Infiniti QX50 — Now with more passenger space

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

It is said family responsibilities have mandated the need for more useable cargo space even if you love sport sedans. The conflict between buying what the family really needs and what you want can be excruciating.

The compromise we recommend is the freshened 2016 Infiniti QX50, a compact crossover SUV that is styled like a sports sedan, has the forward momentum of a sports sedan, and handles a winding mountain road like a sports sedan. These attributes are present because the crossover is based on the Infiniti Q50 sports sedan platform. Yet QX50 has 47.4 square feet of cargo space, very unlike a sports sedan, but you will still find it entertaining to drive while fulfilling your need for space — all in one smartly styled package.

Yes, the QX50 is getting quite long in the tooth when you consider the initial iteration hitting the market way back in 2008 as the EX35. Later it became the EX37 and in 2014 it was turned into the QX50 in Infiniti's wholesale name change venture. Despite its nine years on the market — old age in car years — its curvaceous styling still looks sleek and modern, it comes with the latest in safety technology, and most importantly its 3.7-liter V-6 mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission remains one of the best in the business.

Not only does the engine, pumping out 325 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, provide exhilarating crossover performance — measured at the mid-to-high 5-second mark from 0-to-60 with a quarter mile time of 14.1 seconds — the sports-tuned suspension and precise handling give the QX50 a road-carving persona that will bring a big grin to the face of the sports-sedan lover.

While the cockpit is a true sports sedan with controls right at hand and comfortable one of the biggest criticisms of the Infiniti over the years has been its tight rear-seat passenger space. Infiniti has finally answered that criticism
increasing the wheelbase from 110.2 inches to 113.4 inches. All the extra space has been added to the passenger room giving rear-seat occupants 4.3 inches more legroom and 3.9 additional inches of knee room. None of the new-found 8.3 cubic feet of interior space has been used for the cargo area, however, which remains 18.6 cubic feet behind the seats. That's below average for the segment, but enough for the needs of most people.

We think the QX50 now has better proportions with the extra length, visually taking some weight out of the middle. Other new design elements for 2016 are a revised grille, new taillights and new bumper covers.

Although the interior looks a bit dated, that's not a bad thing. For instance, the audio comes with real volume and tuning knobs and six clear pre-set radio buttons. No need to dive into the navigation screen to change or reprogram a station. Likewise, the climate controls may be a bit dated, but give us dated if it means clear-cut controls that don't involve two or three steps to set fan speed or air direction. And Infinit
i's oval analog clock is still a marvelous centerpiece.

The QX50 is well priced when compared to the segment competition coming in one well-equipped rear-wheel drive trim level for $35,445 including destination charge. All-wheel drive can be added for $1,400. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, eight-way power driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with CD player, satellite radio, and a USB port and auxiliary audio/video input jacks. Options come in four packages. Infiniti does not allow for the purchase of items a la carte.

Standard safety is the same as found on nearly all vehicles regardless of price including antilock brakes, traction and stability control, and a full array of airbags. To get the more advanced safety features requires the purchase of the Technology Package for $2,750. It includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and lane departure intervention.

The three other available packages are Deluxe Touring, which includes 19-inch five-spoke wheels, HID headlights and power-up folding rear seats for $2,400; Premium, which includes a Bose 11-speaker audio system, advanced climate controls, aluminum roof rails, and power tilt and telescoping steering wheel for $500; and Premium Plus, which adds navigation, and an around-view monitor with front and rear sensors for $2,000.

Our test car included all four packages and carried a bottom line of $43,535. Competing crossovers include the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and the Acura RDX.

Base price: $34,450; as driven, $43,535
Engine: 3.7-liter V-6
Horsepower: 325 @ 7,000 rpm
Torque: 267 foot-pounds @ 5,200 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Drive: rear wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 113.4 inches
Length: 186.8 inches
Curb weight: 3,855 pounds
Turning circle: 37.2 feet
Luggage capacity: 18.6 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 47.4 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 20 gallons (premium recommended)
EPA rating: 24 highway, 17 city, 20 combined
0-60: 5.8 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Acura RDX

The Good
• Wonderful handling for a crossover
• Responsive V-6 engine
• Competitive pricing
• Rear seat space increased

The Bad
• Less-than-average fuel economy

The Ugly
• Small cargo area