A relatively obscure crossover that’s missing from many SUV shopper’s list. INFINITI’s compact SUV has been virtually unchanged for a decade, but that’s not such a bad thing. It’s one of the most reliable luxury SUVs around and offers driving dynamics that hang with the Germans. Stock coilovers and a refined 7-speed automatic with rev matching mated to a 325 horsepower V6 will have you scratching your head as to why you haven’t considered this SUV!
For the reasons stated above, this SUV packs quite the performance punch for your money. Sure, it doesn’t have the most lavish cabin in the luxury segment. It’s outmoded on the inside and out, but these gripes disappear when you get behind the wheel. The engine, transmission, and suspension are superior to the competition while being reliable as death and taxes. What more could you ask for?
Indisputably the INFINITI compact crossovers strength, the “FM” underpinning and VQ series V6 engine provide a premium pedigree of performance. Yes, the very same platform is the foundation of the exceptional Nissan 370Z. Like its sports car cousin, this little SUV is a pleasure behind the wheel. The 325 horsepower will take you from zero to sixty in just 5.7 seconds, quicker than many competitors. The 7-speed electronically shiftable automatic transmission does not hesitate to rev match on downshifts and is programmed for spirited driving. Where the SUV really shines, however, is its handling. It’s one of the only SUVs we are aware of that includes standard coilover suspension at the front and rear. The result is exceptional handling with well-controlled body motion and an excellent ride quality. Don’t forget the aural symphony this exhaust produces, a pleasant snarl that will have you turning down the radio and shushing passengers. You won’t find a compact SUV that’s this fun to drive this side of the Porsche Macan, which retails nearly twice as much. If you’re looking for a nimble crossover that packs a punch without being pretentious, the QX50 is the droid you’re looking for!
Like the exterior, the interior hasn’t changed much since this SUV was badged the EX37 in 2008. Especially when compared with new INFINITI models like the smaller QX30, the design is antiquated. If you’ve driven an INFINITI in the last decade, you’ll instantly recognize the familiar dash, center console, and leather seats. None of which are particularly unappealing, but the overall aesthetic is bland for a luxury SUV. INFINITI’s infotainment system only makes matters worse. The menus are confusing and the control is awkwardly placed for operation whilst driving. At least there are analog knobs to simplify A/C and audio operation, refreshing in a segment where analog knobs are becoming extinct with each passing year.
We’d skip the integrated navigation altogether, as it’s costly and less functional than Apple and Google Maps. At least leather seats are standard as is a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. There’s manual lumbar support on the driver’s seat, upgradeable to power only with the $2,400 Deluxe Touring Package. The rear seats have remarkable leg and headroom but don’t recline like many competitors. Fold down the seats for up to 50.1 cubes of cargo space with 18.6 behind the rear row, about average for the class. Overall, the cabin in the QX50 has a premium feel but lags behind in luxury when compared with its competitors.
The QX50 isn’t a bad looking SUV, but it’s beginning to look a little dated. Though it has technically only been in production a few years, the design isn’t terribly different from the EX37 it replaced that’s remained basically the same since 2008. Sure, the front fascia is more muscular, with it’s wider and taller grille and huge lower intake flanked by integrated fog lights. But the headlights and taillights appear the same. The swooping profile creates substantial blind spots at the C pillars, though its stance is sleek. The rear is wide and squat with beautiful polished dual exhaust tips and a roof spoiler that enhance the athletic veneer. Infinitis still age quite gracefully and this SUV is no exception but it could use an update to reflect advances in design made across Infiniti’s lineup.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not crash tested the QX50, so no results are available. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has, and offers “GOOD” crashworthiness ratings across the board, their highest. Additionally, the optional front crash prevention technology is rated “ADVANCED,” the second highest rating. The headlights receive a “MODERATE” rating, better than most SUVs, which receive a “POOR” rating.
The advanced safety features are only available with the Technology Package, which costs $2,750. However, there are some pretty impressive standard features. INFINITI’s air bag system is quite advanced and controls the inflation rates relative to the severity of a crash and whether or not the occupant is wearing their seat belt. Of course, there are also roll-sensing full side curtain airbags and features we’ve come to expect, like vehicle stability control and electronic brake force distribution. The oversized brakes and standard coilover suspension further reduce the likelihood you’ll be in an accident in the first place. We conclude that the Infiniti QX50 possesses an above average safety profile.
The QX50 receives a 3 out of 5 predicted reliability score from JD Power despite one of the cleanest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records we’ve seen. There are no open recalls, no Technical Service Bulletins, and just 2 complaints for the 2016 year model. The 2017 is spotless. The first is for the child seat vehicle LATCH anchors that the owner complains are difficult to access. The second is for a moonroof that exploded, a common problem affecting most sunroofs on the market and not exclusive to this SUV. We think the Consumer Reports predicted reliability rating of 5 out of 5 is more accurate, considering how solid this SUV’s track record is thus far. The only issues we uncovered scouring the web were some complaints of premature paint chipping and fading, and one complaint of a poorly functioning driver’s seat. That’s remarkable! It’s usually not difficult to find several corroborating complaints of at least one issue. We recommend the QX50 for its exceptional reliability record!
