2019 Infiniti QX50

PHOENIX — There’s no denying that the U.S. car-buying community is crossover-crazy, shunning traditional family sedans for a piece of the upscale driving action you get with the likes the popular Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Jaguar F-Pace and numerous others including the Infiniti QX50, the long awaited replacement for the EX and QX50 predecessors after a one-year hiatus.

Completely redesigned for the 2019 model year, the new compact QX50 brings a plethora of changes inside and out with the biggest news being the world’s first variable compression ratio turbocharged engine. This new engine has the ability to raise or lower the reach of the pistons, depending on whether power or efficiency is in order. Infiniti says the engine will deliver high fuel efficiency while delivering power and performance when the driver demands it.

Our overall experience after one week of testing acknowledged excellent off-the-line acceleration; it’s notably responsive in everyday driving. However, our experienced fuel economy fell well short the EPA rating of 27 mpg combined city-highway driving, at just a tick above 23 mpg. Further, we weren’t impressed with the continuously variable automatic transmission that mimics a traditional automatic transmission by adding faux shift points. We also found the engine to be extremely noisy under full or near full acceleration. Otherwise, kudos for an exceptionally quiet cabin.

We also were not impressed with how the QX50 drives and handles. It feels bigger than it is, with clumsy handling when negotiating even moderate curves and sharp corners. Overall the ride and handling is less athletic and doesn’t feel like other luxury competitors such as the Q5, F-Pace, or Mercedes-Benz.

What impressed us most was the excellent interior with premium-quality materials, the natural maple wood interior trim, Ultrasuede® headliner, heated and cooled tailored leather stitching, and piping on the leather seats, which are especially comfortable.

There’s plenty of comfortable room up front, and second-row seats are roomy for two adults, but not for three.

The QX50 also has a lot of available driver assistance technology, and its cargo space is roomier than almost every competitor.

We also liked the 360-degree surround-view camera, which makes parking and reversing a breeze. Infotainment, navigation and climate control operations look easy and intuitive to use, but in practice are slow to bring up and confusing and tricky to use, with two touch screens and numerous buttons that often require multiple steps and menu selections.

Overall, while there are certainly reasons to like the QX50’s handsome styling, gorgeous interior and attractive base price, operationally, it’s a disappointment with an underwhelming new engine, below average driving experience and the need to pay extra for most of the features buyers in this class of vehicle expect and desire.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $44,545
Price as Tested: $55,785
Powertrain: 2.0L Variable Compression-Turbocharged 266 hp 4-cylinder engine with a Continuously Variable Transmission
Fuel Economy: 24-mpg City – 31-mpg Highway 27-mpg combined
Seating: 5

Crash Test Ratings: Not yet rated by either the National Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Competes With:
Audi Q5
Cadillac XT5
Jaguar F-Pace
Lexus NX
Lincoln MKC
Mercedes-Benz GLC

Fab Features
Outstanding interior
Attractive new styling
Extra large cargo hold

— Jim Prueter