but the design is beginning to show its age with similarity to the G37 it replaced several years ago. 

Front seats are comfortable and on par for the class. But the overall interior is smaller than it looks, with scant shoulder, hip and head room for larger drivers. Rear seat passengers will find more room than in comparable sedans.

The trunk is narrow and shallow but the rear seat does fold forward to allow a pass through when extra cargo space is needed.

We found most of the Q50’s operating controls easy to use — except for the infotainment system, which was cumbersome, and madly frustrating.

While the starting price of $33,950 for the entry-level 2.0t is attractive, many of the popular features you want are either unavailable, require you to move up to a higher trim level, or available only as options. However, adding desired options can be expensive, and Infiniti requires you to buy them in packages to get what you want.

For example, getting heated seats — which are standard in most cars in that price range — requires you to spend $2,250 for the premium plus package that includes navigation, navi sync adaptive shift control, remote engine start and, a heated steering wheel.

Want leather-appointed seats? You must first move up to the 2.0t Premium model with a base price of $38,400, and then add the optional premium plus package, driver assistance package, radiant aluminum kick plates and finally the leather seating package for a total of $5,765, bringing your total to $45,070 including destination and handling charge.

To be fair, leather seats are standard in the more expensive Sport and Hybrid models. The highest Q50 Red Sport 400 all-wheel-drive model starts at $50,700 and is generally well equipped, but getting highly desired features like blind spot warning, forward emergency braking, lane departure warning, heated front seats, intelligent cruise control, navigation with lane guidance and 3D building graphics and more, requires you to purchase three additional packages, bringing your total to around $60,000. While that’s a lot of money for a compact sedan, it’s still less expensive than many similarly equipped competitor cars.

Overall the updated Q50 3.0t Sport tested here is much improved from the first generation Q50 and the wide range of engine choices only broadens its appeal. But the updated Q50 retains most of its original design and styling and the only thing aesthetically new for 2017 is the addition of three new metallic paint colors.

But competition in this class still comes from Germany with the best-selling BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class. These vehicles remain the benchmark for the segment.

Vital Stats

Base Price: $33,950 to $50,700
Price as Tested: $50,420
Seating: 5
Engine: 3.0-liter V6 twin turbo
Horsepower: 300-hp
Fuel Economy: 20-mpg City – 29-mpg Highway

Competes With

Audi A4
BMW 3 Series
Jaguar XE
Mercedes-Benz C Class

Fab Features

A wide range of trim levels and engine choices
Gorgeous exterior color choices
Lots of available active safety features

— Jim Prueter