A strong competitor that closely matches the phenomenal value offered by the QX50 is the Acura RDX. Both are incredibly reliable SUVs. Both have powerful V6 engines. Both suffer from rather boring cabins when compared with other luxury compact crossovers. Where do they differ? Performance. The RDX isn’t slow, with a 6.2 second zero to sixty. However, it’s still not as quick. Its suspension is better than many competitors but can’t hold a match to the QX50’s coilovers. However, the tradeoff is a softer, more compliant ride and better fuel economy. The RDX gets 19 miles per gallon city and 27 highway, two more and 3 more respectively. The RDX’s safety technology is superior to the QX50’s and it packs considerably more cargo capacity due to its shape and size. The prospective SUV buyer looking for a family hauler that prefers convenience over performance should definitely pick the Acura. It has a more modern infotainment system and better optional navigation. However, if you want to move that family around with a little more zest or grin ear to ear after you drop the kids off at school, the QX50 has got the goods.
The QX50 starts at $34,650, powered a 3.7 Liter 24-valve V6, aluminum alloy block and heads, continuously variable valve timing control system, variable valve event and lift, making 325 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to an electronically controlled 7-speed automatic with adaptive shift control, Downshift Rev Matching, and snow mode that controls throttle response. This SUV is controlled by vehicle speed sensitive power steering, independent double wishbone front suspension with coil springs over shock absorbers and stabilizer bar, independent multi link rear suspension with coil springs over shock absorbers and stabilizer bar. To stop, there are huge 12.6 x 1.3 inch ventilated front disc brakes and 12.1 x .6 inch discs at the rear. The QX50 rides on 18 x 8 inch 8-spoke aluminum alloy wheels with 225/55R18 all-season tires. On the outside, there are standard automatic on/off headlights, integrated front fog lights, LED rear brake lights, LED center high-mounted stoplight, a power sliding tinted glass moonroof with tilt feature and sliding sunshade, an integrated rear spoiler, UV-reducing solar glass, power adjustable heated outside mirrors with driver’s side courtesy light, speed sensitive flat blade front windshield wipers, rear window intermittent wiper, stainless steel front doorsill plates, and a dual exhaust with polished finishers.
The interior features an intelligent key with illuminated push button ignition, dual zone automatic temperature control system, advanced climate control system with Plasmacluster air purifier and Grape Polyphenol Filter, rear seat heating and cooling vents in center console, vents under front seats, power windows with illuminated switches and front window one-touch auto-up/down with auto-reverse feature, power door locks with automatic locking feature, retained accessory power for windows and moonroof, sequential welcome lighting illuminated entry system and overhead ambient light, front sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors and extensions, coat hanger on driver’s head restraint, overhead sunglasses storage, dual overhead front map lights, rear-seat reading lights, front seatback map pockets, dual front and rear cup holders, front center console with armrest, dual level storage compartment and 12-volt power outlet, front and rear carpeted floor mats, and cargo net tie-down anchors in cargo area. Seats are trimmed with leather and include a standard 8-way power driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar support, 4-way power front-passenger’s seat, heated front seats, and 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks. Other interior features include black lacquer and aluminum interior trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 6-speaker audio system with speed sensitive volume control and MP3 playback capability, a USB connection port for iPod interface and other compatible devices, SiriusXM satellite radio, illuminated steering wheel mounted audio controls, fine vision electroluminescent gauges, tilt and telescopic steering column, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, INFINITI multi-function controller, 7 inch color vehicle information display, RearView Monitor, cruise control with steering wheel mounted switches, and an Analog clock. To keep you safe there’s an INFINITI advanced air bag system that includes dual-stage front supplemental air bags and air bag inflation rate that’s adjusted depending on crash severity and seat belt usage. Also included is driver and front passenger side impact supplemental air bags, roof mounted curtain side impact supplemental air bags, front seat active head restraints, zone body construction with reinforced passenger compartment, front and rear crumple zones, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist, traction control system, vehicle dynamic control, slide away brake pedal assembly, tire pressure monitoring system, remote keyless entry system with selective unlocking, remote power opening of windows, INFINITI vehicle immobilizer, and vehicle security system.
A $900 dollar Premium Package installs a Bose 11-speaker premium audio system, dual occupant memory for driver’s seat, outside mirrors, and steering wheel; outside mirrors with reverse tilt-down feature, advanced climate control system, entry/exit assist for driver’s seat and steering wheel, auto-dimming inside mirror with HomeLink Universal Transceiver, Maple interior accents, power tilt and telescopic steering column, and aluminum roof rails. The $2,000 Premium Plus Package adds the above, plus INFINITI navigation system, NavTraffic, streaming audio via Bluetooth, NavWeather, INFINITI voice recognition, and Around View Monitor with front and rear sonar systems. A 19 inch Tire and Wheel Package costs $800. The Deluxe Touring Package provides 19 inch alloy wheels, 2-way driver’s seat power lumbar support, 8-way power front passenger’s seat, premium stitched meter hood, adaptive front lighting system with HID headlights, coat hanger on driver’s head restraint, and power up folding 2nd row seats for $2,400. The $2,750 Technology Package equips Intelligent Cruise Control, Intelligent Brake Assist, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, and Blind Spot Warning System.The QX50 AWD costs $36,450 and adds Intelligent All Wheel Drive, the same packages are available on this trim.