Once upon a time Infiniti produced a smaller luxury crossover/SUV called the EX. Then someone upstairs sent down a memo telling everyone to not only substitute new letters, but to just go ahead and change everything.
And, voila, you have a fully redesigned QX50.
It’s not like this SUV wasn’t getting solid reviews. In fact, GQ named it a Top 10 selection several years in a row. But remember Wayne Gretzky’s often overused sports cliche (okay, you might not remember, so I’ll remind you):
“Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”
Infiniti took an already-good SUV and predicted where buyers will want to be. The result is another solid choice.
For 2019 the QX50 is just a little bit shorter but subsequently wider and taller. For those of us trying to fit SUVs into moderately-sized garages, this is a blessing.
It comes in three trim sizes, and once again the suits in the corporate office sent down the word: “Come up with new ways of saying ‘base,’ ‘premium,’ and ‘limited.’
So your choices are Pure, Luxe, and Essential. And I’m not kidding. I drove the Essential for a week.
All three have chucked the old V6 engine that once powered the QX. Now it relies on a 2-liter, 4-cylinder producing 268 horsepower.
You can go for the standard front-wheel drive, but why would you when all-wheel drive is available?
The exterior is gorgeous. More than once Gretchen and I remarked on the attractive lines of the QX50. While it’s tough to make any crossover/SUV look vastly different from a competitor, Infiniti’s designers have done a great job here.
Folks up front are treated to a nice space as well, with stitched, leather-appointed seats all around. And those seats are quite comfortable. You’re able to adjust them in more ways than your body can probably accommodate, unless you’re a contortionist.
I was able to take the QX out for a long, uninterrupted drive and felt downright pampered.
Controls are set up well, easily found and defined, and not overly complicated (which is not a given anymore). In my model the panoramic roof provides a glorious feel to the interior. You’ll find it in the upper trims.
Visibility was mostly good; the only issue I had was with some of the pillars in the back that limited a few of the sight lines, but it wasn’t terrible.
Storage is a strong point. I liked the deep bin up front because these days I’m spoiled by those.
Cargo room in the way-back is impressive, with more than 31 cubic feet — and that’s before you fold the rear seats. The power lift gate is nice, and you can opt for the hands-free tech, too.
You’d think that downsizing from a V6 to a 4-cylinder would result in a lackluster drive, but no. Increased torque distributes the 268-horsepower better, and I had no complaints with acceleration.
The first note I made on my phone included the word “peppy,” which may not be clinical, but pretty much summed up my initial impression.
At times I felt like the transmission hiccuped, a slight jump during shifting. And when I say “at times,” it’s because this didn’t happen often, which was puzzling. I considered this a very minor issue, not nearly enough to dampen the enthusiasm of the drive.
There are some who demand a sports-car-type feel with everything they drive and that won’t be the case here. Having said that, I found the QX50’s steering, handling, and braking to be good.
On top of it all, the vehicle provides a smooth ride that’s quiet. Can’t ask for much more than that.
There are two screens in the dash, one for navigation and a lower screen that handles climate and audio. It’s becoming quite the thing among auto makers to separate these systems, and I think it’s a good thing.
The two screen displays don’t exactly jive with each other, which is a bit odd, but not a big deal.
Your toys include Infiniti’s InTouch services as well as Bluetooth connectivity (which was a bit wonky; worked well sometimes, not so much other times).
I wish it came with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but alas. My guess is Infiniti is working on that as I type.
The Bottom Line
This was a fun week of driving. I used to own an Infiniti and always appreciated the luxurious details in the cockpit along with the beautiful exterior lines.
Obviously this is an extremely competitive segment, and the QX50 battles industry stalwarts from BMW, Audi, and Lexus. But this is a solid choice.
Families who are in the market for a combination of roominess without the monster footprint will love it.
2019 Infiniti QX50 Essential
2.0-L 4 cylinder-turbo
All-wheel drive option (front-wheel drive is standard)
Fuel economy: 24/30/26 combined
As tested: $59,085
Reviewed by Dom Testa
Vehicle provided by manufacturer