Call me an unabashed fan.
Which is only one of the reasons I have an Infiniti QX50 in my driveway. When I first test drove this car in 2016 I was smitten. I loved the car’s proportions, its pep, and its elegance. It has a distinct bullet shape that helps it to slice through the air and it handles like a master, giving you confident command of the road. It sits high enough off the ground for great visibility but it’s small enough that it’s easy to park. But it’s big enough inside that you can fit a set of golf clubs and luggage for 4 in the cargo area (this was a surprise; the narrow roofline makes the cargo area look smaller than it is).
Over the years Infiniti has tweaked the design, upgraded the technology and evolved the interiors, all within the same flowing lines and elegant scale that makes me smile every time I see one on the road.
Smaller Engine, Better MPG, Still Great Performance
One of the most notable changes to the 2019 Infiniti QX50, which has a starting price of about $36,500 and the model we tested was priced at about $58,000, is the smaller turbocharged 4 cylinder engine. It produces 268 horsepower, a bit of a reduction from the 325 horsepower of the prior V6 model. But with 280 torque, it still has more zip (versus 267 in the prior model).
This change definitely impacts the car’s fuel economy; the 2019 model is rated to achieve 24MPG in the city and 30 MPG on the highway; we averaged about 24MPG, about a 7 MPG improvement over the prior model.
An Interior That Takes Your Breath Away, Truly
And this is the most remarkable thing about this car: The interior isn’t just well-appointed, it’s crafted with vision and thoughtfulness. It’s meant to be touched and you just have to— you want to immediately reach out and touch each surface.
Working under the guidance of lead designer Alfonso Albaisa, the design team created a layered interior of suede, wood, leather, and chrome. Each element on its own, or too much of it, would be under or overwhelming. But side by side on the door and dashboard panels the Ultrasuede softens the light and sound in the car; the bleached maple lends a solid feel; the chrome frames each piece and the leather extends the lush feeling of the seats. Together it creates an elegant, intimate space, as you might find in the most exclusive couture salons or on a yacht.
These pieces also work independently to cradle you in comfort. The quilted leather seats are as lovely to sit on as they are to look at. But the blue suede on the door panels is also under the arms of front-seat passengers; it covers the center armrest. So as you extend your arm to control the infotainment dial, you rest on blue suede.
The maple trim catches your eye each time you open or close the door. The leather steering wheel reminds you every time you put your hands on it that you’re holding something substantial and elegantly crafted. And the areas that are not meant to draw the eye, that are more of a backdrop for the white leather and accent details, are covered in brown: leather covers the dashboard, Ultrasuede covers the ceiling and carpets cover the floor. I really love that last part; dark carpets are easier to keep clean than light-colored carpets.
The look and feel in the front seat extends to the rear seat, too; there are no style compromises here. The back seat is roomy and comfortable for two passengers (though in seats three).
Lots of Glass for Lots of Light
One of the things we love about SUVs is all the light they let in; windows in the cargo area help to create an open, airy space and this is even more true in the Infiniti QX50. Light and visibility from the rear side windows are complemented by a surprisingly wide back window; I found visibility to be quite good for such a sleekly shaped car.
Adding to the light feel in the cabin is the overhead panoramic sunroof. On sunny days you can close the fabric cover, but open it to create a light feeling in the cabin.
Semi-Autonomous Drive Features Mean This Car Can Practically Drive Itself
Infiniti has been at the forefront of self-driving technology for more than 30 years; in the 1980s the company developed adaptive cruise technology and has been evolving the science since. The Infinity QX50 incorporates much of this tech standard, and with the addition of a $550 package, you get a good selection of features including backup collision intervention, distance control assist, adaptive cruise control, and rear cross-traffic alert.
For another $2,000 you can add Infiniti’s Pro Pilot Assist with steering assist, full-speed range adaptive cruise control (so, stop and go), lane departure warning and prevention, automatic high beam headlights, and adaptive steering. And, this package includes head-up display, which at the $50,000 range for a luxury car, you should expect. It’s a great thing to have.
And these are all features you’ll really appreciate on the highway or in traffic; as much fun as this car is to drive in sport mode—and it’s really a different car in sport mode—highway driving can be a bore. So, let the car do the work while you enjoy the premium Bose sound system and your sumptuous surroundings.
Is There a Compromise? A Bit.
While Infiniti’s attention to design and technology has been unwavering, the two-screen infotainment system feels a bit old-school. It certainly encompasses all the functions you need, from navigation to Apple CarPlay to customizable settings for light and sound in the car. But the graphics are not as modern as some other luxury car brands.
However, Infiniti does so many other things so exceedingly well I’ll forgive it this one thing. I just can’t wait until this element is addressed and it lives up to the standards of the rest of the car.
But it’s what it does so well, and has for a while, that makes this car a great investment. And why there’s one permanently in my driveway.
What We Listened to in the Infiniti QX50
Because every beautiful car deserves a beautiful soundtrack.
Disclosure: Infiniti provided the QX50 for my test drive. All opinions are my own.