Class: Premium Compact Crossover
Miles driven: 1031
Fuel used: 40.4 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 25.5 mpg
Driving mix: 25% city, 75% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 24/31/27 (city, highway, combined)
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||A-
|Power and Performance||B+|
|Fit and Finish||A|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
Base price: $45,150 (not including $995 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Sensory Package ($7500), ProASSIST Package ($550), ProACTIVE Package ($2000), illuminated kick plates ($465), welcome lighting ($425)
Price as tested: $55,285
The great: Premium cabin, strong and refined powertrain
The good: Quietness, passenger and cargo space
The not so good: Desirable safety features bundled in expensive packages, disappointing fuel economy
Consider the third grader who comes home after school bearing two big pieces of news. First, she got an A+ on a spelling quiz. Second, she won first place in an art contest.
Either piece of news is worthy of rapt parental attention, so which does she tell them about first? Would sharing both at the same time somehow reduce the total amount of attention and praise she would ultimately receive? Would our student be better served by waiting a day to relay one of her success stories?
In many ways, Infiniti finds itself in a situation similar to that of our hypothetical third grader. For 2019, Nissan’s luxury arm has introduced an all-new QX50. This completely redesigned and reimagined compact crossover is now significantly more luxurious and space efficient—which should be news enough—but it also features an industry-first engine technology.
We’re going to make a judgment call and talk about the redesign first. The new-for-2019 QX50 (the model skipped the 2018 model year) moves from the rear-drive architecture it shared with such vehicles as the Q50 midsize sedan and Nissan 370Z sport coupe, and migrates to a downsized version of the front-drive-based chassis used by the Nissan Murano midsize crossover.
At 187 inches long overall, the new QX50 is about 2 inches shorter than the previous-generation model, but it’s also more than 3 inches taller and almost 4 inches wider. This makes for notably improved passenger headroom and overall cargo capacity—there’s now 31.1 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the rear seats, compared to just 18.6 on the outgoing QX50.
For 2019, the QX50 model lineup ascends through three trim levels: Including the $995 destination fee, the entry-level Pure model starts at $37,545, the midlevel Luxe at $40,395, and the topline Essential at $44,345. All-wheel drive adds $1800 to whichever version you select.
Pure models come standard with features such as LED headlights, keyless entry and starting, a dual-screen infotainment system, four USB ports, and a forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking. Moving to the Luxe model from the Pure brings you a panoramic moonroof, roof rails, LED fog lights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and blind-spot monitor. From there, the Essential adds leather upholstery, a navigation system with Infiniti InTouch telematics, around-view monitor with moving-obstacle detection, front and rear parking sensors, remote start, and tri-zone climate control.
Consumer Guide tested a front-drive Essential model that was optioned up with three major equipment packages. The $7500 Sensory Package includes 20-inch alloy wheels, upgraded leather trim, heated and cooled front seats with power-adjustable lumbar support, motion-activated tailgate, additional ambient cabin lighting, maple-wood cabin accents, Ultrasuede headliner, bright-metal cargo-area trim and tie downs, power tilt/telescopic heated steering wheel, and a 16-speaker Bose audio system.
The $550 ProASSIST Package adds the following driver-assist features: Backup Collision Intervention (BCI), Distance Control Assist (DCA), Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC), and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCCA).
The $2000 ProActive Package brings the Nissan/Infiniti ProPILOT semi-autonomous driving system [which utilizes Steering Assist and Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC) with Full Speed Range and Hold capability], Blind Spot Intervention (BSI), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Departure Prevention (LDP), High Beam Assist (HBA), Head-up Display (HUD), and Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS).
Rounding out the options were illuminated doorjamb kick plates ($465) and welcome lighting ($425). All told, our QX50 came to $55,285, including the $995 destination charge.
The timing of the QX50’s stint in our test fleet coincided with this author’s trip from Chicago to central Iowa to bring his daughter to college. The excursion proved to be an excellent opportunity to fully exploit this luxury crossover’s utility.
The QX50 cabin proved to be a fine place from which to conduct the business of covering 300 or so miles in a single jaunt. The upgraded leather trim that comes as part of the Sensory Package looks especially high end, as do the wood accents and bright trim bits.
The luxury feel of the QX50 is underscored by the general quietness of the cabin, especially at highway speeds. The ride is a little firm—in the European luxury tradition—but the suspension absorbs most road imperfections without crashing or harshness.
Power is a strong point, which brings us to the second piece of QX50 news: the new engine. The only available powerplant is Nissan’s new VC-T 2.0-liter 4-cylinder; this turbocharged mill is the first commercially available engine with a variable compression ratio.
While the 2.0-liter turbocharged four available in most other Infiniti products has a fixed compression ratio of 9.8-to-1, the VC-T’s ratio ranges from 8.1-to-1 to 14.1-to-1. This variability is a boon to extracting the most potential from the turbocharger, and makes for an impressively broad power band—there’s excellent “go” available from a stop and for high-speed passing and merging.
The variable-compression system has the added benefit of smoothing engine pulses, the result being a strong engine that feels more like a large V6. Further enhancing the polished powertrain feel is the continuously variable transmission (CVT), which responds quickly to throttle inputs. Overall, the QX50 boasts one of the most refined drivetrains in the segment.
The VC-T engine seems more tuned for performance than mileage, however. Our long road test consisted of about 75-percent highway driving, but our observed average fuel economy of 25.5 mpg was much closer to the 24-mpg city EPA rating than the 31-mpg highway rating. That’s a bit disappointing, though the QX50’s overall numbers are in step with comparable class rivals.
Inside the QX50, there’s plenty of space for four adults, and even big and tall folks will find adequate room up front. Entertainment functions are managed via a large, easy-to-read touchscreen, and the few physical buttons and knobs that surround it. A large, handy knob located just aft of the cupholders provides added navigation functionality, but cannot, frustratingly, be used to tune radio frequencies.
Our test QX50 handily swallowed a dorm room’s worth of cargo, and did so with a reasonable amount of space to spare. The second-row seatbacks fold completely flat, allowing for easy handling of larger items, such a mini refrigerator or box full of black T-shirts.
With the 2019 redesign, the QX50 moves from relative obscurity to the heart of the super-hot premium compact crossover segment. We’re calling this newest Infiniti a must-see contender for folks shopping the category.
And, like our third-grade friend with the good news to share, we think Infiniti can tape a picture of the new QX50 to the corporate refrigerator.
In the sea of premium compact-crossover SUVs, you hope for something that will stand out when weighing one against the others. In the case of the fully redesigned Infiniti QX50, it’s the engine that surprises pleasantly.
Yes, the QX50 is luxurious in top-rank Essential trim, but then aren’t they all in the premium class? Yes, the QX50 provides a degree of autonomous-driving capability with ProPILOT Assist, but only if you pay extra for it. However, the variable-compression-ratio engine that powers all QX50s drops a pinch of spice into driving.
Give the gas pedal a decent stab—you don’t even have to floor it—and once the 2.0-liter four gets over a fleeting instant of turbo lag, it springs alertly to life better than a good many vehicles with similarly sized powerplants do. Better yet, the continuously variable transmission is quiet and cooperative, helping the engine to feel responsive instead of restraining it in mechanized limbo. The only demerit, at least in this driver’s experience, is fuel mileage. After 195 miles, 55 percent of which were covered in city-driving conditions, the test vehicle averaged just 21.6 mpg, well short of the 24-mpg city rating from the EPA, let alone the 27-mpg combined projection.
The Essential level is where you have to go to get leather seats, navigation, Infiniti InTouch remote services, a 360-degree monitor with moving-object detection, front and rear parking sensors, remote starting, tri-zone automatic climate control, heated outside mirrors, and rain-sensing wipers. It still takes an extra outlay to get the heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, driver’s-seat memory that were among the many features added to CG’s test truck—and you’ll spend another $1800 for all-wheel drive if you feel that you need it. Whatever a QX50 buyer ends up spending, the finished product will deliver pretty good passenger room in both rows, handy cabin-storage provisions, fine cargo room (though there’s a slight gap ahead of the cargo floor when the rear seats are folded), a comfortable ride, and easy-to-use climate and audio controls.
If you like surprises, the 2019 QX50 is, for the most part, a nice one.